Back in 2013, I pitched this Wonder Woman movie. I still dig it, as a coming-of-age version of her story- a true origin for her.
The Wonder Woman Movie
In the Amazon throne room, Diana’s mother forces her to choose in a Solomon-like conflict between two Amazons. She finds a solution that seems to half-please all involved. Hippolyta gives 18-year old Diana a dressing down. She says her daughter has absorbed too much of the philosophical ideas about being an Amazon, without learning their practical application- that a leader must be prepared to be tough and ruthless. Diana is more concerned with what she saw as right, and storms off.
Cut to a US fighter jet. He’s flying in a joint NATO exercise over the Mediterranean, when one of the French planes breaks formation. Over the radio, the pilot, Steve Trevor, is informed that they can’t raise the pilot- he isn’t responding. A moment later, more excitedly, they explain that the plane has been ‘mistakenly’ armed with a nuclear warhead.
Trevor breaks formation to pursue the other craft. Over the radio, Trevor hears a command from an unknown source. “Kill the American.” The other French planes break formation, and attack him. Trevor manages to shoot down two of the planes, before his own jet is damaged to the point of being incapable of firing. Rather than let the rogue pilot escape with a nuclear warhead, he smashes his plane into him, and both planes go down.
Trevor wakes up on Paradise Island, surrounded by beautiful women. He asks if he’s in Heaven. Hippolyta tells him that for him, it’s closer to hell, and stomps him into unconsciousness. We cut to Trevor in a cell, looking haggard. He tells them what he can: his name, rank, and serial number.
Cut to Hippolyta, discussing with her inner circle the man’s presence and its implication- someone has discovered their island- and worse, he brought war to it. Both planes crashed on the island. The advisers tell Hippolyta there were casualties and she storms off, and into Trevor’s cell. She rages at Trevor for the deaths he caused. He’s visibly shaken by the news, and apologizes. He explains that the man he killed had stolen a weapon of great power- the kind of weapon no sane person wants to wield. “Peace through force,” she says, signaling a kind of understanding. But his presence is still troubling, and his methods still violent and imprecise. Hippolyta retires to think, but also calls her advisors.
Meanwhile, Diana converses with an Amazon of African descent a few years her junior named Lyta. Because of Diana’s mother, they know about Trevor, while it’s being kept secret from most of the Amazons at this point. And they’re fascinated. Diana admits that she’s always felt stifled on the island. She feels like she’s been a caged bird, or a fish in a tank, when she’s meant to swim and to fly. Her friend is skeptical, and tells her it must be terrible being the beautiful daughter and heir apparent to the most powerful and respected woman on the island. Diana asks if she’s never wanted to see more of the world. Lyta hesitates, because she knows that look: Diana is about to do something reckless.
Cut back to Hippolyta, now meeting with her advisors. The outside world has made contact. She knows they can’t maintain their isolation any longer. Her scouts tell her that US ships patrol the area near the mouth of the Mediterranean, where it meets the Atlantic, looking for Trevor, his ship, the French pilot or the bomb. Hippolyta discusses with her science and military advisors. Her scientists are skeptical that their cloaking tech will stand up to this kind of scrutiny. Moreso, they understand that while they’ve held a technical edge, they are going to lose it; a small island nation can’t continue to outpace an entire industrialized world. One military advisor, Antiope, wants to attack the ships, while the other, Philippus, says, “There will always be more ships.”
Hippolyta knows that there must be peace; perhaps through force- but peace is her ultimate goal. She tells her advisors that they need an ambassador. Antiope quietly tells her second in command, Drucilla, to interrogate the prisoner, to see what else he might know. Drucilla is about Diana’s age; she’s a mirror image of Diana, what the character might have turned out to be if she was a part of the Amazon’s military instead of its Princess. And yes, this is a stealth introduction of Donna Troy- Wonder Girl.
