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Series / Wonder Woman (2011 pilot)

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Adrianne Palicki as Wonder Woman. Note the Painted-On Pants, soon to be darkened.

Q: Hey. Wait a second. So Wonder Woman "has come to the world of men and is using her powers to make a difference"? And she has a major corporation bankrolling her crime-fighting endeavors? That's just Superman combined with Batman. How is any of this unique to Wonder Woman?
A: Well, she has breasts. Superman and Batman don't.

Wonder Woman is a never-aired television pilot produced by Warner Bros. Television and DC Entertainment for NBC, based on the DC Comics character of the same name. David E. Kelley wrote the pilot and Jeffrey Reiner directed it. Adrianne Palicki starred as the main character, Elizabeth Hurley plays the villainess, and Pedro Pascal appears as Diana's contact with the police.

The Wonder Woman pilot was expected to air in 2011, but NBC opted not to buy the series. Although it was never distributed officially, copies got out (though an incomplete version that had yet to have a final musical score and special effects added). One of Diana's uniforms ended up being recycled on Harry's Law by Smallville alum Erica Durance, playing a delusional client who believes she's the real Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Jerkass: This version of Wonder Woman can basically be described as "the 'Goddamn Batman', but female". She tortures suspects for information instead of using her Lasso of Truth, accuses rivals of criminal acts even when she has no proof, brutally slaughters security guards who are just doing their job, and outright intimidates law enforcement into looking the other way.
  • Adaptational Modesty: The producers tried to go with a more modest costume that covered Wonder Woman's legs. The fans hated it, leading to a suit closer to the comic version being added in at the last minute.
  • Ad Hominem: The biggest problem with this series. As the villains are all correct about the horrible and illegal things Wonder Woman is doing, but the series essentially states "but they are villains so that makes them wrong."
    SF Debris: So when the government official connected to the bad guy upholds the law, that's bad. When the government official connected to the good guy ignores the law, that's good. Because in this world, Superman looks like this.
  • Badass Boast: At the end of her press conference, Diana declares, "Miss Cale, if the law doesn't get you, I will."
  • Batman Cold Open: Wonder Woman is introduced chasing a crook through the streets of Los Angeles.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: When interrogating a bedridden drug dealer in the hospital, she casually speaks to him about how certain sounds bother her, like a baby crying, dogs barking, the sound of a breaking arm...
  • Broken Aesop: Wonder Woman goes on a long, and in many ways, unnecessary rant opposing her image being objectified... and then later attempts to use I Have Boobs, You Must Obey! on a security guard. Kinda misses the point of being objectified if you're willing to do it to yourself... and that's without getting into the point that she approved of the doll that objectified her before she had a last-minute change of opinion because she wasn't paying attention to it when she first approved it.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Willis uses performance-enhancing drugs. He ends up bleeding from his eyes, hospitalized, and dead.
  • Chainmail Bikini: Diana rejects an action figure designed like this, complete with exaggerated breasts. Though her own costume isn't all that modest...
  • Character Shilling: Wonder Woman gets hit with this hard. Everyone says she is essentially the greatest woman in the world, can do no wrong, and is a brilliant business woman. Everything she does shows that not one of these statements are true.
  • Clark Kenting: "Diana Prince" is completely different from Diana Themyscira because she puts on a pair of glasses and puts her hair in a ponytail. She then goes home and farts around on Facebook with her cat while watching The Notebook.
  • The Commissioner Gordon: Pedro Pascal plays Ed Indelicato, Wonder Woman's liaison to the police department.
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Anyone who disagrees with Wonder Woman's actions is obviously meant to be considered wrong:
    • The congressman complains about her use of torture and illegal searches, and he's depicted as being in Veronica Cale's pocket/bed.
    • Veronica Cale smugly talks about all the people Wonder Woman brutalized and killed while breaking into her facility and trespassing, but Wonder Woman soon finds all the people Cale was experimenting on, thus justifying her actions retroactively.
