Littering the annals of Hollywood's history are the discarded scripts of great movies that simply never made it through production hell. These cancelled projects become legend, a wistful tale of what might have been. Joss Whedon's Wonder Woman movie is one of these legends — but it shouldn't be, because it is bad.
In the 75 years since #WonderWoman's creation, many proposed movie pitches have floated around Hollywood. Back in 2006, Joss Whedon penned a prospective script, which was a big deal for him — the Buffy and Firefly creator had been gunning for a Wonder Woman movie for years. But this became yet another failed Wonder Woman project, causing many people to suspect Warner Bros. of discriminating against the Amazonian warrior. Now, Whedon's script has finally hit the internet, and personally I'm relieved this movie never got made.
Diana Is Just Better Than Us
Ultimately, that's what it comes down to. The first third of the movie seems very similar to Patty Jenkins's version of the Wonder Woman story: Steve Trevor crashes on Themiscyra, his arrival causes problems with the Amazons, etc.
In Whedon's version, however, Paradise Island does not live up to its name. The Amazons come off as very bigoted and strict, with Hippolyte (sic) sentencing Steve to death for trespassing.
Diana herself isn't much better. For all that he's lauded for writing relatable heroines, Whedon has a very strange interpretation of Wonder Woman. Punching first and asking questions never, Diana is brash, arrogant, privileged, and snappy — without the quiet compassion, peace-loving nature, and joie de vivre that made her such an enduring figure in the comics. As the movie wears on, Diana's hero-complex becomes even more apparent: She doesn't think much of the state of the world, and, believing she is better than all of humanity, Diana appoints herself as mankind's savior. But as insufferable as Diana is, Steve is even worse.
Joss Whedon's Steve Trevor is basically the walking embodiment of a YouTube comment section. Jaded and bitter, Steve takes every opportunity he can to berate Diana, tearing down her ideals, patronizing her, and even outright insulting her. Oh, and the mansplaining! The entire movie is framed as Steve Trevor Mansplains The World, with the pilot "teaching [Diana] humanity" (Whedon's words) as a major plot device.
Diana and Steve's bickering is apparently just their way of expressing attraction to one another, but because they seem to hate each other their romance feels very forced later on.
Greek Gods Lurk In Gateway
Unlike the Patty Jenkins's film, Whedon's version is set in modern day. This is one reason why the movie just doesn't work — as a figure rooted in mythology and war, Wonder Woman struggles in modern day settings. For some reason, Whedon has Diana become embroiled in the seedy underbelly of Gateway City, as the Amazon princess chases down misogynistic mobsters whose dialogue is so awkwardly stereotypical that I was unable to read it with a straight face.
KLEEN: I keep hearing my product's getting jacked by some crazy strong bitch in a tiara. That could be you, 'cause here you are too scared to speak. It's sad. The way a funeral is sad. You up in my world now.
THE GIRLFRIEND: What are you talkin' to her, I need a little sugar—
KLEEN: Get yo skank ass offa me while I'm doin' business!
Before Diana and Steve get to Gateway there's a scuffle with getting supplies to refugees in which Diana demonstrates her powers. Differing from the comics, Diana can be wounded by bullets, and has ill-defined strength and speed. There's an insensitive scene that shows the refugees stealing from one another, with a father snatching food from his son. Steve makes a disparaging comment about humanity, which becomes a recurrent theme: Humans are awful and they do awful things to each other and this whole world is garbage. Good thing Diana's here to show us the error of our ways.
Diana's weird mission into Gateway's crime world is motivated by a conspiracy she uncovers. It turns out that the minor Greek god Strife is manipulating the world, working with the weapons company Spearhead as well as overseeing all the mobsters in Gateway. This is very poorly outlined, and the villain's plot doesn't seem to make much sense. By the way, this is not the #DC comics version of Strife/Eris — who is a 50 foot badass woman — but just another villainous dude. This is a damn shame, especially as Strife was female in the original Greek mythology. Notable Feminist #JossWhedon strikes again.
Diana Fights A Mechanical Khimaera (Sic)
At this point, the movie starts to pick up a little, if you can forgive the shaky concept. Diana meets Bacchus at a nightclub, and it all goes a bit American Gods. It's a shame that this idea comes in so late — this version of Wonder Woman would have been way more compelling if it was more about ancient gods in a modern setting.
In a clash with Strife, Diana gives up her powers to save Steve, and is cast across the world into the South American jungle (no country specified). Again, this is an interesting idea. Diana is forced to face who she is without her powers, and there's a touching twist when she discovers that her mother Hippolyte has been watching over her all this time, in the guise of various female bystanders. Of course, this nice moment is countered by some racist portrayals of native South American villagers, so we're back on track.
However, the movie's final battle is mostly awesome. Diana leaps in her invisible jet, because apparently the Amazons did have advanced technology, but the rest of the world just couldn't see it — and that's a paraphrased quote. She soars back to Gateway to do battle with Spearhead's ludicrous master plan: A gigantic mechanical "Khimaera" with wings, a tail, and three heads. Not gonna lie, this is great. I would pay good money to see Wonder Woman battle this monster on the big screen.
The bad guys defeated, Ares (God of War, Strife's uncle, major villain) briefly pops in to offer up some impotent threats, and Diana just kinda walks away. It's a weird scene.
And then some other threads are wrapped up. Diana passionately kisses Steve, who is surprised she learned to kiss that well on an island full of women. Practically staring at the camera like she's in the office, Diana basically confirms they all follow in the tradition of Sappho (read: they're all like, so gay, dude). Which, bonus points to Whedon. But there was also a whole scene where Diana was nearly naked for no other reason than for Steve to comment on how he wants to see her more naked, so I'm gonna deduct points for that.
This isn't a terrible movie. But it certainly isn't a good one. The dialogue is unrealistic, the characters are aggravating, and the villains are undeveloped. Ultimately, it's easy to see why this script was never put into production: It just doesn't have the essence of Wonder Woman. Whedon doesn't manage to sell the character in a way that would please fans or introduce her to new viewers. So, although we had to wait 75 years for Wonder Woman to finally get her solo movie, at least Patty Jenkins's version will be worth the wait.
Tell us in the comments: Would you like to see a modern day Wonder Woman movie?