Thursday, January 23, 2014

Wonder Woman: My Rough Movie Concept

Here’s the thing: I am not generally a supes person. I usually stay out of conversations about superhero’s for this reason. However, the recent discussion around how Wonder Woman is somehow more “difficult” to make a movie about than, say, Thor or Iron Man struck me as really weird.  There seems to be a fixation with certain aspects of WW’s original origin story, namely the BDSM components, and not enough on her actual character and what she stands for. There’s no reason a film can’t do that, the same way they have for just about every other successful superhero.

What makes WW somehow more complicated? I think there’s a lot of fear about such an overtly feminist character and it’s scary to think about the time and effort required to make a film about her work and resonate. Mostly because of A. not getting the character B. being afraid of the word "feminist" C. not really understanding what actually makes her a "feminist" char. That latter was soundly proved by the garbage that was Catwoman. 

My feeling is: get over it. Tap a good writer, take the time, and you WILL find the audience for this (and they will happily pay you for giving them a great film). Is it a risk? Sure, but no more than any other. They’re all a risk, that’s the nature of the biz. There are no sure things in film.

So, what’s MY idea for a Wonder Woman movie? Well, I think we need to go back to her Greek mythological roots, show Wonder Woman’s version of the Amazon’s within that framework, and then allow for a modern storyline.  Greek Gods in Modern Times doesn’t strike me as particularly difficult, and I think starting out with a “simple”, though not stupid, story seems like a good way to intro the character to film audiences.

In my head, I see an opening sequence of a figure running, though we never see all of her (or possibly even that it IS a her at first, let’s do some audience fake out here). There are sandaled feet, some battle scars, maybe a few cuts, but overall this figure is strong, determined, confident. Think the Xena opener, only with better graphics. Swords clashing with beasts of myth and legend, maybe a god thrown in, in quick, badass cuts.

In my head, I hear Claudia Blacks’s voice narrating, telling us about being a warrior and an agent for peace. The inherent conflict of wanting a world that’s strong and loving, and knowing that sometimes violence is a necessary force when evil and hate are your adversaries to reaching that goal.  I hear her, at the end, tell us this is what makes a “True Amazon”, the ability to love and fight for what you know matters. Chills up the spine, I guarantee it. (Note: I think CB is probably a little old for WW, but she’d make an AMAZING Hippolyta, who could totally narrative this!)


As Hippplyta says this, we pull back to reveal a Wonder Woman who looks like this cosplayer, Meagan Marie: HERE (frankly, she’s my main inspiration for this WW story.) standing on a beach, sword and shield in hand, lasso at her side, wind blowing cinematically in the wind…and looking back at her Amazonian home, full of women living their lives peacefully. She’s been training. We hear her mother talking about how Diana, naturally, is a leader who wants to help. But the Amazons haven’t really “needed” her that way in a long time. She was ready for a change.

Cut to our Diana, cleaned up a little, talking with her mother. Hippolyta is telling her that the gods have been up to something, they aren’t getting back to anyone lately, and she needs her daughter to go out and find out what’s up.  The Amazons have been guarding something important (a gate to the Underwold, maybe) but it’s been a hell of a long time since anyone showed up or even came to give it a friendly check in.  And now the gate is crumbling (that’s bad for everyone) and the Amazon’s can’t fix it. They need help. Especially because Athena isn't responding and that's really bad.

So Diana goes on a little quest, definitely with a fellow Amazon or two so we get some more Bechdel Test passing action in here, not to mention some exposition on her creation story. I’m partial to the “made out of clay” version and having her friends give her a little shit for being made out of dirt. I personally dig this origin because she was created by her mother out of a need for her to exist. I find that to be a really powerful concept.

Naturally it turns out Olympus is a deserted wasteland. Nobody home. Well, that’s a problem. She seeks an oracle (maybe those 3 weaver ladies) and finds out that the gods deserted Olympus at least a thousand years ago, internal strife, and the world outside is pretty damn different than it used to be. The Amazon's haven't noticed because of reasons, something mythical. WW’s going to need to venture out if she’s going to find any of the old gods and haul their delinquent butts back home. At this point I think a little run down of our “greatest hits” as a species are in order, focusing mainly on our tendency to kill each other and been oppressive asshats. Seems like the kind of thing Diana would be unthrilled by. And the Amazon’s main concern is finding out what happened to Athena, who they really can’t believe would just up and abandon them. Note; she definitely didn’t.

At first, Hippolyta is not so keen on her one and only going off into this unknown, violent, crappy world. Plus, Diana isn’t the only one who wants to go on this journey. So there’s a contest, which obvs Diana wins, and she’s off to our world. She’ll need clues, probably from the weaver ladies and Hippolyta, for where to start looking, And she’ll need a different outfit so she’ll blend. I’m voting for something with pants. And a spiffy red leather jacket, like maybe this one.

Meanwhile, in the real world, things are going about how you’d expect. War, famine, hate…we’re a fun bunch. And in the midst of it all are the Greek gods, some laying low, some really not, and Diana has to seek out various ones to figure out what the hell is going on. I’d personally go with Ares and Aphrodite being huge jerkfaces and looking like the main “villains” at first, but that’s me. Might be a little obvious, but sometimes that’s good when you’re going for a more mainstream, digestible story for larger audiences. Once they figure out Diana is on the case, they start sending “things” after her. 

Forthe most part, she outsmarts them, using peaceful means to subdue them and solve the problem. Right up until she can't anymore because it's going to hurt people. It's important to remember that while Diana may be a warrior, she’s not a thug. And throughout it all she witnesses a great deal of human suffering (I’m guessing she’s in a city here, real or made up, whatever) and sees an opportunity to do some real good.  She should make some human friends, I think she’s be especially concerned for the plight of women and children given our cultural issues with misogyny, but not to the exclusion of injustice and inequality in general. I just think she’d definitely notice the gendered nature of many of our current problems.

Eventually she has to have a major confrontation with the jerk gods and uses her intelligence, strength, AND powers to best them after she discovers they’ve locked Athena away because she’s been the main voice of dissent. And, in the end, also shows compassions towards the ultimate mastermind, who would really have to be Zeus. I can’t stand that guy, he’s horrible throughout mythology. They fix the gate back home, but she decides to stay here to help humanity (we really NEED her). Emotional moment with her mom, who reluctantly understands, and they set up a new status quo on Olympus, with ideally Athena in charge. And Wonder Woman sets about doing work WORLDWIDE to combat injustice, with hints at future problems so we can obviously get a sequel. Fin!

Okay, so, as a friend said, some of these plot points are “mushy” but I don't think any more so than any other super film in recent memory. Hopefully a screenwriter/editor would be able to make it gel. I’m also using my personal interpretation of Greek Mythology here, especially in regards to Zeus, who sucked. But I think something like this might be a story your average movie goer could enjoy, while also offering a bit more depth for the more discerning viewer, and definitely sticking to WW/Diana as a character to appease hardcore fans. I hope. The idea here isn’t that my idea is the bestest, just that there are plenty of ways to do WW that are compelling and engaging, and no more difficult than a Thor or a Superman.


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