Diana sneaks into the prison where Trevor’s being held. She brings him food, and water. She asks him about his world. He assumes he’s being played- that she’s good cop, but he plays along. Diana hears Drucilla enter, and hides. She throws the food Diana brought him against the wall, then throws him into the wall after it. She sneers, and reels back to hit him. Diana intervenes, and uses a martial arts roll to redirect the attack and leave the lieutenant on her back. She’s stunned a moment, before realizing who attacked her. She knows she can’t brutalize the prisoner with Diana there, but needs to leave, quickly. “Your mother will hear of this,” she says, and storms off.
“And your commander will, too,” Diana hits back.
Cut to the throne room again, and Hippolyta is holding back her daughter while Antiope holds back Drucilla; they’re arguing, but it’s moments from becoming a brawl. Hippolyta asks if it’s true, and the bickering continues, until she directs her glare to Antiope. She sighs, and admits that it is. Hippolyta says that she’ll overlook the indiscretion, so long as she and her second can be more discreet in the future. Then she instructs them to leave.
Hippolyta tells Diana that they’re going to nominate an ambassador, decided by a trial. Diana’s excited. She talks at a fast clip about how the island should share its advanced technologies and philosophy, of all the lives they could change and save. Her mother forbids her from participating; she says by right the position should be Diana’s, but that she’s proven that she isn’t ready for the weight of the responsibility- tonight being the most recent example.
Diana storms off. Lyta follows her to the beach, still scarred by the wreckage of Trevor’s plane. She sits on the shore, and stares at the ships patrolling just a little ways off. The friend talks about Diana, and how she’s special- particularly in that she’s not a clone, like most of the Amazons. But beyond that, she’s always known Diana was special, that she’d do special things. She hated it a little, because it also meant she’d leave her. But she never blamed Diana- she can’t blame birds for flying away, it’s simply who they are.
Hippolyta posts her personal guard outside Trevor’s cell to prevent further attempts to harm him. Drucilla is at first annoyed, because it means they can’t further interrogate him. Antiope sees it as an opportunity. Without her guards, Hippolyta is vulnerable. She tells Drucilla to assemble likeminded soldiers for a coup, set for the climax of the trials.
Hippolyta announces the nature of the trial. There will be three parts, centered around the most important values of their culture: strength, wisdom, and stamina. The first test is strength- personal combat. Diana defies her mother, and stands for the trial. Hippolyta tries to argue that her daughter should be disqualified. Philippus disagrees; if they gods favor her, who are they to disagree?
Diana is well-known for her fighting prowess, and the gathered Amazons quickly favor her with chanting and applause. But coming up on the other side of the bracket is a fighter whose brutality is difficult for the other warriors to cope with, named Artemis. During their climactic fight, Diana allows herself to be bested, while protecting an Amazon bystander from some environmental hazard caused by the fight (debris, a loose spear, whatever).
Hippolyta argues for her daughter to lose. The advisors, in this capacity also serving as judges, discuss it, and one of them announces that “Strength is not to be equated with unchecked violence. On occasion, that means having the strength to lose with grace, and the strength to protect others over ourselves.”
Diana is presented the tiara for winning, but is warned that because it increases her empathy, it could tilt the rest of the contest in her favor, in particular the next event. She wisely sets it down at the table in front of her mother, for safe keeping, a move that pleases the other judges, and annoys Hippolyta.
Next comes wisdom, an oral argument for each candidate’s place as the Amazonian ambassador. Artemis believes that “Man’s world” needs to be brought to heel. Diana argues persuasively that, “It isn’t man’s world. It’s ours. We’ve spent too much time living apart from it, pretending like we’re above it. We have failed this world with our silence. We can brook that failure no longer.”
Hippolyta is furious that she seems to have won the crowd. One of her advisors points out, “She’s every bit her mother’s daughter.” She’s still angry, but it’s hard for her not to look on her daughter with some pride.
Diana is awarded the bracelets, and is permitted to wear them, as they should have no bearing on the next contest. Hippolyta reminds all the candidates that the contest is not over. Her daughter’s awards for besting individual contests does not rule her the winner. Because the trial is about their conduct, how they maintain themselves in the face of odds, against dangers and adversity- particularly the adversity of defeat. She looks at Artemis when she says this.
