Friday, January 4, 2013

She's a Wonder

Yesterday's blog described my reticence at a Justice League movie - at least one slotted for 2015 that would attempt to incorporate the current incarnations of Batman and Green Lantern and would include Wonder Woman and Flash without a thorough cinematic introduction to the characters.
However, I realize that Wonder Woman has proven problematic to bring to the screen. Joss Whedon was supposedly working on a version for a while before abandoning it over - I assume - differences with the studio.
A pilot proposal was shopped around and rejected several times until NBC decided to finance one featuring Adrianne Palicki. Then they passed on it.
Warner Bros. produced an animated film featuring the voices of Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion that I very much liked, but I don't know they should expect that potential audiences for their live-action Justice League film will have seen it. Nor should they assume that the Justice League animated series was seen by all.
I think that a live-action Wonder Woman movie needs to be made before she is introduced in a team film. Do I have some thoughts on how this could happen? Yes. Yes, I do.

For me, Wonder Woman has to be tall. Really tall. She's an Amazon. Five-foot-eight just isn't going to cut it. Unfortunately, this eliminates my first choice to play the Amazon princess: 5'8" Gina Carano, mixed martial artist and star of 2011's Haywire. Now, I know, I know. There's so much that can be done with cinematography to make actors look taller. For years, Hollywood had us believing that Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were over six feet tall, and that Tom Cruise and Michael J. Fox were at least the same height as their leggy leading ladies. And, of course, we all saw 5'6" Meryl Streep play 6'2" Julia Child in Julie & Julia. (We did all see that, didn't we? Dude, go see it. It's good. Made me hungry.) Still, I'm reluctant to cast a shorter actress in the role. Besides, we need to throw a bone to the taller ladies out there who can't get cast opposite Tom Cruise, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Statham, and Robert Downey, Jr.
Among those taller ladies, here are 4 suggestions:
Adrianne Palicki.
She was cast in the role once already, and I expect that the failure of the pilot rested more on the story and tone of the show rather than upon Palicki's statuesque shoulders. I haven't seen it, though. (But I'd like to. Hook me up, internet.)

Blake Lively.
She may have to be precluded for continuity reasons due to her involvement with the Green Lantern movie, unless they decide to do a re-boot. Like Ryan Reynolds, I don't think she is to blame for how bad that movie was.

Rachel Nichols.
Remember her as Scarlett in the 1st G.I. Joe movie? Of course you do.

Phoebe Tonkin
Who? She is an Australian actress, and - while I haven't seen much of what she's done so far - I've liked what I've seen. She is close to being an unknown, which, really, may be the best way to go with the role. Cast an unknown in the titular role (it means "title," you animals), and fill out the supporting cast with the big names.

Now, I won't say that I don't care who plays Steve Trevor. Of course I care, I just don't think that it will be as hard to find a good-looking, charming actor to play the slightly cocky, unintentionally chauvinistic Steve Trevor. (see how I threw in character notes there?) I do think he should be shorter than Wonder Woman, but not comically so. You know what? Speaking of Julie & Julia, I really like Chris Messina for the part.

As for Diana/Wonder Woman's mother, Hippolyta? Too easy. Famke Janssen. Or Saffron Burrows. Or  Lucy Lawless. Or. . . well, let's just say there are several options.

What would be the story line? Well, try this:
Billionaire Maxwell Lord (John Cusack) is working with the military on developing a genetically-modified companion animal to sniff out bombs, perform reconnaissance, and even take out human targets using the DNA of jungle felines. Colonel Steve Trevor is returning from a mission to retrieve DNA samples from an exotic breed of panther when his transport plane malfunctions and he crashes in the ocean, washing up on the shores of Themyscara: Island of the Amazons.
Deciding not to kill this male intruder, the Amazons elect to return him to the world of man accompanied by an escort who will be chosen through a contest of combat. (This is a common element in many of the Wonder Woman origin stories.) Diana competes in disguise - against the wishes of her mother - and wins the right to be the emissary/escort.
Back in America, we learn that Maxwell Lord's actual plan is to create a new breed of feral super soldiers he intended to market to the highest bidder, and he was using the military resources to accomplish this. Steve was very close to discovering this, so Lord had sabotaged his plane.
When Steve and Diana, arrive in Washington, DC, they are followed, and Diana thwarts an attempt on Steve's life. This brings her into the media spotlight before Steve has figured out exactly how to introduce this super-powered Amazon princess to the state department.
And, hey, we know that the media will treat a tall, beautiful, strong woman with the utmost of respect and decorum, right? Amid some social commentary and a few fish-out-of-water amusements, the Maxwell Lord plot thickens, and this ultimately leads to a confrontation between Steve, Lord, Diana, and Lord's first successful human/feline hybrid, his chief geneticist Dr. Barbara Ann Minerva aka the Cheetah (Paula Patton).

Cheetah is an awesome villain, by the way.

Now, that's just an outline, but I think that there is great potential here for an exciting action story with a strong female lead and an underlying commentary on how we as a society prioritize the qualities of women.
okay, now the costume - perhaps the trickiest part of the movie - I like the idea (which was used in the animated film) that a costume is designed that incorporates the emblems on Steve's flightsuit - the wings and the flag - into a traditional Amazonian warrior garb.
What you'd get is something like what blogger and artist Sam Tung designed a couple of years ago:

I also found this in the comments section of a Comic Vine article about Wonder Woman's costume, but I don't know who it belongs to, I'm afraid. A Cobie Smulders fan with some Photoshop skills, apparently.

The design could be modified at the end of the movie into something more functional along the lines of the comic book redesign or the NBC pilot.

Anyway, if I can come up with this on a blog and with a few minutes of internet searching, I imagine that the people at Warner Bros. who do this for a living could put together a great Wonder Woman film that I and so many others would be thrilled to come and see - probably twice.

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