Friday, October 11, 2013

Fan-Casting DC's JUSTICE LEAGUE: Part 21

So far:
Years ago, Colonel Steve Trevor of U.S. Air Force Intelligence crash landed on an uncharted island populated by Amazon warrior women.  The queen's daughter, Diana, came back to America with Trevor to help him bring peace to the world as Wonder Woman.

Washington, D.C.  The Goddess Outreach Center for Women and Children.  The architecture inside and out is heavily influenced by Ancient Greek culture, lots of columns, statues, etc.  There is a floral garden/playground in the center of the building.  Children--boys and girls--play while women watch.

Etta Candy is counseling a woman, a battered wife, while she watches her kids play.

Etta Candy (Rebel Wilson)

Etta Candy is the first real friend Diana makes after leaving Paradise Island.  She was everything Diana wasn't: raucous, undisciplined, not-conventionally attractive.  In her earliest appearances, her size and weight were played for laughs.  The current comics have made her as skinny as any costumed super heroine, but I don't think the publisher is trying to promote a healthier lifestyle; I think they're ashamed of fat.

In a modern cinematic take, I think Etta's size and its obvious contrast to Diana's beauty can be played as social commentary, but I'm not going to get into that because it doesn't matter now.  I went with Rebel Wilson in the part because Melissa McCarthy is too old and there aren't a lot of other overweight actresses getting jobs in Hollywood at the moment.

Etta's conversation with the woman is interrupted by a phone call.  Caller ID says it's The Pentagon.  She says, "Oh, crap…"

Intercut with Steve Trevor's office at The Pentagon.

Colonel Steve Trevor (Daniel Sunjata) is surrounded by frantic staffers and officers.  He is either in a private office or The Situation Room; either way, it's a veritable stirred hornet's nest.  Uniformed men and women running around, handing briefings to each other, checking maps, tablets for info.

Steve tells Etta he needs to talk to Diana and her phone says it's out of service.  Etta tells him she got a new cell phone or something to that effect.  Steve really needs to talk to her now, but Etta claims she was instructed not to give Steve the new cell number.  Steve says lives are in danger.

We cut to Diana (Bridget Regan) driving down the highway in a nice town car.  She wears a fashionable raincoat, black, grey or white.  There's another woman riding in the passenger seat.  She has a bruise on her face.  Not to be insensitive, but for the purpose of this write-up, she'll just be referred to as the Wife.

The wife tells Diana they don't have to do this.  Diana says yes they do.  Her phone rings, she checks the ID, and answers, grumbling.

Steve: "Before I ask why you're screening my calls, I need you for a mission."
Diana: "I'm busy."
Steve: "Three American hostages in Santa Prisca.  Contractors with Agency ties.  Intel says they could be executed anytime--"
Diana: "Before you reveal anymore classified information, Steve, you should know that there's is a civilian in the car with me."

Trevor grits his teeth and nearly bangs the phone on his head.  Diana introduces him to the woman by name and describes how she came to the Goddess Outreach Center in an extraordinary act of courage.  Diana describes how the woman's husband is abusive and hits her in front of her children.  Steve is sorry but he needs Diana now.

Steve: "This is a hostage situation."
Diana: "So is this."
Steve: "I'm serious, Diana.  This is a job for Wonder Woman."
Diana: "So is this."

Diana pulls the car to a stop near the Mount Vernon trail along the Potomac.  There's a company picnic nearby full of K-Street lobbyists.  Diana encourages the wife to get out of the car with her.  As they step out and gaze at the picnic, a rough wind picks up, along with the whup-whup-whup of propellers.  Diana and the wife look up as an unmarked, military helicopter lands on the grass near them.

Steve Trevor gets out of the chopper and approaches Diana.  Everyone at the company picnic has taken notice.  The wife shrinks back by the car.  Steve runs up to Diana and tells her he needs her immediately.  He puts a hand on her arm as if to grab her.  Something flashes in her eyes, something fierce and dangerous.  Steve releases her instantly, says, "Please."

Diana: "Are your agents' lives worth more than hers?"
Steve: "Their lives are in immediate danger. Hers isn't."
Diana: "You and I disagree on the qualities of life."
Steve: "Being mortal does that."

The wife tells Diana she should go with Steve and save people.  Diana walks over to her, holds her hands, says she knows what her husband has done, what he's said to her, what men have said to her all her life, but what does she have to say?  When will you speak for yourself, she asks?  The wife nods her ascent.

Can't you hear that boom, badoom, boom,
boom, badoom, boom bass? You got that
super bass!
A crowd of onlookers from the picnic have gathered because of the noise of the military chopper.  Diana walks by Steve, tells him if he wants to be useful he can hold her jacket.  Then in dramatic fashion, she whips off her raincoat, revealing the full garb of Wonder Woman.  Everyone responds.

Wonder Woman walks up to the lobbyist crowd at their picnic tables and singles out the Husband who looks startled and a bit scared.  (Maybe for fun she snacks on some kind of dip that's really good during this scene--could be a way to lighten the mood or disarm the rest of the people while she questions the husband.)  She explains in front of everyone that the husband's wife didn't come to the picnic like the other spouses because the husband wouldn't let her.  He was afraid they'd all notice the fresh bruises that he administered last night.  But the wife is here now seeking justice.  The husband denies doing anything, maybe even tries to push her away.

Wonder Woman is physically stronger.  She says his wife will no longer submit to his abuse.  Instead, the husband will submit to Wonder Woman.  She pulls out her lasso, which glows slightly.  "Now," she says, "How will you confess your crimes--of your own will… or mine!"

