We all want a Wonder Woman movie.
Why? Because a Wonder Woman movie would be crazy aces.
You could do a really cool thing with her being equal parts superhero and warrior princess demi-goddess — fighting not aliens or supervillains but creatures and figures out of mythology. Struggling with her own place in this world, and you could even color it with her struggle as a woman — never too heavy-handed on that point, but still keenly felt.
It’d be the melodrama of gods, the epic heroism of myth put onto the streets of modern-day America, a cracking lasso, bullets deflected. Maybe no invisible jet, though, because, c’mon.
Similar to Thor, which really isn’t a “superhero” movie. (Alternate idea: do a Captain America version, where she fights Nazis. Because, c’mon. Nazis! Check out this cool fan film.)
This isn’t what’s happening.
What’s happening is — at least, what we know is — Zach Snyder is making a movie about Batman and Superman and we’re just now hearing that Wonder Woman is a part of it. We don’t know how significant her role will be. We don’t know the script. We don’t know much more than that.
Oh, we do know that the actress that’s playing her. Gal Gadot — and, by the way, let’s cut criticisms of her body or her once-model status out of the argument, because body shaming is body shaming no matter the shape of the body. It’s not “okay” just because she doesn’t look like you or because she doesn’t look like your idea of the character of Wonder Woman. I don’t recall Wonder Woman being in my history books, do you? And even if she did — artists get to draw her differently, and so actresses can portray her differently. (The same people will say something about Lynda Carter being great, and please be advised: Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot are the same height, and Carter was also a supermodel.) Gadot is a professional actress. She’s acted in films before. She has gotten paid to act in those films. And Gadot was in the Israeli army. Can we really not believe that a regimen of exercise plus movie magic can’t make her look like a passable Diana? Christian Bale before Batman looked like a thin strip of beef jerky. So, let’s cut the shit, please.
The problem isn’t Gadot. The problem is, at least potentially, Snyder.
Snyder has made some strong films, at least visually.
Snyder hasn’t offered us many really strong female characters.
Lois Lane in Man of Steel came close for the first half of the film until she ended up relegated to worthless love-interest/helper-monkey by the end. Gorgo, similarly, is a mixed bag — strong in many ways but then relegated to rape victim to move the plot along. The women in Watchmen aren’t given the same level of attention that they are in the comic.
And don’t get me started on Sucker Punch.
(You are of course free to have loved that film as much as many of you surely do. As time goes on, it’s a film for me that only serves as little grain of sand stuck to my butthole — it just keeps itching and itching, an irritating mote sure to become a rash, never become a pearl. For my mileage, it’s a film that not only fails at its supposed purpose, but actually subverts its own ideas of “empowerment” into shallow, septic nonsense. YMMV, IMHO, etc.)
So, now we’re getting Snyder’s version of Wonder Woman.
Right out of the gate, we’re getting some warning signs.
First, that she’s not part of the trio, but rather, a third wheel to the two men. I say this because the film is called Batman Vs. Superman. She’s not going to be a main character because, drum roll please, the main characters are already there.
Second, we’re not following the Marvel path of, “Introduce new character with their own film, then give them the team-up movie.” This is reverse-engineering (and I’ll tell you why that’s a problem in a minute).
Third, the fear that romantic drama will be at play here, with Wonder Woman offered up as kissy-fodder for Superman to create emotional conflict with Lois. (Again, why else introduce her in a film not about her unless she’s to be used as a prop to hold up some aspect of the plot?)
Fourth, Man of Steel wasn’t — for me — a great film, or even a good film, or even a film I want to see ever again. (It’s another movie that over time lost any luster it had when I left the theater).
Fifth, and finally: Sucker Punch. Again.
So, here’s what happens:
We get the movie.
It’s full of the Snyder bombast. Maybe it has a good script. Maybe it doesn’t.
Maybe it’s okay. Maybe it’s awesome. Maybe it sucks dooky-shoes.
Maybe it makes fat bank. Maybe it crumbles like an ill-baked cookie at the box office.
But the film could be a justification for us never ever getting a proper Wonder Woman movie.
No matter how the film does, any time the subject of a Wonder Woman film comes up, they’ll be pointing to this movie as the test. And if this movie isn’t a stellar representation of her?
Game over, goodbye.
But you’re saying, “Batman has had plenty of shitty entries into the film canon. Superman, too.” And you’d be right. But, here’s a secret shh don’t tell anybody: those are white guys.
Here’s what happens when a film or television show succeeds or fails when white guys are involved: “Great script! Shit script. Strong director. Shoulda gotten a better director.” And so on. It’s judged based on the merits of the film and the roles filled in support of that film.
What happens when a film or television show fails — key word, fails — when one or several women are involved? It’s because she was a woman. “Nobody responds to female-driven comedies,” they might say. “Or this is why we don’t have a lot of female directors.” It won’t be because of the technical merits. Won’t be because of a bad script or a rough market or, or, or.
It’ll be blamed on those with vaginas.
And that’s what will happen here.
If Wonder Woman fails on-screen — hell, if she falls short of the 90% awesome mark on-screen — then the excuse will be, as it has been in various LA-LA-Land meetings already, “Nobody wants to see a Wonder Woman film.” They’ll say she’s hard to get right. Hard to make her work on screen. Whether she’s in this film for five minutes or fifty, this is what we’ll get. And this is why the Marvel approach would’ve been so much more desirable. Creating her movie upfront would have given us a chance to have her succeed on her own merits, not fall down because she’s a value-add in a film about two superdudes. If we had assumed her film was a necessary one before the inevitable Justice League film, it would’ve guaranteed at least one movie.
But that’s not happening. We get this one role. So we’d better hope it’s a good one. Because —
They could make 10 shitty Batman movies, and we’ll always see more Batman movies.
But if Wonder Woman isn’t top of the pops for every second she’s on-screen in Snyder’s film, they’ll burn the character down and salt the earth and the topic won’t come up again for another 30 goddamn years. Wonder Woman will be poison on the lips.
And that’s the danger of putting Wonder Woman in Batman Versus Superman.
It’s a perfect — meaning, sad — example of how you might kill a Wonder Woman franchise.
(Disclaimer: all of this is of course pure speculation. I’ve not seen a script. I’d like to be cautiously optimistic here. But I can base some thoughts on what has come before, and that’s what I’m doing here. Fingers crossed that all of this is delightfully inaccurate.)