Monday, September 10, 2012

Wonder Woman to the Small Screen

Today, it's the CW's turn to take a shot at bringing DC Comics Wonder Woman back to the small screen.  For the 2011-2012 TV season, producer David E. Kelly made a Wonder Woman pilot for NBC with Adrianne Palicki playing the DC heroine.  NBC did not pick up that pilot.  Warner Bros. TV has now decided to give a Wonder Woman show another try.

This potential CW program, tentatively titled Amazon, would focus on the origins of Wonder Woman's alter ego Diana of Themyscira (See The Hollywood Reporter for more details).  Basically, the Smallville for Wonder Woman.

Executives at the always struggling CW, and the old WB Network before it, have always displayed an interest in DC characters.  The Superman origin story Smallville, last for 10 seasons (5 on the WB, 5 on the CW).  In just a few weeks, Arrow, a show focusing on Green Arrow/Oliver Queen, will make its debut on the teenage skewed channel.  Green Arrow also had a large role in the final years of Smallville when he was portrayed by actor Justin Hartley.  Prior to Hartley playing Green Arrow/Oliver Queen on the Superman origin story, he was set to be the star of the CW's Aquaman.  The 2006 Aquaman pilot did not get picked up to series.

Finally, fresh off the success of 2008's The Dark Knight, the CW ordered a Robin origin story pilot called The Graysons.  Entertainment Weekly called the announcement of this project The Worst Idea Ever of the Week.  A month after the pilot was announced, the project was cancelled.  I guess the Powers that Be agreed that it wasn't a very good idea.

So once again, the CW and Warner Bros. are taking the origin story route with a DC property.  If there's one thing to take away from this strategy, it's that Warner Bros. is still set on building a Justice League Universe for the big screen.  The only reason to make a Wonder Woman origin story for TV, is that the film unit expects to make a true Wonder Woman film in the near future.  Unfortunately for the studio, adapting Justice League properties has not always been easy.  Warner Bros. has been extremely successful with Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy.  However, the last Superman film, 2006's Superman Returns, was not loved by audiences, and Green Lantern fared even worse with moviegoers and critics alike.  Superman will get yet another chance as a movie with next summer's Man of Steel (Directed by Zack Snyder).  Warner Brothers and DC must be praying that that movie will be the launch pad for more Justice League movies.

I liked the idea of Warner Bros. building a shared Justice League Universe on television. Not a shared "origin story" universe, but one where Diana is already Wonder Woman and Bruce Wayne is Batman (Seriously, there is no point to rebooting the Batman character for another movie franchise.  It will inevitably fall short of Nolan's films). The network and studio will already have one series down if Arrow proves a success.

But I'm a realist. I know that there is much more money to be made in movies than in TV.  After all, any given show on the CW is lucky to rein in an audience of 3 million viewers.  Well made Justice League movies could earn the studio billions of dollars in revenue. 

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