Cut to a few minutes later.  The husband is talking to the police, crying, confessing, with a blanket over his shoulders.  Diana tells the wife she needs to press charges, none of this matters unless the woman is willing to liberate herself of the slavery imposed on her by this man.  The wife, Diana says, must break the chains of abuse herself, then go back and take care of her kids.

Wonder Woman walks over to Steve, saying she's ready now.  Steve says she's too late.  "They were executed?" Diana asks.  "No," Steve says, "someone else saved them."

Cut to a quick succession of shots of soldiers on Santa Prisca--an island nation in Central America--firing weapons in the air.  Superman flies fast over the beach, dodging bullets and artillery.  He slams through the wall of an old colonial fort.  Prisoners in a cell look up as Superman opens the wall and offers his hand.

Back at Washington, D.C./Mount Vernon, Steve gets back on the chopper, looking back at Wonder Woman.

Cut To: Goddess Outreach Center.

Diana brings the wife back to the women's center; Steve Trevor is with them.  She's greeted by Etta and the children.  The kids encourage Diana to play with them and she indulges.

From the hallway or foyer, Steve watches Diana play in the garden with the kids.  Etta Candy comes up beside him.

Etta: "It can't be easy being in love with her, can it?"
Steve: "I'm not her boyfriend.  She's a foreign ambassador and I'm her advisor to the United States."
Etta: "Yeah, I said it can't be easy being in love with her, can it?"

Steve watches for another moment… and we flash back to his first encounter with Diana.

Steve is lost on Themyscira after just surviving a plane crash.  He makes his way through the jungle and comes upon a glade by a waterfall.

Diana is naked, washing herself in the cool water.  Steve stares for a while.  Eventually, she notices him and reacts, but doesn't cover herself up.  Having never seen a man before, she has no concept of modesty or shame about her body.  Also, physically speaking, she has no reason to.

Suddenly, Steve is surrounded by Amazons with swords and spears at his neck and genitals.  Diana approaches him, scrutinizing everything about him.  She stands before him, and reaches out to touch him.

Cut back to the outreach center.  Steve shakes his head.

Diana steps away from the kids and meets Steve in the hall.  She is no longer dressed as Wonder Woman, but wears a simpler gown.  Their conversation is heated, emotional.

Diana: "You confirmed that the hostages are safe?"
Steve: "Yeah. Diana, the government gives you a lot of leeway to operate within its borders with the understanding that in a crisis you follow orders and do what I say."
Diana: "There's always a crisis, Steve.  Every day, around the world, and while you're trying to fix those problems, good people fall between the cracks.  What would you have had me say to that woman--wait another hour when her emancipation is more convenient?  A day?  A week?  And in the meantime, how many more bruises and broken bones must she suffer?  What about her children?"
Steve: "I'm not indifferent to that, Diana, but I had men in danger."
Diana: "I don't prioritize your soldiers over any woman in need."
Steve: "I thought you understood when I brought you here.  You came here on a mission of peace, right?  You think World Peace starts with stopping some K Street lobbyist from beating his wife?"
Diana: "Has your way made the world more peaceful, Steve?"
Steve: "I'm a colonel in the United States Air Force, Diana.  I don't set my own priorities.  I follow orders."
Diana: "And I follow my heart."

Steve leaves, a little heartbroken.  Being around Wonder Woman tends to give you an epic case of blue balls in the heart, soul, and, um, the other.  And Diana knows this.  She knows how Steve feels but she does not reciprocate in this case.  

Diana suppresses a tear, then goes back into the garden to play with the kids.

To Be Continued…

(This entire sequence came with a slight bit of hesitation.  I wanted to establish Wonder Woman's daily life and status quo without the benefit of a movie or contemporary origin story to reference.  So I had to imagine a Wonder Woman origin film to use only as background material.  Thankfully, my best friend Frank put forth some ideas on his Wonder Woman fan-blog that closely reflect my tastes.

The most difficult thing to decide was who is Diana when she's not being Wonder Woman.  Throughout her history in the comics, she hasn't always had an alter-ego, and when she has, it was often embarrassingly sexist.  I wanted to keep her ties to the U.S. military, but I didn't want her being an office clerk, nor a full-time super soldier.  I liked how Diana served as an ambassador and advocate during Greg Rucka's run.  I wanted to embrace her feminist origins in as modern a way as I felt comfortable with.  This led to my idea that Diana would function as Wonder Woman when the military needed a superhero, but the rest of the time she would run a healthcare or treatment center for battered women and children, and exact her own brand of justice on men who hurt or mistreated women.

Sounded simple enough until I had to choose which was more important to her.  In this first scene, the scene that is supposed to tell us who Wonder Woman is and what's important to her, I chose to have her  ignore American hostages in favor of taking down a wife-beater.  In the grand scale of things, it didn't seem very heroic, and I still fear that it would turn the audience against her right away.  But it was important to show two things about Diana: she is not from here, and she is not a soldier.  Diana comes from a culture pretty alien to modern Western civilization; our values are not her own.  She has different beliefs and different priorities, chief among them is the empowerment of women and the punishment of men who abuse them.  She is also fiercely independent and doesn't acquiesce to the whims of Steve Trevor and his government.  She serves the United States of America at her pleasure, no one else's.  Hopefully, the audience could grasp this internal struggle in Diana, especially as it influences her decisions throughout the rest of the movie.)

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