HewittNerd message-board reactions to Jennifer Love Hewitt’s comment that she’d like to play Wonder Woman:

– “She’s not athletic, curvaceous in the wrong places (i.e. her hips)”
– “She comes from a Greek background…Monica Bellucci should have been WW.”
– “Though I think she’s a gorgeous woman, but this role she’s too old and way too skinny.”
– “The look isn’t there. Wonder Woman needs to be a strong opinionated woman with unrivaled beauty and a curvaceous figure.”
-“wonder woman needs to have as much toned muscle as she does curves, j-lo-hewitt just looks like a cute big-boobed princess type. i dont see her flying around beating people up.”
WW5-“The casting people should be looking at fitness models.”

So, to clarify, Jennifer Love Hewitt cannot play Wonder Woman because she is too old (at 30), too skinny (or too busty, or too curvy, but not muscular-curvy…whatever that is),  not enough of an “unrivaled beauty” (whatever that is), doesn’t look Greek like Monica Bellucci (even though Monica Bellucci is Italian, and also has an impenetrably thick accent), isn’t a “fitness model” (whatever that is [this is a fitness model–ed]), and is “hard to see flying around beating people up” (begging the question, who IS easy to imagine flying around and beating people up? Every time I try to picture anyone, they move like Rocky the Squirrel).

As much as we can all enjoy the irony of a bunch of website commenters furthering the Comic-Book-Guy stereotype by griping about how a very attractive actress simply can’t match the perfect attractiveness of a drawing…that’s not to say they’re (exactly) wrong.

The fact is, it doesn’t seem like ANYONE knows quite what the “definitive” Wonder Woman should be.

Is she a warrior-woman, or an ambassador of peace? Is she here to learn or to teach? She’s an experienced fighter, but a virgin (loaded word, that) in human interactions? She’s not as strong as Superman, but she’s a better fighter, and regal, so…what does all this mean?

If you look back to the early years, every character has a primary, fairly timeless template. Superman is a mythical heroic figure blended with an immigrant fairy tale; Batman is the ideal of vengeance-driven pulp detective heroes like The Shadow.

But creator William Moulton Marston built the “Prime” Wonder Woman with some very specific goals: to introduce a female superhero that reflected his own interests in polyamory, lie detection, and, yes, bondage.WW2

So his template is the Ideal Woman, stronger, nobler than men and able to bring truth out of them, but also promoting bondage as a way to introduce equality between the sexes (note: this is only one interpretation of the bondage issue; entire books have taken the subject apart).

Not only is that not exactly a timeless basis for a character – it was pretty unusual for the time of her creation. Marston was using his creation as a Trojan horse for his own philosophies, making the character’s motivations, unlike Superman and Batman, very specific to her creator’s intentions.

Since then, some great writers have professed to not knowing just how to write for her. Grant Morrison – who somehow managed to craft a definitive version of Plastic Man, for pete’s sakes –couldn’t get a handle on her (evident by the fact that she’s a minor player in both his Justice League run and his DC magnum opus, Final Crisis).

Bruce Timm and co. similarly couldn’t quite crack her in the “Justice League” animated series. The go-to female POV went to Hawkgirl, who was written as everyone’s favorite tom-girl.

Greg Rucka had a good take by literally making her an ambassador, with diplomatic credentials, a staff, and even a book deal espousing her philosophies – but he took it all apart when he left.

Mark Waid used his “Kingdom Come” to play with the post-Marston contradictions in her portrayal – a warrior sent to teach peace – to examine the flaws in her system. Which doesn’t exactly make for a workable character template.

Oddly enough, considering her 70’s repurposing as a feminist icon, “Get a woman to write her” hasn’t been the cure-all you’d expect. Popular novelist Jodi Picault took a shot a couple years back, and the results made you wonder if Picault had ever met a woman OR read a comic before in her life.

Gail Simone had better luck at the beginning of her run, but has generally been hampered by strict editorial edicts that backseated her stories in favor of setting up DC event comics.