    • Wonder Woman tells her business toady about how exploitative the doll made to look like her is and he protests. Now, Wonder Woman's refusal to be objectified wouldn't be a problem... if the doll wasn't a month away from shipping and she hadn't already given oral consent.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Many people point out how Wonder Woman's ex-boyfriend would have never been allowed to investigate her because of this trope. Played straight as just after meeting her again he brushes aside the case against her.
  • Cool Plane: Diana owns a set of small planes that land atop her company's roof. They don't seem to turn invisible, though.
  • Cops Need the Vigilante: Wonder Woman is basically an illegal police liason, being allowed to interrogate suspects, pursue her own investigation, and when Detective Indelicato points out that he and his fellow officers cannot actually bust the villainess' drug lab because they do not yet have enough evidence for a warrant, Wonder Woman immediately breaks in so they will have an excuse to do so.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive:
    • Veronica Cale, the CEO of Cale-Anderson Pharmaceuticals. The first episode has her testing muscle enhancement drugs on immigrants, and implies she sleeps with Congressmen to avoid legal action.
    • Cary Elwes plays Henry Detmer, who runs the day-to-day operations of Themyscira. He's depicted as sleazier than Diana, and not above making "sexy" action figures to make money for the company.
    • However, even in her most Ron the Death Eaterinvoked interpretation, Wonder Woman averts this trope. Her business dealings aren't that shady and she's even willing to have her bottom line take a hit on moral concerns (though she seems more insane than corrupt since she approved of the designs then changed it at the drop of a hat after their company already sunk a lot of money into development). In a way, her corporate dealings are more on the level than some other superheroes, because unlike characters like Batman, she doesn't secretly appropriate company funds for her superheroing, her business openly does this. She's just a brutal, psychopathic, superpowered Anti-Hero who happens to be a corporate executive... and doesn't ever have to face any sort of legal repercussions (just in ways that don't involve her leveraging her corporate power).
  • Crapsaccharine World: Unintentional example, but we have human trafficking and human experimentation done by the bad guys, and the police are powerless to stop them, and thus must rely on a brutal, borderline psychotic thug in a tiara. All the while, the latter sells dolls and has the admiration of just about everyone.
  • Death Glare: Wonder Woman seems to love giving these to anyone that is in her way or simply annoys her. What makes it all the more terrifying is the fact that it's quite clear there is absolutely nothing stopping her from actually killing the person she is glaring at. She even gives it to her own assistant.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Wonder Woman's first scene has her lasso a crook by the neck, slam her boot on him, inject a syringe for his blood, and then snarl at a cop at the idea of him getting a lawyer and trial. Our hero, everybody!
    • Many critics of the pilot saw the scene in which Wonder Woman murders a rent-a-guard with a piece of pipe as indicative of how the character would be handled going forward.
  • Evil Brit: Veronica Cale has a British accent and is played by Elizabeth Hurley, who has played Satan herself in the past.
  • Exalted Torturer: While Wonder Woman's use of torture does set her back, it's more depicted as the backward laws that don't get what's at stake more than Wonder Woman engaging in a horrible action. The fact that the police commissioner still works with her even after maiming a guy she had already hospitalized is telling that torture, when done by Wonder Woman, isn't a bad thing.
  • Exposition: A TV report playing as Diana flies back to her company establishes all the details about who she is and the setting.
  • Faux Affably Evil: After Diana publicly accuses her, Cale comes to Themyscira Industries to "make friends with her," but it quickly dissolves into death threats.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: Unless it's just a nickname, referring to the Lasso of Truth by name seems to imply it has the same abilities as its comic counterpart. Why doesn't Wonder Woman use it? Either it doesn't have those powers now or more darkly, she felt it removed the fun of torturing the information out of a suspect!
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Wonder Woman is clearly more of a threat than the villains she goes after.
