Wonder Woman, arguably the most famous female superhero in the world, is coming back to the small screen — and she comes courtesy of pretty much the last person you’d expect: David E. Kelley.
Kelley is best known for his law firm dramas, including Ally McBeal, Boston Legal, and L.A. Law. He’s also the man who gave the world Doogie Howser, Picket Fences, and Chicago Hope. A superhero drama doesn’t exactly sound like his forté, yet his shows have continually given new twists to standard TV formulas — such as teenage-doctor Doogie, and Ally McBeal’s imagination come-to-life.
I’m deeply curious as to what Kelley’s take on the character will be. Will he go the Smallville route, and show us a teenage Diana Prince? Or will he find some modern occupation for the Amazonian princess to occupy as her day job? A lawyer or reporter, perhaps? (Boy, I hope not.) His pilot script will be circulating the networks soon, looking for a pickup.
Hollywood has been trying to produce a modern, live-action take on Wonder Woman for years, most notably with Joss Whedon’s attempt at a big-screen adaptation, which eventually fell apart. Other DC Comics characters have successfully made the transition to live action (Smallville, The Dark Knight), yet Wonder Woman still languishes without a human actress to bring her to life.
I think the main problem is that no one in Hollywood really knows or understands who Wonder Woman is, or what she’s about. Superman is the misfit, the alien raised as a human. Batman is the vigilante, defined by the murder of his parents. Wonder Woman has always lacked that defining hook, that thing that audiences can relate to. She’s got the lasso, the tiara, and the wrist cuffs, but that’s all she really brings to the table. (Aside from a murky backstory about being an Amazonian princess sent as an ambassador to the outside world that’s been rebooted about ten thousand times in the comic book.)
The Lynda Carter series remains the best-known version, but a smart developer would see Wonder Woman as a blank slate who’s still waiting for that defining live-action incarnation of the character.