WW3I imagine Simone’s take may get better mileage in the very good direct-to-DVD Wonder Woman animated movie, which blends Greek mythology, warrior-women, and feminism-vs.-“man’s-world” in a pretty entertaining, cohesive fashion, for an 80-minute origin story.

Because Simone started as a humor writer, it’s also frequently hilarious, such as when Diana teaches a young girl how to properly play War with the boys, then sweetly encourages her, “Go on, unleash hell.” Steve Trevor, representing The Male Counterpoint, gets in a few zingers as well – in particular when her lasso of truth forces him to admit she’s “got a nice rack” (it’s somehow more charming when you hear it in Nathan Fillion’s voice).

(Which may be me saying, the only way to do a “definitive” Wonder Woman is to remix EVERY rendition and hope you get a good balance. I don’t know, I’m really just spit-balling here.)

So no, I don’t think the problem with Hewitt is that she doesn’t physically “fit” the part. That would be like saying, “[Actor X] can’t play Hamlet – he’s got dark WW4hair!” It’s that nobody knows what the part actually is – nobody can really lock down who Wonder Woman is, or was, or should/could be.

And until someone can figure out just what, definitively, Wonder Woman is supposed to be about (and god, I had high hopes for Joss Whedon’s idea, but that ain’t happening), the debate will carry on.

And nooo, Megan Fox can’t be Wonder Woman – after all, she’s too SHORT AND YOUNG!*

*(See, that was me making a little joke there. Also, I’ve read that she doesn’t want the part anyway.)

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Comments
  1. Erin says:

    Yeah, when you can’t get the fans to agree whether or not a character can fly, you’ve got a problem.

    On the other hand, the fact that there hasn’t been a definitive version might give whoever picks up the project some freedom in the long run.

  2. katastic says:

    Uh, to be clear, Jennifer Love Hewitt cannot play Wonder Woman because she is a TERRIBLE TALENTLESS ACTRESS WHO IS COMPLETELY UNWATCHABLE.

  3. The “WW has to be a Greek actress” meme has been flying around the Internet since at least 2000, even though the character design has no identifiable ethnicity beyond “lightly tanned dark-haired woman.” I’m convinced it’s just one guy with a searchbot programmed to seek out and intervene in all Wonder Woman talkbacks. We’ll see him here soon.

  4. braak says:

    @Kat: This is a valid point. I was going to mention this, actually, as the real stumbling block for Jennifer Love Hewitt.

    @Jefferson Robbins: Isn’t she made out of clay, anyway? Why would ethnicity even apply?

  5. Jeff Holland says:

    @katastic: You’d be surprised how few people on the Newsarama boards listed “Cannot Fucking Act” as a reason she shouldn’t be cast.

    Though again, these are people who recommend casting directors start looking around for those master thespians, “fitness models.”

  6. braak says:

    @Jeff: It’s kind of extra ridiculous, because while it’s hard to teach someone who can’t act how to be a good actress, it’s not really that hard to teach a good actress how to do push-ups.

  7. V.I.P. Referee says:

    Ok, here’s where I do that trick where I expose my jugular for a full throttle: Remember how stupid I said “Legend of the Seeker” was? Well, I’ve come to realize that the female lead, Bridget Regan, would be an excellent “Wonder Woman”; she’s a solid-enough actress and seems capable of actually breaking stuff without having to rely on choreography in order to do it. I’ve also come to realise that Craig Horner really must continue showcasing his superb acting skills in more roles that require leather pants.

    Ok, I’m back. Must…focus on topic. So, it’s also possible that some crazy-ass European actress might better capture the “Wonder Woman” spirit than any Greek or American one could, for example:

    – Asia Argento. She’s probably a little mad. Maybe her family drank blood during Sunday suppers. I don’t know. But she seems to carry an unhinged kind of attitude, something that could justifiy some of Wonder Woman’s spastic behavior.

