Over the weekend, the news that David E. Kelley, creator of well-loved legal shows “Ally McBeal”, “The Practice” and “Boston Legal”, has signed on to produce a new “Wonder Woman” series for television broke, with most reactions resigned to the fact that a movie based on comicdom’s most famous superheroine would never materialise in the near future.
As if to rub salt in the Wondie wound, it was later reported that the Superman sequel/remake movie tentatively called “The Man of Steel” would be helmed by none other than “300” and “Watchmen” director Zack Snyder. The reactions to THIS news of course were through the roof, with most hailing this decision by studio Warner Bros. and producer Christopher Nolan.
The lingering question that few people are asking though is: Is the public consciousness ready for more superhero fare? Or is Hollywood milking their former cash cow to death?
DC was the first to bring their superheroes to the screen with the likes of George Reeves’ Superman, Adam West’s Batman, Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman and Jackson Bostwick’s Captain Marvel – all stunningly portrayed by Alex Ross above. Though being too young, I’ve only seen one episode of the Wonder Woman series which launched Carter into the hearts of geeks everywhere, I’m happy that the character may be making a long awaited live-action return to the small screen. However, I’m also distinctly aware that female superheroes, in general, are simply not as popular as their male counterparts when taking a starring role, for various reasons.
Witchblade, Birds of Prey, Dark Angel, even the Bionic Woman remake have all been unable to maintain a run of more than two seasons on television. The movies have even less to show, with only the horrible, horrible Catwoman starring Halle Berry having left an unfortunately indelible imprint on my memory.
All that being said, however, Wonder Woman is a more prominent icon than any of these characters and the recent mainstream brouhaha about her costume change as of issue 600 does suggest that there could be significant and sufficient interest in a Wonder Woman project. Also promising is that this potential TV project will be headed by David E. Kelley, who made stars out of actresses Calista Flockhart, Lara Flynn Boyle, Portia de Rossi and Lucy Liu, as well as reviving the careers of James Spader and William Shatner. This only bodes well for plots involving a post-Crisis Wonder Woman and a considerably older Steve Trevor. Make it happen, Kelley!
I’m a little more concerned about Snyder’s take on Superman in “The Man of Steel” though. I can understand that Warner Bros. wants bankable people for their big-name project, and when it comes to superheroes, there’s really no one more bankable than the likes of Nolan and Snyder. However, many of their film projects have been extremely dark, depressing and dystopian – Snyder’s own production company is called “Cruel and Unusual Films”, for crying out loud. Superman is pretty boring when he’s emo – Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns proved that beyond any doubt. I hope Warner Bros. realises that the way to make a Superman movie great is to make it the complete anti-thesis of the Nolan Batman series – Superman is the epitome of goodness, the personification of heroism, the “big boy scout”. There should be no question about who’s side he’s on.
Both of these projects are far from complete, of course, and the question no one seems to be asking is, will there still be superheroes on screen after 2012 with The Avengers, The Dark Knight sequel and a dozen other projects? The answer seems pretty clear – Hollywood is not planning to stop churning out their slew of costumed capers any time soon.
To me, that’s a good thing. The honest truth is that I have never really understood the draw of DC’s heroes in their original comic book medium, hence my refusal to pick up any of their ongoing titles in my 15 years of collecting comics. Nonetheless, being able to enjoy the characters in a different format appeals to me as a movie-goer, and I’m looking forward to seeing more DC characters on screen.