Joss Whedon is a hero to many people. He’s a hero for Buffy, for Firefly, for being asked why he writes strong female characters and replying, "Because you're still asking me that question.” In March, it was announced that Whedon was going to be directing, writing and producing a standalone Batgirl film, and who better to bring an arse-kicking librarian to life than the person who created Buffy Summers and Willow Rosenberg?
But, in the words of another comic-book character, you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. Joss Whedon’s feminist credentials have been slipping for a while, most famously in Avengers 2, where Black Widow’s story was reduced to acting like a nanny for The Hulk and calling herself a “monster” because she couldn’t have children. Now, the script he wrote for Wonder Woman has been leaked and it’s so horrifyingly misogynistic I’d quite like to take the lasso of truth and strangle him with it.
Steve spends most of his time lecturing and looking down on Diana, at one point calling her a danger to society and outright saying that she’s not a hero
This script was written back in 2006 and producer Joel Silver was eager to get it made. For some thankful reason, Warner Bros, who hold the rights to Wonder Woman, didn’t like it, so nothing happened with it until Indie Ground Films uploaded it last week. Twitter user @_sashayed went through Whedon’s script to highlight the worst parts, and here are some of my personal highlights.
There’s the fact that the film opens with Steve Trevor crashing on Themyscira, framing the film as being about him, rather than Diana. Steve spends most of his time lecturing and looking down on Diana, at one point calling her a danger to society and outright saying that she’s not a hero. Whereas Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman had Steve as an inspiration to Diana, for Whedon he’s more like the man who took a silly little warrior princess and made her into something worthwhile.
The rest of his time is spent ogling her – “I hate the fact that I’m so attracted to you, just touching you is overwhelming and I keep hoping you’ll turn around so I can see more of you naked.” In the end, of course, his dickish behaviour doesn't matter to her and they share a passionate kiss. This is shortly followed by a joke about how turned on Steve is by how Diana was lesbianing it up on Themyscira – an island Whedon wrote as being full of in-fighting and women who are utterly obsessed with having a big strong man with his big strong penis around them, by the way.
Diana’s sexy appearance is referenced constantly, both by the characters and by the script itself. There’s a part where a villain chains her up and ogles her in her “torn and tawdry outfit” before he “feels her weakened body”. One of the few times Diana successfully makes a decision for herself in the entire film is when she dances sexily in a club in order to attract the attention of a male villain.
The man who revolutionised the way girls and women were portrayed on screen should be doing better than this
As @_sashayed said, on its own merit the script isn’t actually very good, but when you compare it with the Wonder Woman film that made it to cinemas, it’s insulting. It’s pointed out multiple times that Gal Gadot is beautiful in Wonder Woman because we have eyes and it would be stupid not to, but she’s never sexualised or objectified. Diana is sexual, yes, but for herself – not for anyone else to enjoy. Her relationship with Steve is built on mutual respect and, although they disagree and he sometimes tells her she’s wrong, he never talks to her like anything less than an equal. She is flawed, but she is also powerful and clever and good, and an incredible inspiration to the young girls who have watched the film.
How inspired do you think they’d be by Joss Whedon’s Diana?
I know this was written 11 years ago, but c’mon. The man who revolutionised the way girls and women were portrayed on screen should be doing better than this. Black Widow deserved more, Wonder Woman deserved more and we deserve more. Let’s hope that Whedon returns to his heyday of cultural revolution when he makes Batgirl, because there’s now an army of girls who have seen Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman and therefore know they’ve got the power to demand more than this terrible script was able to give them.