Red or Blue, Wonder Woman’s Boots Were Made For Walking
May 2011 16

Red or Blue, Wonder Woman’s Boots Were Made For Walking

Posted In Blog,Comics,Entertainment,TV

by Bob Suicide

It’s official: NBC told Wonder Woman to grab her redesigned hooker boots and take the walk of shame off their network. But what does that mean for comic-based television programming as a whole, as well as the more niche super heroine-led titles?

The realistic answer: not much.

With the level of backlash this show has received at every turn, from both die-hard fans as well as general network audiences, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Wonder Woman re-boot didn’t last long. The real surprise is how many people don’t seem to remember how poorly the original show did. It was only on for three seasons, and the first performed so badly that they had to completely re-vamp the entire premise, moving it from the ’40s to the ’70s. So from the outset, a big-budget reboot of a mediocre show from the ’70s didn’t seem like the best idea. And yet, everyone seemed to take the news that Wonder Woman was cut before she even had a chance to take flight with great confusion: “Woaaaa? Where are we to find our strong female heroine now?” they bemoaned.


As a true, man-shirking Amazonian, Wonder Woman was created as a symbol of female empowerment (despite her skimpy outfit and some serious bondage imagery) in the ’40s. However, after the death of her creator (Dr. William Moulton Marston, a psychologist who helped invent the modern polygraph test), she reverted to the archetype of women of the period, obsessing over marriage and dealing with copycats who were “biting her style.” After several re-inventions, she’s had her powers, friends, home, and even her origin stripped to the point where it was questionable whether she was even a remotely positive feminist example for women. And yet, for some reason, the sacking of Wonder Woman has many questioning the viability of leading heroines in any television show. There’s a startling amount of people asking, “If she can’t make it, who can?” I could make some comment about sexism, decrying the numerous male superhero shows that made it to broadcast vs. the cancellation of a heroine’s show before it even aired, but the best I could come up with is: If they aired the BS that was The Cape, they should have given the go-go booted, bouncing-titted fail of a show equal airtime. But, somehow, even that argument rings hollow.

Specifically, speaking as a die-hard fan, I would hope that people would not equate the nixing of something SO far from the original source material (meaning the comic – not the original TV series) as an indictment of the genre as a whole. However, some media outlets appear to be spinning this as a turn of events that, by superhero association, also puts the upcoming Hulk reboot in jeopardy. If the Hulk remake does poorly, it will not be because audiences don’t like comic-based television shows, and it won’t imply that the genre as a whole is declining, like many assert, or for that matter, that male-led TV show are no longer viable.

The sad fact is some things don’t transfer to other mediums well, both Wonder Woman and Hulk being good examples.

In traditional Wonder Woman storylines, Diana talked her enemies out of their life of crime rather than clobbering them with her heightened heroic powers. Translating that low-energy, moral discourse to a television show would be like giving Monica from Touched By An Angel a golden whip and some hot pants: awkward, confusing and boring. And, with several failed movies at the box office, the reluctant beast that is the Hulk doesn’t ever seem to translate into a leading movie man despite his larger than life movie screen size. No one wants to watch a geeky scientist, who gets angry and turns a particularly unattractive shade of green, run and whine for two hours.

While some have said the Wonder Woman pilot wasn’t that bad, some reasonable amount of fail must be inferred based on its poor performance in screen tests, and the raucous backlash that each spoiler produced. The lack of a TV series with a female superhero as the title role doesn’t mean we should settle for a insultingly vapid husk of a show that resembles Wonder Woman in name only. Especially when the premise of the show appears to be that this “Wonder Woman” is a billionaire (her career went from lawyer to CEO between the two scripts and the pilot) whose hobbies apparently include reenacting the street-walking scenes from Pretty Woman in her spare time.

The revival of Wonder Woman was the first thing the new NBC CEO requested and it had his full backing; it’s therefore even more of a big deal that he declined to pick up the pilot. You know it had to be bad when he decided to scrap his first major act as a network head, an action which in the backstabbing world of entertainment will no doubt leave him open to political attacks from rivals inside and outside his company.

Some have asserted that this might be the best thing to happen to Wonder Woman, and are crossing their fingers in the hopes that she might find a home on cable. (Although this is highly unlikely since media reports seem to indicate the general industry opinion is: ‘If NBC doesn’t want it, who would?’) Fans see cable like the lush hills of Themyscira, offering the show more freedom to let Diana’s invisible plane fly.

But, if this show isn’t dead – and I’m predicting right now that it is – someone needs to ground that plane. When it comes to comic adaptations that make us fans look bad, Wonder Woman is major a no fly zone!

5 comments
YevlaX
YevlaX

I don't think I would have enjoyed this show had it come out in it's intended incarnation. My favorite version of Wonder Woman is when she is written as a true warrior goddess, signifying that she will do things that Batman or Superman won't just because of her different upbringing and mentality (like kill, if necessary...she is, after all, an Amazon...they are soldiers). I think she works best as a foil to other DC heroes in that manner, and a campy Wonder Woman by herself isn't going ot come off as well on the screen. 

rcrx
rcrx

Ultimately, I don't think this is going to hurt comics to other media translations. I completley disagree that it will kill the genre. It may delay things for a few years at most but ideas and technology have advanced so far and so rapidly that we're getting reboots less then a decade after the previous set of versions and no one is balking at that. If a better version were to come around it would probably get a shot. There seem to be two problems here, though. First, is that as ovgvwarrior points out killing off the show as pilot is premature. There have been alot of pilots that didn't look so hot but developed into very good shows. This might have been one of them, we'll never know. Secondly though, as Bob points out, there is a presumption that female leads don't sell. I think this is demonstrably not true, but when they do sell it's because they were created independent of conventional wisdom, think Buffy for example, and absent the presumptions about what women/girls can do. In pointing out the possibilities those shows tapped into audiences that wanted more from their women heroes. Will it be enough to be mainstream, big 3 network? Maybe, maybe not, but with the proliferation of cable channels smaller market shares can still be very successful. None of this negates Bob's final points though. The original version of Wonder Woman was more cerebral and that has to be handled extremely well if it's going to succeed. This doesn't sound like it was in that vein.

OneZero
OneZero

You bring up one side Ogvgwarrior but what about the other side. When these badly made fluff movie/tv series start it brings the wrong kind of focus and can kill genres. For instance, twilight has made vampire movies look like a joke and it'll be difficult to make a scary vampire movie anymore. Shambling slow, unstoppable zombies used to be terrifying but now there's mostly just "nike" zombies. The Walking Dead is doing it's part to help but still made them a bit too smart. I think superhero movies/TV series need to move away from the spandex and go with a more realistic approach like Heroes and No Ordinary Family. As much as Gem has it's nostalgic cult following I think WW would have been too close to that with less heroics and more manicures.

ogvgwarrior
ogvgwarrior

My thoughts on this is that you should never kill something while it's in the cradle.  Yes, it looked like Ally McWonder Woman in the City as one columnist called it.  But if it had made it to TV, how many people would've discovered it for the first time?  Bad translation or not, who's to say it wouldn't have been good for what it was?  If pilots were what all tv shows were judged by, how many shows would we have been nixed in the cradle that went on to find their voice?

Bob Suicide
Bob Suicide

I'm back on the @suicidegirls blog check out: What does grounding Wonder Woman's invisible plane mean for the future of comic-based tv?

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