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Friday, July 31, 2015

Chris Pine Starring In Wonder Woman

As we continue to barrel ever closer to DC’s ill advised cinematic universe like a runaway train, early details are starting to filter in on their next few films.  It’s honestly pretty unlikely that many of these will come to pass if Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice doesn’t land but for the time being let’s all just keep humoring DC/WB that this grim, gritty, worst of the ‘90s universe they’ve concocted is really worth following up.  The latest news to come through relates to Wonder Woman, DC’/WB’s summer 2017 blockbuster that will follow Suicide Squad and precede Justice League.  Wonder Woman has been in the cards for a while now as she’s probably the third most recognizable DC hero of all time as well as an easy entry point to the fantasy genre that has proved so lucrative for WB in the past. 
The main reason we haven’t seen her on screen yet is probably owed to a combination of apathy and sexism.  WB has never shown all that much interest in actually making superhero films that don’t star Batman and for years studios worked off the thinking that women couldn’t like genre films and men wouldn't like a genre film with a female lead.  That’s obviously a stupid idea and after the Marvel juggernaut WB couldn’t keep its head in the sand over superheroes much longer hence the upcoming Wonder Woman film.  However, our first major detail, that Chris Pine will be playing Wonder Woman’s long time love interest Steve Trevor, makes me raise an eye about this production.

Of all the many bad ideas coming out of Batman v. Superman the visual and character design of Wonder Woman is not one of them.  Wonder Woman in this film looks perfect and Gal Gadot seems like a strong casting choice to bring her to life.  The design is the fairly standard reworking of her character to look like a blend between a hoplite and a dominatrix, a fact that actually makes a lot of sense given her origins as both a figure of Greek myth and commentary on power rules created by a trio of radical gender scientists.  Seriously, Wonder Woman is the one part of Batman v. Superman that actually raises my hopes beyond the standard “well anything is possible” approach to the film.  However, a big part of that is the hope of seeing this iteration of the character in a more sword and sandal context.  I’ve been a big fan Greco-Roman Fantasy films since I was a kid and it’s thoroughly underappreciated genre in the modern context.  Dropping Steve Trevor into the Wonder Woman stew makes it seem like we’ll be getting an entirely different dish altogether.

Steve Trevor, for those who don’t know, started life as a sailor who became marooned on Paradise Island and was basically responsible for introducing Wonder Woman to the outside world.  He’s hung around the DC universe for awhile since then but I think they’ll probably go with his New 52 revision rather than the classic concept of the character.  In the New 52 continuity Steve Trevor is a Government agent who acts as the key liaison between the Justice League and a government agency called A.R.G.U.S.  ARGUS has shown up in the CW shows previously but given Wonder Woman’s role as a lead in to Justice League it would make sense for them to act as a down market and gritty version of S.H.I.E.L.D. for that film. 
It seems to me that this means DC/WB will be adapting Wonder Woman as more of a straight superhero film or, at best, some kind of spy story.  While I don’t really care for this approach it does make sense to me.  As I said DC really does need a SHIELD type organization to wrangle things for Justice League and Wonder Woman’s most success live action adaptation before now was as a spy in the 1976 live action show.  It just strikes me as a realm shame that we might end up trading hardcore and gritty fantasy, which is a much more bloody and rewarding genre, for gritty espionage.  It’s still possible the Wonder Woman film will find a balance, go for a lighter tone, or seek to blend tech-espionage with mythic fantast as the film is still 2 years away it’s just that this isn’t an inspiring start. 

As to the casting of Chris Pine that’s also pretty unfortunate.  Pine is part of a legion of disposable white guys that have been filling up roles in Hollywood for no apparent reason.  He’s more comedicly talented than some of his peers like Jai Courtney or Sam Worthington but not by a lot and his range is severely limited.  His entire acting persona is predicated on having a strong jaw line and being an inoffensive enough that no one can really object to him.  He’s sort of like Bradley Cooper to me in that his best work is when he’s just voice acting.  However there is something of an upside to his casting as Trevor.  Pine has been running for the Green Lantern reboot DC is planning so the fact that he’ll only be playing a supporting role in Wonder Woman instead of a the lynch pin of Green Lantern Corp is good news.  What’s more I do like this as part of a trend towards catering to baser wishes of female audiences.  Blockbuster cinema is all about catering to an audience’s most basic desires like power fantasies, wish fulfillment, and sexual urges.  For years however those desires have been solely determined by the whims of male audiences so if studios are now deciding to cast hot men who are mediocre actors in the role of eye candy in female led films I’m all for that.
Wonder Woman is slated for release on June 23rd, 2017

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