In the ever-evolving landscape of fandom, there are simply some things that should not have happened. In Retcon This!, we examine some of the more questionable aspects of our beloved geek properties.
When it was first announced that legendary TV producer David E. Kelley was developing a series based on DC’s legendary heroine Wonder Woman, I was cautiously optimistic. I’m not the biggest fan of the character, but I do recognize her status as an icon in the world of comics and as one of the few well-known and most important female superheroes, so having a new TV show based around her is kind of a big deal. Plus, Kelley is a dependable creator who knows how to make good, successful TV shows. Ever since that initial announcement, however, everything else I’ve learned about the show has made me more and more convinced that this will be an embarassing failure for all involved. The changes made to the characters, the choice of costume, and the basic premise of the show do no justice to the legacy of Wonder Woman and will do nothing to raise awareness of the character other than make her a national punchline on par with Cop Rock.
First off, the show seems to be toning down the character’s Amazonian heritage and instead is making her the CEO of a multimillion dollar corporation who secretly fights crime. Early reports of the pilot show us that the character will be depicted as a “modern corporate woman” trying to balance her business life with the life of a crimefighter, while at the same time attempting to maintain some sort of personal life. That’s right…comicdom’s premier superheroine is going to be portrayed as a superpowered variation of Liz Lemon from 30 Rock or the title character of Kelley’s previous creation, Ally McBeal. In both the comics and in the old 70’s TV show starring Lynda Carter, Diana’s secret identities, when she actually had them, did not have any sort of priority over her real identity. Those versions of Wonder Woman wouldn’t have had the time or even the desire to worry about corporate and financial interests, but apparently Kelley wants to change the character to fit the kind of plots he is good at writing, with no concern about the integrity of the character.
Another ridiculous concept rumored to be a part of the show will be that Wonder Woman will have two secret identities: the aforementioned CEO named Diana Themysciera and her mousy assistant, named Diana Prince. Having two alter egos is idiotic enough, but let’s also note that THEY BOTH HAVE THE SAME FIRST NAME! Suddenly, hiding your secret identity behind glasses doesn’t seem so ridiculous anymore. Having the character juggle three identities in an hourlong show is going to be a big test of the audience’s patience and ability to suspend disbelief. I really don’t see how she can do all this and still have time to fight supervillains.
Speaking of supervillains, let’s take a look at who has been cast to be Diana’s rival in the show. It has been reported that Elizabeth Hurley has been cast as Veronica Cale, a villain created by Greg Rucka during his celebrated run on the Wonder Woman comic. So far, so good. These same reports also show that Cale will be the head of a pharmaceutical company that manufactures a drug that gives people superhuman powers and vows to take Wonder Woman down because of her jealousy of her. This is somewhat true to her character in the comics, but some are reporting that there will be undertones of a lesbian attraction to Diana as well. I’m no prude, but these rumors concern me. My five-year old daughter loves Wonder Woman. She was introduced to the character via the Justice League cartoon and has become quite fond of the old Lynda Carter show, and if the new show is going to be all “sexed-up” by having Cale drool over Diana, I don’t think I’ll let her watch it, which is a shame, because young girls like her could use a positive role model on TV nowadays.
Principal photography has not yet begun on the new Wonder Woman TV show, and more reports have been released that the pilot has already been submitted for rewrites. In my opinion, the entire show needs to be scrapped in order to include the following changes: 1) If you feel the need to give Diana a secret identity, stick to just one and try not to make it as important to the the show; 2) Play up the character’s mythological roots and have her fight more powerful beings, not just disgruntled corporate harpies; 3) Keep the overt sexiness to a minimum. The character is sexy enough just because of her strength and confidence; and, finally, 4) Give her a costume that doesn’t look like a cheap Party City knock-off. The show is set to debut this Fall, but the way things are looking for the show at this point, it probably won’t last until Christmas. Comic book adaptations nowadays succeed based on the respect the creators have for the original characters and concepts, and the way David E. Kelley has handled Wonder Woman so far does not bode well for the future of this property or for female-centric comic characters as a whole.