Over the past decade or so, there have been several attempts to bring a live action Wonder Woman to the movies and/or television. They’ve all failed spectacularly, because I guess maybe all of us Wonder Woman fans did something in a past life that we’re collectively paying for now? That could be it. That or institutionalized sexism in the entertainment industry and society at large. One or the other.
Throughout these abandoned projects, various actors have been linked to the titular role but nothing ever came of it. They all moved onto other projects, and we’re finally going to get a live action Wonder Woman in 2016 when Gal Gadot dons her brown costume in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. But in the meantime, Marvel Studios has been snapping up several of these past potential Wonder Womans and giving them cool, kick ass roles in their own cinematic universe, all of which have or will hit the big screen before Wonder Woman ever does.
First, Joss Whedon cast Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill in The Avengers, and she’s appeared throughout the Marvel franchise since. Way back, Whedon was hired to write a Wonder Woman movie that never came together, and when he announced he was leaving the project he hinted that Smulders was his first choice for Wonder Woman. Whedon later brought her into the fold when he directed the most successful superhero movie of all time (good work letting him walk away from Wonder Woman, Warner Bros.!), and she’s been an awesome Maria Hill throughout her many appearances on the big and small screen. Smulders is a great fit for the role, though every time I see her in it I lament that we never got to see her as Wonder Woman. I think she would have been fantastic.
Around the time Whedon was working on his Wonder Woman script, Warner Bros. spoke to several actors about playing the lead and one of those women was Evangeline Lilly. The conversations never went anywhere, what with the movie falling apart, but she later booked some great roles in other epic action films. She was spectacular as Tauriel in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug last winter, and now she’s set to play Hope van Dyne in Marvel’s upcoming Ant-Man film. Plus, given her rad new haircut, it looks like she’s going to get to be the Wasp too, which is all sorts of cool. Lilly may have sadly missed out on Wonder Woman, but she’ll get to play a superhero for Marvel.
Finally, Marvel’s grabbed Adrianne Palicki, who actually played Wonder Woman in David E. Kelley’s god awful pilot a couple of years back. The show was a complete mess, but Palicki was solid in the role and could have made a decent Wonder Woman on a better project. She’s since shown her action chops as Lady Jaye in GI Joe: Retaliation and recently had a very charming run on NBC’s About a Boy. Now she’s set to star as Bobbi Morse, ie. Mockingbird, in the upcoming season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., completing the Wonder Woman trifecta for Marvel Studios.
A live action Wonder Woman is coming, slowly but surely, but Warner Bros.’ list of failed projects has turned into a very strong casting sheet for Marvel Studios. While it would be nice for Marvel to put a female superhero in a lead role at some point, several women in the Marvel cinematic universe have had great, kick ass roles over the past few years, which is a lot more than we can say about DC’s superhero movie output. Our series of losses as Wonder Woman fans has turned into gains elsewhere, but I’d still trade a Maria Hill, the Wasp, and Mockingbird for a decent Wonder Woman any day of the week.