What Could Have Been: Wonder Woman Is A Jedi!
The time: Shortly before Joss Whedon was hired to direct Wonder Woman.
The who: Laeta Kalogridis, a long-time collaborator of James Cameron, who worked on Birds of Prey, Bionic Woman, Alexander, and Avatar. Also, Shutter Island, just to break the streak of stuff that you have to fight with your friends to decide if it’s good or bad. For instance, she was the one who decided to make Birds of Prey about Helena Wayne and a teenaged Dinah. The only thing she could do more controversial than that is have Buffy fall in love with Spike.
The review: So we start off in, here’s a surprise, ancient Greece, with a bunch of Amazons. Already an improvement over the last script, which opened with skiing. In Themiscyra, Hippolyta is sleeping peacefully. She’s “QUEEN OF THE AMAZONS, stunningly beautiful, with the lean, strong body of a born fighter.”
Take a shot?Lettersfromtheattic: Only if it’s a body shot. Love some HippolytaLFTA: Haha Lynda Carter. That twirl. Rawr.
No sooner has she welcomed her lover back to bed than he stabs her in the chest and reveals he opened the city gates for invaders. Well, at least that makes deciding who gets to keep the record collection easy. The Amazons are slaughtered and the man, Ares—thank god it’s not Mr. A. Resnin or something like last time—moves to take possession of Doom’s Doorway, which the Amazons were guarding. Before he can, though, blue flame from the temple sucks up the Amazons and their entire city, along with the Doorway. Ares looks up at the skies and swears to keep being evil, since, you know, God of War.
Which brings us to our first change from canon, which is pretty painless. In the comics, Ares influenced Hercules to do what Ares does in the script. Making Ares personally seduce Hippolyta does simplify things and makes him a more intimidating villain. Thumbs up.LFTA: Oooo yes, I like this. I’m not completely sold on stories that tie Diana’s origins to being Ares’ daughter (all though there were some very well written media that indicated that) but I like having him more present as a character in Diana’s story. It’s a good juxtaposition to have Diana as this ambassador of peace constantly fighting against the God of War – it also is a good parallel to Hercules and his fight against Hera. Heroes facing Gods is always good story.LFTA: Oh god you just described my fantasy. I think I would expire from pleasure on the spot if that were made into film.LFTA: Diana and Barda going paintballing. Actually Lois too, that could be fun.LFTA: Why are our dreams not reality?LFTA: I’m so thankful I have Star Trek to give me a reason to go on living after that movie comes out.
Cut to present day, where Steve Trevor and his squad are in a dogfight with North Korean MiGs. Flashbacks of Green Lantern here. Yeah, how many millions of dollars did they spend on a test flight sequence to establish that Hal Jordan is a douche? He’s played by Ryan Reynolds, I just assumed he was a douche!
Anyhoo, Trevor and his team—Preacher, Tex, Papa Bear, and Doc—are defending the Vice President. And Doc is a woman, so we get started early on the girlpower.
F-18 PILOT TEX
Not bad shootin’ for a girl.
Hear me roar, baby.
I’ll be honest, I kept expecting a scene where Doc turned out to be Etta Candy and it never came. I just kept thinking there would be a badass scene where, like, someone calls her sugar and she kicks their ass and goes “No, not sugar. Candy. Etta Candy.” But no, she’s just a female Air Force officer.LFTA: I love that the “cowboy” is always called Tex. It’s so informative for us foreigners.LFTA: I’m gonna write about a rugged farmer man and call him Winnie, just so everyone knows he’s from Saskatchewan. Oh they just call him Wolverine. /swishLFTA: And then he takes it to the face and just walks out with a tooth missing and a hankering for Timmies Coffee.
The bad guys aren’t really North Koreans, but Ares’s men. From a command center, a combination of men in black uniforms and men in hooded black robes, all with red wolf insignias—the only way these guys could be more evil, fashion-wise, is if they wore Ed Hardy—are monitoring the fight. Ares’s assistant, Miller, tells him that their pilots should retreat before they’re killed. He replies “Better they should die than fail me. And they know it.” You know how all presidential administrations in the movies have one obviously evil guy to suggest bad courses of action that get shot down by the others? I guess it’s the same for evil overlords. They need guys to suggest less assholish alternatives, just to make them look more evil. “My lord, perhaps you should not kick that puppy.” “NO. MY WRATH CANNOT BE CONTAINED.”LFTA: “Ugh I just can’t STAND Bob! Do you know what he said today? He suggested we should just ride past the village instead of burning it down. Can you imagine? What is wrong with him?”
The last MiG runs out of missiles and sets in to ram Air Force Two; say what you will about Ares, but he’s a great motivator. Steve, with his missiles jammed, tries to ram the MiG first, but he accidentally opens a hole in the space-time continuum. And Doctor Who always makes it look so hard…
Ares quickly realizes that Steve has found a way to Themyscira, and he leaves his command center to call a boardroom meeting. For you see, Ares has disguised himself as the one person no one would suspect of villainy—a rich white man who designs weapons for the government.
Okay, that is from the comics, and he is the God of War, but c’mon—he goes by Ares Buchanan. Dracula puts more effort into a disguise when he goes around calling himself “Count Alucard.”LFTA: I’m seeing Ares as the bizarre love child of Jack from 30 Rock and Don Draper from Mad Men.LFTA: Oh sad, there was such promise.LFTA: Oh ouch.
Ares tells all his underlings to focus their efforts on analyzing the wormhole Steve found. When Miller objects, Ares kills him with one of the medieval weapons on display in the boardroom, marking the start of the best season of The Apprentice ever. Another suit by the name of Rucka is promoted to Miller’s old place. It’s a nice tribute, but maybe Greg Rucka isn’t the best person to go to for a character who’s dedicated to destroying Diana and everything she stands for. Maybe Will Pfeifer?LFTA: Ever since Vader, the bad guy has to knock off an underling to be established as THE BAD GUY. If I was one of these dudes I would preface every conversation by assuring his badness that the Death Star will be quite operational.
