Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Whedonless Woman

Usually I try to stay above the fray in any controversy that I myself am not causing. But the ouster of Joss Whedon is too good to pass up.

My position is: there is a god, and his name is Zeus.

Let me set aside for a moment that I can't stand Whedon's work or understand its appeal. Whedon's been unable to figure out what he wants the script to do and who he wants to play Wonder Woman. He didn't want her in her traditional costume or fighting any of her traditional villains. Basically, Whedon wanted a big movie, but didn't really want to make one about Wonder Woman. And apparently this isn't merely my assessment, but Whedon's as well, since he admitted in exit interviews that after a while, the whole pairing of him with the project just didn't seem to be working on either end.

I'm glad, at least, that everyone realized this now, because as bad as a cancelled wedding is, it's not as bad as a bad marriage (Batman and Robin) or a divorce (Superman II).

But this leaves me (and probably lots of other people) with lots of questions. Will this delay the project or did WB already have a new boyfriend waiting in the wings? What should the feel of a Whedonless Wonder Woman be, now that we are free of the specter of Diana The Monster Slayer? Would Congress pass a Pro-Human Cloning Bill if it were limited to Linda Carter?

My feeling is that too much anxiety is wasted on trying to make Wonder Woman "fit" in a real world context, as Batman does in his new movies. How do you make a big Amazon women in a majorette's 4th O'July outfit "fit"? Answer: you don't.

To me, that's the glory of Wonder Woman. She's totally out of place, completely out of context ...

and she doesn't care a whit.

Everything she does seems perfectly natural to her, and that's what makes it okay for you. Really weird, but still okay. That's how Linda Carter pulled it off.

Remember, when Messner-Leobs had Diana working at Taco Whiz? Yes, that was odd. But what I remember most about it was that (for me) she lost none of her dignity in doing so and saw nothing odd about what she was doing. And when questioned about it, her response was something to the effect of "What could be more noble than helping people feed themselves?" Good for you, WW!

Batman? Superman? Nice guys, good guys, but basically kind of uptight. Wonder Woman? Free as a bird and never breaks a sweat about making the tough calls, whether they involve snapping someone's neck, slaying the Hydra, or offering to supersize your meal.


Anonymous said...

One problem with Joss's departure: he's the one writer who would be guaranteed to incorporate Etta Candy as a key player in the script.

The Joss Whedon formula for success always always ALWAYS involves a statuesque woman for mass consumption, plus her friend who isn't conventionally gorgeous but hits every note of geek appeal. For every Buffy there is a Willow, for every Inara there is a Kaylee. And for a Princess Diana there would be ... an Etta Candy.

Given Joss's track record, Etta's role writes itself: she'd be a bespectacled, slightly chunky (more "healthy" than "fat") computer chick who gets all the good lines, who guides Princess Diana in the world of men, whose skills are somehow essential for Princess Diana to get from Point A to Point B in the script. And it's a cinch that, in Joss's hands, Etta would say "Woo woo!" exactly one time in mock enthusiasm. And now we won't get any of that.

Shane Rollins said...

I would have loved to seen a Joss wonder woman...maybe now he can take over Smallville and progress that show, but one slight point that me and my co-worker disagreed with you on.

WHAT traditional villains? Are we talking...Cheetah? Giganta? Jinx? Egg Fu?

Think, this is the WB who just bought a script that has WW in WWII. I wonder if Joss was trying to stay TOO loyal to the backstory, they may have not wanted any greek mythology along with the story...though I don't know how you do that.

David C said...

While I love Whedon (er, I love Firefly, anyway, kinda indifferent/uninitiated to Buffy), it looks like an unusually honest sort of "creative differences" situation.

And I can see how lots of different people can have wildly different, but not "invalid," ideas about a Wonder Woman movie, since there's really no "definitive" take on the character, or even a "must have" checklist.

Incidentally, the Wonder Woman TV show and Lynda Carter really *did* pull off a tricky set of problems well. Not unlike Chris Reeve's Superman, where it seems kinda corny that in a cynical age, he stands for "Truth, Justice, and the American Way." But you believe that *he* believes in it wholeheartedly, which makes you believe in it too....

k26dp said...

Speaking as a fan of both Joss Whedon's work and of Wonder Woman, I am also relieved.

From what I understand, Whedon was not using the mythological background or classic villians in his treatment, and that he would be trying to contemporize WW. I think this is a huge mistake.

WW is not complicated. Trevor crashes on island. Trevor leaves. Diana follows. Throw in a plot about gods and monsters and you've got a fun story.

rachelle said...

Well said.

I hope YOU direct the Wonder Woman movie.

rob! said...

i wrote abou this just yesterday:


Anonymous said...

A Wonder Woman movie could be a lot of fun. Here's my WW movie checklist:

-Have it take place during WWII.
-Have Athena, Hippolyta, Steve Trevor, Etta Candy, and Professor Sandsmark as characters (having Sandsmark in there opens the door for Cassie aka Wonder Girl to make an appearance later on).
-Greek mythology bad guys: Hydra, Charybdis, Hercules, Ares (Maybe Ares is mixed up with the Axis powers and he's got one of those "cosmic wager" things going with Athena).
-Like in the Justice League Unlimited cartoon, have Wonder Woman's bracelets be used to deflect enemy fire back at them.
-Have the magic lasso and somehow, someway, the invisible plane.
-Have at least one "human" villain, perhaps the Cheetah or Giganta, even better would be Dr. Psycho, working for the Axis.
-Make it not suck.

