Saturday, January 8, 2011

Two pieces of Wonder Woman news: Some disappointing, some indifferent

First, the indifferent. You will remember that the guy who did Ally McBeal, David E. Kelley, had been working on an updated version of Wonder Woman to pitch to television networks. As he put it, he was "taking a stab at it." You can see how enthusiastic he was.

I'm taking a stab at it! is the great rallying cry of artists who are passionate about their work.

Now, in news that should surprise no one, Entertainment Weekly is reporting that everyone has passed on this new stab:
Sources tell EW that all the major broadcasters have passed on the much-buzzed about project. Late Friday, NBC was the final network that declined to bring back the superhero.
Regular readers of this blog will remember that I suggested Wonder Woman be set up at a cable network, where her "glorious" (yes, that was the word I used and I'm sticking by it) fetish/bondage aspects could be emphasized. However, back to EW:
One factor may have been the projected cost of rebooting the series, with the studio requiring a rich license fee to bring the iconic character back to life (in other words, nobody wanted it to be another Bionic Woman). The cost means that it’s unlikely a cable network could step up and foot the bill.
So, it's corporate greed, in addition to a lack of creative vision on the part of the copyright/trademark owners, that will prevent us getting a new television version of one of the best superheroes ever. Hopefully the tears that I now shed will provide nourishment to the parched earth on which I now tread, wandering in desolation and etc.

And now the really disappointing news. You will also remember that I felt a glimmer of hope upon learning that there was a pornographic film version of Wonder Woman released late last year. Actually, "glimmer of hope" might be an understatement. For whatever reason, I was excited (pornography and superheroes -- go figure), especially upon reading the press release for the new film. From my own post of December 14, 2010 (a much simpler time!):
Wonder Woman XXX (kinda almost sorta not safe for work). It's calling itself a "Porn Parody," but take a look at their synopsis:

The Iraqi government has once again penetrated US soil and has sent their top spy to infiltrate America's most lucrative business, the Porn Industry. Through the help of a sultry US informant, the Iraqi spy has gained access to California's biggest porn production sets in order to steal their secrets and bring them back home. There is only one person that can stop the Iraqi insurgence. There is only one person who can make a man crumble to his knees and beg for mercy, Wonder Woman. Will the Iraqi spy succeed in his mission to rip off America's beloved porn or will he succumb to the wealth and riches of the most sought after pussy on the planet. Will Wonder Woman save the day or are her powers futile against the terrorist attacks of the Iraqi infidels.
Let's leave aside for a moment the poor grammar of that synopsis (although I admit it is driving me crazy -- they can't hire someone to proofread their website for crying out loud???) and focus on the content. What's really amazing is just how closely it mirrors synopses of the original 1940s Wonder Woman comics by William Moulton Marston and Harry Peter. Just substitute "Nazis" for "Iraqis," and substitute "the milk industry," or "a department store," or "a sorority house," or "a circus," or "a dude ranch," or "a munitions factory" for "the Porn Industry," and you've got a pretty accurate description of just about every story from Wonder Woman's amazing first few years of comics.

The people behind Wonder Woman XXX clearly know the character. Just read their full press release. They "get it."  And they have a pretty clear sense of how she should be updated; the same apparently cannot be said for those in the "legitimate" film industry, people like Joss Whedon and dithering David E. Kelley, who have tried and failed to capture what the character is all about (or the people currently doing the comics, for that matter).
Sorry for quoting myself at such great length, but it's really quaint and charming how optimistic I was about this film. Alas, if this review from fleshbot (site is NSFW) is to be believed, the movie seriously misses the mark:
[W]hat's up with Wonder Woman's powers? The girl gets such a short bit of time to shine in this movie, and from the moment she changes into her sassy, star-spangled costume ... she ought to pack in as many comic and cartoon references in as possible. Sadly, the only power Wonder Woman shows off is the ability to make people fall asleep by touching their foreheads. That's it. Do you know how many powers Wonder Woman has had over the years? More importantly, where was the golden lariat? How can they not take advantage of the bondage angle?
If this is true (sorry, I haven't had a chance to actually watch the film itself; I've been too busy to get to the theater) then it's inexcusable. The bondage angle is crucial to the character, and if you're going to have her in a pornographic film and not show any bondage, then, um, I'm so confused  by that that I can't even think of a metaphor. As for touching people's foreheads to put them to sleep -- when has Wonder Woman ever been able to do that?

Wonder Woman most especially does not put people to sleep. I mean, look at her.

I know! Let's make her put people to sleep! It'll be a sort of PoMo commentary on what the film is actually doing to the audience!

Anyway, if not even members of the pornographic film industry can't get Wonder Woman right, what hope is there for anyone else?

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