At thirteen pages in, we get to Themyscira, which naturally is like Pandora if you changed the color settings back to the factory default. Diana (you know you’re taking a shot) is hunting a lion that mauled another Amazon. A bit oddly—
There’s a TATTOO on her arm, stylized like a tribal scarification, the familiar WW we all know.
I object to anything that resembles any of Superboy’s costume changes since he joined the Teen Titans. “What if he just wore jeans and a black T-shirt with the Superman logo?” “What if he just wore a sleeveless black shirt and had a Superman tattoo?” “What if he just jeans and a leather vest, and shaved the Superman logo into his chest hair?” No. You’re a fucking superhero. Wear a costume. This isn’t Heroes, goddamnit.LFTA: I have a deep appreciation for 80′s KonLFTA: Damnit yes. …to the numbers change, not the fetus. This has become awkward.LFTA: oh lord
Diana’s older companion, Clio (call her now if you want a free reading), is telling her they should turn back, her mother wouldn’t approve, don’t be such a free spirit, marry the rich guy who isn’t Ryan Gosling, you know how this goes. They come across an unconscious Steve Trevor. Diana sends Clio back to get help, then wakes him.
For one eternal beat, Diana and Steve Trevor look at each other, neither quite sure what they are seeing—yet both somehow knowing that this ONE MOMENT will change everything.
A voice sounds like a WHIPCRACK across the sands—
“We’re just doing homework, mom!”
FIVE STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL WOMEN flank her. Their hair is intricately braided, twisted up with gold cord; they wear light, gauzy capes over filmy short TUNICS.
Take a shot. Trevor asks if he’s in heaven and Phillipa—I guess Philipus was taken?—knocks him out. Later, at the Hall of Law (I felt like the Superfriends narrator for a second there), the Amazons debate what to do with Steve, since their law states that no man may see Themiscyra and live. Ah, so that’s where Scans_Daily got it from.LFTA: I’m weirdly deeply offended at the name change.LFTA: I think they just like the fact that Phillipa is a “real name.” Because God forbid characters in comics have names that aren’t real.
There’s a lively debate, with some saying that killing him would be self-defense, and others not wanting to be murderers. Since she’s the hero, Diana is the only one who uses sarcasm.
It’s a novel method of attack, washing up half-dead on a beach.
Hippolyta calls her a child and genuinely goes ‘my island, my rules,’ pointing out that Diana was born long after the Amazons left Man’s World. Diana counters that the world has changed and Steve could tell them about it. Either way, if Ares gets his hands on Steve and uses him to get to Themyscira, there won’t be a sequel. Diana suggests sending someone back with him as protection. Naturally, she volunteers, which horrifies Hippolyta so much that she literally sends Diana to her room.
Man, I don’t know the last time I saw a mother/daughter relationship this screwed up.LFTA: I bet she took away her cell phone too… Whoa whoa teenage anger – is Diana a teen? Isn’t Steve a grown ass man? This is going to an awkward place.
After telling Clio that she’ll see herself out, Diana goes to the Temple of Hearing and wakes up Steve with a few drops of elixir. Thinking he’s in a hostile territory, he tries to take her hostage, but he’d do more damage saying that Ben Affleck did as good job as Daredevil. After all, her brain might explode. Naturally, Diana knocks him around some and ends up straddling him with their faces inches apart. Does anyone ever use that fighting style on someone they don’t fall in love with?LFTA: Submission hold by coochie, one of the deadly feminist martial styles.
–and there’s a hint of something MORE in his voice, in his eyes as he looks up at her. Not flirtation—but the kind of INSTANT ATTRACTION that takes both people by surprise.
Is he both dazzled and dazzling?
Since Steve is ig’nant, this makes the perfect time for some exposition. Diana takes Steve to the Hall of Ancestors and gives him a quick rundown of the Amazons’ origin. This is something I sorely missed from the Todd Alcott draft—just a simple mission statement for the Amazons helps so much in explaining them beyond “well, they have superpowers and they like peace and they’re really into Greek stuff.”
Women were property, like cattle, owned by their fathers or their husbands. They could be beaten, raped, killed at the whim of a man. […] In war we were spoils, in peace, we were slaves. […] Artemis heard the prayers of those women who would not be victims.
Trevor suddenly DOUBLE-TAKES—because the images have started to MOVE, cold stone WHISPERING and TWISTING like a live thing to create a MOVING TABLEAUX as Diana speaks.
“Geez, I’ve heard of living history, but this is ridiculous! Oh, sorry Diana, go back to your story. Women were being raped and stuff?”
Instead of being like in the comics, where the Greek gods bring back the souls of women who were killed by men, here Artemis simply trains living women into the Amazon Nation. I can see why the change, since later Artemis resurrects them to be transported to Themyscira, a change which also omits the Amazons’ vengeful rampage and subsequent punishment of exile. Which was always a nasty bit of victim-blaming in the otherwise feminist George Perez origin.LFTA: ugh “when Athen and Thebes and Troy were at their glory.” Those places weren’t at their glory at the same time, I mean dang, use Wikipedia.LFTA: Isn’t that the only history they’ve had for the past 3,000 years? No wonder she gets bossed around by mom, she doesn’t do her homework.LFTA: “Why does lightning happen, mommy?” “Zeus gets pissed and throws a tantrum.” “Cool, that seems legit.”LFTA: They train you to run with scissors.
