Wonder Woman ’77: From Screen to Page by Jerry Whitworth
At the New York Comic Con, it was revealed a series was being developed by DC Comics based on the Wonder Woman television series that aired from 1975 to 1979 called Wonder Woman ’77. Undoubtedly in the same vein as Batman ’66 (based on the Batman television series that aired from 1966 to 1968), the series will be written by Marc Andreyko (Manhunter, Batwoman) with covers by Nicola Scott (Birds of Prey, Secret Six) and rotating interior artists that is set to premier digitally first in December before coming to print in early 2015. All that is known at present about the series (beyond it will be set in the same world as the TV series using the likeness of Lynda Carter) is that villains from the comics will emerge and down the line there maybe a crossover with Batman ’66 (which itself is coming off the heels of a crossover with Dynamite’s Green Hornet that ends in November). As yet, it’s unknown if the title of Wonder Woman ’77 is purely a play on the Batman ’66 title or if it will largely be based on the CBS years of the show which moved the story’s timeline from World War II to the then present day. Lets see what we may have to expect in the coming series.
Already confirmed, in addition to the likeness of Lynda Carter having been obtained, permission for the likeness of Lyle Waggoner was also announced. Waggoner portrayed both Steve Trevor and Steve Trevor, Jr. (when the story jumped ahead into the 1970s, the actor remained on to portray his own son). In an interesting bit of trivia, Waggoner was the second choice of producers on the Batman TV series to play the titular character. Another likely character to appear would be Wonder Woman’s mother Hippolyta who in three seasons of the series was played by three actresses. In another odd connection to Batman, the second actress to play the Amazonian Queen was Carolyn Jones who was also the Batman villainess Marsha, Queen of Diamonds (though, undoubtedly she’s best remembered for her part as Morticia Addams in The Addams Family). Should the series focus on the CBS years of Wonder Woman, it’s likely Ira the IRAC computer, Rover, and Eve will also appear. Further, it could provide an opportunity to address unanswered questions that arose from the time jump, namely the fate of characters like Etta Candy, Diana’s sister Drusilla (who became Wonder Girl), and German Underground agent Fausta Grables. Again, if set in the ’70s, notable characters like IADC big wig Joe Atkinson, Hamlin Rule the Pied Piper, master thief Evan Robley, alien visitor Andros, bumbling admirer Harold Farnum, stranded alien Tina/Amadona, time traveler Adam, Pat the Leprechaun, and Bryce Candall the Man of Steel could emerge that would lend themselves well to the comic book format.
Noted at the time of the announcement, the Wonder Woman TV series tended to focus on Nazis, gangsters, and scientists during its run, very rarely using any villains from the comics (Baroness Paula von Gunther and Fausta Grables being the only two). So, audiences were never treated to the likes of the Cheetah, Circe, Giganta, Mars and his agents (Duke of Deception, Earl of Greed, Count of Conquest, and Nubia), Doctor Psycho, Doctor Cyber, Angle Man, Minister Blizzard, or Villainy Inc. However, this isn’t to say that some foes she faced couldn’t be considered super-villains. In fact, the likes of super-gorilla Gargantua, ruler of Mariposalia Marion Mariposa, Cagliostro the Magician/Alchemist, memory thief Nick Moreno, ant-empowered Formicida, living brain Harlow Gault, and the unidentified alien impostor of Cameron Michaels could easily qualify and be adapted nicely to the printed page. There is also of course the Skrill, an alien race that rob the minds of intelligent beings across the universe, and their monstrous Zardor.
Again, as noted, there’s a chance down the line that Wonder Woman ’77 could crossover with Batman ’66. An interesting bit of trivia in this is that the mind behind the 1966 Batman series wanted to strike while the iron was hot and similarly produce a Wonder Woman series. In test footage labeled “Who’s Afraid of Diana Prince?”, the series would’ve featured Diana Prince who was seemingly blessed with super powers and believed herself gorgeous when wearing her Wonder Woman costume (so far as seeing someone else in her mirror) despite her plain appearance. When Wonder Woman was eventually adapted for television, Batman writer Stanley Ralph Ross (who wrote a third of that show’s scripts and had a cameo as expert forger “Ballpoint” Baxter) was the man who produced the treatment for the series. Another interesting tidbit is that a live action Super Friends pair of specials called Legends of the Superheroes was produced (featuring Adam West, Burt Ward, and Frank Gorshin reprising their Batman characters) but Wonder Woman was unavailable due to the Lynda Carter series (Gorshin would appear on Wonder Woman as the villainous Hoffman, a toymaker who made robot duplicates of others including the titular heroine). Despite this, Giganta (played by A’leshia Brevard) was included among the Legion of Doom faced by the Justice League. As an aside, Superman was also off the table due to the film series that began in 1978.
Of course, just as Wonder Woman ’77 was announced, fans speculated what would come next. With Batman and Wonder Woman represented, the next logical choice would be Superman which could mean a Superman ’55 or Superman ’88 to follow the theme. If the former, that would mean the George Reeves Superman which began with 1951’s film Superman and the Mole Men leading into the television series Adventures of Superman which ran from 1952 to 1958, ending with Reeves’ apparent suicide. During this run, only Lex Luthor made the jump to live action in the 1950 film serial Atom Man vs. Superman. However, the more likely alternative would be Superman ’88 in terms of chronological progression (namely, ’66, ’77, ’88) as well as an aligning timeline: the Adam West Batman may have begun in 1966, but as noted he reemerged in 1979 with Legends of the Superheroes; Wonder Woman ran from 1975 to 1979; Christopher Reeve first appeared as Superman in 1978 and portrayed the character until 1987. In this vein, a Superman ’88 series could follow the events of Superman IV: The Quest for Peace where Superman destroyed Earth’s nuclear stockpile and defeated his greatest threat in the Nuclear Man. The 1980s Superman series provided Lex Luthor and the Phantom Zone prisoners General Zod, Ursa, and Non and would have lead to Brainiac had Richard Donner remained on for the third film. A version of Bizarro was intended as a failed Nuclear Man in the final film of the series but tested horribly with advanced screenings (leading to those scenes to be cut). Another possible series could be Superboy ’88, adapting the Superboy television series that ran from 1988 to 1992 and included the likes of Luthor, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Metallo, Bizarro, Yellow Peri, Nick Nack (essentially Toyman), and the Kryptonite Kid. Also, Shazam! ’77 based on the Shazam! TV series from 1974 to 1977, though this is an admitted stretch (a Flash ’99 would be only a slightly better bet, but not by much).