By now, you’ve probably already heard about David E. Kelley, of ALLY McBEAL
fame, being assigned the task of adapting a Wonder Woman television show for Warner Bros. (If not, you can read about it in the trades HERE
). While it’s exciting to see actual movement in a live-action adaptation of the lone female in DC’s “Big 3,” the fact that Warner Bros. is aiming for the small screen is a little underwhelming.
Before continuing, I’d like to stress that I am not trying to make any judgment on the level of quality Kelley’s proposed Wonder Woman series would have. While not a major player in the superhero genre, Kelley is a proven success in creating shows with female leads. WB is wise to hand the reigns to Kelley for an hour-long, episodic format.
With all of that said, for WB to be resigned to developing Wonder Woman for the small screen and seemingly passing on a silver screen adaption feels like quitting on the latter medium a little too soon. For football fans, this would be the equivalent of punting on 4th and 1 from your opponent's 40-yard line. It feels like WB is playing scared.
The hesitation behind giving Wonder Woman her own feature film has been the same for years. There’s a belief out there that a superhero film with a female lead just won’t sell. The supporting evidence behind this belief is twofold, CATWOMAN and ELEKTRA. Never mind that those examples were universally considered bad films by critics and audiences. There’s no more logic in using CATWOMAN to suggest a Wonder Woman film would not work than using BATMAN & ROBIN to assert that no more Batman films should have been made after 1997.
A Wonder Woman film can work and it can sell given the right idea and the right creative team behind it. I know of one idea WB has at least considered that would make for an outstanding, marketable film adaptation (and I’m not talking about the famed "World War II script). I cannot share that idea in hopes that WB will still consider it down the line, but I’m sure it’s not the only worthwhile idea for a Wonder Woman film WB has been presented with.
The big budgets given to superhero films make any character not named Batman a risky proposition for a film adaptation. Still, there’s no rule that says every superhero film has to have a budget upwards of $100 million. If WB wants to hedge their bet, set aside a smaller budget for a Wonder Woman film that can be profitable with the right script, director, and casting.
With GREEN LANTERN coming out next June and script writing for THE FLASH underway, WB is only just starting to scratch below the Batman/Superman surface of their DC properties. Hopefully, WB will continue to develop ideas for a Wonder Woman feature film in addition to the proposed television series. They probably won’t, but they absolutely should pursue both avenues and let the best idea win. After all, it’s far too early in the game to throw in the towel on Wonder Woman.
Don’t ground the Invisible Plane before it’s even had a chance to take off.