Rowing down the Styx: The history of Wonder Woman (not being) featured in the media

In We are on Earth-3 by Santiago Andrea0 Comments

5th Stage Development Hades: Elysium – The history of Wonder Woman (not being) featured in the media

When Batman ended his 4 movie run at the box office during the 90’s Wonder woman had been off the air, in radio, tv and cinema for a decade. The Lynda Carter tv show didn’t spun off a cartoon to air, and after the super friends ended, any projects involving the character for tv would stale or fail. Wonder woman could hardly fall back on recent merchandise sales and media presence to justify a multimillion movie deal investment.

It was around 2001 the first time I heard anything about a feature film on Wonder Woman, and was widely rumoured that Sandra Bullock would be playing the role. Things got really interesting when I learned that the guy who made Matrix was to produce the movie (Joel Silver)!! awesome 00’s news right?

Things looked even more promising when in the following two years several high profile screenwriters where tied to the project, John Cohen (Minority Report.), Todd Alcott (13 Ghosts) and Becky Johnston (Seven Years in Tibet)

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From this early 2000s movie versions only the Todd Alcott’s script was eventually leaked. Here’s how it goes:

The story to everyone’s surprise actually presented two Wonder Women: Diana Prince and Donna Troy.

The story begins with the super-hero’s career already underway,  and opens with “original” heroine Diana Prince as a sort of cross between Superman and James Bond, a secret agent who can fly at the speed of sound (yes, that’s one of Wonder Woman’s powers here so there was no need for an invisible jet)  and has super-strength. The script suggests a Wonder Woman costume more like Donna Troy from the post crisis comics. Both Diana and Donna wear skintight black catsuits, black boots, and Wonder Woman’s signature gauntlets. Diana Prince also wears a snug, fur-lined flight jacket over her catsuit during the opening sequence in the Alps. Both  are described as having raven-black hair, dark eyes and they both have “cupid’s bow lips.”

Soon the story becomes about how Donna Troy comes to realize that she’s the new Wonder Woman. The tale is set in the corrupt Pacific Northwest metropolis of Gateway City, Donna having dreams where she’s living out events that actually happened. Specifically, a violent altercation at residential Marston Tower between a woman (whom we know is Diana Prince) and a man (who is involved with the villain’s dastardly scheme). Donna’s dream is actually Diana’s perspective of the fight as it transpires, Diana is a top-secret agent for the DIA (the Defense Intelligence Agency), who stole some important item fundamental to the villains plans, but she was injured in the brawl at the Tower and is now missing. Beckoned to the crime scene by this dream, Donna raises the suspicion of dogged police detective Mike Schorr.

Long story short: Donna finds that she has suddenly and inexplicably gained super-powers and that she’s somehow connected to the mysterious Diana Prince. (Diana’s origin is related about halfway through via a brief, expository “out of body” visit to the paradise island of Themyscira, and then also discovering Diana’s hidden lair where she also finds Diana’s (for lack of a better expression) “warrior princess” outfits, including one that bears a more passing resemblance to the classic Wonder Woman costume. Diana’s Amazonian outfits and Amazon architecture in general are described as somewhere between ancient and futuristic in design. ) Donna quickly comes to terms with her newfound powers and her Amazonian destiny, and confronts Dr. Psycho’s minions in a series of public altercations that leads to her being dubbed “Wonder Woman” by the press and has now become the target of hi-tech arms manufacturer Dr. Peter Sychopoulos (a.k.a. “Dr. Psycho”) who needs to recover an item that Diana Prince stole. Trying to Locate Diana (and the Item) becomes the goal for Donna and her new sidekick/potential lover Mike, as well as for Dr. Psycho.

Dr. Psycho’s sinister plan  involves a doomsday weapon of sorts so finding Diana is REALLY urgent. This draft ends with a the original hero and her successor to team-up in the last act and not too subtle set-up for a potential sequel.

I can really see this movie being more in the vein of X-Men / Daredevil than that of Spiderman from the early 2000’s. Te dark suit and mixture espionage and technology. Despite whatever revisions the script went through production never really begun and the project fell apart, with Sandra Bullock leaving the project and going on to win an Oscar at some point.

