After decades off the air, Wonder Woman is reportedly heading back to television in the 21st century. But comics’ most heroic female must avoid tired cliches and lame story arcs if she’s going to blaze serious trails for TV programming — and for other heroic females.
According to Deadline Hollywood, the Wonder Woman pilot nabbed by NBC would be a “reinvention of the iconic DC comic in which Wonder Woman — aka Diana Prince — is a vigilante crime fighter in L.A. but also a successful corporate executive and a modern woman trying to balance all of the elements of her extraordinary life.”
Written by law- and medical-drama machine David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal, Boston Legal), the pilot pickup was reportedly ordered by new NBC Entertainment president Bob Greenblatt, who helped shepherd female-led shows like The L Word and Nurse Jackie into being at Showtime.
Greenblatt’s record might be encouraging, but Kelley’s assertion that his Wonder Woman would be “a real complex woman and not just a superhero” is not.
Wonder Woman is pop culture’s ultimate woman warrior. She shouldn’t be treated as anything less. Here are 10 ways Princess Diana of Paradise Island (or Themyscira, depending on your preferred retconning) can outrun television convention. Wrap yourself in a Lasso of Truth before making your own suggestions in the comments section below.
10 Mandates for a Kick-Ass Wonder Woman TV Show
10. Make her a serious badass.
Wonder Woman is a “feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman,” said the character’s creator, William Moulton Marston. In other words, she’s not Ally McBeal or even Lynda Carter, who complained of being labeled a sex object when she starred in the popular ’70s Wonder Woman TV series. Neither predecessor is going to cut it when crafting a next-gen Amazon goddess.
9. Make her eternal.
Above all else, Wonder Woman is an immortal, not a puny human. Giving her a day job as a corporate executive who moonlights as a vigilante, as Kelley proposes, could be part of the picture. But if it’s the whole picture, we’re looking at a comics fiasco on the level of the late-60s Wonder Woman, who was stripped of her powers and turned into a mod with a boutique shop.
8. Create serious supervillains from the fringes of science and time.
Actress Lynda Carter fought street punks and military enemies in the ’70s version of Wonder Woman. But the 21st century’s Wonder Woman needs a more ambitious, challenging workout. She shouldn’t be fighting flaccid wannabes who are doing time as god fodder.
7. Don’t pick a short, scrawny actress.
Whoever plays Wonder Woman must be built like a warrior, but still hot enough to ensnare drooling fanboys, who can’t abide a female superhero who isn’t a sex object. Think Xena plus Alias, and you’re partly there. As Gina Torres, who starred in Firefly and Alias, infamously explained, “There are no skinny bitches in superhero land.” (Torres would be great for the role, by the way.)
6. Don’t skimp on the action.
Whoever plays Wonder Woman should possess serious martial arts skills or be able to learn them. Wonder Woman is a pit fighter as well as a divine power, so the actress playing her should be able to sell the onscreen brawls. Check director Lauren Montgomery’s kick-ass action in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths and the animated Wonder Woman film for further instruction.
5. Give Gail Simone a shot at the script.
Simone has penned amazing issues of DC Comics’ Wonder Woman series, as well as Birds of Prey and the riotously villainous Secret Six, which is horny and hyperviolent at the same time. Plus, she’s a tough-minded feminist who can write as capably for the LGBT demographic as she can for the drooling fanboys. She even had the nerve to crack wise about Aquaman’s shrimpy penis in the surreal kids toon Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Simone would bring brains and cred, which the show could really use.
4. Don’t make Wonder Woman asexual.
The polyamorous Marston imagined his character to be a superhero as well as a sexual creature. The early Wonder Woman comics are riddled with subversive bondage shout-outs, and fanboy (and fangirl) fantasies about Wonder Woman often revolve around sex and pleasure. So Kelley’s show should go there — with Superman or Batman, preferably. Intelligence officer Steve Trevor might have been a catch last century, but he should be Wonder Woman’s bitch in this one.
3. Don’t make Diana a tool of the state.
Or the boardroom, for that matter. Kelley’s show is positioning its protagonist as a successful corporate executive, but what corporation, selling what product, would be key, because Diana is a princess of peace for all humankind. This isn’t Mad Men: Wonder Woman shouldn’t be a corporate parrot fighting for increased share valuation. She should be fighting the good fight, for everyone.
2. Update the costume.
Having Wonder Woman rock the stars and stripes while fighting Nazis made sense when Marston created the character during World War II for readers still shell-shocked by Pearl Harbor. But Earth is an internetworked global village now, and Wonder Woman is an ambassador to its people from the gods themselves. If Kelley’s going to have her working for The Man, Wonder Woman had better be wearing multinational duds. It’s really no big deal: Wonder Woman has changed costumes many times (as recently as last year). Rebooting her admittedly iconic costume for prime time would guarantee at least one season of controversy and ratings.
1. Ditch Wonder Woman’s invisible plane.
Sorry, dude. Wonder Woman is a goddess. She can at least fly, and should be able to teleport or whatever immortals do to get from one place, or time, to another. The sky’s the limit when it comes to godlike transportation. The show doesn’t need an anachronism in the air.