Next is the stamina trial, to quest for a sacred lasso. It’s essentially a foot race, over the island. But the island is filled with dangers, and animals our world has never seen. Artemis plans out a trap for her. She captures Lyta, and uses her as bait, to lure Diana into a fight with a monstrous lizard. It’s doubly clever, because violence in this contest will cause Diana to lose instantly. Diana manages to evade the creature, while saving Lyta, only for Artemis to then be attacked by the lizard. Artemis panics, and assumes that she’s about to die, largely by her own hand, when Diana rescues her, and gets the lizard to trap itself beneath the roots of a large tree.
Diana gets Artemis to safety, then goes back to the lizard. Artemis doesn’t understand, but Lyta does. “You don’t get it, do you?” she asks.
“It will kill her,” Artemis says.
“And it will die if she doesn’t help.” Even while the lizard snaps at her, Diana works to free it from the tree. She manages to get its head loose, and it immediately attacks her. She runs for her life. Artemis notices that she’s being careful where she leads it, particularly away from the other contestants, and away from the city. “They could help her,” Artemis says.
“They’d kill it. And maybe some of our sisters would be hurt, too.”
Artemis goes back to the chase. We see her climb a rocky tower, intercut with Diana, running through the trees as the lizard tramples smaller trees chasing her, getting closer with every second. Artemis lays hands on the rope, which glows. Diana turns, and the lizard chomps on her bracelets, but can’t break through them. She scrambles out from underneath it, and runs again. We see her run between two trees. Suddenly, the golden rope is pulled taught between them, and catches the lizard in the jaw.
Artemis loosens the rope from the tree, and runs at the lizard, and manages to tie the rope the rest of the way around the lizard. Once it’s done, the rope glows brightly, and the lizard lays down, docile. She unties it. She walks to Diana, with the rope in hand. Then she kneels, and presents Diana the rope. “I was never worthy of it,” she says. Diana refuses to take it. “Worth is something proven, and earned.” She helps her rival stand. “We’re worth our measure only when we continue to strive to be better.”
Artemis holds onto the lasso, until they reach the arena. She places it on the table before Hippolyta, beside the tiara, to make it clear she believes the lasso to be Diana’s. Hippolyta is first confused by the gesture, then understands it. She recuses herself from the final judgment; she realizes that she’s been feuding with Diana as a daughter she wants to protect, not the woman she is.
Philippus delivers a speech, “That true leadership means inspiring the best in all of us, even from our rivals.” She commends everyone’s performance- and says that she has never been prouder to be an Amazon, and mentions in particular Artemis as a woman she wouldn’t want to stand on the other side of a spear from- or a lectern. Then she instructs Diana to rise, and join them on the podium.
That is when Antiope rises, and stands menacingly over Hippolyta. “Your daughter isn’t going to be ambassador. Our ambassador will be the point of a spear.” She levels one at Hippolyta. At that moment, Drucilla runs Antiope through with a short sword. She’s heartbroken, and explains to Hippolyta that she tried to gently guide her away from her destructive path, but failed. It’s clear from the guards’ and soldiers’ reactions that the coup never went farther than her. Hippolyta asks Philippus to take the woman into custody, for debrief. Then she says that it’s her honor to name her daughter their ambassador.
In private, Hippolyta reveals two things to her daughter. One, the Amazons have reverse-engineered the two planes, and crafted one of their own. Second, as the Amazon’s champion, she is bestowed with additional gifts, bestowed by their gods: strength, speed, flight, hardiness.
Diana leaves the meeting with her mother. And then she runs, all the way across the island in the blink of an eye, overshooting, and running across the water, past one of the US ships, before taking to the air. A lookout on the US ship asks another seawoman what he just saw- a UFO. “I don’t think I saw anything,” she says, “and I don’t think you did, either.”
Cut to the exterior of the prison, where Diana lands somewhat roughly leaving an impact crater. She walks inside, and asks if Trevor’s ready for transport. One of the guards explains that the doctor hasn’t cleared him. Diana tells one of them to get the doctor right away.
The next day, she flies herself, Trevor, the remains of the two planes, and the bomb, in a stealth jet- based on the same tech that hides her island away. She tells him it’s her first flight, though it looks to be the same interface they use for all of their computer systems- which doesn’t make him feel at ease.