    – Eva Green. Another “touched” Euro actress who might be able to capture the WW perspective. She’d probably have to build more muscle mass, though.

    Now, here’s an unexpected American pic:

    – Zooey Deschanel. Sure, she seems kind of girlish and maybe physically wimpy, but she’d be hilarious in this role–she’d probably play the part dry and modern. Sort of like…a shorter Lucy Lawless with “Indie” cred.

    It’s most important that WW be unpredictable. That’s what it really means to be Wonder Woman; noone really knowing exactly what you’re going to do next. Not having to answer to anyone, really…being socially free to do as you please and people explaining away your behavior with “Eh, she’s Wonder Woman! Whatdya gonna do”. She should, therefore, project the laid-back kind of cool that comes with being master (or keeper!) of your own exsistence.

  8. V.I.P. Referee says:

    Wait–how about “Paz Vega”? She’s kooky and off-kilter; she was very funny/crazy in the screen version of the opera “Carmen”…

  9. V.I.P. Referee says:

    Language barriers could be an issue with some of those pics. And yes, I’m aware that Greece is within Europe.

  10. V.I.P. Referee says:

    “Picks”, not “pics”. “LOLCATS :D!” has totally destroyed my online communication skills.

  11. V.I.P. Referee says:

    Ok, last thing: Please, PLEASE no “Megan Fox” or “Angelina Jolie”.

  12. Jeff Holland says:

    I would be very curious to see what a Zooey Deschanel-starring Wonder Woman would be like. Not saying it would be good, but…interesting.

    (Side note: Does “(500) Days of Summer” look absolutely fricking insufferable to anyone else? I mean, I like both those actors, and yet it seems like indie-nails on a romantic comedy chalkboard.)

    Anyway, back to Wonder Woman. I think VIP’s list offers the answer to “Why no Europeans as Wonder Woman”: because so many European actresses are fricking terrifying.

  13. V.I.P. Referee says:

    “500 Days of Summer” looks excrutiating and I’m the target audience they think they’re effectively marketing to.

    Euro-WW: Fair enough. European actresses should stick to vampires, spies and blood-guzzling countesses. Although, it would be fantastic to see Asia Argento swearing and smoking her way through something like “DragonBall: Revolution” or “Speed Racer”.

  14. braak says:

    Somewhere I read, or heard, that 500 days of summer was supposed to be pretty good–and that the central conceit is that the story of the relationship’s beginning and its decline are told in parallel, giving a weird bitter cast to all the twee meet-cute shit that happens.

    This seems plausible, to me.

  15. Yeah! Fuck those Newsarama guys. What does the reaction of the target audience have to do with what studios might want to consider!

  16. V.I.P. Referee says:

    I’ve interpreted the “500 Days of Summer” press/trailers/ads to mean the story will be similar to “Down with Love” or that of any other Renee Zellweger film. If it’s not actually something like that, maybe a viewing wouldn’t be too much to handle. Although, I’m not sure I’d pay to see it in a theater.

    Wait—you have no public opinion on who would make a suitable WW, Braak?

  17. braak says:

    Is that sarcasm, Russ? Or are you actually not aware of the fact that movie studios don’t make movies for the fifty nerds that comment on Newsarama message boards?

  18. Jeff Holland says:

    Okay, now the nicer response (this is what we do: Chris yells at you, and then I take you aside and calmly try to explain things – we’re like the good-cop/bad-cop of comments):

    Russ, sadly, comics fans don’t have a real vote in any aspect of the creative process – the studios KNOW we’re going to go see it. Hell, I’m not even a Wonder Woman fan, but unless the production started to whiff of “Catwoman” levels of terribleness, I’ll probably be there opening weekend like everyone else who reads Newsarama.

    The trick is getting the REST of the world to go see it. Success for a comic isn’t success for a movie – even if every single person who’s bought a “Wonder Woman” comic over the last decade bought a ticket for opening weekend, those numbers would still translate into a dismal failure for the movie.