Diana reveals that Ares created a doomsday weapon, but Artemis stole it and sealed it away with the Amazons as guards. Again, a bit different from the comics, where it’s an entrance to the Underworld, but simpler and more accessible.LFTA: Yeah, this is a good tie between the mythology of our ancient Greece and the mythos from the comics.
A bigger deal to me is that Diana says that she herself is “two thousand, five hundred, and eighteen…. Nineteen, next month.” I know Hippolyta can be overprotective at times (although the mark of many a bad Wonder Woman story is how insanely overprotective Polly is), but treating a two-thousand-year-old like a child is… insanely overprotective! I know it’s convenient to have Diana be created out of clay a scant few decades before someone lands on Paradise Island for the first time in millennia, but this is just silly. There’s a reason for it coming up, but it’s the first change to the canon here that I’d say weakens the story, by making Hippolyta into Norman Bates’ mother instead of a wise ruler.
Before Diana can get into her hopes that Hippolyta will let her use the potty like a big girl by the times she’s three thousand, the queen and her entourage show up for some cliterference. What, does she have a virgin alarm?
Diana died with me, an unborn child in my belly. She was butchered before she could even draw breath. That is why she has never seen a man before.
That explains why Diana is only considered a person in Virginia. *dodges shoes*
Hippolyta tells Philippa to “take” Steve, but Diana jumps in to tell Hippolyta to lump off.
I found him. I saved him from death. By blood-debt, his life is mine.
I claim the right of aristeia.
In case you’re wondering, yes, aristeia does involve fighting with some ridiculously sharp weapons. Why is it all advanced, peaceful cultures in science fiction have one of those? You don’t see senators dueling each other with pistols to stop a bill from going through.LFTA: Hahahaha that’s kinda clever. It’s also a literature thing. Happens to heroes.LFTA: Nah, it’s like… the big damn hero moment. Oh good, Wikipedia knows what I’m talking about. It’s basically the crowning moment of supreme badassery.LFTA: Yeah, when you read through the Iliad and The Odyssey you start to side-eye some of the actions that Homer finds morally praiseworthy. But it’s a cool thing to have Diana say, since I suppose she’s about to perform the feat that gets her off the island. While not technically killing all her foes, it does make us notice her as a fierce one. On the other hand it’s kind of hilarious that her mom has to ok her display of awesome.
Hippolyta takes Diana aside to explain to her why she can’t go to Man’s World. Diana’s father is Ares and while Themyscira is shielded from his influence, if she goes to Man’s World, her powers will permanently awaken.
You are half-god, Diana—somewhere within you are abilities far beyond even the strongest Amazon. But I cannot predict what they will be. Herakles, Achilles, Perseus—every child of the gods had different powers.
Diana is looking at her mother with horrible realization.
You think—you think if I go to man’s world, I might become some kind of monster.
I’d say that’s a little different from the comics. There, as you might know, Diana was created out of clay and then blessed by the various female gods, which gave her powers beyond the usual Amazons. There does have to be an explanation why Diana is so powerful—otherwise, you’d ask why all the Amazons didn’t just go to Man’s World and solve every problem. But this is just… weird.
I get that Wonder Woman, like a lot of the classic DC heroes, is more of a paragon than an “everyman” and so it makes sense to give her an inner conflict. This is an improvement over Green Lantern or Superman Returns, which turned their heroes into chickens or deadbeat dads, respectively. But it grates that Diana loses an explicitly feminist origin to get a “Come to the Dark Side/No, never!” storyline.
A lot of superhero movies do this, with Batman Begins turning Bruce into Ra’s al Ghul’s protégé, Fantastic Four putting Dr. Doom in the same accident that gave the FF their powers, and so on. A lot of the time, it results in a clichéd storyline where the hero just ends up fighting an evil version of himself. Iron Man fights an evil Iron Man. Hulk fights an evil Hulk. This is the instant where I think they overreach, streamlining the backstory to the point where it hurts the thematic material. Diana used to be a champion of the gods, a representative of female power—now she’s just a rebellious daughter, using her Dark Side powers for good. I don’t think it’s a good note for the character.
All my life I’ve felt different—wrong somehow—like I didn’t belong here. I thought it was because I was the only Amazon who’d never lived in man’s world—you all shared a bond I could never be part of, you lived and died side by side.
But you knew, all this time, you knew the truth. I feel different because I am different—from you, from all the others—I’m the child of our oldest enemy!
See what I mean?LFTA: Ugh booo I hate when Diana has a father. Boring. Part of what made her so cool is that no man was involved in her birth – she was created from the love of her mother and the earth. Superman’s an alien, can’t I get a clay baby? come on. Pinnochio got a movie and he was a puppet. I’m taking a shot, this is in the Not Good column.
Diana calls Hippolyta on her willingness to kill Steve just to keep Diana from going to Man’s World—yup, insane overprotectiveness—and recommits to the aristeia.LFTA: Oh, we’re gonna get a sweet lady action scene. Shut up and take my money, DC.LFTA: Really, on Themyscira, all interpretations of that phrase are valid.
Out to sea, Ares is on his own aircraft carrier—yeah, he has his own aircraft carrier—trying and failing to replicate Steve’s entry to Themyscira. Rucka tells him that all their plans to “extract” and “reinsert” the G7 leaders from Camp David are satisfactory. Then he asks Ares if they can make a Whiteout movie with Kate Beckinsale. “Yes, but replace the lesbian with a bland male love interest.” Monster.
Meanwhile, the Amazons have gathered in the coliseum—wait, they’re a peaceful people, why would they have an ARENA? Is it just to watch women’s basketball? Because even on an island composed only of women, I have a hard time believing anyone would watch the WNBA.
As Phillipa explains to Steve, Diana has declared herself his champion against the Amazon Nation. Instead of fighting all of them, she’ll be entering into single combat with the best warrior women in each weapon: tridents, hand to hand, arrows, and passive-aggressive comments about weight.
