Make the costume realistic. OK. We’ve been here before and Michael revisited it last month; so, I don’t need to re-visit it again …. but I will. Wonder Woman’s costume doesn’t fit the personality of an uber-strong Amazon kicking male ass. Also, it isn’t even the costume suitable for an uber-weak person committing non-strenuous labor. Look at the costumes of female athletes out there like gymnasts, dancers, tennis players, or ice skaters. NONE of them rock the strapless top. I used to dance and the biggest part of the costume was the bra, WITH straps. If you’re doing backbends or shimmies you definitely need support. I remember my former ballet teacher complaining about dancing in Swan Lake with a strapless costume which FELL DOWN. And, studies have revealed strenuous exercise without sports bra support can cause the breast tissue to sag. Yea, that’s right, guys. Imagine Wonder Woman with droopy breasts. Not attractive, is it?
Plus, what self-respecting Amazon (don’t say Xena) would rock a bathing suit, heels, and a red manicure to a battle? DC tried pretending the bathing suit was a traditional “war'”costume but later developed an actual Greek-inspired war costume. Once Wonder Woman claimed the US patterned its flag on her outfit; although I vaguely remember the Cheetah on the Prowl narrator stating that Wonder Woman’s mother based the costume on Steve Trevor’s country. Sometimes, I wish they’d let Wonder Woman acknowledge the elephant in the room: “Dudes, I wear it ‘cus I’m hot.” All the same, I have no idea how Lynda Carter pulled off the costume. Considering Adrienne Palicki, a professionally pretty actress, didn’t look good in ANY variation of it … there’s something wrong.
Remove the cheesecake factor. OK. This is basically the previous point, but after age 13 Wonder Woman ceases to serve as a role model for young women. Who feels comfortable looking up to a woman wearing hooker heels, whore makeup and a bathing suit? Women want to be Wonder Woman, while men want to be with her. Even Lynda Carter complained about people commenting on her body while wearing the costume. If writers write her as pure eye candy, that takes away from her realism. Luckily, re-vamping Wonder Woman’s costume helps.
Give Wonder Woman a tangible back-story. Yeah yeah yeah, she’s an amazon made of clay, blah blah blah, but writers keep retconning other pieces of her background. Her job always changes. She doesn’t have any friends outside the JLA. DC ret-conned the Holliday girls away. She doesn’t even have a hometown. Almost every single DC hero has a hometown with a personality and individual characters; but, Wonder Woman doesn’t. Paradise Island aka Themyscira is awesome, but paradise doesn’t really have too much drama. So, how do you write for a character who doesn’t HAVE friends, a relatable childhood or any angst …. at all? David E. Kelly tried, but the friends he wrote for her unabashedly adored and supported her while her most angst-heavy moments surrounded her ex-boyfriend.
Give her better villains. Batman is scarily obsessed with ALL of his villains and Lex Luthor exists to mock Superman’s Boy Scout tendencies. But, Wonder Woman doesn’t have a crazy interdependent relationship with her villains. Wouldn’t she identify with uber-strong women given a bum deal in life? Why aren’t more of her female villain relationships more conflicted? Although David E. Kelly used Veronica Cale, I wasn’t familiar with the character, but she seemed pretty one-note. According to Wikipedia, she basically dislikes Wonder Woman’s perfection. That’s a cat-fight, not an antagonistic relationship of epic proportions.
In short, Wonder Woman needs to get a life. When you consider Batman and Superman’s back-story incorporating homes, jobs, and friends, Wonder Woman’s origins come up short. As a superhero, she’s well-defined. She’s brave, strong, fiercely determined, compassionate, loyal, peace-loving and wise. But, as Diana Prince, she’s a blank slate. No wonder David E. Kelly had problems writing her. Most comic film/TV writers have a canon to pull from; but, Kelly took on a heroine that everyone knows, but no one really knows anything about. Essentially, he created her from scratch.
The reason the DC cartoons do a great job writing Wonder Woman is because we never see her alter ego. Plus, correct me if I’m wrong; but, as a kid, I vaguely remember the 1970s Wonder Woman book-ending the show with Diana Prince at work, while the show’s core part involved her Wonder Woman investigations. Maybe the show worked because it didn’t try to reinvent the wheel. Instead, it used the parts that worked and ignored the rest.
So, DC, WB, and anyone else, now you know what to do to write a decent Wonder Woman TV show or film. And, if you need a female writer, considering only 15% exist nowadays (down from 35%), you know where to reach me.