"Can I be in your Wonder Woman movie? I'll love you forever."
Joss Whedon had better get used to hearing it, because that question is bound to be ringing in his ears for months to come. It was announced last week that Whedon, whose "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" series paved the butt-kicking babe path for everything from "Underworld" to "Alias," would write and direct the big-screen debut of comicdom's most beloved female superhero (see "'Buffy' Creator Joss Whedon Lassoes 'Wonder Woman' Movie").
This time, the question came from actress Jewel Staite at last weekend's Wizard World Los Angeles comic book convention. Waitresses, distant relatives and A-list actresses alike are no doubt practicing their sales pitches as well.
"Originally, I was hesitant," said Whedon, a self-proclaimed comic-book geek. "But then it's also sort of why I became really interested, because she doesn't have so much baggage for me, the way, say, Spider-Man would."
Whedon, selected by über-producer Joel Silver ("The Matrix," "Die Hard") after what seemed like a lifetime of contemplation, admits he's been handed a bicycle with training wheels attached.
"It's been in development for a lot of years. [Silver] called me, and I came in, and when he pitched it, he had a very clear idea of what he wanted to do, which I thought was really smart," Whedon said. "But it was very unformed, and it sort of formed in my brain, and what I began to realize is I had no choice but to write it. Which is a little annoying — I'd like to make my own decisions once in a while, but I couldn't."
Nevertheless, the 40-year-old director of the upcoming "Firefly" rebirth film "Serenity" said he's excited to tackle the back story of the woman in star-spangled panties.
"I think she sort of sprang out fully formed, much like Athena herself. And, you know, it's a question of really getting behind that. ... In the '40s, when it was first done, she came to the world from Paradise Island and then went about her business, and so that experience, which is really a rite of passage, which is the same as any hero has to go through, has never really been investigated the way I want to. So, to take it back to the beginning and really say, 'Well, really, what was it like for an Amazon princess to come amongst us?' "
As for how much he'll draw from the comic books that have been publishing steadily for more than 60 years, well, Whedon says he's never been a huge fan. His superhero familiarity, however, should instill some hope in loyalists. "I mean, I've seen some really good books, some really great work by people — [late-'80s artist/writer] George Perez and [1995-1998 artist/writer] John Byrne, a lot of guys. Obviously, I've seen the [famed female superhero artist] Adam Hughes covers, because who hasn't? But I've seen her more with the [Justice League of America] and stuff like that."
When pressed for details on the iconic Wonder Woman accessories, Whedon acknowledged several, but avoided mention of the invisible jet that was phased out of the comic books years ago. "I have a take on all of them. It has to do with who she is, and they have a certain integrity. I'm not going to do anything silly.
"There's a reason why she has those bracelets," Whedon said, referring to the Amazon wrist armor that represents her tribe's enslavement under Hercules. "There's a reason why she's got the lasso. I think it's going to work out really well."
As for Staite's plea, Whedon wants to tell her and everyone else that he isn't leaning toward any particular actress yet. "No leaning," he promised with a mischievous smile. "I'm standing straight."
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