Diana, of course, kicks their asses, even getting in a form of bracelets and bullets with an Amazon firing arrows. When it comes time to fight with swords, Hippolyta herself challenges Diana.LFTA: Now if this were a real Greek story, someone would be dead, someone would be blind and one or two people in the audience would be impregnated by a shower of coins.LFTA: Is anyone else getting a visual of the Pepsi commercial with Beyonce, Britbrit and Pink?LFTA: Let’s just hand wave the romanness awayLFTA: She’s not yet a girl… NOT YET A WOMANLFTA: Whoa you okay there?LFTA: I’m sorry I’m very distracted by how hard Bey is rocking this commercial and that outfit.
The Queen fights with the ancestral weapons of the Nation—the sword of Perseus, the golden lasso of Gaia. They were forged by the firegod Vulcan himself… and legend says they cannot be defeated.LFTA: “Forged by the fire god Vulcan.” I’m gonna nerve pinch this writer. Rome and Greece are TOTALLY NOT THE SAME. cripes.LFTA: I’m sorry, I’m being a total geek here, but really.LFTA: Even Hercules: The Legendary Journeys was more accurate
This is all a variation on comics canon, where the Amazons fought to determine the strongest, who would then be their representative to Man’s World. Diana was forbidden to participate, but disguised herself and fought anyway. However, she never fought Hippolyta. So, basically the same thing, just with the drama amped up.
They fight, with Diana being driven to Hulk out a little to beat Hippolyta.
When you held me at swordpoint, I looked in your eyes—and saw your father staring back at me.
I ask you for the last time: do not go to man’s world.
Whoever my father is, I am still an Amazon. And my mother did not teach me to be a coward.
Do this thing, and you are no daughter of mine.
If you leave Themyscira—do not think to come back.
I don’t think Hippolyta is a shoe-in for parent of the year. And she’s, like, the only parent on Themyscira.LFTA: run away and never returrrrrrrrrnLFTA: Just you wait until Diana sings a funky song with a warthog and a meerkat. Just you wait.LFTA: I just had a flash of Hippolyta as played by Jeremy Irons. He could do drag, this is a thing that could happen. I’m sorry, i just miss him and The Borgias is taking too long to come back.LFTA: This is a dumb thing to exile her over. Doesn’t have the same punch as her exile did in the comics or in the DCAU. “I am terribly worried about your safety! But you are defiant so I’m throwing you out on your butt.”LFTA: Have you ever tried… not… being straight?
Diana goes to the temple, praying to Artemis for guidance. The high priestess, Magdala, tells her to be herself, release her inhibitions, feel the rain on her skin, drench herself in words unspoken, live her life with arms wide open, you know the rest.
By the way, this is the definition of a nitpick, but in the comics, Diana’s patron goddess was Athena, god of wisdom and battle strategy. Which is, you know, perfect for Diana. And they were very close during Rucka’s run–at one point, Diana even got gray eyes as a homage to Athena. Artemis, on the other hand, is god of the hunt and has been largely absent from the Wonder Woman comics to avoid confusion with the mortal Artemis. If they just Ctrl-Fed Artemis with Athena, I would enjoy this script at least one percent more.
Anyway, before she leaves, Clio brings Diana some armor.
The breastplate is hammered into an EAGLE DESIGN; the leather beneath the gold breastplate is dyed a rich, crimson RED. The wrist vambraces are worked with the WW design we all remember. The leather pleated gladiator skirt is a deep ocean blue, with golden STARS for the RIVETS in the leather.
Oh thank God, it’s not a catsuit.LFTA: Oh sadness, it’s not Io? And while I understand why they dropped the Diana Trevor origin for the costume, it makes me sad. But this is a nice “aw we love you now go be a badass” moment. I kinda wish it had been between her and Hippy though.
They leave, which Ares senses as he berates his acolytes. He tells his men to keep an eye out for Trevor.
On a beach, Diana and Steve are unconscious. Conveniently, Diana wakes up first and hides as Steve is discovered, separating them. Diana tries to follow Steve’s ambulance, but loses it. In a funk, she opens a pouch that Clio gave her and discovers that she’s been sneaked the golden lasso.
Now, for the longest time, I thought it was going to turn out that it was given to her on Hippolyta’s instructions and it’d be a nice little bonding moment. But nope, Hippolyta just got ripped off. How dare you consistently fail to live up to the awesome version of you in my head, script!LFTA: Especially since their relationship is almost always about being respectful and loving with each other. You know, unless one of them is under a spell or bad writing.
Anyway, you don’t invite Jessica Fletcher to a wedding without getting a murder and you don’t get superpowers without having a crime-in-progress, like, five feet away. Diana overhears five frat boys tormenting a homeless woman. Objecting to the situation, she makes a concise yet well-reasoned argument that has both sides sympathizing with the others’ viewpoints, and ends with either party regretting the confrontation and parting on good terms.
Nah, she beats the frat boys up. I mean, c’mon. They’re frat boys. They’ve probably date raped someone. Or at least judged someone based on negative stereotypes.LFTA: Diana picks the renegade option. Achievement unlocked: feminist badassLFTA: I would pay money to see the trinity gamingLFTA: Supes would do all the paragon options and complete all the sidequests and he would never click through the dialogueLFTA: He would try to use the kinect but it wouldn’t understand his growl so his character would just like stand in a corner all the time.LFTA: He doesn’t play Assassin’s Creed because there are a LOT of alleysLFTA: hahaha she would have no mercy.
There’s a bit of a discovering-the-powers thing, with Diana sending them flying through the air with single blows, that sorta thing.
I wouldn’t do that if I were you. It seems I’m much stronger than I used to be.