  • Hollywood Law:
    • Claiming someone engages in illegal activities without proof is called slander and could easily get someone sued. Wonder Woman, who's also publicly known to be the CEO of Themyscira Industries under the name Diana Themyscira, calls a press conference to announce this, fully acknowledging her lack of proof, and yet suffers no consequences. She also admitted to the entire world that she has broken the law to stop a crime she can't even prove was committed.
    • Doesn't even touch the detective's blatantly illegal (not to mention stupid) advice to WW that if she breaks into the villain's lair, the police will be able to investigate it because it's now a crime scene. Yes it will be, for a crime that Wonder Woman committed, and the police let her do. The only way this works is if Wonder Woman already has blanket immunity to prosecution, which opens a whole new can of worms that's even more terrifying, but would be sadly consistent with everything else we see. Also, if she's deemed to have been an agent of the police in doing this, any evidence they find will be suppressed as "fruit of the poisonous tree," that is, obtained illegally in violation of a private citizen's Constitutional rights. Since she specifically spoke to the police just before her attack, any decent lawyer could simply use the record of the phone call to get a judge to consider she was an agent of the police.
    • Worse, matters legal get significant attention in this series (it is David E. Kelley writing it, after all). It all serves to keep before us exactly how illegal every single thing Diana does is, even as the plot treats her like everything she does is right. She literally commits more crimes than her enemies.
    • The show seems to confuse the fact that Wonder Woman is not (officially) connected to any law enforcement as to mean she is above the law.
  • Hypocrite:
    • One of Wonder Woman's many flaws in this show. She admonishes the fact she is being objectified then tries to use her looks to get past a guard. She claims that Veronica's actions which risk her business is beyond reckless, all the while she accuses her on national TV without evidence (which is called slander and Cale could sue Wonder Woman which is risking her corporation). She threatens to kill someone if that person does not do what she says then states she hates it when people threaten her. She is disgusted that the villain is using a person with political power for her own gain, then does it herself. What's worse is that Wonder Woman is continually lauded for her behavior, instead of treating it like it's a negative quality.
    • Willis as well. He states "truth, justice, and the American way" to Wonder Woman. This despite the fact he used body enhancement drugs to get a scholarship. Which means he lied, did something illegal, and cheated.
  • I Am What I Am: Diana gives one such speech to her board members when, after swearing she's reminded that "Wonder Woman isn't vulgar" and muses about how everyone looks at Wonder Woman's perfect body and thus assumes she's a perfect person.
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Wonder Woman brags to a security guard that "this suit opens doors for me", but the way she says it ends up sounding more like a death threat. This after going into an angry rant about being objectified because of her beauty.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Diana's justification for her "Diana Prince" secret identity, even though as her she never even leaves her apartment.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: During her assault on Cale's facility, Wonder Woman impales a mook through the neck with a metal rod.
  • Info Dump: A rather messy one. We get all the info about this world from news broadcasts as Wonder Woman returns to her penthouse.
  • In Name Only: The protagonist has more in common with Batman than Wonder Woman, being a rich corporate executive who moonlights as a superhero. Little is made of her Amazon upbringing. Her Lasso of Truth is used only to snag enemies, and never to reveal the truth from anyone, or does it in a more mundane manner. The concept of using the Wonder Woman persona as a company symbol for the public also mirrors the premise of Batman Incorporated.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Wonder Woman claims people look up to her simply because she looks good. Usually one looks up to someone because of their actions not looks.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Flashbacks of her last date with Steve Trevor show her explaining this to him. Though this is accomplished extremely poorly by her since she has a "secret identity" and does literally nothing with it. Not to mention since she's got a public identity all of her employees were as vulnerable to retaliation as Steve would have been.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Tortures a suspect for info while he's in a hospital bed. Which she put him in. Doesn't even try the Lasso of Truth, or if she did, she did it in a manner that doesn't use any magical properties.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Cale points out how Diana is herself violating the law in nearly everything she's doing — and she's not incorrect.