Later script writer Todd Alcott would recall:

True story: I’m in a story meeting for the ill-starred Wonder Woman project and I’m laying out Wonder Woman’s fundamental backstory — formed out of mud by her mother Hippolyta, meant to be the only female created without the help of Man, wears silver bracelets to remind her of her sisters’ enslavement, etc — and the producer cuts me off and says “Okay, first thing, there ain’t gonna be any Greek mythology in this movie.” Making a Wonder Woman movie without any references to Greek mythology is like making a Superman movie where Superman is not the Last Son of Krypton or a Batman movie where Bruce Wayne’s parents are alive and well and residing in stately Wayne Manor.

By 2003 Laeta Kalogridis, who had some reputation of working in Birds Of Prey TV series (not great since it lasted only 13 episodes.) was attached to the project, and apparently delivered a script… THEN rumours regarding “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” former cast members (such as Christina Carpenter and Sarah Michelle Geller) started popping up as possible candidates for the title role… and rumours where not that far-fetched cos it was soon revealed that Joss Whedon himself, the creator of Buffy was actually hired to pen the Script from scratch.

Why would Joss Whedon be perfect for wonder woman is really something that can’’ b put into words. you just gotta watch his shows and movies.

Unlike Kevin Smith’s script for Tim Burton’s Superman Lives, none of Whedon’s writing for the film has leaked so far,  But what we know about Whedon’s vision is the following:

She sort of traveled the world. She was very powerful and very naïve about people, and the fact that she was a goddess was how I eventually found my in to her humanity and vulnerability, because she would look at us and the way we kill each other and the way we let people starve and the way the world is run and she’d just be like, None of this makes sense to me. I can’t cope with it, I can’t understand, people are insane. And ultimately her romance with Steve was about him getting her to see what it’s like not to be a goddess, what it’s like when you are weak, when you do have all these forces controlling you and there’s nothing you can do about it. That was the sort of central concept of the thing. Him teaching her humanity and her saying, OK, great, but we can still do better.

The idea of wonder woman really seeing herself as a citizen of the world really talks to me…. but  this was all we got… and seriously is just too little, cos it went on for four years! and as the time passed the internet kept on rumouring possibilities for the role to basically every famous female actress around (some as terrifying as Jennifer Lopez) fan-casted. By the time the first draft was handed, every newcomer and well established actress in Hollywood had been tied to the project, my favourite being Evangeline Lily (Lost).  even Lynda Carter shared her interest in doing a cameo for the film at some point.

 

Extremely early concept art for Joss Whedon’s wonder woman

By 2007 From out of the blue, Joel Silver bought a new script that was floating around by Matthew Jennison and Brent Strickland and Just days later Whedon confirmed he had abandoned the project.

I have no idea the status of the movie and, honestly, I never did. I was told they were very anxious to make it. I wrote a script. I rewrote the story. And by the time I’d written the second script, they asked me…not to. [Laughs] They didn’t tell me to leave, but they showed me the door and how pretty it was. Would I like to touch the knob and maybe make it swing ? I was dealing with them through [producer] Joel Silver who couldn’t tell me what they wanted or anything else. I was completely in the dark. So I didn’t know what it was that I wasn’t giving them. I’ve moved on.

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Strickland’s script was eventually leaked and reviewed by BOF (batman on film) shortly after and alongside LatinoReview.com rated it “Almost Perfect”.

It’s 1943 and World War II is raging. Steve Trevor is described as being “…tall, handsome son of a senator, but made it on his own.”  a spy and he’s spying on the Nazis. But before we meet Trevor, we get a quick history lesson on the Amazons and how they made their way to Themyscira years ago. Wonder Woman is described as “…barely twenty; she’s beautiful, with long black hair.” And based on the way she’s introduced, she’s one badass Amazon.

