Wonder Woman: The Motion Picture (or Else!)

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Jeff Chapman

According to The Wrap, Warner Brothers are "kicking the tires on films for Wonder Woman and Aquaman" No. Shut up. I've had enough of your crap, Bros. You're making the first ever Wonder Woman feature film before the decade is out. Batman got his in 1966, Superman got his in 1978, and instead of following the natural progression to the Amazing Amazon you've had fail up in your face greenlighting Supergirl, Steel, Catwoman, Jonah Hex & Green Lantern.* Your karma smells like dookey. Make things right and build a proper DC Comics cinematic universe out of your trinity of best loved and most broadly marketable super-heroes, a.s.a.p. you s.o.b.s.

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Jeff Chapman

Lions Gate Entertainment essentially went all in on The Hunger Games, staking the future of the company to raise the $88,000,000 production budget, and won big with earnings near $700m and robust home video sales. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Charlie's Angels, Salt, Kill Bill, and the Alien, Resident Evil, & Underworld franchises have all proven that you can make serious money off female-led action movies. Besides being the most globally recognized power fantasy figure for girls, there's a sizable gay following and surely as many men would turn out for the Amazon Princess as did for Captain America: The First Avenger (since the patriotic hero struggled internationally when compared to Thor.) With a reasonable budget (say $125-150 million,) a strong profit would be guaranteed, unless you want to roll the dice on another $200 million vehicle for a b-lister whose only advantage is "toycentricity" with the boys (you soulless moneygrubbers.) It's not like you couldn't find Superman Returns merch by the caseload at 99¢ Only Stores, and I'm pretty confident a property like the Flash would swiftly join him there.

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Jeff Chapman

The Screenplay

Whatever Joss Whedon wrote, you film. I don't actually know what he wrote, or if it's any good, but do it anyway. Warner Brothers, I've seen his movies and I've seen yours, and I have way more confidence in him. You guys can't even handle Superman and Batman half the time, and you think David Goyer is bacon when he's really lettuce. If there isn't an actual script (the words "draft" and "outline" pops up more in my research than "satisfying completed screenplay,") hire Marti Noxon and/or Jane Espenson to create the Whedonest script they can, and you promote the movie as "story by the visionary director of Marvel's The Avengers" because it's so money.

I've heard good things about the script by Matthew Jennison and Brent Strickland, but it's a World War II period piece involving Nazis, and the whole entire world is over that. We need a modern age pic, and Whedon already worked out a lot of bugs related to that. What the picture really needs is the classic origin story, which has never been committed to film, and therefore does not need to be jazzed up for jaded audiences like that crap Brian Azzarello pulled.

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Jeff Chapman

Cool secret agent/pilot Steve Trevor crash lands on an island full of heroic amazons. He's rescued by Princess Diana, who then anonymously competes in a contest to decide who will journey to the outside world with Trevor to confront a mythological force (Zeus? Ares? Heracles?) attempting to trigger World War III. Invisible plane optional, but bracelets and Lasso (not lynch) of Truth essential. Do not kill off Queen Hippolyta, or reveal the Amazons get all rapey and traffic their male babies for weaponry. It's gross, and Wonder Woman should be idealized the way Donner did Superman's world in its first go.

Given the casualties in Man of Steel, I like what Whedon said about making Diana a conscientious objector instead of the violent emasculating she-bitch with a sword your shitty comic book division keeps pushing. For the last time, Kingdom Come wasn't as great as you dumb asses thought it was, which is why we're still talking about Marvelman despite it being out of print for decades while Alex Ross is shilling for Nick Barrucci. The moment has passed.

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Jeff Chapman

The Characters

Wonder Woman, Queen Hippolyta, and Steve Trevor are locked. In a cinescape with ponderous, smug Superman and growly hermit Batman, how about we let Princess Diana be a down-to-earth personable humanitarian who doesn't callously toss bad guys into populated areas? Instead of a straw feminist ball buster, let her shine by being the one who recognizes that there are fragile human beings caught up in these epic confrontations. Since you're shaking in your boots over Superman being perceived as a big blue boyscout, let Diana be the one who smiles sweetly, pulls kittens off high tree limbs, and kisses skinned knees. I'll happily jump on the Gina Carano bandwagon if she looks to diplomacy first and intense, contained close combat last. I got more of a thrill out of seeing her tangle with Michael Fassbender in a hotel room and Channing Tatum across a few square feet of a diner in Haywire that the entire third act of Man of Steel. Throw in Kathryn Bigelow on a tentpole instead of low budget Oscar bait and this could end up being the the most visceral super-hero action spectacle ever, regardless of Diana's demeanor.

Hippolyta is more flexible in the big picture/casualties department, which creates a vastly different dynamic with her daughter than Jor-El/Kal-El or Bruce/Alfred. The Queen can be dogged/brutal, while Diana is the good conscience for mom and the other two points in the Trinity.

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Jeff Chapman

Steve Trevor has the easy part of being the slick, sexy eye candy who plays 2nd (3rd? 4th?) fiddle to Wonder Woman. Re-pair Carano and Tatum, y'think? It would also be smart to leave the first picture with Agent Diana Prince active in the intelligence community in some fashion, to ground her for sequels. Maybe once she finishes taking down the ancient but restless Greco-Roman deities here, she picks up the trail on some New Gods?

