Warner Bros. got their shared movie universe off to a strong start with Man of Steel, and with the upcoming sequel adding not just Batman, but possibly Wonder Woman as well, DC's most famous heroine's drought may be over. Unfortunately, while fans are furiously debating if Diana will exist in Zack Snyder's movie universe, no one is stopping to wonder exactly how she can exist. How can a demigod from a fantasy realm be taken seriously alongside Batman?
That's the question that the team at Rainfall Films sought to answer with their short film/concept pitch, featuring a live-action Wonder Woman (Rileah Vanderbilt). The short film won't be for everybody, but in terms of design direction, it's one of the first pitches for a big screen Wonder Woman that's had us nodding our heads, not shaking them.
Featuring a look at Wonder Woman in both a Nolan-esque urban setting and a mythical fantasy that could be pulled straight out of a Zack Snyder movie (300, Sucker Punch), the short film approaches the idea of what a Wonder Woman film could be in a way not often seen. That is: embracing the unbelievable, mythical facets of the superheroine, rather than trying to cast them aside in the name of a 'grounded' approach. It's a significant question of style, and one that Warner Bros. will need to answer - soon.
When faced with the idea of a Wonder Woman movie, comic book fans like to get themselves worked up over which actresses would be perfect to bring Diana to life (and we're no exception), but many overlook the fact that 'the Wonder Woman story' is one of the most ambiguous in all of DC's main roster.
While most superheroes have a conventional origin story - they are born, encounter hardships, acquire powers, and take up a mission - Wonder Woman defies that structure. She has powers, of course, but they've been with her since the beginning; and as a princess of the Amazons, she was bound for greatness from the start.
We're positive that the mythology of Wonder Woman is too rich to be overlooked entirely, but at what point in that story should a conventional superhero film be set? It's that wealth of storylines and the lack of a single, compelling arc that DC's President of Entertainment claims is keeping a Wonder Woman adaptation from gaining speed, be it on TV or in a feature film.
The CW recently had to go back to the drawing board with their Amazon origin TV series, and Joss Whedon's failed attempt to make a Wonder Woman movie has been well-documented. But even as Warner Bros. attempts to bring Diana's story to TV audiences, Whedon (who is currently bringing the superhero world to ABC with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) doesn't see the character working on such a small stage.
The director admitted to EW that the world's greatest superheroine is always a challenge:
"It is hard. She’s a tough nut to crack. I know she’s famous as a television show, but I don’t think she lends herself to television. I think she only works on an epic scale. I saw a bit of the David E. Kelley [NBC pilot]. That was not a good marriage."
The reason NBC's Wonder Woman pilot failed (or one of the reasons) was the fact that its take on Diana, princess of the Amazons, was completely un-epic. The attempt to make Wonder Woman 'just like a regular person' was not only unsuccessful, but as Whedon points out, it sold the character short. And it's in this respect that Rainfall Films' concept film has us optimistic.
For starters, it's nice to see a Wonder Woman cast in a beautiful light, not just a sexual one (again, there are plenty of examples of tastelessness to choose from). And while the presence of enormous monsters might turn off some viewers, the dichotomy of colossal beasts and masked gunmen hits one aspect of the character dead on; this woman is not threatened by human beings, guns or no.
So far, WB is setting up two pillars of their shared movie universe: Man of Steel offered a superpowered Kal-El dealing with human problems, and Zack Snyder's Batman will likely be every bit as grounded as Christian Bale's incarnation. But with a near-immortal warrior woman from a secret island of mythical monsters (who may or may not fly, with both being completely plausible) possibly being added to the mix, the studio has their hands full.
Will WB take the Thor route and embrace the less believable aspects of Diana? Or will the most impressive aspects of her back-story be sacrificed in the name of a consistent movie universe?
For our money, this short film proves that Diana taking on massive beasts can work on film, especially if Snyder is involved. More than that, it has us thinking that a mixture of flashbacks could actually be all that's needed to do Themysicra justice.
What do you think of the film's approach? Is a balance between realism and fantasy one you feel could work for a live-action Wonder Woman, or is the studio smarter to pick one and stick with it? Leave us your own thoughts in the comments.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.