OpinionWonder Woman 10 Pieces of Advice for Making a Wonder Woman Movie written by Sean Gerber June 7, 2013 Article written by Robert Reineke With “Man of Steel” looking to open big and open the door for more DC superheroes, the question of what next is looming. Obviously, Wonder Woman has to be one of the properties that Warner Bros. is considering. With that in mind, and to facilitate a conversation, here are ten pieces of advice for Warner Bros. and their creative team. Part 1. What Warner Bros. Needs to Do 1. Define the Sandbox Somebody has to make a decision on what WB is willing to accept in the big picture. A creator may have a great idea for an “Avatar” inspired reimagining of the Amazons as exotic, savage warriors, Wonder Woman as a Young Adult character, or of Wonder Woman as a kick-ass Disney princess, but if WB isn’t open to takes radically different than the comic books they’re just wasting the time of everyone involved and creating a bunch of noise to sort through. Most past Wonder Woman proposals have never gotten past this point, precisely because there’s never been any consensus reached on what the studio is looking for. Are you building up to a Justice League film? If you are, then creators have to know up front and you have to find people that will work together. There’s no point in hiring someone who has a distinct creative vision for Wonder Woman if your goal is to work in a collaborative process. 2. Pick a Creative Vision with Passion There are many ways to make a movie. A screenwriter can write a screenplay and a director can be hired later in the process. A director can be hired upfront and help pick the screenwriters. You can have a strong producer heading things up or a producer that’s more of a facilitator for the creative team. Ideally you want people with talent and passion to develop your project. Maybe that includes David Goyer. Maybe that includes Nicholas Winding Refn. Maybe that includes people we haven’t heard rumored yet. But Wonder Woman is not a slam dunk, otherwise there would be a Wonder Woman movie by now, and requires a vision to pull off. There’s no reason to settle for someone with no passion that’s just looking for a paycheck. 3. Be Consistent Obviously Warner Bros. will be involved in the development of the project; they own the character and are going to spend upwards of $100 million on the project. They will have final approval and greenlight authority. It’s their right and responsibility to protect their property and investment. However, the last Justice League script was reportedly sunk, at least in part, by characters being added and removed at the whim of the studio. Nobody can do good work when that work can be completely undone the next day. That’s especially true when you consider the major issues of character, theme, plot, and structure. Decisions will be made, but when they are, they shouldn’t be revisited randomly and work should be allowed to continue. Dithering and backtracking is no way to make a movie. 4. Be Confident While a Wonder Woman movie isn’t a slam dunk, there’s no reason to project uncertainty in the market place. Make the best Wonder Woman movie you can and be proud of it. Audiences can pick up when the studio is trying to hide something from them. The mixed financial success of “The Incredible Hulk” and the mixed critical reaction to “Iron Man 2” didn’t send Marvel scurrying away from “The Avengers,” rather they proceeded like everything was on course and that confidence helped make the following films successful. Warner Bros. needs to do the same. Wonder Woman is one of the most recognizable superheroes on the planet and the preeminent superheroine. That’s a position of strength and good reason to be confident. 5. Be Realistic There’s no reason to expect Wonder Woman to be as successful as Batman, Iron Man, or Spider-Man at this point in time, so it’s important to set realistic expectations up front. Obviously you need some sense of scale to compete with the rest of the marketplace, but your budget should be more like “Captain America: The First Avenger” or “Thor.” There are projects to be tough negotiators over, and this is one. Part 2. What the Creative Team Needs to Do 1. Decide What Wonder Woman Stands for Now If the “S” on Superman’s chest stands for hope, what does Wonder Woman stand for in 2013? When Wonder Woman was created in 1941, this wasn’t a question. She stood for democracy, when the world was threatened with fascism. She stood for the power of women, when western society was dominated by men and American women had been given the right to vote less than 20 years previous. She stood for peace when the world was at war. And it all was wrapped in Greek mythology and some bondage / domination fetish imagery. That was in 1941. In 2013, the fascists have been long defeated, we’re in a post-feminist movement era, Greek mythology may clash with the “realistic” sensibilities of modern superhero filmmaking, and bondage / domination imagery is probably not going to emerge out of a corporate blockbuster mentality. Obviously the world still has conflicts and equality is still an issue, but Wonder Woman has been on the winning side of history which has subsequently made what she stands for less of an issue. It’s easier to root for an underdog. The solution isn’t simply to make a Wonder Woman movie a period piece. A movie made in the 21st century must address 21st century issues or be deemed irrelevant. Perhaps that problem is an opportunity, a story where a once relevant Wonder Woman must find her place in modern times is a character arc, but it’s up to the creators to find a statement of purpose for the character beyond “girl power!”