CW Intends To Make Something Similar To, But Not Actually, Wonder Woman




Back in September, it was revealed that the CW, former home of Smallville, and current home of Arrow, had bought a pitch from writer Allan Heinberg to bring Wonder Woman to the small screen, under the title Amazon. And now it looks like they are moving forward with the pilot, as they have hired a casting director to find the female lead. Which is all well and good. The CW is a Warner company, as is DC, and they've had the best luck of anyone getting (heavily altered, watered down or generally terrible) versions of the DC characters onto screen. And just because they're making a pilot doesn't mean it'll make it to series. CW learned that with their Aquaman show a decade back. And NBC went through it with Wonder Woman herself not so long ago.

But the more details we learn, the more uneasy I feel. This breakdown from Deadline, for instance:
According to the breakdown I've obtained, her name is Iris (not Diana). "She comes from a remote, secluded country and until now has spent most of her life as a soldier and a leader on the battlefield. Because of relentless brutality of her life at home, Iris looks at our world with absolute awe and astonishment. She's delighted ­and just as often horrified ­ by the aspects of everyday life that we take for granted: skyscrapers, traffic, ice cream. It's all new and fascinating and sometimes slightly troubling ­to her. Iris is completely unschooled in our world, our culture, our customs. And she's completely inexperienced at interpersonal relationships. She has no social filter, does not suffer fools, and tends to do and say exactly what's on her mind at all times. She's bluntly, refreshingly honest. She can tell when you're lying to her. And she doesn't have time or patience for politics or tact because she's too busy trying to experience everything our world has to offer. There are too many sights to see ­and things to learn ­and people to care for. Hers is a true, noble, and generous heart. And she will fight and die for the people she loves. Iris is a fierce warrior with the innocent heart of a romantic ­and she will fight to the death to make the world safe for innocents and true romantics everywhere."
Hit the jump for my thoughts on all of that.

Let me be clear, I have no problem with a Wonder Woman TV series. I'd love a Wonder Woman TV series. I'd love a Wonder Woman movie. I'd watch the hell out of either of those things. I'd like to see someone treat the character with a fraction of reverence and respect that Batman gets treated with. Here's the thing, all that above, that's not a Wonder Woman series. Or, at least, it's as much a Wonder Woman series as Catwoman was a Catwoman film. And at least it was called Catwoman.

If you are changing the title, and changing the character, then it isn't an adaptaion. At best, it's a homage, and at worst it's a ripoff. And I want to know which. Did Heinberg take the network a modern day Xena, and the network decided to spin it as a Wonder Woman project. Or did Heinberg take them the story of Diana Prince, but the network decided to rework it to be less so. I thought it was strange when they removed the Green from Arrow, but this would take it to a whole new level.

If it were the former, then my only problem is why they chose to associate it with Wonder Woman at all? According to "market research," female-lead movies make less money, female-games attract fewer players, and female-lead comics have fewer readers. The Wonder Woman brand has been tarnished all to hell recently, what with the David E. Kelly pilot, and the whole pants fiasco, and everyone knows about Joss Whedon's attempt to get it to the screen. So why, if the fruit is poisoned, ask people to eat it?

If it is the latter, why make the change? If the core emotional motivation of the character remains the same, why change the name at all. Why cast off seventy some-odd years of brand recognition? And in the title as well. Is it something as shallow and petty as paying a license fee? Or Warners putting pressure on the network not to use Diana, in the same way they kept Bruce Wayne off Smallville all those years (which resulted in Batman-light Oliver Queen, which resulted in Dark Knight-light Arrow)? I struggle with the logic of the decision. If Iris is Wonder Woman, what reason is there for her to be Iris instead of Diana? And if Iris isn't Wonder Woman, then why does the network keep mentioning Wonder Woman?

If the greater issue is that no one has been able to "figure out" Diana in the same way that everyone has figured out Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent, then that isn't a valid excuse. That is just lazy. And it's a wasted opportunity to give the world a somewhat definitive take on the character, as the Bill Bixby Hulk series has become to that character, or Superman '79 has become for Sups, or I'm sure Batman Begins will be.

And what message does it send, that the hallowed canon of the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel must be followed to the letter, but that Wonder Woman can be appropriated and altered to serve the whims of the powers-that-be? That female characters, the ones the studios have zero faith in, are so innocuous that no one will care if they are tinkered with, contorted and made into something they aren't. Let's change Kal-El's name to Merl, and have him be raised in northern Montana and watch the cries of desecration call out from all corners. So far, with this announcement, I've seen a mostly positive response. Am I the only one who thinks this is ridiculous?

Surely I'm not alone in this, am I?

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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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