Wonder Woman has never gotten her cinematic due. But Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn wants to step up to the plate. He's looking for a good villain, and thinks Wonder Woman's mom just might be it.
There was, of course, the 1970s television series starring Lynda Carter, and last year, a straight-to-DVD animated film with Keri Russell voicing the lead character. That no major adaptation has gotten off the ground does not seem to daunt Refn, whose films are described by Movieline as "foreign-made indies rendered with unflinching brutality and pitch-black humor."
It's been nearly seventy years since a feminist-leaning psychologist created Wonder Woman, saying,
"Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power…. Women's strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman."
Sounds... not very dated at all. And Refn still sees it as an imaginative trope:
The whole idea of a woman who is basically more powerful than any man - and who will always be that, and comes from a society of women who are more powerful than men - is an interesting theme that I think can be very contemporary.
Nobody tell him women have already taken over!
In his brief but comprehensive history of Wonder Woman's feminist cred, Philip Charles Crawford notes,
Wonder Woman's approach to crime fighting was different than male counterparts as well. Where they used force to defeat the villain, she tried to reason with them and often convinced them to reform. Only when this failed did she use force, or her magic lasso, which, like Marston's own lie detector, forced anyone bound by it to tell the truth.
Uh oh. All that talking cure and conciliation sounds like action-movie poison. Perhaps we can find some more riveting conflict for Wonder Woman? Refn says,
And where Wonder Woman on one hand is a great female character who can be included in many great fight scenes, she doesn't have great villains against her. OK, so you create some. She doesn't have a Joker or those classic Batman kinds of guys. But she does have her whole world that she comes from, which is fascinating.... The trick with Wonder Woman is to find that antagonist who worked so well in the Batman concept - his villains are equally if not more exciting than Batman himself. Here, it's basically coming up with who would be a great counterpart to Wonder Woman. Is it her mother who's the real enemy? Something that's biblical in a sense.
Maybe it's her mother, or maybe that is sort of trite and unimaginative. Surely we can do better when it comes to who — or what — Wonder Woman should vanquish. Ladies?
Related: The Legacy Of Wonder Woman [School Library Journal]