Experimental performance enhancing drugs are finding there way to hands of high school students leading to their deaths. Diana of Themyscira, Wonder Woman, is trying to put a stop to it. She runs a corporation that merchandises her image to help fund her crime fighting equipment and actives. She is more TV reality star and as far away as an ambassador for peace as you can get.
More Force than Reason
Diana is an Amazon and Amazons are metahumans in the DC comics. Making her stronger and faster than normal humans. She is also invulnerable. The magic lasso is more like a magic noose, it wraps around the neck of anyone she aims it at. This is not your Lynda Carter, Wonder Woman magic lasso which forced people to confess the truth. This version of the lasso chokes the life out of the victim so there is no possible way for them to speak. Wonder Woman spend most of the pilot not liking the what's happening around her, with the drugs, her company's handling of her image, her non-existent personal life and Veronica Cale, CEO of the pharmaceutical company making the deadly drugs. Instead of finding a tactful or diplomatic way of handling issue, she get mad and then threatens, tortures or beat ups someone as the solution.
The first image is an example of the 70's Wonder Woman(Linda Carter) using the lasso to interogate a villain. The lasso always wrapped around the person's body and below the shoulders. The second is of the 21st century version of the lasso wrapping around a henchman's neck as Wonder Woman prepares to fight 19 other bad guys.
Above the Law
Wonder Woman is definitely a reflection of the times. With torture pretty much endorsed by shows like 24 and the U.S. government, it is one of Wonder Woman's favorite tools. She intimidates officers, runs down a suspect by wrapping her lasso around his neck, breaking into private property, and even kills someone. Between her notoriety and strength she bullies her way from one situation to the next. She employees the same tactics with friend and foe alike. This make a truly interesting character one dimensional and not very likable. Even when she has to meet with a lawyer from the Department of Justice about her illegal conduct Kelly gives her an out. Its not even left as a possible issue to resolve in the future. Wonder Woman is made untouchable from the law and is egged on by her fans, employees and executive team.
Who Wonder Woman Is?
One of the best portrayal of Diana can found in the webcomic JL8 by Yale Stewart(more about JL8 can be found in this post). Stewart's Diana is kind, modest, caring and has a strong sense of right and wrong. She doesn't tolerate disrespect, she values her friendships. Many of these things were touched on in the pilot but get overshadowed by her tendency to be impatient and have a total disregard for the law. The fact that they didn't make her an ambassador or foreign dignitary like in the comics really doesn't help. Wonder Woman is a lot smarter and tactical than she is made out to be in this pilot. So we are left this brutish and disappointing version of her.
Another failed aspect was her secret identity of Diana Prince. This was suppose to be a way for her to escape the fame and recognition that follows her around as Wonder Woman and Diana Themyscira. The main problem was after tying her hair back and putting on a pair of glasses, all she did was go to her apartment, sit around with her pet cat and pine over Steve Trevor. This was completely wasted opportunity to humanize the Wonder Woman and give the character some depth. Instead of her interacting with people she stays at home alone which is just sad and so not Wonder Woman. Her intelligence, strength, charisma and compassion that are central to the character are really not touch upon.
The writers could have had her working a book about Amazon and human culture from her perspective, which was done in the comics. Playing a game of chess in the park with an old man and enjoying the challenge. People watching and not being recognized, except for a little girl or boy, who sees a Wonder Woman poster, then looks at her. Diana could wink and bring her finger to her lips to ask the child not say anything. Little things to show her humanity and her connecting with people. Having her behave like a heartbroken teenager, who has no facebook friends is really a disservice to the character.
My final gripe was the board room scene of Diana balking at the design of the Wonder Woman doll. She commented about it's proportions and skimpy outfit, which she designed. The scene was so over the top and lines so bad that it lost whatever impact the writers were hoping to get out of it. The liberal use of "tits and ass" and lines like "Wonder Woman is not vulgar." or "Wonder Woman is perfect. Perfect tits...", I'll stop there its not Shakespeare or well written. To weaken the scene further after leaving the boardroom where she was just outraged about being objectified, Diana apologizes after it is pointed out to her that the doll is the biggest money maker. Great message for kids out there its ok to be objectified if you're making money from it. Wonder Woman is a capitalists through and through. A Wonder Woman for our times indeed.
What I liked
I think as Wonder Woman the actress, Adrianne Palicki did a decent job with portraying her. As Diana I think it was more the script and direction than poor acting that made her come across so badly. Kelly got her power level right and I liked the way her strength and skill as a fighter was showcased. The costumes were ok at best. The halter top could have been better designed.
The first image a costume design for an adult entertainment parody. The halter top design looks much better it seems to fit the actress. The second image is the costume Wonder Woman uses later on. The color palette is very bright and not sure why its so shiny. The top seems one size too small. The color scheme used for the parody costume is much more subtle and the material looks more substantive, less like plastic.
Wonder Woman is a beloved character and part of DC's Trinity along with Superman and Batman. Her last appearance on a TV series was in the 1970's and it lasted for three seasons. Which I loved as a kid. This pilot was not very good and lacked focus on the essence of the character. By turning Wonder Woman into a crimefighter/CEO you lose the foreign head of state aspect of her character. She now is a capitalist as oppose to a diplomat. She is reimagined more as a male character in a female form, Jack Bauer with super powers and boyfriend issues, which completely off base for Wonder Woman. Another strange thing was after all the fury about a skimpy costume on the doll; it is the costume Diana chooses to wear in the final act of the pilot, very bizarre. If you would like to see it for yourself the pilot can be found here. If you don't mind poor writing, story and characters, its completely watchable.