I don’t want to see a Wonder Woman movie, but I desperately want one to exist.
As a child of the eighties and nineties who grew up on TV rather than comic books and only knew Lynda Carter from those Lens Express ads, I never developed any feelings about Wonder Woman. Well, maybe one. I was definitely embarrassed that the most well-known superhero in my gender always looked like she headed for the beach on the Fourth of July. As a pop-culture junkie, I grew to love other kick-ass females — Storm, Rogue, and Jean Grey from The X-Men cartoon, Buffy during college, Katniss in adulthood — but never the dainty-looking, lasso aficionado who was clearly thought up by a BDSM enthusiast. (No, really, that’s her real origin story.)
Despite my natural disinterest, it’s been hard not to care about Wonder Women projects — and to feel disappointed by their failures. And there have been so many: a Joss Whedon movie(!), two TV shows, some variation of The Justice League. Gradually, the continued nonexistence of a Wonder Woman movie or show, especially during a decade when we’ve seen competing superhero films every effing year, began to irk. As readers of this blog — or indeed, livers in reality — know, it’s often hard enough to find films about women. But films about physically strong women who aren’t emasculating harpies or an adornment to a man? Even Angelina Jolie must find those scripts hard to find.
Because Hollywood is currently in the grips of rehash fever, the best bet for an action heroine lies in a preexisting franchise. Which brings us back to Wonder Woman, because she seems the likeliest candidate for one of these big-budget superhero spectacles where the budget is clearly spent on effects, rather than good writing. But that’s okay. I just want to watch a woman fuel the story. I want to laugh at a woman’s jokes. I want to be inspired by a woman’s physical strength. Those are things I do all the time in real life. Why should they be so hard to find in a medium where literally anything can be made up?
Chances are, though, that none of those things will happen, not with Wonder Woman. By casting near-unknown Gal Gadot in the Man of Steel Sequel as Diana Prince, director Zak Snyder, best-known as an auteur for his consistent use of rape imagery (cf. The Watchmen, Sucker Punch, 300), has closed the possibility of there being a Wonder Woman movie in the near future. Whatever her talents, Gadot simply lacks the star power to carry her own film. Even a relatively minor character like the Black Widow in The Avengers was played by Scarlett freaking Johansson — and she’s not getting her own superhero movie, either. (There’s another essay to be written about the opportunities that random dudes like Henry Cavill and Chris “Captain America” Evans get to attain superstardom through these comic-book franchises — opportunities not afforded to actresses.)
But did Wonder Woman, or Gadot for that matter, ever really have a chance? The hook of the Man of Steel sequel is “Superman vs. Batman,” with the latter character played by a newly ascendent Ben Affleck. (Maybe you’ve heard?) At best, Wonder Woman is already relegated to third-wheel status. Fans of Amy Adams’ Lois Lane may hold out hope for another interesting and complex female character, and god knows there’s not enough of those in these superpowered bro-fests. But being a fascinating accessory isn’t enough.
So I want to see some bam-pow, even if it has to come with some glam-wow. As wonderful as Jennifer Lawrence is, women can’t live on Katniss alone.