The Devin’s Advocate: Stop Asking Nicolas Winding Refn About WONDER WOMAN

You’re a movie journalist and you’re sitting down with one of the best directors working today. What do you ask him about? Why, a comic book movie that will never even happen, of course.

Every time Nicolas Winding Refn appears in public somebody gets him on the record about the Wonder Woman movie. You know, the one that isn’t happening and that he isn’t directing. This all stems from a comment Refn made last year, where he said - with seeming genuine feeling - that he would be interested in attempting a Wonder Woman movie.

[Wonder Woman] is, along with Batman and Superman, one of the three original, iconic super heroes. And I think that it being a woman and she being created by a psychologist who was very interested in certain fetish elements — if you look at the original Wonder Woman its all about woman in very little clothes tying each other up, I don’t know what you would call that, but I would call it quite fetish. And then giving her interesting powers and having her come from an island of women. To me the real rosebud lies in the fact that it’s really about, what if women were stronger than men on all fronts: how would the world look like? If you do her as an average crusader in hot pants running around — which of course you have to do to some extent— but if you don’t go beyond that its going to be really cheesy or silly and sure they’ll be action, but its nothing special.

I’ve always thought that the word ‘rosebud’ wasn’t an accidental thing, and I don’t mean he was referencing Citizen Kane. This was Refn slyly talking about clits.

Anyway, Refn has been pretty smart about this Wonder Woman thing, understanding that if he idly says things like ‘I would like to have Christina Hendricks play Wonder Woman’ people will write about this non-existent movie and will mention his latest film in the same breath. It’s a smart self-promotional gimmick.

But enough already. Refn is out promoting his new film, Drive, which could be actually a masterpiece and is certainly his best film yet, but the headlines keep being about Wonder Woman. This is the depraved place to which the internet movie community has come: we are presented with current brilliance but all we want to talk about is some far-off nerd property.

Wonder Woman is not happening. And I would bet that in the unlikely situation where a Wonder Woman movie happens, Refn won’t direct. Look, Warner Bros can’t figure out how to do fucking SUPERMAN. They whiffed it on Green Lantern. They’ve been dicking about with a Flash movie for a decade. Oh, and they couldn’t properly develop a Wonder Woman TV show just this year.

But wait! Look around you, and tell me how many of the superhero films of this latest boom are about women. Elektra was the last female superhero movie. And it isn’t like the comic book world is bursting with female heroes who have their own books; while Wonder Woman is always promoted as one of DC’s Big Three but from what I can tell the June 2011 issue of Wonder Woman was DC’s 26th best selling title. This isn’t to disparage the character in any way but to simply point out some realism - in the male-centric world of superhero comic book collecting, Wonder Woman isn’t particularly popular.

All of that adds up to me seriously doubting that Warner Bros is going to move ahead on a Wonder Woman movie any time soon. Hey, I’ve been known to be wrong (I said there would never be a sequel to Batman Begins!), but as long as Warner Bros has no clue how to deal with non-Batman superheroes, a lack of Wonder Woman seems a safe bet.

Now, the latest grotesque, non-news about Refn and Wonder Woman is that he says if his remake of Logan’s Run does well he might get to do Wonder Woman. Well, no shit. That’s just Hollywood math - if Refn has a big hit, he’ll have more power to get a project off the ground, even one as problematic (to the bean counters) as Wonder Woman.

Except he’s not doing Logan’s Run next. He’s doing Only God Forgives next. And Logan’s Run is a project that’s already fallen apart with another director, and is the sort of scifi concept remake that could easily fall apart all over again long before Refn gets to it. So the causality between Logan’s Run and Wonder Woman is incredibly tenuous - it’s all a series of ifs and not whens. And they’re ifs that stretch out right about to 2013 or 2014.

Beyond that, I’m not sure that Refn’s vision for this character - see him talking about fetish and his sly rosebud reference - will be what corporate Warner Bros wants. I’m not convinced I want to see him working under that yoke anyway; he’ll certainly have more freedom with Logan’s Run, should it ever happen, because it’s a dead property. Wonder Woman, technically, is a viable property. They sell Wonder Woman t-shirts. I’d rather see Refn explore his thoughts about femininity in a movie that’s his own weird beast. A Valhalla Rising of women. Vagina Rising, if you will.

And so we have a great director, one who is really in the prime of his career as far as I’m concerned, and the only thing we hear about him from the mainstream sites is that he might be doing Wonder Woman (a movie that I am actually sure most of the people clicking through don’t actually even care about. Again, not disparaging the character, just being realistic about the fanboy audience). This feels like a shame.

My pledge to you, the Badass Digest reader, is that this is the last time you’re going to read about Nicolas Winding Refn and Wonder Woman on this site until the film is official. And should I have a chance to sit down with Refn the interview we have will be about Drive or Only God Forgives or whatever movie it is that he’s working on right now. I believe that you guys are smart enough and good enough movie fans to want to read a real interview with a director about his process, his art and his influences, not about what movie he might make six films from now.

In fact, I’m going to go one step further: Let’s focus on Refn as a director and talk about his movies. I have been wanting to launch a feature on this site where I go through a filmmaker’s entire filmography and Refn’s is manageable enough to start with. So click the link below and order his Pusher trilogy, as that’s where I’m going to start.