Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Whole World is Not Waiting for Jessica Alba


My brother Troy, font of movie and pop culture wisdom, informed me awhile back that Joss Whedon is currently working on making a film version of Wonder Woman.

Now, to a woman who was five when Lynda Carter first donned her star-spangled bloomers on the original TV show, the sanctity of Wonder Woman is just a given. The 1970s were famous for "jiggle" TV, where it was all about how good an actress's pre-Wonder Bra push-up garments were, how pretty her feathered hair was, and how well she could widen her eyes and simper as the male actors around her spewed lines that today would be considered sexual harrassment. (Let's just take a moment to thank Anita Hill, shall we? Not only did she help put a label and a stop to this sort of skeezy behavior, but she saved us decades of Really Bad Television.)

Anyway, in the middle of all of this, here came Wonder Woman. Of course, Lynda Carter's costumes were skimpy and skintight, but she somehow managed to give Wonder Woman a gravitas that her contemporaries were sorely lacking, and she answered to no man (Take that, Charlie's Freaking Angels). Wonder Woman was smart, she was strong, she was independent, and she was all about peace and nonviolence--unless some stupid man decided to mess with her, her city, or Steve Trevor. And then it was all about giving someone a badly choreographed smackdown. Mess with me? I'll spin around in a circle, magically put on my big-girl panties, and open up a can of female whoop-ass! (And who cares if my stunt coordinator and fight choreographer aren't fit to coordinate Bea Arthur's stunts on Maude?)

At the time, feminists were being satirized and vilified and de-feminized, and the phrases "little lady" and "aw, honey, let a man do that for you" were as common as those busty, reclining chrome women still are on Florida mud flaps. But there, on my television, making me so proud to be a girl that my little five-year-old heart felt like it would burst, was Wonder Woman. (Not to mention that she wore thick black glasses and had a ponytail, just like I did. Unfortunately, I assumed with my five-year-old logic that all I had to do was whip off said glasses, let my hair down, and all would tremble in fear or fall over in shock at my heretofore disguised beauty. That theory was sadly proven wrong on several occasions, but it's always good for a five-year-old to dream.)

All that said, I can't imagine anyone more capable of doing justice to Wonder Woman than the talented creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But today, while I was checking out what's playing at a theater near me on Moviefone.com, I noticed that the poll of the week is "Who should play Wonder Woman in Joss Whedon's upcoming film?"

And this is where things get crazy. In first place is ... God, I can barely bring myself to type this. ... Jessica Alba, who Troy tells me is actually in the running for the part. :::banging head on monitor:::: OK, Joss, I'm about ready to throw down over this news, and here's why: Jessica Alba's wooden performances made me--and many others like me--refuse to watch Dark Angel. Not to mention that Jessica Alba's entire body of major film work consists of playing the same sort of character--Nearly Naked Girl in Into the Blue. Nearly Naked and Totally Ho-ed Up Girl in Sin City. Not Naked But In Skintight Spandex Girl in Fantastic Four. And don't forget the insipid and fake-and-affected-street-talking Honey Daniels in Honey, which was just inane and something I never would have watched except that they caught me during a bought of insomnia on a trans-Pacific flight. I have seen not a shred of evidence that Jessica Alba can actually act, so why is she on the short-list to play a beloved childhood heroine?

I mean, what the heck? It's Wonder Woman! Wonder Woman is so much more than a Nearly Naked Girl! We need a real actress to play Wonder Woman. Someone likeable, who can act. Someone who can keep our focus on her words and actions, and not whether she's about to fall out of her strapless bustier. Someone who can fill the satin tights ("Fighting for your rights. And you're all red, white, and blluuuuuuueeeeeee!") of a character that was the first exposure to feminism for many of us on the far end of Generation X. Joss Whedon, don't do it, man. For the love of Buffy, back away from the tragically bad casting impulse.

Also included in Moviefone's poll are, in order of Moviefone pollster preference: Catherine Zeta-Jones, whom I could live with--the woman has an Oscar, after all. Then there's Kate Beckinsale, who would be fine--she's done Shakespeare. Lucy Lawless would be fantastic, if we can all get Xena out of our heads. Jessica Beal would be horrifying--I'm not sure which of the Jessicas would give me a bigger headache. Sarah Michelle Gellar is too cemented in my head as Buffy, but I wouldn't be upset if she were cast. Rachel Bilson would be charming, although I'm not sure if Wonder Woman is that sarcastic--or short. They'd probably have to cast little people in the rest of the parts to make tiny Rachel look like an Amazon. Charisma Carpenter would be grand--I'd love to see her break out on the big screen. I'm not sure who the last two in the poll--Lauren Graham and Morena Baccarin--are, but they've got to be better than the Jessicas.

Anyway, Troy bought me seasons 1 and 2 of Wonder Woman on DVD last year for my birthday and for Christmas, respectively. The years haven't been all that kind to the show as a whole--the scripts really, really suck, and the fight scenes are laughably awkward. But Lynda Carter still stands out as a woman who proves you can be strong and smart, and still look great in your swimsuit. There's a nostalgia I experience while watching the episodes that even an obviously high Cloris Leachman as Wonder Woman's Amazonian mother can't spoil. So if Jessica Alba is cast as Wonder Woman in the new film, it'll be Buffy the Vampire Slayer that I'll play for my little girls when they're old enough and need to see a woman kick some booty. And as for me, I'll just stay home with my DVDs and enjoy Wonder Woman, old school.

Because I have to say, the theme song still makes me want to get up and spin.

4 comments:

Mariann said...

I'm for Catherine Zeta Jones playing Wonder Woman. She's got the look, the height, the ability (both physical and emotional) and she's older so she's actually womanly instead of girlish like Jessica Alba.

Reading about your childhood memories of Wonder Woman brings back mine... in grade school, my mother made me a WW costume that I wore until the stars fell off and the fringes frayed. I'm hardly WW material these days, but I sure do miss that silly costume.

Tracy Montoya said...

Mariann, I had TWO WW costumes--one I made by myself out of paper, and one my dad made for me, using my Wonder Woman swimsuit as a base and adding a lasso and yellow posterboard belt, bracelets, and tiara. (Should have added that to my Queen Nerd list.)

I think you're right--Catherine Zeta Jones would be great. I'd love to see a Wonder Woman who's actually old enough to remember Lynda Carter's WW.

TV-Holic said...

I know that Catherine Zeta Jones isn't really old in real life, but she comes off as too old to me to play the role. I would vote for Charisma Carpenter (without a doubt) and I would be okay with Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Tracy Montoya said...

I voted for Charisma on the Moviefone poll--she's my favorite if they want a younger-looking actress. If the script is about a more adult WW, then Catherine Zeta-Jones or Lucy Lawless would be great.

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Tracy Montoya writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.

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