    My point here is the Wonder Woman property is an especially hard sell, because outside of visual recognition, “civilians” don’t really know what about Wonder Woman is supposed to interest them. (Yes, yes – sexy fighting lady, but years of box office analysis have shown that unless the character’s named Ellen Ripley and aliens are somehow involved, that’s hardly a guaranteed seat-filler.)

    Beyond that is the panicking concern whenever an actor says he/she would like to star in an upcoming comic adaptation. I can count on one finger the number of actors who have publicly lobbied for a part and actually gotten it (that would be Ryan Reynolds for Deadpool).

    99% of the time, it actually backfires. Remember the cool makeup test Tom Jane did to put himself in the running for the Jonah Hex role? Did that get him the part? (See also: Sean Young for Catwoman.)

    So to me, message boarders decrying the sheer GALL! of Hewitt to say she’d like a role in a movie, even though she doesn’t fit the part – and please note the astonishing variety of opinions over what an actress would need to fit the part, which is the OTHER point I was trying to make, and I really hope you read the whole article, since it was actually about the much-loved icon, and not just about Newsarama readers – strikes me as unnecessarily hysterical.

    There. I hope this has cleared things up a bit for you.

  19. Jeff Holland says:

    Aaaalso.

    @VIP Referee: Eva Green is not a bad choice. In “Casino Royale,” she had a good mix of sultriness, condescension, and humanistic concern in her performance that could be successfully recalculated to play the role.

    Joss Whedon, when he was doing “exit interviews” on his WW treatment, mentioned Cobie Smulders (from “How I Met Your Mother”) as his ideal Diana. And boy, I liked that idea, too. Casting an actress best known for a comedy role is a dicey move. But then, before Christian Bale showed up, Michael Keaton was everyone’s favorite Batman, right?

    AND ALSO SOME MORE

    @Russ Burlingame: I am genuinely (read: not sarcastically) curious, could you tell us how you view Wonder Woman as a character – what the movie would need to convey, and what you think an actress might need to effectively play the role (beyond physicality)? I really would like the input of a dyed-in-the-wool fan.

  20. Yogi says:

    JLH is a bad casting for the part.
    we want an amazon with the ability to punch out the bad guys… not break a nail and whinge or act demure…
    I have a few ideal women for the part but they are not actors …

  21. braak says:

    Yeah, she’s okay. Comic actresses are a better choice for superhero movies than dramatic actresses–that really light touch is way more important that the ability to EMOTE.

    And physicality is not really a huge deal. For fuck’s sake, anyone can do push-ups; if you can through Gerard Butler into an insane, twelve week super-power bootcamp so that he can do 300, you can take whoever it is and get her ready to go for Wonder Woman.

    @Yogi: Which is why “we want an amazon” doesn’t really make a lot of sense. What you’d really want for the part is a woman that could act like an amazon. She wouldn’t really have to fly around, or be ACTUALLY invulnerable to small arms fire, or anything.

    JLH is a bad choice for the part because she’s not really a very versatile actress. It’s a fairly pointless discussion, anyway; it’s not like anyone that actually had the ability to cast Hewitt said they wanted her for it. There’s probably ten thousand actresses in Hollywood right now that would say the same thing if anyone asked.

  22. braak says:

    Hm. Who do I like?

    Amanda Righetti does a decent turn in The Mentalist, and she’s got a nice combination of strong jaw and sometimes open-faced naivety that could work.

    Joanne Kelly is a good actress, carries herself with a combination of seriousness and intelligence that I think would be great.

  23. […] the fact that she’s one of DC’s biggest legacy characters, no one is exactly sure what she’s about.  I think it’s especially interesting, because once you get into what we now think of as […]

  24. […] can argue a lot about what constitutes the “core” of Wonder Woman (as indeed we have), but, if you need to boil down the basis of most Wonder Woman stories, that’s it. […]

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