Wonder Woman famously took 75 years to make, and Patty Jenkins's version was certainly worth the wait. The female-fronted blockbuster delivered the perfect introduction to the Amazon hero which blended mythology with war epic cinema in a glorious harmony of uplifting yet emotionally deep storytelling. Its cultural impact is already obvious, with the movie's critical and financial success breaking glass ceilings all across Hollywood. Yet, this could have happened years ago, with dozens of axed Wonder Woman scripts shoved into the trashcans of Warner Bros. offices — but #JossWhedon's script definitely belonged in the bin.
A few months ago, Whedon's pitched screenplay leaked onto the web, and Twitter soon lit up with criticisms of the script. With Jenkins's version to compare it to, the internet delighted at picking the screenplay apart — and many grew concerned about the fact that Whedon is writing and directing the upcoming #Batgirl. If you want to know what all the fuss is about, but you don't want to read the whole script (and trust me, you don't), we did our own summary of it right here.
Now, Jenkins has finally weighed in on the drama, after Buzzfeed News asked her for her thoughts on Whedon's version. Jenkins refused to besmirch the name of a fellow #DCEU filmmaker:
"He’s in the DC universe now, and I don’t think there’s any reason to go there. It was what it was. I’m lucky that I’m the person who got to do it. But I don’t see what would be beneficial about comparing what he would’ve done versus what I would have done."
As diplomatic as Jenkins is, we have no such qualms when invited to compare the two movies. Though, before we start, a disclaimer: The Buffy, Firefly, and Avengers writer/director has chucked out a lot of good work over the years, and his position as a revered nerd creator is justified. This Wonder Woman script was just a pitch, and we don't know how it may have been redrafted — hopefully to remove moments like this:
That being said, let's tear into it.
Whedon v Jenkins: Dawn Of Wonder Woman
Jenkins's version of Wonder Woman is an absolute delight. She has all the grace and dignity that she displayed in Batman v Superman, but this is tempered with a compassion, earnestness, and joie de vivre that makes her not only compelling, but a hero we can believe in.
And then there's Whedon's Diana. Like the one played by Gal Gadot, this Diana believes that she needs to save humanity. But Whedon's version thinks she's better than everyone on Earth, frequently turning her nose up at humanity — which doesn't make her very endearing. She's brash and arrogant, punching first and asking questions never. Oh, and she's constantly objectified.
Before Wonder Woman (2017) was released, Jenkins faced criticisms for Diana's revealing costume. And yet, the way she shot the movie proves that no matter how a woman is dressed, whether she is objectified or not depends on the filmmaker. Jenkins's cinematography presents Diana head-on, with the close-ups never wide enough to gratuitously include her breasts, and the camera doesn't lurk on her exposed skin. Basically, this movie is definitely a product of the female, not male gaze.
Without even seeing Whedon's finished product, his script already provides plenty of moments in which Diana is presented as a sex object. She gets half naked several times, with Steve lustily staring and commenting that he wants to see more. Later on, she jumps up on a table and starts dancing seductively. Granted, this is to infiltrate a club, but now that Jenkins's version has been released we have a hard time imagining Diana putting herself in this position, and not finding another way to achieve her aims.
Oh, and Diana is constantly slut-shamed, called "whore" and "bitch" by men and other women — and in one instance, even by her disguised mother. Contrast this to Jenkins's movie, which managed to make its way through its entire run time without Diana getting called any slurs — and it was set in a notoriously sexist era.
Whedon's Steve constantly berates and insults Diana, telling her that she's "dangerous," that she's not a hero but a "fucking tourist." When they first meet, Steve tells her to get out of his face when she doesn't flirt back.
By comparison, Jenkins's Steve, played by Chris Pine, is an absolute saint — although he doesn't agree with Diana's belief in Ares, he takes her "to the war" anyway, clearly in awe of her abilities and supporting her mission. Even when he argues with her he does it compassion, caressing her face and saying he wished her idealist views were true.
Then there's the thinly veiled racism in Whedon's script vs the admirable diversity of Jenkins's, the fact that Whedon's story hinges on Diana submitting and removing her powers while Jenkins unleashes Diana's godlike abilities... basically, it's no wonder that Jenkins doesn't want to comment on the two scripts, as Whedon's pales in comparison.
Ultimately though, Jenkins is right. Whatever we think of Whedon's potential screenplay, it was exactly that: potential. The movie never got made, and if it had we have no way of knowing what would have been changed. We can only admire Jenkins for what she created — along with Geoff Johns and Allan Heinberg who wrote the original screenplay of course. And when it comes to Batgirl, well, we'll just have to wait and see how Joss Whedon pens that — but with any luck, he's learned what not to do after the backlash to his axed Wonder Woman.
Tell us in the comments: What do you think of Joss Whedon writing and directing Batgirl?