NBC Pulls Plug On ‘Wonder Woman’
Even before the new Wonder Woman (Adrianne Palicki) got a chance to lasso our TV screens, NBC has kicked the reboot to the curb. How could a show with a strong superheroine, a hot Megan Fox-esque leading lady, and an experienced TV producer tank?
As it turns out, many were skeptical about this project from the beginning. There were initially no takers when the idea was being shopped around, and NBC only picked it up to pilot. Then there was that disastrous costume, the public outrage, the re-designed costume, and apparently a less than inspiring pilot. But Deadline suggests that the pilot wasn’t actually all that bad, citing insiders who called it “ambitious” and “well crafted”. Despite this, responses to test screenings were mixed. So why did Wonder Woman not make it to series?
While superheroes have done exceedingly well at the box office, their success on the small screen has been meager. Smallville remains the only recent hit of the TV superhero genre. Perhaps aware of its comparatively weak ratings, and the fact that Wonder Woman would have to compete with ABC’s two superhero projects, NBC wasn’t ready to risk a TV superheroine.
Others, as Deadline points out, think audiences had trouble accepting the new modern Woman Woman. Certainly, the outcry about her costume points to a resistance to changing the classic series, but that just seems like a nice way of saying that it was a bad reboot. Truthfully, the costume was terrible, and the premise (based on what has leaked) seemed weak and convoluted – a woman with three identities (lowly assistant Diana Prince, savvy business woman Diana Themyscira, and Wonder Woman) fights crime and balances the demands of modern life. Maybe, in the end, it wasn’t playing well with audiences because it just wasn’t that good.
It’s entirely possible that Wonder Woman didn’t make it to series for these reasons, but there’s still something bugging me: there hasn’t been any successful interpretation of a solo female superhero on the big or small screen in recent years. Fans have been clamoring for it, particularly for Wonder Woman, but to no avail. So I’m left wondering what is it about female superheros that makes it so difficult to produce an entertaining tv show/movie?
In my opinion, it’s because these ideas, often created or written by men, trivialize the female superhero. They don’t get to kick ass and woo their love interest like Superman, or struggle with their dark side and walk the fine line between good and evil like Batman. Instead they’re forced into a female stereotype – Elektra spends her time protecting a single father and his young daughter (read women must fall into wife and mother roles), and Catwoman has to save the world from an evil cosmetics company (read women are only concerned about/good for their looks). It seems like Wonder Woman was going to follow that path by focusing on her as a “modern woman” (read she’s the only woman in the boy’s club, and she probably isn’t there because she’s smart, even though she is, but because she’s sexy) juggling the various aspects of her busy life. Notice that men never “juggle” their lives in pop culture? They do it effortlessly, or at least ruggedly and admirably.
On the other hand, it’s clearly not impossible to make a well-loved show with a badass female lead. Who could forget Buffy or the original Wonder Woman? So what is it about female comic book superheroes specifically that makes them so hard to adapt in the current zeitgeist?
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