And I used to be very strong.
As a cop arrives on the scene, Diana checks on the homeless woman, who is really Magdala, who is really Artemis, administering the easiest secret test of character ever. “And next, a question of wisdom! Which is better, ice cream or the Holocaust? CHOOSE!”
Actually, Artemis just tells Diana that although Ares’s powers are hella cool, they’re also a “dark, cold gift.” The DC Universe: where evil is genetically transmitted. Sorry, Cassandra Cain.LFTA: It’s cool, she’s just gotta get her hand chopped off and kiss her sibling.
Artemis disappears and the cop handcuffs Diana, skipping past that whole questioning thing. Here, Diana’s weakness is still being bound, and works like Kryptonite—not just taking away her powers, but reducing her to pre-coffee levels of sentience. I actually preferred the way it worked in the Todd Alcott draft, if we must have Diana be vulnerable to being bound by a man. There, she’d just lose her powers, but she could still use her skill and cunning to fight back. It made her a bit more badass.LFTA: Yeah, that’s odd, but I guess with a power up you have to be equally powered down. I do like this scene with the prostitutes
The police take her downtown, where she’s put in a holding cell with a bunch of prostitutes. Whaaaaaa? But she’s a princess! What an odd combination! And when she talks, they think she’s a prostitute too! Oh man, Balki’s never gonna believe this one!
As you might imagine, after one of the prostitutes describes them as legitimate businesswomen, Diana decides to break them all out. She uses a high-heeled shoe to turn off the lights and they all escape, dropping Diana off at Steve’s hospital as thanks. Where the nurse mistakes her for a strip-o-gram.
In his hospital room, Steve is being cheered up by his fellow pilots, who are apparently the supporting cast in this movie. I know, I’m surprised too. They’re a little like the Howling Commandoes in Captain America, in that they aren’t really in the movie enough to make an impression, but they’re still there. Of course, in Captain America, they were at least providing fan service. Here, it’s just odd to see so much and yet so little screentime devoted to pretty uninspired characters. Maybe if they were the Blackhawks, I’d be more interested. Since, you know, anything is better with Lady Blackhawk in it.
I actually conducted a poll asking people’s opinions about going to war with Iran. 83% were against it. Then I asked what if Zinda Blake was involved. Long story short, the bombing begins on Tuesday.
Before, as I said, the Lackhawks can make much of an impression, Steve’s girlfriend Vanessa Kapatelis shows up. Which is odd for two reasons. 1. you’d think in a story that is at least inclusive of female audiences, you’d think they’d shy away from having the hero Vagoogle a new lady while he’s in a relationship. 2. In the comics, Vanessa Kapatelis is sort of a sidekick to Diana, a young teenager who provides insight into the world’s reaction to Wonder Woman and is the daughter of another member of Diana’s supporting cast. This Vanessa really has nothing to do with that character.
Steve hugs her back—but he looks a little UNCOMFORTABLE, as if he can’t quite respond with the same intensity.
“Uh, honey, I don’t know how to tell you this, but I spent a whole two hours talking to another woman and, well, we’re in love now. Laters!”LFTA: Oh boo. I was hoping for a cool Silver Swan moment, or are they setting that up for a sequel?LFTA: It would be very Hollywood.
More talking from the squad, fleshing out their… personalities. Papa Bear and Preacher have names that start with P, Doc is really smart, Tex is affably sexist (because he’s from the South, see. They probably use negative stereotypes there too!). Just as they leave, Diana is on the prowl for Steve, but is disquieted by all the sick people she sees. Because I guess people don’t get sick on Paradise Island? Or get injured? What with all the training with razor-sharp weapons and sparring matches and hunting trips?LFTA: Well they have the fancy healing ray. Sometimes.
As if it weren’t bad enough that she sees the Patriarchy making people get old and catch illnesses, she sees Vanessa kissing Steve.
Diana STOPS in her track as if she’d been suckerpunched. Almost unconsciously, she takes a faltering step BACKWARDS—
–and TWO ORDERLIES pass by, NUDGING each other as they give her a frankly leering ONCE-OVER. Diana takes in their eyes, STARING at her everywhere but her face—and feeling suddenly naked in every way, BLUSHES furiously.LFTA: Also why would she feel self-conscious? Greek people were naked all the time!LFTA: I feel she wouldn’t really get what they are doing ,since she’s never really seen men before – I was assuming men just because women don’t usually get described as leering, but whatevaaa.
Diana continues to be overwhelmed—killing a ringing phone with her lasso, seeing disasters on the All-Disaster Channel, which is always playing on TV when naively benevolent aliens, time travelers, and Amazon princesses pick up the remote.
The news DRONES on over images of RIOTS in Haiti, an EARTHQUAKE in Japan, WILDFIRES in the Southwest. Diana turns to watch, fascinated and horrified.
I guess they don’t have earthquakes on Paradise Island. Or… fire…
Later that night, ten commandos show up to abduct Trevor. He kills one, but the others have him pegged until Diana steps in. They fight as one, “their brutal team combat somehow strangely INTIMATE,” which means they’re either in love or ready to make a run at the WWE Tag Team Champions. Trevor is grazed by Rucka, driving Diana literally angry with rage. While she’s distracted, the commandoes hustle Trevor to the roof, where Diana catches up by Batmanning her lasso to the fire escape. Prepare for the fight scene!LFTA: Her tits are in a rage! Oh sorry, I mean a RAGE.