. That statement of purpose will largely define the story. 2. Don’t Sweat the Antagonist Once you’ve decided on what Wonder Woman’s state of purpose is, you need someone to challenge that purpose. It’s easy to think that because Wonder Woman lacks a villain on the level of the Joker that it’s a problem. However, I think it’s an opportunity as it doesn’t tie the creator’s hands as to story. And, ultimately the story is going to pick the antagonist. Plus, we shouldn’t assume that the audience will have no familiarity with Wonder Woman’s potential foes. Circe, the Greek Gods and Goddesses, and Hercules have thousands of years of history in the Western cultural heritage including some of the foundations of western literature. There’s also the wider DC Universe to consider drawing from. Vandal Savage, the eternal conqueror, is Wonder Woman’s opposite in many ways, for example. Greek / Roman mythology is probably better known than Norse mythology, and Wonder Woman should be able to take just as much advantage of that cultural knowledge as Thor. 3. Decide on a Hook Once you have the general story, someone needs to come up with a reason to make the story special. Perhaps it comes down to who’s behind the camera or in front of it. Perhaps the hook is story related. Perhaps there’s a level of spectacle that people wouldn’t anticipate. Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s long past time for a female to head a solo superhero film. Whatever the hook is, answering the question of “why should people want to see this film?” is important for the success of the film and it should be built into the film’s foundation by the creative team. If the creative team can’t answer the question of why should people come see the film, who can? 4. Get the Right Lead This is an obvious piece of advice, but it’s still important. There’s perhaps no harder superhero to cast. You can’t hide the actress like you can hide Robert Downey Jr. in the Iron Man suit. Traditionally, Wonder Woman has a lot of exposed areas on her costume, so you can’t hide the overall athleticism of the actress. Ideally, the actress portraying Wonder Woman has to be tall, athletic, young, regal, and talented, which is a tough combination to put together. There aren’t many actors who fit that description either. However, it’s not an impossible part to cast either. Nobody complains about Lynda Carter and one of the few big budget franchises that demands a female lead should have plenty of actresses interested. Hollywood is changing, but in most action franchises the main woman is still the girlfriend not the hero. “Twilight” is over and “The Hunger Games” is finite, so the opportunity to be the biggest showcase for a female lead is Wonder Woman’s to be had in the not too distant future. There’s absolutely no reason to settle. 5. Remember That First Impressions Count Wonder Woman is a cultural icon and the internet is the internet, so it’s important to make a good first impression. A poor impression of the costume sure didn’t help the last attempt at a television series. It’s also worth remembering that everybody has a digital camera built into their phone these days and that you want to be ahead of the internet to control the story. Spend the time and money to get the costume right and release a photo showing the character as you envision, rather than let some random stranger define the character for you. The first picture of Henry Cavill in front of a vault door as the Man of Steel immediately made any blurry set photo irrelevant to the conversation about the film, and Wonder Woman should strive for the same. Robert Reineke is a regular contributor to Batman-On-Film.com. He’s also writing a monthly column on the films of Akira Kurosawa at Where the Long Tail Ends. 10 Pieces of Advice for Making a Wonder Woman Movie was last modified: February 20th, 2016 by Sean Gerber Related Wonder Woman 9 comments 0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest Sean Gerber Sean Gerber is the founder and editor-in-chief of Modern Myth Media. When he's not writing here, you can catch him as the host of Popular Opinion Podcast, Batman News, and Marvel News! previous post Nokia Trailer for ‘Man of Steel’ next post MAN OF STEEL Review You may also like The World Needs Superman…Almost as Much as... January 27, 2012 Why I’m Wary of Overhype for STAR... October 22, 2015 OP/ED: As a Public Service to Critics... March 19, 2016 Wonder Woman Probable For BATMAN V SUPERMAN November 6, 2013 WONDER WOMAN Moves Up And Two New... April 6, 2016 JOE KUBERT – IN MEMORIAM August 13, 2012 BOF: 5 Things Fans That Fans Think... July 14, 2013 The Politics of BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN... April 8, 2016 OP/ED: WB’s “No Jokes” Mandate Doesn’t Exist August 29, 2014 A Justice League of Their Own, Part... August 28, 2012 Dr.H This is rather thoughtful piece however Wondy is a rather hard character to crack because unlike Superman, Batman and Green Laterm–Wonder Woman is many things. That doesn’t exactly lend itself to a an easy comic-to-film conversion. My ideal pick for a Wondy film director would Kathryn Bigelow. Honestly, if Warner Bros had green-lit Whedon’s pitch for Wonder Woman then things would be much different. Ryan Great stuff. I’ve been obsessing over a Wonder Woman movie for awhile now (mainly because I have a daughter who is almost one year old and I’ve been attempting to brainwash her into liking Wonder Woman . . .and why not . . . Wonder Woman is the ultimate princess). But you raise a lot of good points and concerns. From my