Super spies, am I right?
Tuesday’s episode of ABC’s Agents of SHIELD titled “A Hen In The Wolfhouse” introduced fans to a classic Marvel character Bobbi Morse, codename Mockingbird, as a double agent working for Hydra. Clad in what can best be described as the most stylish long coat with way too many buttons, perfect hair and permanent death glare, Bobbi is brought in to suss out the mole in Hydra’s office cubicles.
Not to point out anything the teaser hasn’t shown, everyone know’s it’s Agent Simmons.
In the last act, Bobbi stages a daring Black Widow in IronMan 2 hallway beatdown before…well, I’m not giving everything away.
Actress Adrianne Palicki is Bobbi (just Bobbi because we’re friends now) seems to have been building herself up for this part and for good reason; back in 2011 she had been cast as Diana Prince in the cringeworthy David E. Kelley produced Wonder Woman pilot. At that point, she seemed wrong for the part, awkward even, lacking the poise and potential to be the iconic Amazon despite serious training, working the hell out of whatever that outfit was and being all around dorktacular. After scathing reviews the pilot was passed on by NBC. The pilot has since surfaced online and if you can endure the commentary, is up for your viewing curiosity.
After the dust settled, it turned out that everything you could do wrong for a character was done to TV Diana.
Following the pilot, Palicki was appeared in the Red Dawn (featuring Thor himself Chris Helmsworth) reboot and cast as Lady Jayne in G.I Joe: Retaliation holding her own alongside The Rock, Bruce Willis and other dudes who were dudes in the movie. She’s also in the upcoming Keanu Reeves movie John Wick as attractive leather jacket wearing woman with a sneer and a gun (I have a type).
In the time it took for Palicki to recover from the Wonder Woman misstep, DC has since rolled out a new Wonder Woman in Gal Gadot as well as announced a hold date for her stand alone movie in 2017, effectively pretending that none of that ever happened. Watching her tonight as Bobbi made me think about how big a missed opportunity is was with the Wonder Woman TV series, especially considering her overall look now versus a few years ago. Perhaps it was the roles that followed that really groomed Adrianne and that’s why she looks and feels so right as Mockingbird; much like her character she had to get her ass kicked around a bit to really become the superhero she was meant to be. While this is the first in a few episodes for Bobbi, she already feels right with the team and that’s a miss for the DC camp because it means that Adrianne could very well appear in any one of the Marvel film franchises from Avengers 3, Captain America 3 or give Scarlett Johannson a playmate in a Black Widow film estimated for 2016. Essentially, DC bungled their chance to beat Marvel with their TV format with Wonder Woman by treating it as a novelty rather than a launching point for an iconic character.
Rather than making Diana the CEO of some cosmetics company, the series would’ve worked as a spy thriller in the same vein as Agents of Shield. Wonder Woman as a series should’ve been approached the way I always imagined the Black Widow movie; have something that needs to be taken care of quietly and efficiently? Send in the demigod Diana. Cloak and dagger, paranormal and up to the hilt with Greek mythology Diana is the only now who can handle all of that and still somehow maintain her luxurious hair. Think The X-Files meets Buffy with a little bit of Lost Girl thrown in for flavoring. Everyone she works with knows she’s lethal, they just don’t talk about it. She’s got a messy, will take seasons to figure out it’s so messy backstory (mother Hippolyta, father Zeus, Christmas is a nightmare) and a loyal bestie in Wonder Girl. See!? IT WORKS. You’d watch it.
The mistake was in NBC’s approach and with DC’s ambivalence. Seeing Adrianne as Bobbi in AoS, confident with the how and why she’s important to the storytelling, made all the difference in the world when it comes to her casting. She comes off likable, snarky, charming and believable as any one of the other characters on the show (I like her more than Skye but that’s because I see too much of myself in Skye) You can’t really judge a show by it’s pilot but it’s usually the measuring stick by which you decide how you’re going to spend your energy watching a show. Wonder Woman’s pilot was designed to fail from the get go and many of the write ups (which are googleable) pointed the finger of blame on Adrianne not looking the part; I contend she just felt wrong because the character, the plot, the pacing, the everything felt wrong. She wasn’t comfortable with what was eventually going to go down. Watching her now, she’s come into her own and seeing that made me ache for what could’ve been had she been given the right tools to be the Wonder Woman we wanted her to be, hell, for all we know, that show would’ve probably crushed AoS in ratings.
I wanted the Wonder Woman show to fly (invisible jet optional) the way that AoS does but at the same time, I can see how she wasn’t ready, the time wasn’t right and the idea wasn’t fully realized. It also has to do with the respect level given to the character. There was no respect for Wonder Woman in a serial format and even less interest in making her someone with a dynamic background. As we get to know AoS Bobbi, I promise there will be nuanced layers and character building that makes you wonder if someone like her can be trusted, after all, she spent WAY too much time comfortably prowling the halls of Hydra HQ.
Marvel, as long as DC continues to drop the ball, will rectify their mistakes and see how they’ve got to stop alienating female fans and will continue to introduce characters into their standing media properties with rabid fangirl fan bases (I’m looking at you Kate Bishop and Carol Danvers….)
While DC struggles to separate their much better handled TV properties (The Flash is that same knee slapping fun that Smallville started with) from their shitshow film properties (Batman vs Superman vs Wallet), Marvel is quietly gobbling up all the potential actors and locking them into projects. Losing The Rock and Jason Mamoa to DC sucks but I am interested to see what they do with Black Adam and Aquaman but like anything, only time will tell how smart a move that was.
At 5’11, she would’ve made a fantastic Batwoman (yes because I want to see her with a cape, no because she could be kissing Renee Montoya) and now that she’s permanently out of DC’s wheelhouse (appeared in Smallville and the aborted Aquaman pilot) that’s not going to happen. Now that I’ve seen her as Bobbi, I don’t want her for anything else. I want her and Clint Barton to go and do cool spy shit together making Natasha snark all the way in the Heliojet about how they’re both punkasses even though everyone knows Nat isn’t a fan of heights. I want her to be just as tough as Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) because I need more women who smirk while hitting someone on my television. I need her to get her respect because the kid really did get knocked around after Wonder Woman failed and she’s in turn gotten stronger from it. Isn’t that how we want all our heroes to be?