Okay, I’m going to let you down now. We actually have the perfect set-up here for some badass fight scenes. Ares is a Greek god, so you can justify any mythological beast or magic you like with him. Plus, he’s an arms dealer, so he can give his soldiers any sci-fi gadgets you care to mention. Powered armor, lasers, jetpacks, whatever. But from here on out, it’s pretty much just Diana versus guys with guns. I mean, they’re not glue-guns, thank God, but still, she might as well be fighting a ring of car thieves. I’m just saying, if Thor can have blondie fighting giant trolls, an evil magician, and a huge robot, surely Wonder Woman can bring more to the table than the cast of Act of Valor.
Eventually, Ares comes out of nowhere and impales Diana from behind with his spear. No, not like that, in the shoulder. Wait, that just makes it sound more perverted. Despite all that, it’s a tense scene. Diana is gravely wounded. Ares, the God of War, answers her boasting “Who’s next?” with a simple “I am.” His men fall to one knee in fealty, as if he doesn’t even need their help. Mother and father, sworn enemies, face each other for the first time!
Well, well, look at this. It’s Breastplate Barbie.
And Ares turns out to be a… sassy gay villain?LFTA: Mother and father? You mean father and daughter?
Not very impressive for a signature weapon, I always thought. Apollo had silver arrows, Poseidon had a trident, and Zeus – I mean, thunderbolts, now there’s something people remember—
Of course now the old geezer can’t even raise a spark if he rubs his hands together standing on a polyester carpet.
“Thank you, thank you, you’ve been a lovely audience! Tip your waitresses, try the veal, I wish I could take you home with me!”LFTA: He’s a little quippy for someone who obviously knows who and what the amazons are.LFTA: He’s too many mishmashed parts of villains. He should just steal 40 cakes and be done with it.
Ares asks Diana if she wants to come to the Dark Side, Diana tells him she’s a Jedi like her mother before her, Ares is really sexist since he’s the villain in a superheroine movie. He even gloats about how all the other gods have grown weak—does that mean that the Abrahamic and Hindi Gods have grown strong? Why don’t they stop him? I think Morgan Freeman could take this guy.LFTA: Morgan Freeman would just put his name in the loom and get Angelina Jolie to pop him
While he’s berating/bitch-slapping her, Diana signals to Steve to make a break for it. Since only god-created weapons can pierce Ares, she whips him in the face as Steve grabs a gun and starts shooting. They get away, thanks to not giving into their THROBBING BIOLOGICAL URGES.
The ELECTRICITY between them is almost VISIBLE, their hands still TOUCHING, not moving closer but not pulling away—LFTA: Did this lady write for Harlequin?LFTA: I must not be getting the straight people newsletters anymore. They probably found out I joined tumblr
While Ares recovers and gets the bad news that they’ve escaped. He kills the messenger, which I think is déclassé. Surely, he’s been around long enough to have heard the saying about not shooting the messenger. But then, I guess impaling the messenger with a spear doesn’t count. Oh, that Ares, so tricky!
I’m afraid your promotion isn’t working out, Rucka. I’m going to have to let you go.
And he doesn’t even give him a thematically appropriate business one-liner, like saying “Here’s your severance package!” while cutting him in half, or “You’re fired!” while setting him on fire, or “No golden watch for you!” while… killing… him.LFTA: It would have been funnier if he’d said “let you go” while holding him off the side of the building. Maybe I plot out my dramatic moments as a supervillain too much.LFTA: “We’re making some cuts” while slicing them in half.
Diana and Steve go to Doc’s apartment, where they meet Tex and Preacher as well. Of course, when Tex finds out about Paradise Island, you can bet there’ll be some high-larious comic relief!
Tex is clearly still fixating on the idea of an island of half-naked women.
And this island—you were marooned there?
(realizes what Tex is getting at)
It wasn’t as much fun as it sounds like.
Comparing notes, Diana is dismayed to find that the consensus is that no one would believe her about Ares. Also, Trevor has a girlfriend and that’s a problem, because she likes Trevor! Doc commiserates with Diana, even giving her a candy bar. Because she’s totally Etta Candy and they’re just fucking with us by not saying it.
Then more processing with Steve, as Diana talks about how being Ares’s daughter gives her The Rage.
You don’t understand. Amazons do not kill out of anger, or vengeance—it is contrary to everything I have learned all my life, everything I am—
Or thought I was.
If she builds a lightsaber, I’m outta here. The crew also finds out about Diana freeing some prostitutes from lock-up.LFTA: I don’t know why I find “they were legitimate women of commerce” so cute, but it is. And they are. I was very wary of this script getting into sex work shaming.
Because Diana has been exposed to the public, she disguises herself as Steve’s secretary to keep an eye on him as he deals with his commanders. She even has to wear (giggle snort) high heels! Whaaaaaaaaaa?
Are these shoes some form of punishment?
Depends on who you talk to, babe.
Diana is just learning how to use the computer when Vanessa shows up. And she’s been going out with Steve for two years. We all know he’s going to leave her for Diana, but damn. What would he do in the sequel, kick her ass to the curb for Hawkgirl? “These last four years have been great, Diana, but this weekend I spent with Kendra was just… magical.”LFTA: I hate that they’re making Diana into “the other woman.” So annoying. The only reason a babe can’t hook up with another guy is because of another lady! Not the fact that they don’t really know each other and are pursuing a ragey god! No no it’s that damned girlfriend!
Anyway, when not totally skeeving on the guy in a relationship, Diana found out that Ares is really Ares Buchanan, weapons manufacturer. Which would be impressive if he weren’t the one non-Italian-bass-player with the first name Ares.
Taking a page from the “staying committed to your relationship choices” playbook of Anakin and Padme, Steve and Diana have a romantic picnic by the lake and teach each other to skip stones while they discuss the end of the world. Diana tells Steve she’s going after Ares alone, since she’s the only one who’s half-god. Steve protests, and I guess he had a point. After all, can you prove he’s not the Second Coming of Christ? Can you?