perspective, her origin story presents the biggest hurdle. Once one gets into the Greek mythology aspects of her character it opens up a whole other realm of expectations dealing with Greek mythology. I just don’t know how you reconcile her…for lack of a better term…comic-booky origin into the film aesthetic of what The Dark Knight trilogy was and what Man of Steel, I presume, is going to look like too. I almost wonder if it’s possible to mostly ditch much of that origin story and just get into what you raised—that of what kind of symbol is Wonder Woman in the 21st century. And that would lead to your other point—of what is the hook in making a Wonder Woman movie. Those are very important decisions that need to be addressed before a movie is put into production. At the end of the day, I think a Wonder Woman can succeed but it’s going to be an uphill battle. Stock Although its obvious that you care about the prospects of a WW film, I doubt DC/WB have nearly enough invested in the property to pull it off. In fact, I’d bet she barely registers on their radar. WW might work as an animated film, or even something along the lines of a TV show like Arrow, but the major film market is out of her league and likely always will be. If they eventually do a JL film and her character is involved it might work as an implied origin like Hawkeye/Black Widow in Avengers, but Amazon women are a tough sell to an audience that craves real world grounding in their fantasy characters. My guess is she’d be replaced by Martian Manhunter or some other character who isn’t a beautiful woman with super-powers from an uncharted, mysterious island populated by Amazons. The biggest difference between Marvel and DC which goes way back to Marvel’s founding is it took years for DC to catch up to Marvel and allow their heroes to have real human issues and problems. While Peter Parker worried about money and getting dates, Batman worried about whether his rainbow colored bat-suit would run in the rain. That’s all changed for the better, I know, but DC has and always will be behind the 8 ball when it comes to the cool factor. Batman and Supes are the cream that rises to the top, everyone else just hangs around in their wake. And Marvel has proved capable of sharing the wealth among their characters. I would have never believed the success of Iron Man if I had just gone on his popularity in the comics. But they made it work by changing his character into RDJ. Hulk had a couple misfires, but he’s still and always has been enormously popular. Cap had an intriguing story about a weakling who wasn’t a coward and with a great villain, and Thor, well, …whatever. (Him I don’t get but he made it anyway) My point is they had a goal and they achieved it. DC never even got to the starting line. A little late to the party when you come in at the hangover. I know you’re looking big picture, but I’d be happy with a great Superman success, (which despite what I’ve seen, I’m still unsure/ That S stands for hope crap. I thought it was his family crest, for crying out loud. Wasn’t that good enough? So what’s Zod’s symbol stand for: Republicans?). Anyway, there are a lot of cool characters at both DC and Marvel but not all of them are going to get their own movie. So I say, enjoy the cream. rOn It’s funny, being a child of the 70’s I disagree with DC not being as cool as Marvel. Batman, Flash and Green Lantern were by far the best and coolest books of the mid-to late 70’s and early 80’s to me. The creative people behind Bat books (as well as GL), O’Neil, Adams, Wein, Rogers etc. were the best in the game in the 70’s. It wasn’t til the early 80’s with Daredevil and X-Men books that Marvel caught up to DC in the coolness factor to me. As for the movies, it’s not DC behind Marvel, it’s Warner Bros. behind Marvel. People give DC to much BS about this when they’ve got very little to do with it. WB should wise up and allow the DC creative people much more say in movies story lines etc, that would be the easiest way for them to “catch up”. Thomo First bit of advice: Update that costume. They really should have done it when the New52 launched, and just putting pants on doesn’t count. I want her looking like a warrior not a hooker Ernie “You can’t hide the actress like you can hide Robert Downey Jr. in the Iron Man suit.” The last thing MARVEL has done is hide Robert Downey Jr. http://impawards.com/2010/posters/iron_man_two_ver2.jpg http://impawards.com/2012/posters/avengers_ver13.jpg http://impawards.com/2012/posters/avengers_ver19.jpg http://impawards.com/2013/posters/iron_man_three.jpg http://impawards.com/2013/posters/iron_man_three_ver2.jpg http://impawards.com/2013/posters/iron_man_three_ver7.jpg http://impawards.com/2013/posters/iron_man_three_ver9.jpg rOn “Like you CAN hide” You obviously missed the point, Sean wasn’t saying they DID hide him in the suit. Sean was making a point that it’s not even possible with Wonder Woman. Sean Gerber Sean said nothing at all. This article s written by Robert Reineke. Michael I think the best way to serve Wonder Woman would be to adapt the mythology for an animated series. It’s my belief that the ensuing pop culture relevance of both Superman and Batman has less to do with movies and comics then the fact that they’ve been a steady presence on television for over 40 years now. The fantastical nature of Wonder Woman (Magic, Mythology, characters like Giganta) is better served by animation then it would be by live action. And frankly I find that modern animated shows have had a better batting average in creating meaningful Superhero stories than their live action counterparts.