Someone's awful photoshop of Refn's Wonder Woman choice, Christina Hendricks.

Nicholas Winding Refn is currently busy doing publicity for Drive which looks to be quite excellent and has people throwing around words like “masterpiece” after screenings. Before that he did the definitely excellent Bronson which is one of the richest biopics made in the last decade. It’s a movie you can watch and find something new in each time.

And at some point in the future Refn has a jonesin’ to make a Wonder Woman film.

He’s not the first. Some big and intelligent names have been attached to Wonder Woman over the years. The most notable being Joss Whedon who many consider to be the only man in comics, besides Greg Rucka, to accurately portray strong and intelligent and engaging women. To paraphrase Sarah Michelle Gellar back at Comic-Con. If Whedon can’t crack it it’s a tough nut.

Refn’s concept is pretty basic as it’s just press tour drivel to keep people interested, but it also touches on something I touched on here back in June.

[Wonder Woman] is, along with Batman and Superman, one of the three original, iconic super heroes. And I think that it being a woman and she being created by a psychologist who was very interested in certain fetish elements — if you look at the original Wonder Woman it’s all about woman in very little clothes tying each other up, I don’t know what you would call that, but I would call it quite fetish. And then giving her interesting powers and having her come from an island of women. To me the real rosebud lies in the fact that it’s really about, what if women were stronger than men on all fronts: how would the world look like? If you do her as an average crusader in hot pants running around — which of course you have to do to some extent— but if you don’t go beyond that its going to be really cheesy or silly and sure they’ll be action, but its nothing special.

Okay, ignore the whole bit where he’s talking about lady beans. He’s bang on with his interpretation of Marston’s Wonder Woman. In the 1940s Wonder Woman was all about examining the idea of women being in the position of power. Later writers, most notably George Peréz, have dealt with the concept as well. That’s entirely the point of the Amazons. To, if only half-heartedly most days, look at an absolute matriarchal society. Notice how despite being monarchy Paradise Island is a commune. As though a society made up of woman would have no need for the competition inherent in capitalism or feudalism.

For a lot of people a modern matriarchal society is a scary concept. For the sexist it’s a realization of their worst fears. For feminists it holds such potential for misinterpretation as to be a step back in the ongoing fight for equality. For Hollywood it just doesn’t make good sense.

It’s something I touched on last time and something that Sue from DC Women Kicking Ass helped me realize I’d really failed to explore. She read the last article and took from it that I was railing against a lack of viable love interests for Wonder Woman. She also intimated that maybe it was dumb to get so focused on Wonder Woman’s love life. (She’s right.) While I most certainly had a bout of tunnel vision where Wonder Woman’s V-card is concerned I was also attempting to talk about Wonder Woman’s status as an icon and how that harms any film adaptation. So lets’ revisit that.

Wonder Woman has, at times, been an icon of America, BDSM, and feminism. No other superhero can claim stake such a claim. Batman is not an icon outside of comic book circles. Superman is an American icon, but he doesn’t have the US flag spackled over his rear like Wonder Woman, and no superhero can said to be representative of an entire gender.

I feel like they didn't think this choice out.

Even in comics Wonder Woman is frequently portrayed as an unknowable icon. Something both more than, and less than human. She’s a symbol.

So to humanize that symbol, as would be necessary in a movie, would invite controversy.

Moreover, to even attempt to reproduce the symbol is problematic. You can’t just go and make a movie about a feminist icon without some fretting. Will she be objectified? A tool to titillate? Is she too strong? Is she the wrong kind of strong female character? Does she embody all women or just one man’s concept of women? Forget comic book fans. Few people are as obsessive with media representation of beloved characters as a feminist. And we’re just as vocal as comic book fans.* Though I’ve never heard of a feminist killing a movie.

But the real problem is that Wonder Woman appeals to women and as far as Hollywood is concerned women are worthless in films unless they’re about wacky weddings. The last time a woman was the sole lead in a successful big budget action film was waaaaay back in 2001 when Angelina Jolie donned a tank top to play Lara Croft. Since then every film where a woman kicked ass has been considered a “flop” or a “soft” opening. So a big budget superhero film starring a woman? The script could be better than The Dark Knight and with the best director ever crafted by the Hollywood machine and pitch perfect casting and it would still be a major risk because its lead sports a pair of breasts.

So how could a Wonder Woman film NOT be a risk? Pander to teenage boys, Hollywood’s favorite audience.

What do teenage boys want? If my careful research (watching Transformers movies) has revealed anything it’s that they want slow motion shots of hot, busty, sweaty women running. Wonder Woman could DEFINITELY provide that. She fights crime in thigh high boots and a swimsuit.

But such a film would objectify a feminist icon, which is, admittedly, a total slap in the face to feminists such as myself. So there’d be controversy and outrage and what if the teenage boys decided that a movie about a half-naked woman fighting monsters wasn’t enough? What if they didn’t show up? (And after the failed marketing campaign for Jennifer’s Body that’s a reasonable assumption.)

You’re left with the women audience who won’t see it because it’s clearly a T&A film pandering to dudes, and older men who will probably be the only ones in the theater.

You know, the only people who went and saw Green Lantern.

That is not a risk Hollywood wants to take.

Is it incredibly pathetic that a Wonder Woman movie is a big risk because she’s a woman? Yes. It’s one of the most pathetic things I’ve ever seen, but it’s also true.

How can you help us get a Wonder Woman film? GO SEE MOVIES STARRING WOMEN. Even if you think they’re for boys (Colombiana) or for girls (One Day). Show Hollywood that women can headline successful films that don’t involve weddings. And maybe, one day, years from now, we’ll get a Wonder Woman film.

Only one that doesn’t star Refn’s choice of Christina Hendricks. Show me she can do something beyond breathy buxom vixen and I’ll reconsider. But right now nerd me and feminist me both say NO.

*As a feminist and a nerd I had to split myself into two people for this article. It was a painful process and I’m now using ice cream to heal myself.

Source [Badass Digest]

  • “Show Hollywood that women can headline successful films that don’t
    involve weddings. And maybe, one day, years from now, we’ll get a Wonder
    Woman film.”

    Remember Aliens? God I miss movies.

    • I would happily argue that action roles for women reached their zenith in the late 80s/early 90s and have been on a downhill slope ever since.

      • Matthew Lane

        I’d disagree. I wouldn’t say they were on a downhill slope. I’d say that action movies stopped being made & the ones that were being made were so formulaic that they became parodies of themselves… An no one wants to see women in parodies, because it always comes off as sexist.

  • “The last time a woman was the sole lead in a successful
    big budget action film was waaaaay back in 2001 when Angelina Jolie
    donned a tank top to play Lara Croft. Since then every film where a
    woman kicked ass has been considered a “flop” or a “soft” opening.”

    Actually, the Resident Evil and Underworld films have pretty successfully kept being about a female action-character. Admitedly, those films are sandwiched between horror and action, but nevertheless  must be making SOME money, as they are already at their 4rt and 5th installment.