You figure the origin will take up a third or even half of the movie, so further casting should probably skew Amazon. There aren't a lot of memorable Amazons from the comics, so you're kind of stuck with Phillipus and Artemis, who were merged into one character for the 2009 animated feature. Phillipus was a military leader and confidant to Hippolyta, but a bit stock, so you might want to pepper a bit of Nubia into the character. Artemis was from a rival tribe of Amazons, and was antagonistic toward Diana for a long time. She'd be good competition in the Contest, and maybe goes AWOL from Paradise Island to involve herself in the larger plot.

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Jeff Chapman

Etta Candy was a long time supporting player/comic relief once the action shifted to the U.S., and it's too bad Melissa McCarthy is now too old for the role, as she might have been a draw. Who was the other one in Bridesmaids? Rebel Wilson? So Rebel Wilson then.

Once you leave Themyscira, unless you try to settle into a domestic scene for a bit to establish a home base for sequels, you're mostly looking at CGI set pieces involving creatures of lore. If Wonder Woman must grab sharp objects and get all stab n' hack, it's best if they're all hydra/cyclops/Medusa type stuff. Whoever your big bad is can chew scenery, maybe there will be some Clash of the Titans tasks, then a final battle and wrap.

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Jeff Chapman

Paradise Island

David S. Goyer said "I think Wonder Woman is a very difficult character to crack. More difficult than Superman, who is also more difficult than Batman." I just did that. It wasn't hard at all. He's just a stupid-head. Don't make things out to be more difficult than they are. Wonder Woman is super-confident and caring instead of being a naive foreigner or emotionally unbalanced jealous schoolgirl or bloodthirsty or a misandrist. Get over the virgin/whore complex and simply write a character without an overwrought arc. Steve Trevor is a typical action movie hero out of his depth, just like the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in Avengers, except he gets saved occasionally like Lois Lane. Also, there's hot athletic chicks wrasslin' in togas. It's not rocket science.

Probably the trickiest part is Paradise Island, which is understandable, because no writer in the 6½ decades since creator William Moulton Marston died has gotten that right. It's like how feminism is by definition organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests in pursuit of the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. Equality. Conniving pundits have managed to make "feminazis" a societal ill disowned by generations of women whose lives were overwhelmingly benefited by feminists. Even if a woman chooses to stay home and spit out a kid every year that they have the capacity for gestation, it's now a choice, rather than a dictate of the male members of her family. Honestly, your only options as a human being are to be a feminist or bigot.

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Jeff Chapman

That said, William Moulton Marston was a bigot, except his bigotry favored femdom over the patriarchy. You have to approach Paradise Island the way it was conceived: idyllic propaganda from a proponent of loving submission to the innate goodness and superiority of women. It's a nonnegotiable central tenant of writing Wonder Woman stories correctly. You have good women, misguided women who oppose the good but are still redeemable, decent guys, and evil guys.

Themyscira cannot be depicted as anything but a feminine utopia populated by intelligent, physically fit demigoddesses. It isn't Krypton, nor Gotham City, and if that sounds boring get the hell off the island as soon as you can, but don't screw it up in search of drama. The Amazons are not perfect, but they are not especially flawed either-- just different in ways that can sometimes produce conflict amongst themselves or with others. I didn't make the place up, but I've read enough stories by Marston and everyone else to know that it's best to just accept the concept as intended and move past it as needed or Amazons Attack happens. If you missed the memo, Amazons Attack is plot herpes, and no amount of Valtrex will cure you once you've caught it.

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Jeff Chapman

The Camp

Wonder Woman has only ever had one solo media outlet, three seasons of a live action TV show that was a thick slice of disco era cheese. As when Tim Burton was trying to make people take Batman seriously in 1989 after the wacky wave of '60s Batmania, it would be understandable if you want to approach a feature in sober fashion. The Amazon Princess can manage that tonal shift, but please don't forget the humor and heart that defined Wonder Woman for a generation.

If you thought folks reacted badly to the end of Man of Steel, imagine how well Princess Diana dismembering creatures would play with parents. Getting by with a lariat, wits, and muscle is much more heroic. The Invisible Plane might be goofier than simply having Diana fly, but it's iconic, a potential toy/accessory, and could be very useful in giving fellow Justice Leaguers a lift (see: Super Friends.) In a team movie, you'll want a variety of fighting styles, and it'll be cooler if a non-flying Amazon has to take on a Kryptonian like Faora at a disadvantage, plus it makes the lasso more useful. We're all about showing off the bracelets and lasso. They're toycentric.

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Jeff Chapman

Silly as it may seem, spinning into a costume was to girls of my generation as wrapping a towel around your neck was to boys. It's part of the magic that connects young viewers with the characters they idolize. More important than whether to use Cheetah or Circe in a sequel and hows to bleed this feature into a JLA one is in making Wonder Woman a character people want to spend time with or live vicariously through. Don't give into the bleakness of the Nolanverse. Allow Wonder Woman to be a beacon of hope that stands beside Superman, Batman, and the rest, but doesn't wallow in their miseries. Wonder Woman isn't a problem to solve-- a story to crack-- but a beautiful premise that brings guidance, security and joy into people's lives. Please don't forget that, and please release Wonder Woman from the shackles of outdated thinking so that she can sour into her long overdue motion picture!

DC Comics Cinematic Universe
*Nobody know how well Swamp Thing did, and it was farmed out to Embassy Pictures besides. Watchmen did okay, if below expectations.

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