  • Karma Houdini: Wonder Woman commits many crimes, including torture and murder, and gets away scot free.
  • Leno Device: Diana overhears Dr. Phil on TV early on, proclaiming that she has anger management issues.
  • Malicious Slander: Wonder Woman holds a press conference to state Veronica is making illegal drugs, then admits she has no proof to back up anything she stated.
  • Merchandise-Driven: In-universe, Themyscira Industries is funded by merchandise and toy sales. Etta Candy even notes that Diana designed her outfit to look like an action figure for this reason. This leads to a bizarre scene where she goes on a rant about a doll wearing said costume being objectifying, even though she had personally approved the design of the doll earlier (even her employees are mystified).
  • Moral Myopia: When Veronica Cale uses Congressmen in her pocket to escape the law, it's treated as evil. When Wonder Women uses similar officials, it's treated as clever manipulation of the law.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Wonder Woman here clearly believes this.
    Diana: Why don't you show me your [secret] laboratory?
    Cale: And what would be in that for me?
    Diana: I won't kill you.
  • Mythology Gag: Her company is called Themyscira Industries after the island she grew up on in the comics and Greek vases are shown inside her board's discussion room.
  • No Badge? No Problem!: One of the more blatant examples, what with Wonder Woman torturing a suspect in police custody with the only problem being that the police can't use the information. Or Wonder Woman breaking into a place to make it a crime scene with no consequences even though the reason it's a crime scene is because Wonder Woman is breaking and entering (and murdering people).
  • Offscreen Villainy: The character Wonder Woman tortures is supposedly a drug dealer. Sadly, Wonder Woman breaks more laws onscreen than he does, and arguably more than he does even off screen. In fact all we have is her word that he is a drug dealer, for all we know she was just given bad information.
  • Painted-On Pants: The costume Wonder Woman wears in the opening has skin-tight blue pants, but in the final action scene she instead wears the classic version without them.note 
  • Police Are Useless: A very interesting take on the trope. The police are actually not useless in any sense of the word. They do their jobs, uphold due process, arrest criminals, and none are seen to be dirty. However the show itself tries to make them appear useless for doing all just stated above. As if stating the cops need to start arresting and shooting everyone that even appears to be guilty and ignore their constitutional rights (like our Hero) to be effective.
  • Product Placement: The scene where Wonder Woman complains about a doll that over sexualises her actually features a few pieces of real Wonder Woman merchandise. Ironically, several of these figures are far less tacky than her actual costume.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Wonder Woman engages in brutal take-downs of suspects, takes evidence illegally, is resentful toward due process, publicly slanders her opponents without evidence while fully admitting she doesn't have evidence, will approve her toys before having a complete 180 on them thus screwing over production, flies a plane in the middle of a city, tortures an unarmed prisoner in a hospital bed for information, breaks into a facility without a warrant so she can turn the place into a crime scene so the police can move in even though logically by breaking in she's the one who should be arrested, assaults and murders the people on the scene, and uses excessive force to subdue her rival. The only people who complain about this kind of excessive behavior are her obviously strawman opponents, her obviously unworthy corporate stooge, and Dr Phil. She does get called out for her behavior; it's just that the people doing it are so slimy they should be ignored.
  • Protagonist Title: Not a hard guess who the main character is.
  • Race Lift: Etta Candy was Caucasian in the comics. Here, she's African-American. This was carried over to the comics with the New 52.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: As an unfinished pilot it uses temp music. A lot of it is from Lost.
  • Ret-Canon: As mentioned above, as of the New 52, Etta Candy is African-American in the comics.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After finding out Willis has died, Diana loses her patience to wait for a warrant and flies off to break into Cale's laboratory.
  • R-Rated Opening: The pilot opens with a kid named Willis celebrating his college acceptance with his family, only to start crying blood and fall unconscious. Followed immediately by our Hero chasing some guy, nearly snapping the man's neck in trying to catch him, jam a needle in his neck for blood, then snarl at the police who wanted to arrest him.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: How the series justifies her actions. Unfortunately, Wonder Woman's brand of justice is the kind where the treatment is worse than the disease.
