Okay, I’ll bite. The Green Lantern movie wasn’t the worst on-screen DC superhero project to come out of 2011. Especially when you compare it to the Wonder Woman unaired TV pilot. Starring Adrianne Palicki – yes, she of Agents of SHIELD – this was the brainchild of Ally McBeal creator David E. Kelley.
So how bad was it? If it makes Green Lantern look good, you know it’s got to be something special! So let’s roll the Wonder Woman TV pilot and find out…
00:01:15 Average kid Willis just got accepted to college. Surgeon General’s Warning: Side effects may include bleeding from the eyes and ears, internal haemorrhaging and uncontrollable loss of bowel functions, apparently.
00:02:04 And there she is! Wonder Woman, in all her glory, running at superhuman speeds thanks to what appears to be a speeded-up film. She’s chasing a bald guy who looks like an Observer from Fringe.
00:02:33 She’s just been hit by a car! She gives the driver a death-glare, like it was his fault for driving while it’s fine for her to be running in traffic.
00:03:10 Using her legendary Lasso of Truth, she takes down her quarry and, um, sticks a hypodermic in him to take a blood sample. She then argues with a cop that if she hands him over to the rightful authorities, he’ll just “lawyer up”. So much for due process…
00:03:40 Worst. Title card. EVER!
00:04:35 According to TV reports, Diana Themyscira, who runs multi-million dollar corporation Themyscira Industries, breaks the law on a regular basis as Wonder Woman. I’d laugh if this wasn’t so painful.
00:05:34 What the?! Even Doctor Phil doesn’t like her! When TV’s version of Cheez Whiz doesn’t respect you, that’s saying something.
00:06:22 Wait, that’s Cary Elwes as… uh, is he supposed to be John Henry Irons?! It’s hard to tell because his name keeps seeming to change. Henry Johns, Henry Detmer… what’s his name here?! I’ve heard of bad casting, but if he’s Steel then this is ridiculous. Even Cisco Ramon would hate seeing the Dread Pirate Roberts in this role.
00:09:10 For the sake of plot, let’s just say that Wonder Woman knows that Willis kid from the beginning. Okay?
00:10:41 “That woman is responsible!” Wonder Woman tells the world at a press conference, accusing businesswoman Veronica Cale of murder and illegal drug tests. I see a huge libel lawsuit in Diana Themyscira’s future.
00:15:15 Um… Wonder Woman just said a dirty word. Twice. Her annoyance about her new line of action figures being overly endowed in the breasts department is understandable. However, it’s kind of embarrassing to see her ranting away like this and, as they put it, being vulgar.
00:16:01 So Wonder Woman’s multi-million dollar company makes its money from merchandising Wonder Woman? Isn’t that a bit like being famous just for being famous? And her visible plane and crime-fighting gadgets are all paid for by doll sales, as opposed to making those things first, and selling them to law enforcement groups so they can fight crime better? Am I missing something? She must be making serious cash from those dolls. What, were they manufactured in sweatshops just to cut costs?
00:20:44 So after a polite meeting with Veronica Cale, Wonder Woman flies her visible jet to go and visit Willis. Flight plans? We don’t need no stinkin’ flight plans.
00:24:46 Once again blatantly breaking the law, she snaps the wrist of the earlier suspect to get the truth out of him. If she wanted the truth then she could have just used her lasso but, evidently, this is considered funnier.
00:27:50 Plus, for good measure, she ignores all concerns from a US senator about how she’s breaking the law.
00:30:04 Hahahahaha! Because this pilot was never given the green light, some of the effects shots weren’t completed. A helpful memo just appeared on screen instructing the VFX guys to “Add Police cars”. They should have added a better story and a more likable Wonder Woman. Trust me, a lack of police cars isn’t going to make this any better.
00:32:17 Wirework fight scene! I guess the VFX guys would have removed the wires from Wonder Woman and the people she’s tossing about like ragdolls. Or maybe not. There’s no memo attached, so who knows? But at least she’s in a better costume now.
00:33:10 Wow. She must have killed at least two people there, possibly more! It makes her breaking-and-entering offences look minor.
00:33:35 She just stabbed a guy in the throat. With a piece of pipe. And then jumped on him. That poor security guard, he was only doing his job…
00:34:38 “I’m one of the good guys!” she tells a room full of human experimentation victims. Sure, she’s exposed some awful drug testing trials, but whether she’s a good guy is seriously in doubt. She’s killed people here who were just doing their jobs, and that’s nothing to be proud of.
00:35:55 Wonder Woman gets a round of applause from her staff. I’m not surprised, given the way she treats employees of other companies. These poor souls are probably all fearing for their lives.
00:35:56 Also, their cry of “We love you, Wonder Woman!” sounds curiously identical to one heard on the street at the beginning. Maybe her employees are so afraid of her they just have a recording of it, and play it wherever she travels just so she doesn’t go all psycho on anyone?
00:37:20 This is a stroke of luck for her. It turns out that the lawyer investigating any wrongdoing on her part is her old boyfriend Steve Trevor. You can see how this is going to go. And, for some reason, the music for the scene appears to be from Lost.
00:39:00 Predictably he’s decided to sweep the whole case under the rug. You’ve got to love how the law can be ignored like this! Come on guys, even Ally McBeal could have made a solid case against Wonder Woman!
00:41:17 With all that over with, WW settles in with a beer for the night so she can feel sorry for herself. I kind of feel sorry for her too. In fact, I feel sorry for anyone associated with this.
00:41:27 Ah, the old David E. Kelley production logo. It’s catchphrase of “You stinker!” seems incredibly apt.
There are probably lots of reasons why this Wonder Woman TV pilot never made it any further than this. I’ll simply believe in one reason though: it’s bad. Really, really bad.
Let’s put aside the awful costume, the lousy effects, the wooden acting and the fact that it’s a dismal melodrama. Instead, just consider the incredibly weak story for a moment. There are so many inconsistencies, leaps of logic and mixed-up subplots to take it seriously in any way. That wouldn’t be a bad thing if it had a sense of humour about itself, but it doesn’t. Instead, everything is played so straight that it’s kind of sad.
As an adaptation, the Wonder Woman TV pilot stinks.
Sure, Wonder Woman is one of the toughest characters in comic books to portray properly on screen, but it’s like they just threw seventy years of comics history out of the window. They don’t even bother explaining her backstory in any way. Is she a warrior princess, a genetic freak, or just a businesswoman with too much time on her hands? She’s less Amazon warrior, more a cut-price deal on Amazon.com.
The old ’70s Lynda Carter show, cheesy as it was, was more believable than this. So were the animated Justice League episodes, and the animated movie. Even in Batman v Superman she was better, and she barely did anything in that film!
With the new Wonder Woman film out soon, let’s hope it doesn’t end up on the scrap heap like this.