MarkAndrew said...


You're right about Joss Whedon leaving Wonder Woman, and I was wrong.

(But I still love Buffy.)

Sleestak said...

I am in the group overjoyed that Joss is off Wonder Woman. While I enjoyed Buffy and Angel I despised the Firefly Universe for its horrible 'just like' fallacy concept. Besides, PAD did it first and better in the Oblivion movies.

But mainly I am glad Joss is out because of the purely gut reaction I have to hearing of his disinterest in using a "classic" villain like the Cheetah. If you can't think of how to make her work in the film with all the potential for the fierce CGI and wire-fu battle scenes between the two then you have no business being attached to a Wonder Woman film.

Plus, I wonder if studio may have had a problem with the limited opportunities for product placement in a WW2 period film.

Bryan said...

i'm no fan of Whedon. I don't understand what is so great about him. I don't dislike his stuff, but I just don't understand the fanaticism surrounding him. Xena did everything Buffy did, but did it first and better.

Regardless, I can't see a Wonder Woman movie working if they play it straight. On the local public access channel there's a series fan made Wonder Woman movies starring all drag queens. It is awesomeness personified. Any real movie would have a tough time competing with that.

totaltoyz said...

Product placement in a WW2 film shouldn't be too much a problem; just court investors whose products were around then. Coca-Cola. Wrigley's. Hershey. JC Penney. Kellogg's.

Anonymous said...

"... but I just don't understand the fanaticism surrounding him. Xena did everything Buffy did, but did it first and better."

Two things Whedon does extremely well:

1) He writes snappy dialogue. It's reliably engaging, and (as his fans will point out) you can take just about anything any of his characters says, look at it completely removed from its original context, and it's still identifiable as something only that character would have said. That's quite a talent, even if it's not always the best way to tell a story.

2) Do not underestimate Whedon's ability to create the ultimate geek fantasy character. This is a woman who's "cute" but not unapproachably good-looking, intelligent, kind-hearted and a little insecure (so you know she totally wouldn't laugh at your "Babylon 5" action figures), and an expert in some sort of arcane field. Somehow I can't wrap my head around the concept of "Mary Sue" so I don't know whether that's the right term for what Whedon is doing, but whatever the term is, it's the Willows and Kaylees that earn him a following.

The Mutt said...

To start with, the movie's title should be The Wonder Woman. The actress needs to be six feet tall and look like she could kick Brandon Routh's ass.

WWII fighter ace Steve Trevor crashs on Paradise Island, brings the niave Diana back to Man's World. Fat and sassy Etta teaches her how to be a "modern" woman. She joins the Allied cause. This shifts the balance of power, so Hitler and his Evil Scientist call down Thor and his Shield Maiden to tackle The Wonder Woman, while Steve and Etta race to find the Spear of Destiny that will send the gods back to Asgard. But will it banish Diana as well? What will Steve do?

WW - Unknown Greek actress
Steve - Mark Valley
Etta - Queen Latifah
Thor - HHH

Allan said...

What follows in an accurate transcript of the thoughts of the commenter as he read this post and its comments:

Scipio doesn't like the Mighty Whedon? Oh, yeah, right....I remember him mentioning that before. Oh, well. Even the best of us have our flaws. Speaking of flaws, does he have to keep dissing Superman II? That movie rocks! "You shall kneel before Zod!" Brilliance! I do like his idea of having the American Congress pass a bill that would allow for the cloning of Lynda Carter (even if he spelled her name wrong). That's some legislation I can support! Everyone should have one! Hell, if they're affordable enough I'd buy two! One for home and the other to travel with, just like my iPods. I gotta read those comics where WW works at a Taco Whiz (I wonder if they were written before or after Buffy had her own gig at the fast food restaurant?), I wonder which ones they are. Now let's see what the regular gang of commenters have to say. Good point. Uh-huh. I agree. No one is saying anything too egregious, though I could do with some more defense of the skills of the Great and All-Powerful Whedon (seriously have none of these people seen the musical episode? Best hour of television ever!) Wait I spook too soon....Did someone actually disfavorably compare Firefly to those horrible Stagecoach-in-space Oblivion movies that went direct-to-video in the 90s? Those two movies were cringe-inducingly bad and not in the good way I normally love (I mean I am the jerk who defended Superman III). Still, to each his own I guess....WAIT. WTF? "Xena did everything Buffy did, but did it first and better." Calm down, Allan. Chill. Don't go all fanboy on this guys ass. He has a right to his opinion even if it is as wrong as FDR's decision to intern Americans of Japanese descent into concentration camps during WWII. Hm, maybe that analogy is a bit too strong....No, it fits perfectly and manages to avoid the invocation of Godwin's Law, so that's good. Okay, so now you feel compelled to write a comment of your own, but you want to do it in a way that indicates that a) you think Whedon could have made an awesome WW movie, b) his television work does make him worthy of deification and that c) some people obviously see the world much differently than I do (Oblivion? Xena? I mean, really?) but do it in a way that is more amusing than hissyfit-ish. Now how the heck can that be done?

