The ‘Wonder Woman’ You’ve Never Seen

Drew Dietsch
TV Movies
TV Movies Comics DC

Wonder Woman promises to bring us DC’s greatest heroine like we’ve never seen her before. She has a storied history but her most memorable incarnation is probably the ’70s television series starring Lynda Carter. Wonder Woman made a huge impression on pop culture thanks to her TV show. It makes sense that DC would try to revive her on the small screen at one point. Well, they almost did.

Back in 2011, David E. Kelley was tapped to pitch a pilot for a new Wonder Woman series. Kelley was the creator of such hits as Ally McBealThe Practice, and many others. Kelley shopped the pitch around to all the major networks but was denied at every turn. Eventually, NBC – a network which has been the home of DC projects like Constantine and Powerless – picked up the pitch and ordered a pilot. They passed on the eventual product and the project was shelved completely.

So, what exactly went down in this version of Wonder Woman? And was it a good idea? Let’s dig in…

Wonder Woman’s Comic Counterparts

wonder woman 2011 tv pilot elizabeth hurley veronica cale
Elizabeth Hurley as the villainous Veronica Cale

On the plus side, it’s worth noting that the pilot did feature a number of familiar characters from Wonder Woman’s world. Naturally, her romantic interest Steve Trevor is a big part of her emotional arc. However, he’s definitely not the soldier most people know. He’s instead a legal figure that ends up working in the Justice Department. Turns out he and Diana split up when she decided to become Wonder Woman. We’ll get to her big changes but let’s stay positive for a while.

You’ll also see an appearance from Etta Candy, Wonder Woman’s longtime friend and sometimes sidekick. She’s portrayed as Diana’s manager or secretary but she’s never quite enough at the forefront to make a huge impression. The best get for the show was Elizabeth Hurley as Veronica Cale. Cale was a newer character to the comic mythos and was intended to be something of a Lex Luthor for Diana to deal with. Hurley is a blast in the show even if she is easily dispatched by the pilot’s ending. If we could have had her showing up every week, it would have been worth it.

And Adrianne Palicki does a decent job as Wonder Woman. She isn’t given the best script to deal with but she definitely cuts an imposing figure and knows how to exude strength. If the show had been picked up, it’s likely she would have grown into the role and been able to make it her own.

Unfortunately, that’s where most of the fun stops for this Wonder Woman. There’s a clear reason why this didn’t get picked up to series. It’s pretty bad.

Whatever Happened to Wonder Woman?

wonder woman 2011 tv pilot
Adrianne Palicki as the iconic hero

The biggest notch against the show is that it strips away Diana’s Amazonian heritage. There is a very vague line during a board room scene but nothing that confirms her comic book origins. For all intents and purposes, she seems to be a regular person that somehow has supernatural powers. It’s likely that the show would have delved into her origin story, but as it stands, the pilot offers us the most boring premise ever. Her trademark Lasso of Truth doesn’t even seem to be superpowered. It’s just a regular ol’ rope!

In the show, Diana Themyscira is the head of an enormous corporation that allows her to publicly go be a superhero. She uses the identity Diana Prince in order to escape from all the fame and notoriety as both Diana Themyscira and Wonder Woman. It’s certainly a different take on the character but also a pretty boring one. Diana has to sit in meetings about merchandising and play pretend at being a businesswoman. She clearly would be happier being a superhero full-time, so her frustrations make the viewer frustrated but not in a good way.

Another thing is her costume. It’s not terrible – there was actually a worse version planned (see below) that was changed due to fan outcry – but it looks cheap and unworthy of such an iconic character. Granted, this was a pilot and could have been re-tooled on a larger budget, but with shows like The Flash doing such a good job with superhero costumes, it’s hard not to see this as a weak offering.

adrianne palicki wonder woman costume
The original costume drew ire from fans for the shiny pants/boots combo.

Not Too Super

The worst thing about the pilot is how small it feels. Diana has to deal with Veronica Cale’s use of a super steroid that kills people after being used a number of times. It feels like a real street-level story that doesn’t show off how awesome Wonder Woman can be. Her big action scene is a stereotypical warehouse fight with a bunch of nobody goons. Granted, the action isn’t terrible but it’s also shot in that awful shaky cam style.

There isn’t much else to say about Wonder Woman. It isn’t a secret gem or a total trainwreck. It’s very run-of-the-mill bad. It would have been great to see a Wonder Woman TV show but it’s probably best that she waited until she could hit the big screen. Wonder Woman is an important character. She deserves more than this potential show could have ever given her. Hopefully, the film will do her justice.

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