At a bar full of rowdy bikers—seriously?—Diana breaks the plan to Steve’s pilots, expositing about the godstream.
The ancient gods draw their strength from the godstream—the more worshippers a god has, the more they can dip into the godstream, and the more powerful they become.
In a world of endless war, Ares’ power would be—almost limitless.
Now, in the comics all the Greek gods still had power, due to using the Amazons as a sort of safe investment. But I can understand paring it down to just Ares and Artemis. Same principle as Troy, they can’t have a bunch of gods running around confusing the audience when one or two will do. And it is better than going the “Zeus = God, Hades = The Devil” route like most Greek mythology movies do. Still, this kind of streamlining, along with Diana’s revised origin, does make the whole story less epic. It just feels smaller, more provincial.LFTA: So the more followers you get, the more tickets come out of the machine so you can get cooler prizes at Chuck E Cheese.
Diana also tells them about Ares’s WMD.
Thousands of years ago, Ares created a different kind of weapon, part machine and part ancient magic—a vessel that drew in the spirits of his bloodiest acolytes after death. A sort of—soulcatcher.
Once held in the soulcatcher, spirits can leap to a new body. Ares’ acolytes, who slaughtered and raped in his name—with the soulcatcher, he could give them eternal life.
Well, it’s more creative than a really big bomb, I’ll give it that.
Doc advises Diana to start drinking heavily, as Vanessa has stopped by looking for Steve, He takes her outside to talk, while Diana stalks him, I mean… angsts.
The drunken bikers pick then to hit on her. Okay, script, I’ll spot you the evil drunken frat boys, but now evil drunken bikers? This is Wonder Woman! Let’s get a minotaur up in here! The combination of her internet boyfriend being unfaithful to her and motorcycle enthusiast sexual harassment leads to Diana Ares-ing out, and for some reason we get a bar fight in a Wonder Woman movie. Again, minotaur.LFTA: I like how she mentions that where she comes from you ask a woman before you take off her clothes. I think that’s as close to textually admitting amazons get it on as has ever happened.
Oh, and Vanessa realizes that Steve doesn’t love her anymore because of how he kisses her. When Diana is thrown out the window, Vanessa realizes that hers is the milkshake that brought Steve to the yard, with the unsettling realization that it’s better than hers. She storms off, never to be seen in this script again.
Uh… girl power?LFTA: It’s such a weird Gossip Girl moment.
Diana happens to find a commando in the shadows, who she takes captive and interrogates with her lasso. He reveals that Ares is attacking Camp David.
As they set off, we discover the real reason for the bar brawl.
Diana is PULLING off the remains of the shredded dress as she goes, revealing her skin-tight gladiator outfit minus the skirt—THE WONDER WOMAN OUTFIT that we all know.
Okay, regardless of your position on the pants/skirt/no-pants debate, I think we can all agree this is a little weird, right? It’s like Batman losing his pants in the second act of The Dark Knight Rises and going to confront Bane in his Bat-boxers. I personally like the idea of the gladiator skirt because it seems like an all-important thing an actual person would wear, but if you’re not going to do it, then just have her in the swimsuit from the get-go. This just kind of weirdly sexualizes her, since she’s explicitly going into battle in her undies.LFTA: Fuck yessss. Stop thinking my thoughts. Although I would PAY to see Batman fighting Bane in bat-boxers.
As Diana and Trevor drive off, Steve gripes about how she keeps rescuing him, realizes how sexist that sounds, then tells her he thinks it’s actually pretty cool. Which makes her blush. That was a scene.LFTA: I was kinda hoping the car was gonna be the General Lee.
They arrive at the home of Admiral Jiminez, an old war buddy of Steve who would definitely never betray him. He immediately betrays them. Steve is knocked out and Diana is handcuffed. It was all a cunning ruse by Ares, giving his men just enough information that if Diana interrogated them, they would send her right into his trap.LFTA: If only they had gone to Admiral Ackbar, he would have warned them.
Diana figures out that Ares’s plan is to take the G7 world leaders to Themyscira, where Ares will soul-swap them with the worst of the worst—Hitler, Stalin, Rick Santorum—to start a never-ending war.
You know, for a script that’s almost over, they’re not leaving a lot of time for Diana to get named Wonder Woman.
Bring him—and “Wonder Woman” here as well.
Oh, there we go. Her evil father nicknamed her that ironically. I could see how she would take that as her superhero codename. She’s probably thinking right now “Hey, that’s catchy!”LFTA: It’s better than falling in a well and taking your name from rodents.
As Ares and his army follow Steve’s plane toward the rift, Ares takes the opportunity to hit on Diana. Because, you know—GREEK god.LFTA: “FATHERLY and SENSUAL at once“ - wow they are just swan diving into a creepy place. At least they’re being more accurate to Greek gods, even if it’s squicky.LFTA: Cripes.
(reading her mind)
You really think the mortal has anything to offer you? Think, Diana. He will live and die in an eyeblink, but you—he will watch you stay eternally young, as time sucks the life from him.
How long do you think it will take before he starts hating you.
Yeah, most men would hate a lover who stays young and beautiful forever… Still, a compelling wedge to drive between Steve and Diana. Maybe we can explore the implications of—
Did you tell him that Amazons can have no children?
(off her silence)
Ah. You didn’t. No children, no grandchildren, nothing to leave behind in the world—you truly think that wouldn’t matter to him?
“Of course, you could always adopt or use a surrogate, but I’m assuming you don’t realize that. Honestly, this whole sterility thing came a little out of nowhere.”
Diana kisses Ares—yeah, say what you will about Halle Berry, but none of her superheroes ate their dad’s tongue—and slips the lasso on him while he’s distracted. With Ares held hostage, Diana uses the radio to tell Steve to go back to his world, trapping Ares there forever. As Steve hesitantly obeys, Ares breaks free, but Diana manages to throw herself out of the plane rather than rule the universe with him as father and daughter.
