Wonder Woman is sort of an elusive character. Who she is and what attributes define her are sometimes difficult to explain, which is one of the reasons why she is so difficult to write well, and may be one reason why film and television executives have stayed away from adaptations of her character. She is a super powered woman who stands for very specific principles but her heritage and her background are so unique that it is nearly impossible to make audiences relate to her. She is an Amazon warrior woman and also a compassionate character but if tested and pushed to her limits, she is ruthless. She has grace, beauty, charm and charisma; and if she sounds a little like a perfect woman, that right there may be one of her biggest flaws.
For the last several years we have heard rumors of a Wonder Woman movie or television series. We even saw the pilot to a Wonder Woman TV show written by David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal) that (thankfully) never got off the ground. More recently, following the success of Arrow for the CW, the network has looked to Diana for their next potential superhero inspired television series. Yet, unlike Arrow, Wonder Woman isn't exactly black and white. She's far less grounded than Oliver Queen and a whole heck of a lot more complicated. Beyond that, there have also been a lot of different versions of her character. So how do you make a good Wonder Woman television series? What are the ingredients to make something like this work? To answer this question, we looked at what is wrong with the character and what we feel would not translate well onto the small screen.== TEASER ==
The Wonder Woman Origin
In her comic book origin, Diana is sculpted out of clay by her Mother with the blessings of the Olympian Goddesses. She is raised as a great warrior on a peaceful island made up only of women. This entire idea, while interesting, is impossible for the average person to relate to. Take for example a character like Superman; he may have been an alien who crash landed in Smallville, but he was raised by a warm and loving Mid-Western family. The fact that he also has estranged parents sort of helps his character be more relatable to audiences. It humanizes him in a way because although he is so strong and essentially "super human," he has average problems that a regular person could relate to. The made of clay origin and the being raised on an island of women doesn't exactly work because it is difficult explain in a real world environment. If that origin is kept, the fact that she comes from a completely different place needs to be meshed into the story. How do you explain her origin but set her story in the real world?
In the current Wonder Woman comic book series, Diana's origin story was changed. In it, Hippolyta falls in love with Zeus and they conceive a child -- Diana. She grows up not knowing her father and thinking she had no male figure in her life. This creates a very interesting dynamic and one that grounds her character. It demonstrates that she has "regular people problems," not just "I have to save the world," problems and I think that is important. Whatever origin this next show chooses to use, in order to make it feel grounded and to appeal to a mass audience, Diana will have to feel relatable on an emotional level.
None of Wonder Woman's costumes have been very good. Her original costume with the skirt, while cute, was impractical. The red, white and blue strapless leotard with red knee high boots; while iconic, ridiculous to actually fight in. The pants and strapless top worn by actress Adrianne Palicki on the most recent attempt at an adaptation for a Wonder Woman television series may have been better than the previous two mentioned, but it still does not really work. The texture was shiny and looked cheap, and as good as Palicki's acting was in the pilot episode of that show, even she could not make that costume look better.
Regardless, the character definitely needs a costume redesign both for her current comic book series as well as in the CW television show. We recently saw an incredible redesign of her costume that went viral illustrated by artist Rahzahh. The best thing about this costume design is the fact that it takes many of the elements of her costume (the eagle emblem and the red, white and blue stars and stripes) and incorporates them into a new costume that not only covers her entire body and looks practical, but it is more fitting for a warrior than a skimpy bathing suit. She looks cool and looks believable, like she could kick major butt, and I think that's important.
If it's going to air on the CW, then it's likely to target a very specific, teenage demographic. Although I will be the first to say that there are a lot of elements of Arrow that I find cheesy, overall I think it does a relatively good job walking the line between the unbelievable and grounded in reality. In order for this show to work the tone needs to make the story feel grounded. Mind you, grounded does not necessarily mean dark, but it does mean more serious. If you focus on relating the character to audiences on an emotional level, chances are you will have more luck with the show. It also needs to be well written and consistent. It needs to focus on her flaws and imperfections as well as her battles.
Consider The Budget and Cameo Appearances
Obviously you can't expect that every single member of the Justice League is going to show up for her television show, and although seeing many familiar faces on the CW's Arrow series has been fun a lot of the time, the majority of these characters are street level at best. Wonder Woman is super powered, and if you can't show her doing crazy stunts, then don't even try.
It is also important to look at the character's identity and consider what other characters are important and supplemental to her story. Artemis, Hippolyta and Ares, for example, are vital to the Wonder Woman mythos and are a group of characters that should absolutely be featured on the show.
If it were up to me, I would personally focus on her youth and younger years, much like the CW did for Smallville. It is impossible to really relay all of Superman's feats as an adult hero without spending a whole lot of money, and it's easier and more cost effective to tell the story of his youth. The same can be said for Wonder Woman. The show could easily focus on Diana's youth and her years on Paradise Island and still remain cost effective. It would also explore her character and identity in ways we haven't yet seen which would definitely add to her story.
What do you think, though? What do you think that the CW's upcoming Amazon should be like? Should it be set in present day, or on Paradise Island? How much of Wonder Woman's mythology should be kept? What should the show's focus be on? What characters would you like to see and should her costume be changed? Let us know in the comments below.