Here’s an undeniable fact: in today’s climate, making Wonder Woman a live-action property is a tall order. Well, making it happen is possible – but doing it without accusations of sexism, misogyny, or simply ignorance seems nearly impossible. But just because the task is a difficult one, that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile to attempt, with possible rewards for female audiences both old and young.
Women with actual superpowers are sparse even in Marvel’s stable of films, but Thor: The Dark World‘s warrior goddess Lady Sif – played by Jaimie Alexander – doesn’t think Wonder Woman is impossible to adapt to the screen. She has her own thoughts on what a modern Diana could bring, even if the versions of the character most recently seen are, in her words, “embarrassing.”
David E. Kelley has since defended his cancelled Wonder Woman TV pilot as a flawed effort, laying much of the blame on his own inexperience with the comic book genre. Of course, that failed attempt doesn’t seem to have damaged Warner Bros. or DC Comics’ plans for Diana, Princess of the Amazons. With a CW TV series already being cast, and Wonder Woman all but guaranteed to make an appearance in Justice League (2015), female comic book fans have likely never been more excited – or nervous.
When it comes to casting Diana for that big screen incarnation, Jaimie Alexander may have a few supporters already, as one of the few current actresses with experience playing an immortal goddess. But with Lady Sif becoming even more important in Thor: The Dark World, that camp may soon grow exponentially.
Alexander, a self-professed comic book fan, explained to MTV that while time has dashed her hopes of playing either X-23 or Jubilee in Marvel’s X-Men universe, she’s up for more comic book roles. When asked if she was still interested in portraying Wonder Woman, Alexander explained that previous attempts have dampened her interest:
“I used to be, and then I’ve seen how many failed attempts they’ve tried at remaking it. It’s embarrassing for me as a woman, to see what they did with that TV show. Had nothing to do with that amazing actress Adrienne Palicki. Absolutely not, she’s fantastic.”
Her position is not a difficult one to understand, since most people who ever saw David E. Kelley’s pilot were embarrassed themselves. There’s no need to kick a TV pilot when its down and out, but we’ll just say this: making a live-action Wonder Woman without being insensitive or chauvinistic demands that the creative minds tread lightly. Kelley and company didn’t.
For Alexander, the problems and criticism heaped on the TV pilot (and in many ways, somewhat applicable to the original Lynda Carter version) stretch far beyond DC’s leading lady. In her opinion, the success of a Wonder Woman film shouldn’t rest on how revealing her costume is, but how compelling a character she is presented as. In her impassioned response, Alexander even named some other major properties that inspiration could be drawn from:
“You know, let’s talk about this for a second: you’ve got very few female superheroes that are dominating films these days, unless they’re in a skintight outfit and their boobs are pushed up to their chin. And it’s not OK. It’s not. There needs to be a positive role model.
“If you’re going to make Wonder Woman, make it like The Bourne Supremacy. You know, let’s do something awesome like that. Alias was a fantastic show. Why can’t we do that? Why does she have to be in hot pants and spandex and all this stuff? And yeah, I get it, it’s visually stunning for…half of people. But at least make her grow a pair. All she does is eat ice cream while she’s crying over a boy. I know it never aired but that’s what the script said.”
To be fair, Kelley’s pilot wasn’t the only time studios have had problems adapting Diana to a modern setting. Even Joss Whedon’s planned Wonder Woman movie failed before lift-off, and while DC may have a stand-alone Wonder Woman film in the works, those plans have been put on hold until post-Justice League. But Alexander’s points hit the nail on the head.
As an unknown person of interest with a US government-issued liaison (Colonel Steve Trevor), the opportunity to explore the more clandestine aspects of the character (a la Alias) is there. While that’s partially the direction taken with DC’s New 52 “Justice League” comic series, things are much different in the current “Wonder Woman” line. Greek gods and goddesses abound, with Diana’s origins re-written as (SPOILERS) the daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta.
Whichever path DC and WB should choose to go down – either with the Amazon TV series or Justice League movie – we side with Alexander in our belief that what fans (and female fans in particular) want more than anything is simply a strong character, free from stereotypes or eye candy exploitation. Alexander may not be as interested in playing Diana as she once was, but her passion for what the character should represent may earn her a bit more attention from Warner Bros. after all, assuming they share her frustration.
What do you think of a Bourne or Alias vibe for a possible Wonder Woman project? Should they update the story, or use what worked best about the classical mythological source material? More importantly, should Alexander reconsider the role if pursued? Sound off in the comments.
Fans will have the chance to see Jaimie Alexander’s combat prowess when Thor: The Dark World releases on November 8, 2013
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.