Wonder Woman: Fail

By | Tuesday, August 05, 2008 2 comments
So there's this trailer do-hickey for an animated Wonder Woman flick making the rounds. You've probably heard something about it. Here are some comments about it that I've found online...
"This is going to be amazing! Can’t wait!!"

"It looks pretty awesome. I’m hyped to see it."

"looks cool. will buy it in a heartbeat."

"I can't watch it right now but even the stillscreen there makes her look kick ass."

So it pretty clearly has the fanboy drool factor working in it's favor. On the other hand, the S.O. came across the trailer entirely independent of me (I really try to 'force' as little of this comic book stuff on her as possible) and had this to say...
"one word: boo. as i was watching the trailer, i silently mourned xena: warrior princess. i loved that she was more athletic looking, angrier, and had a deeper voice. this wonder woman sounds like she dropped out of NYU for a minute to kick some ass... and look good doing it."

Now, why the severe difference in opinions? Here's a hint: the earlier quotes came from venues that cater to superhero fans, of which the S.O. is decidedly NOT a member.

It seems to me that this WW flick is catering to EXACTLY the same audience as the one sought by DC's comic book publishing arm. We're NOT looking at a Wonder Woman meant for mass consumption, but a Wonder Woman designed to get her existing fanbase to part with $20 on top of their monthly $3 charge to see her adventures on pulped wood.

Doubtless, there will be people who buy the DVD who don't normally buy Wonder Woman comics. Probably quite a few who don't even know where the nearest comic shop is. But it seems to me that DC considers that gravy; their meat-and-potatoes customers are the folks they already tap month after month.

Now, granted, Paul Levitz and Dan Didio, while powerfully influential at DC Comics, have minimal say over what Warner Bros. Animation does or how it markets itself. So it's certainly not fair to accuse them of directly milking the same cow twice. But given the limited success the animation has had outside of hitting that comic book fan audience -- with recent train wrecks such as Loonatics Unleashed, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get a Clue and Tom and Jerry Tales -- they seem to be going back to a tried-and-true audience who seem willing to forego personal health and hygiene for the sake of following the adventures of their favorite superheroes.

It's certainly an interesting contrast against Warner Bros. Pictures -- which has had more mainstream success with their Batman and, to a lesser degree, Superman films and looks like it will be comparatively successful with Watchmen. There's already been a noted surge in Batman and Watchmen book sales, anecdotally suggesting that mainstream interest from the movies is indeed translating from the theater to the book store. While the movies are drawing in new (or, more likely, returning) readers, the cartoons are self-referential, only selling more widgets to it's existing customer base.

The questions that arise in my mind are in regards to the mindset behind this mentality. Do the animation folks look at their product, realize that they don't have enough funds to make something of superb quality that will speak to a wide audience, and therefore provide a relatively trite adventure with low-cost animation because they know it will at least sell to the fanboy set? Or is it part of a larger directive from higher up the Warner Bros. chain -- that they're unable to fund their animation department sufficiently and therefore direct them to make products that will tap into a known audience? The animation, I believe, is generally cheaper to produce, though, so wouldn't it make sense to put together a really high-quality animated feature? I'm thinking about something on par with, say, a Miyazaki film. The juggernaut that's been The Dark Knight could be given a run for it's money, I think, if they put together something of that caliber and featured one/some of DC's bigger properties. If the goal is to bring more of Warner Brothers' properties to a wider audience, wouldn't that make strategic sense?

Of course, Warner Brothers raked in $11,700,000,000 (US) in revenue last year, so I suppose they're doing something right. I make less than 1/100,000 of that, so who am I to tell them how to make money?
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Anonymous said...

Xena > Wonder Woman. Seriously, forget the WW live action movie.

Anonymous said...

they seem to be going back to a tried-and-true audience who seem willing to forego personal health and hygiene for the sake of following the adventures of their favorite superheroes

...Wow, that's not stereotypical or unfair at all. Kind of makes me doubt your whole argument.

Especially since it stems from the comment of one person, who is whining because the preview is "not as cool as Xena". Kind of weird, since WW was the inspiration for Xena.