Coming back home Trevor crash lands a Nazi concept jet in Themyscira that he stole from back in Germany. The Amazons find him and Diana saves his ass. Of course, they end up fleeing the island and head off to the good ‘ol US of A in the invisible plane.

The second act provides us with the set up for the rest of the film. Diana and Steve partner up to defeat the Nazis (who of course are bastards) — who are up to even more no good in addition to being up to the typical Nazi no good usually depicted in such films. They head to Germany and a good portion of Act 2 is set in Berlin. Also, Diana has her own reason for helping Steve and fleeing to America with him. I won’t spoil it, but it has something to do with the Nazis being up to the extra no good that I previously mentioned. It is during the second act  we are finally introduced to “Wonder Woman.” Her costume is a]combination of her Amazon battle gear and the American flag, the costume we all know as Wonder Woman but slightly more combat ready.

The 3rd act consists of a no hold’s barred battle between the good guys (Wonder Woman, Trevor, Amazons) and the bad guys (the Nazis). The battle takes place on Themyscira (seems they have something the Nazis want) which is how and why the Amazons get involved. While the ending is indeed the conclusion of this story, things are clearly set up for a sequel.

The studio, however, did not want a period peace and asked Strickland for another script but placed in current times. Even with such a script, the Wachowski were in negotiations to Direct but dropped out over creative differences.

Ultimately, the film was put on hold so that the studio could pursue the Justice League: Mortal film. Here there was first time a cast for Wonder Woman was announced since Lynda Carter. Megan gale was to play the part, but the movie fell apart.

Eventually Silver lost the rights due to a combination of a lack of development and the writer’s strike of 2007. The film rights reverted back to DC who up to date has negotiated with various writers and directors but never made any official announcement regarding anything that maybe have been put into any stage of production.

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The absence of a wonder woman movie seems to me really was a turning point for the future of DC comics adaptation in movies. When the movie was announced by Warner Brothers in the it was on the eve of their revival of Batman in Batman Begins, and after the success of X-men and standing on the success of the earliest Marvel films. X-Men and Spiderman.  Expectations were low if not inexistent, but as Time passed. Things happened.

1st. are Catwoman and Elektra. Those two movies bombed in the box office and both had female super heroine leads. This kind of set a very poor standard and easily scares off both producers (who don’’ want to invest) and property owners (who don’t want their lucrative franchise tainted).

  1.  By the time Whedon left the project (to do a little flick called Avengers) of the three DC movie ventures that had made it to the box-office (Superman, Batman and Green lantern) only Batman Begins was a success and was set up into a trilogy. That movie had a, no super powers, little costumes, realistic world setting philosophy… something the character of Wonder Woman is not easily associated with.

By 2008 once wonder woman rights had reverted to DC, Bruce Timm who was now a legend in super hero animation managed to convince Warner to let him make PG-13 version of the DC characters in the form of a direct to video animated movie.

Warner animation had produced direct to video animated movies during the 90’s as Tie-in’s of the Animated shows, Batman and Superman, the movies did so great that when the animated shows ended, They continued making movies with DC characters and each would stand on your own. The first to be released in such manner was the Death of Superman, and was followed the next year by Gotham Knights.. and despite the absence of wonder woman having any appearance on tv or movies on her own for what was 30 years, r in 2009, The Wonder Woman Animated Movie came to be.

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The movie came out to positive reviews and is the forth highest grossing DC animated movie of their 19 releases. However in 2010 Bruce Timm announced that There wouldn’t be any more Animated releases for wonder woman.

‘Wonder Woman’s’ sales started out extremely slow and then over time were eventually able to catch up to probably ‘Justice League: New Frontier.’“ said Timm. “The Exec’s decided because it wasn’t able to sell quickly right away, whereas ‘Justice League’ was, that there wouldn’t be any more female super hero films right now. We were developing and hoping to get started on a ‘Batgirl’ film based on ‘Year One,’ but because of ‘Wonder Woman’s’ slow sales start, that won’t be happening now

Why?! Oh god Why?!!

The reason for this I will touch on the next part. The Most horrible step into Hades: Tartarus AKA. The Wonder-Embargo.

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