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Film / Wonder Woman (1974)

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Wonder Woman is a 1974 television film based on the DC Comics character of the same name, starring Cathy Lee Crosby.

Crosby plays a blonde, non-powered Wonder Woman who does not wear the comic book uniform (and doesn't wear an uniform at all until the last part of the film), as she pursues the mysterious villain Abner Smith (Ricardo Montalbán) who has stolen a set of code books containing classified information about U.S. government field agents. Along the way, she has to outwit Smith's mooks, including a familiar face to her.

This film's particular portrayal of Wonder Woman was based upon the "I Ching" period in the comics when Diana had given up her superpowers and instead learned martial arts from the namesake master to work as a civilian crimefighter, though by the time it aired Wonder Woman had become a superhero again in the comics.

The film was actually a Pilot Movie for an intended television series being considered by ABC, but ABC ultimately didn't pick it up. ABC would end up developing a different Wonder Woman television concept that fit the more traditional presentation of the character, which eventually led to the more well-known TV series starring Lynda Carter that premiered in 1975. As for this film, Warner Bros. released this pilot into syndication as a stand-alone telefilm, eventually giving it a DVD release in 2012.

This film features examples of:

  • Adaptational Dye-Job: Diana is a blonde here, differing from the well-established black hair in the comics.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Somewhat downplayed. While Diana does not seem to have any of her superpowers from the comics other than martial arts skills (and traded her Lasso of Truth for a Martial Arts Staff), some of the feats she achieves would require her to have around the same abilities as a human with peak physical condition.
  • Affably Evil: Abner Smith is a genuinely friendly guy, not dropping his polite demeanor even when he's captured by Wonder Woman at the end of the film.
  • Auction of Evil: Abner Smith steals a a complete list of U.S. field agents, their undercover identities and current assignments with the plan to sell it to the highest bidder. He doesn't actually succeed in setting up the auction before the title heroine stops him.
  • Civvie Spandex: Diana eventually suits up for the climax after having spent the rest of the film Not Wearing Tights, but the suit is still relatively more modest and low-key, resembling more a tracksuit.
  • Dating Catwoman: In a rare female hero/male villain example, Diana's encounters with George and Abner Smith have a romantic tone right out in the open, to the point of actually having dinner dates with George, even when he's threatening to kill her. With George it doesn't go far because he proves to be only Faux Affably Evil, while Smith seems more genuine.
  • Dragon with an Agenda:
    • George, Abner Smith's main enforcer, seems to be on the plan only for himself, as he kills his own henchmen before trying to abscond with the loot.
    • Ahnjayla is also this, as she seems to have joined the bad guys only to have a chance of revenge against Diana, having abandoned the Amazons out of jealousy towards her.
  • Dude Magnet: Both Abner Smith and George have the hots for Diana, former in particular seems like he'd rather ask for her phone number than kill her.
  • Faux Affably Evil: In contrast to his boss, George is clearly less sincere about being friendly with Diana, dropping the act the moment things go south.
  • In Name Only: This Pilot Movie features a non-powered blonde Wonder Woman in a track suit. While it does mention Diana's Amazon home and invisible plane, it generally plays more like a superspy knockoff of The Avengers than a superhero story. To be fair, however, the TV movie was based upon an era of the comic book in which Diana was depowered and made into an Emma Peel clone. In other words, the comic book itself had become In-Name-Only. But by the time this movie was made, the comics had returned to the status quo.
  • Javelin Thrower: Ahnjayla uses her javelin-throwing skills to trick George into losing a couple of sucker bets. When Wonder Woman shows up, Ahnjayla tries to skewer her with a javelin, but Wonder Woman catches it and throws it back.
  • MacGuffin: A list of U.S. undercover agents stolen by the Big Bad and put up for sale to the highest bidder.
  • My Nayme Is: The rogue Amazon who sides with the bad guys is credited as "Ahnjayla", but everyone pronounces her name as "Angela."
  • Mythology Gag:
    • While the outfit Wonder Woman appears in in the climax is drastically different from any of the ones she wore in the comics, it still has the red and blue motif, including having the stars-over-a-blue-backdrop design that usually appears in her short shorts/bottom part of her leotard of her comics outfit on her sleeves here.
    • When Abner Smith mentions that he has an helicopter as part of his escape plan, Diana mentions that she has "this marvelous plane that flies that much faster than yours," seemingly referencing her famous invisible jet from the comics.
  • Not Wearing Tights: Diana spends most of the film not wearing any costume before switching to one for the climax (though it does not resemble none of the outfits she wore from the comics, outside of sharing the same color motifs).
  • Wrecked Weapon: Diana signals the end of her duel with Ahnjayla by breaking the latter's javelin.