The plane cloaks as it leaves the island’s own cloaking shield, as Hippolyta watches from the throne room from the first scene. Cryptically, Philippus says to her, “You didn’t tell her.” Hippolyta says that her daughter has a world to protect- now isn’t the time to burden her with an Underworld, as well. Philippus is concerned- they’ll need her for the coming struggle. Hippolyta is convinced her daughter will come when the time dictates it. Essentially, Paradise Island sits on top of a Hellmouth- it’s the place on Earth where things from the Underworld can spill over. Gotta lay ground for that sequel.
As Diana’s plane approaches New York, Trevor implores her to let him contact his superiors. “You can’t just fly a nuclear bomb onto a US air field and expect to be greeted as anything other than a threat.” She lets him set up a landing at a US base.
They’re met by the entire base, including its commander, all pointing guns at Diana. He tries to arrest Diana. Trevor protests. “That woman’s an ambassador, from a nation so technologically advanced you can’t fathom it. They built that plane over the course of a week after looking at scraps of mine and the French one I shot down. You don’t want to start a war with the one nation we might not be able to beat.”
The commander hesitates a moment, before the US Ambassador to the UN walks out, and nods at him. He puts away the cuffs, and asks, “Is there anywhere I can escort you, madam ambassador?”
Cut to the UN. Diana is presented by the US Ambassador to the general assembly. Trevor is with them. She thanks Diana, and by extension her people, for returning the nuclear weapon, and for not proliferating their use- possibly getting in a dig about discussing international patent law over the tech in her plane. Diana looks uncomfortable at the applause she receives, as Trevor leans over to ask the ambassador how the hell the weapon ever got off the chain.
A diplomat sitting near them listens intently in his headphones. Through an unused set of headphones, Trevor hears the voice from earlier say, “He heard my voice.” The diplomat takes a pistol from his desk, and tries to shoot Trevor. Diana steps between them, and blocks the bullets with her bracelets.
Diana uses her lasso on the would-be assassin. It breaks the diplomat from his hypnotic spell. Trevor and the US Ambassador convince the police to give her a moment with the diplomat. He explains that he saw a therapist, and that he heard that therapist’s voice a moment before he tried to shoot Trevor, and found it irresistible. He claimed not to know how the gun got there. Diana believes him, but the ambassador’s skeptical. Diana hands her a piece of the lasso. “Tell me something true you don’t want to.” “Your age and weight,” Trevor adds. Before she can, Diana takes the rope back. “I would have told you; I don’t even like that my doctor knows.”
Trevor accompanies her to find the diplomat’s therapist. He drives, remarking that he can’t believe all of this was caused by some, “Psycho Doctor,” (the character’s comic name is Dr. Psycho). She asks why a woman wouldn’t want to admit her age or weight. He explains that some people think women have a shelf life. He says he thinks they get better with age.
We see men on the military base. We hear what they hear over their radios: “Stop them.” Suddenly, a tank drives out into traffic in the streets ahead of Trevor’s car. Diana opens the door. “Don’t stop,” she says. He tries to tell her that’s a tank, as she rolls out of the car. The tank fires, and she’s engulfed in smoke and flame.
Music swells as the fireball dissipates, and the concussion from the blast carries the smoke away. Diana has her arms crossed in an x in front of her, where she blocked the shell with her bracelets. She reels back, in a fighting pose, then sprints toward the tank. A machine-gun mounted on the tank tries to track her, only managing to pepper the ground where she’d been with bullets- perhaps occasionally requiring her to deflect the odd one with her bracelet. She reaches the tank, and tears the turret away. An instant later she’s on top of the tank, and drops her lasso around the tank crew. “Where is he?” she asks.
“The doctor is in,” they say in unison, before coming to their senses.
Cut a few hundred feet down the street. We see the outline of a plane flying overhead, towards the tank, and pull back to reveal the fighter jet itself, flying low between the skyscrapers. It begins to fire from a machine-gun, strafing fire towards Diana. She looks behind herself, at the tank crew who would be caught in the fire if she simply sidestepped. She stands her ground, and deflects the shots from the plane- though these knock her around a bit because they’re bigger, and require more jumping around to deflect.