Jonathan Miller said...

Whedon's characters and dialogue make me want to poke out my eardrums, so I'm not too sorry about this either. As Scipio says, it's sounded more and more as if Whedon was less interested in making a Wonder Woman movie and more interested in making a movie based around his tropes that would be called "Wonder Woman." Which would be all right for his fans, I guess, but certainly not what the studio probably wanted.

Mark_Question said...

Spot on, as usual. I really don't understand the fanaticism surrounding Whedon either.. Buffy was mildly entertaining, but the first episode of Firefly (or whatever) made me cringe, roll my eyes and laugh out loud at it's ridiculousness. In conclusion: While being an Ok writer, Whedon is definitely NOT "the God Of All Things Geek", plus he didn't really seem to know what to do with Diana, so I'd rather take a slightly campy but true to form version over Wonder Buffy any day.

My pitch would be something like this:
- Flashback, ca. 300 BC: Alexander the Great (works better than Herkules) has conquered most of Europe and the Middle East, the civilised world lies in ruins.
- His Consort and first General, Hyppolita, asks him to stop the madness, but oh noes! The noble man she knew has been turned into a bloodthirsty savage by Ares, God of War.
- Polly takes her sisters and flees , aided by the gods, to Themyscira.
-Fast Forward, present day: Experimental jet pilot Steve trevor crashes near the island, Diana saves him.
-Steve tells her that the world is being pushed towards global warfare by the ruthless weapons corporation he works for.
-Diana convinces her mother that a Wonder Woman is needed to guide Man's World into an age of peace. she aggrees, but reluctant to let Diana go, decides a tournament must be held.
- Some sword-fighting and some such, Diana wins, gets armor and lasso (the one from the current WW run, pretty much the only good thing that came out of it.), sets off to mans world.
- Enter Etta Candy! Diana wanders the streets of NY in awe, stops random mugger attacking Etta in an alley, they become best friends immediately, some fun scenes in which snarky Etta explains the modern world in a satirical way.
- Cut to the military industrialist watching TV footage of WW, realising who she is, getting very very angry (ominous scene reveals that..(dum dum dum!) Ares has taken over his body.
- Ares/CEO-guy enters secret underground facility, ordering to realease Huma Weapons Project "Cheetah" and "Psycho" on WW (postmodernbarney convinced me that Peter Dinklage HAS to be in the movie), maybe Silver Swan too.
-Diana and Steve hang out in NY, Cheetah and Psycho attack, mayhem, CGI and lots of Wire Fu ensue. Diana gets captured while trying to protect Steve from being gutted by the Cheetah.
- Steve and Etta to the rescue! Using ridiculous diguises and his employee status, both enter Ares' secret basement where Diana, bound by her own lasso is held.
- Second big fight, Diana beats the crap out of the Cheetah while Etta knocks Psycho out with a lead pipe (you know you want to see that..)
- Big showdown with Ares, lots of collateral damage until Diana realises that, in order to beat the God of War, you simply have to refuse to fight him.
- Big speech about peace and understanding, angry but powerless Ares fires a nuclear missile at Manhattan, Diana binds him, flys off to stop the catastrophe in one final, amazing CGI scene a la "Returns".
-Crisis averted, everybody is happily reunited, but for Diana, the Mission has just begun.. THE END.

Either that or what "the mutt" wrote. That sounds cool too.
(Sorry for the long post, but I have been pondering this question ever since the announcement of the movie, I nevertheless tried to keep it brief.)

Anonymous said...

You must have been blinded by her beauty....because she spells it "Lynda Carter"

Scipio said...

"Ares fires a nuclear missile at Manhattan,"


No, no, no.

That must be saved for Doctor Domino...

Julian said...

mark_question: that is a kick ass WW pitch, but I must admit that a Dr. Domino version would be even better.

Mark_Question said...

Aah.. but of course! How could I have forgotten that in order to commune with the god of war, one must wear the ancient Helmet of Domino, the sacred Tuxedo of Terror and the mystical Purple Cape of Style..!


Starwolf_oakley said...

I imagined the Wonder Woman movie as using some elements from Bryne's run where Hipolyta took over for (temporarily dead) Diana, and went (briefly) back in time to the 1940s to join the Justice Society as the Golden Age Wonder Woman.

My movie would start with a 10 minute prologue of Hipolyta as the Golden Age Wonder Woman fighting Axis Occult Monsters on V-E Day. The War in Europe ends and Hipolyta returns to Paraside Island and decides to carve herself a baby daughter from magic clay. Magic lightning from the sky hits the clay baby and turns it into a real infant.

The rest of the movie would be in the present, with Diana fighting Ares, now an Armani-clad war profiteer, and his nefarious plan to create a fake, never-ending war. Oh, and Doctor Domino shows up as well.

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