  • Secret Identity: Diana has three identities, Wonder Woman, the vigilante, Diana Themyscira, a high-powered CEO who is publicly acknowledged as Wonder Woman, and Diana Prince, a mousy civilian whose connection to Wonder Woman is maintained by what is probably a combination of obscurity and the willful ignorance on the part of the minimal public that she does interact with, who in all likelihood just smile, nod, and hope they get to leave the conversation without having their spines ripped out.
  • Serious Business: Part of the reason why Wonder Woman is loathed by the viewership for actions that would not be out of place with a Batman comic is because Wonder Woman seems to treat her crusade against Veronica Cale's harmful performance-enhancing drugs with the same zeal as you would expect Batman would pursuing a psychotic wielding a doomsday device.
  • Sex Sells: The reason for creating the Chainmail Bikini Wonder Woman dolls. Her assistant even admits that the "less endowed models" don't sell as well. Diana is not pleased by them at all. (Ironically, several of the toys seen on screen are real-life pieces of merchandise.)
  • Shout-Out: When visiting Willis in the hospital, he reassures her to fight for "truth, and justice, and the American way, right?"
  • Smug Super: Our Heroine, ladies and gentlemen. Throughout the pilot she is all too happy to smugly assert both her invincibility and her legal untouchability to all who dare question her. She knows she will never face justice for her various assaults, tortures, murders, etc, and even rolls her eyes when the "villain" states she is about to face the American criminal justice system.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Wonder Woman tries to invoke this curse, claiming that she has to be perfect since she is beautiful.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Wonder Woman is perfectly willing to torture, kill, and generally disregard the law in her pursuit of justice.
  • Stepping Out for a Quick Cup of Coffee: Wonder Woman asks Ed to let her visit a crook's hospital room for ten minutes. He gives her five. As soon as he leaves, he hears the crook screaming...
  • Torture Always Works: How Wonder Woman learns the location of the Cale's lab.
  • Trial by Friendly Fire: Random security mook with a gun sees Wonder Woman barreling down the hall opens fire on her, while several of the roided guys are in melee with her. One actually ends up taking a bullet due to his stray shots. However, it's for naught, and he ends up being impaled in the throat.
  • Understatement: Wonder Woman's claim that patience is not one of her virtues.
  • Villainous Valour:
    • Despite being trapped, injured, alone, and surrounded by cops actively "looking the other way" while he is threatened by an invincible psychopathic womanchild with agonizing torture, the drug dealer refuses to tell her anything until after she tortures him.
    • Veronica Cale personally confronts Wonder Woman mid-murderous rampage to tell her how she has just irreversibly incriminated herself despite being unpowered and defenseless. Unfortunately, she did not count on the fact that the government, the media and the public were happy to ignore the whole "multiple murder" thing.
  • We Need to Get Proof: The police can't do anything to Veronica Cale without proof. Wonder Woman goes about this by stabbing a guy in the neck and hospitalizing him, getting negative results, torturing him in a bed, and then getting this confession thrown out because police can't use information gained from coerced testimony. Surely, the world's greatest detective.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?:
    • Wonder Woman is concerned that her boyfriend might get targeted by her enemies if she were to have him in her life. Ignoring her Secret Identity, she has a public identity as Diana Themyscira who is openly acknowledged as Wonder Woman, meaning that all her employees are public targets.
    • Then there is the security guard she blatantly murders with a pipe to the throat who most likely was the only honest worker at the lab while she non-lethally takes down most of the henchmen.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Wonder Woman gets called out for her brutal and excessive behavior... by slimy jerks so we know we should ignore them.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: Veronica openly admits she takes Performance Enhancers as to claim they are not bad. However, when she goes up against Wonder Woman in the end, she gets knocked out very quickly (suggesting she was lying about taking them).