Okay, seriously, if Boba Fett shows up, I’m leaving.
Then Obi-Wan tells her to use the Force—sorry, Artemis reminds her that she has all Ares’s powers, so she shoots off the handcuffs and saves herself by learning to fly. It wasn’t that hard; she just had to miss the ground.
In a nice moment:
Her eyes widen with amazement and instinctive DELIGHT—but then her face HARDENS with resolve.
Meanwhile, in Hippolyta’s bedchambers…
A fire burns low in the hearth, barely more than coals, casting a warm glow over HIPPOLYTA AND PHILLIPA,
Consulting over a ledger by the window.
Damnit. Hippolyta is worried about Diana, Phillipa is comforting and supportive—and suddenly, an army of Ares’s soldiers attack! Yes! You have no idea how many times I’ve wished this exact thing would happen on Gilmore Girls!
As the Amazons mount a frantic defense, Diana swoops in to find Ares personally attacking Hippolyta.
Honey, I’m home.
Whenever he talks, does anyone else feel like the scene should immediately cut to Joel McHale and Mankini mocking whatever it is he’s said?LFTA: They’ve accomplished making me think of Ares as a douchenozzle. Well done script.
Diana and Ares are fighting in mid-air when five tanks parachute in, the world leaders inside, to attack the Amazons. Diana has no choice but to save her sisters as Ares opens Doom’s Doorway. All hope seems lost, with Diana outnumbered and Ares having the McGuffin, but before the war-god can even utter an omnipotent monologue (which, c’mon, is kinda obligatory in these things. “Of what consequence are you now? These people, this world, they are nothing – the universe is power, pure unstoppable power – and I am that force, I am that power.”), the Lackhawks fly in to save the day.
Diana grabs Hippolyta’s god-sword and throws it at Ares while he throws his spear at her. He misses, she doesn’t, and the hit sends Ares through Doom’s Doorway, where he’ll be trapped forever with the vengeful souls he stored there.
Diana PAUSES, looking at him for one last moment.
I’m sorry. I would have liked—to have a father.
And we realize, strangely, that she’s CRYING.LFTA: Which is kind of poetic, but the line Diana gives pisses me off.LFTA: “I would have liked to have a father” Why? What reason would she have? She has no reference for needing a father, it’s not part of her culture. I mean it resonates for the audience because the nuclear family is idolized in western societybut it’s not true to the character and her backstory. She was a happy whole person with a great childhood, raised by her mother and an island of warrior women who loved her and made her happy. This needing a dad stuff is kinda bs.LFTA: Exactly! Tou have to think outside the patriarchy when you’re writing amazons, damnit. That’s not even a feminist complaint, but a logic complaint. It’s also where a lot of scripts and storylines fall apart for me in regards to Wondy. They try to craft this ideal of a woman but give her failings that arise from our cultural standards so they don’t make sense, and make it difficult to engage with the story and the character.
Hippolyta shakes Steve’s hand, conceding that he’s pretty fly for a guy, and Diana kisses him. So? Everybody does that.
After getting patched up, Diana tells Hippolyta that she feels at home in both worlds, but she’ll be going back to Man’s World because they need her. Hippolyta tells her that she can return anytime she wants, even if it’s just to have her laundry done, then gives Diana her tiara. Oh yeah, half-Ares, two-thousand-year-old virgin, and as if she’s not enough of a freak already, let’s add a tiara!LFTA: Was that a Princess Diaries reference?LFTA: Marry me.
Now all that’s left is for Diana to talk to Artemis, who tells her that it’s time for Themyscira to rejoin the world.LFTA: Overall, this story was much better than the last one, but it definitely had points that were a little bewildering.LFTA: Yeah, the fun of Wondy are the mythical monsters, or great female villains like Silver Swan, Giganta, Cheetah. Or when she blinds herself and slays the gorgon! Those would all be great movies.LFTA: I have trouble writing action too, but at least give some interesting baddies besides The Big Bad, The Goons, and the Friend that Betrays You. Cliche! BORING. Throw in a cyclops or something geez.LFTA: I also wish they didn’t end on a kiss. That’s very rom com-y. I wish they ended with her flying and being happyor twirling her lasso or something, dang.LFTA: Haha yeah. This was more fun than the last one though.LFTA: Oh no, a Wondy script that lets her kick butt!LFTA: Only when the Avatar is reborn, and can combine all the elements, will we get a Wonder Woman movie that’s goodLFTA: Well I think the conflict at Diana’s core is one that society faces all the time: war and peace. Diana is a warrior who fights for peace, she is a contradiction herself. Is it really Peace if you make it happen with your fists or a weapon? She walks that line all the time, and it’s the storylines that deal with that conflict that resonate the best. The second and third volumes didn’t really rely on Diana angsting over a man, she had dates and love interests, but they were in the background to her relationship with her mother, in the modern world as a whole and her friends such as Vanessa and Etta Candy. The problem that these movies have is that they try and introduce Wondy and make the crux of her problems about interactions with men – with Steve Trevor and in this case with Ares. The conflict with Ares works better when you see him as an avatar of war and violence, pulling on those aspects of Diana’s character, rather than her relation to him on a male-female or familial level. That’s why I like the idea of using one of the classic villains like Cheetah or Circe, because they’re good for being The Bad but without bringing gender conflict into the story. She could still face down stereotypes in Man’s World without having to centre all of her energies on men, you know? We get that in almost every other action movie – I want more women in my Wonder Woman story.
For more from special guest star Lettersfromtheattic check her out here on Tumblr.
Wonder Leia Source [Motifake]
Belle/Ariel Source [DeviantArt]