One of the bullets ricochets back down the plane’s fuselage, breaches its engine and fuel, and the plane catches fire. She flies after it. The plane is about to smash into a bus full of frightened but also entranced schoolchildren. We see Diana’s reflection in the window as a young girl watches her fly in front of the plane, drop her lasso around it and yank it above the bus at the last second. “Whoa,” the little girl says.
Diana uses the rope to guide the plane to a controlled crash on top of a building. She rips the canopy off the plane, and the pilot fires a shot at her from his sidearm. She deflects it, and lassos him. He stares unbelieving at the gun, then manages to mumble an apology. She flies off.
Trevor has arrived at the high-rise offices of the diplomat’s therapist, and he’s got his service weapon in hand. He’s mumbling about her telling him, “Don’t stop. Not all of us can stop bullets, in ways that don’t,” he jabs himself in the chest, “hurt.”
He hears the voice again. “An excellent idea. Stop all the bullets.” We see the owner of the voice, a short, but relatively handsome man, in a suit. He points his finger as if it were a gun at his own head. Trevor follows suit, with his gun. He’s trembling, trying to fight it, but he can’t.
Diana’s lasso wraps around his hand, and jerks the gun down and away as he fires. “Don’t,” she says. “K,” he mumbles, and drops to the floor.
“You,” the doctor says, “should tell me how to get you out of that little number. Zipper in the back, snaps in the front?” He smiles, pleased with himself. She tosses the lasso around him, and cinches it tight. “Crap.”
Trevor gets up off the floor, complaining that it feels like he was kicked in the head by a donkey. Then he asks if he can kick the doctor. A helicopter strafes the building, filling it full of gunfire that conveniently misses the doctor. Trevor, huddled behind a desk, asks her if she can fight off a helicopter, and when a second appears, firing on them from the other side of the building, “or two.” She says she can, but innocent people will get hurt. “Stop them,” she says to the therapist. He picks up his radio, and sighs. “Stand down,” he says.
Then she tells him he’s going to explain what he wanted with the weapon. He tells them that the weapon was merely a means to an end. “What ‘we’ wanted was violence, chaos.” A world where a man like him could rule. She asks what he meant by “we.” He tries to resist, to not tell the truth. Then he screams out in pain, and passes out.
Trevor says that he thought she said that no one could avoid telling the truth under the lasso’s sway. She says that’s what she thought. They get the doctor up, and lead him to the reception area of the office. A befuddled guard is trying to keep a gathering of reporters outside, to protect patient confidentiality. Trevor remarks that the vultures descended fast. He tells her it’s a whole new world out there, now, and asks her if she’s ready to meet it.
“No,” she says, “I’m ready to join it.”
Stinger: We see Ares. “That was fun,” he says. A beautiful if bookish woman is with him, and seems bored by their conversation. She’s Athena. “That’s what you said after the Balkans. And the Gulf Wars. After every war. But it’s over. Your attempt to create a perpetual conflict failed. Again.”
“This fight might be over. But the world just got a little smaller. And as the world gets smaller, humans more and more feel the press of their fellow rats in the cage, and the more they trample over one another, for resources and gain. No, sister. I think this conflict is only just beginning.”
Couple of side-notes
The Amazons speak several languages. Their original language was an offshoot of ancient Greek. But as outside societies changed, and the possibility of discovery increased, they learned others, to be prepared for the inevitable contact- and to better be able to stave off conflict. They’ve spoken English primarily since the Second World War, when it became clear that the US would dominate world culture for some time to come. Though a few of the older Amazons still speak German- they hedged their bets, just in case the Germans won the war.
Fashion-wise, I think it’s silly if they go the full on toga route. It would also be boring for them to just go full modern. Instead, what I’d like to see is kind of a fusion- basically a parallel evolution of fashion from a Greek-heavy beginning, but then only marginally influenced for thousands of years by occasional contact with the outside world. If designed right, it would be modern, but almost sci fi, but with a hint of their togic origins- but always with an eye to practical active wear.