FINALLY- Wonder Woman is Coming in 2017

3c5a15cOriginally posted on LinkedIn Influencers on October 16, 2014.

I love Wonder Woman. I’m not talking about a casual affection. I LOVE Wonder Woman. I’ve collected her memorabilia for years, and I have a room in my house where I display it all. I call it my Ode to Wonder Woman. I’ve often spoke about my love for this character and my frustration with Hollywood over its inability to get a Wonder Woman movie made. The top grossing film of the year so far is a superhero movie featuring a talking racoon and an anthropomorphic tree and we still don’t get a Wonder Woman movie?! It’s enough to make me crazy.

However, instead of going crazy, I decided to try and do something about it. Last year I released a report titled Why No Wonder Woman?, which was the culmination of two years worth of writing and research. The report chronicled the history of Wonder Woman in print and in other media, as well as the history of superhero films in general, and acted as a call to action to Hollywood to get their act together. And it wasn’t just me who had picked up on this glaring omission from Hollywood’s current love affair with movies based on comic book characters. Publications such as TIME, the Guardian, Forbes, and the New York Times have all wondered why it’s taken so long for Wonder Woman to make it to the big screen, and when Marvel recently announced that they had their films planned through 2028 with nary a female fronted film in sight, the backlash was swift and damning. I think Anthony Mackie, star of the recent blockbuster Captain America: The Winter Soldier best put the situation in context when he talked about his joy at being cast as the Falcon.

When I first got this role I just cried like a baby because I was like, “Wow, next Halloween, I’m gonna open the door and there’s gonna be a little kid dressed as the Falcon.” That’s the thing that always gets me. I feel like everybody deserves that. I feel like there should be a Latino superhero. Scarlett [Johansson] does great representation for all the other girls, but there should be a Wonder Woman movie. I don’t care if they make 20 bucks, if there’s a movie you’re gonna lose money on, make it Wonder Woman. You know what I mean, ’cause little girls deserve that.

I think he may just be my new favorite actor.

However, as much as we can gripe about it online, the people with the power to actually do something about it are the executives at Warner Brothers, the studio that owns the rights to the DC Comics Universe. When it was announced that actress Gal Gadot had been cast as Wonder Woman for the upcoming Superman vs. Batman extravaganza, reaction was mixed, because although Wonder Woman would finally be making her debut on the big screen, she was playing second fiddle to her male counterparts yet again. Wonder Woman, it seemed, could not catch a break. Until yesterday, that is.

Warner Brothers just announced a full slate of 10 films to be released between now and 2020, including two Justice League films, solo films for Aquaman, the Flash, and a rebooted Green Lantern, and WONDER WOMAN!! That’s right, Wonder Woman is finally getting a solo film to be released on June 23rd, 2017! Finally, I can stop worrying about when she’ll arrive on the big screen and start worrying about whether or not she’ll get the big screen treatment she deserves. Melissa Silverstein of Women & Hollywood is already suggesting writers and directors, females ones, so check out the list here. As for the narrative, what I would not give to weigh in, but I tried that once to no avail. Yes I have what I think is a brilliant plot but when I contacted executives at the studio to ask if I could get a meeting the response I got was nice, but no, for some sort of liability reason. I will be praying for a brilliant screenplay but regardless I will be there on opening night.

Last month, a study that was released by the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism and commissioned by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media demonstrated that across the 11 most profitable film industries in the world, women were underrepresented both on screen and behind the camera, and that the female characters on film often conformed to negative stereotypes and/or were overtly sexualized. Numerous studies over the years have come to similar findings, and while I’m not saying that the announcement of one Wonder Woman movie will fix everything, perhaps this is a sign that Hollywood executives are finally taking notice of what the research has been saying for years.

At the moment, female fronted films have never been more popular or profitable at the box office, and with Sony’s upcoming female superhero film also scheduled for release in 2017, it looks like that isn’t going to change anytime soon. I for one, couldn’t be happier, and I already know where I’ll be on June 23rd, 2017; first in line to see Wonder Woman’s big screen bow. I hope you will all join me and help make this film a hit. After all, it’s never too soon to start thinking about the sequel.

Jacki Zehner with Laura Moore

Photo:Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Malala – Why You Are Never Too Young To Take A Stand

Malala Yousafzai from Women Moving Millions on Vimeo.

Originally posted on LinkedIn Influencers on October 14, 2014.

Last month, Women Moving Millions (WMM) held our annual summit in New York City. It was two action packed days of speakers, panels, discussions, and debate, all revolving around The Story of Power, which was this year’s theme. We were fortunate to have so many incredible speakers and guests in attendance, such as Pat Mitchell, Gloria Feldt, Demi Moore, Her Royal Highness the Crown Princess of Norway Mette-Marit. Michel Kimmel, Barbara Annis and Abigail Disney, but in particular, we were honoured to have Malala Yousafzai be a part of our event. Malala, as many people know, is an extraordinary teenager from Pakistan. She first made headlines around the world in October of 2012 when Taliban gunmen boarded her school bus and shot her in the head at the age of 15. She was targeted because of her advocacy for the right of children, and in particular young girls, to go to school, and the world at large was appalled by the horrific attempt on her life. Miraculously, Malala survived the attack, and in the two years since, she has spoken out for the educational rights of children around the world, set up the Malala Fund to help spur education initiatives, inspired a petition calling for every child in the world to be in school by 2015, released a book titled I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, and in July of 2013, she addressed the United Nations on her 16th birthday and called for universal worldwide access to education. Like I said, she is extraordinary.

Last week, in recognition of her efforts to support the educational rights of children, despite the dangers this advocacy poses, the Nobel Committee awarded Malala the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi of India. At 17, she is the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient in history, and only the second recipient from Pakistan, after Abdus Salam won in 1979 for Physics, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award. While it took incredible courage and bravery to speak out for girls’ education prior to the attack on her life, it is what she has done in the aftermath that most amazes me. Malala has taken the spotlight that has been thrust upon her and used it to advocate for the right of children to go to school around the world. She was given a platform to speak from, and she has made sure that her voice is being heard, all while remaining incredibly poised, articulate, and self-assured, and when she speaks, she speaks with a wisdom that is way beyond her years.

When I think of Malala and all that she has accomplished, I can’t help but think of what an incredible role model she is for young people around the world. Her story is proof that no matter what your age, you are never too young to take a stand and speak out for what you believe in, and it is my hope that when children and teenagers read about Malala’s journey to where she is today, they will realize that it is never too early to make a difference in this world. It is this inspiration, along with her numerous other accomplishments, that will be Malala’s legacy for decades to come.

With all of the honors, awards, and accolades, not to mention the numerous speaking engagements, appearances, and speeches, it is worth noting that Malala has remained a remarkably grounded teenager through it all, and despite her fame, she is certainly not neglecting her studies. In fact, Malala was not with us in person for the summit last month because she was back at school in England. Instead, she addressed us through a pre-recorded message that can be seen here ( and above) and Shiza Shahid, Executive Director of The Malala Fund addressed the group in person (pictured above). Additionally, it was reported that when news broke last week that Malala had won the Nobel Peace Prize, she had to be pulled from a Chemistry class to be given the good news. Something tells me that after securing a place in history, Malala went right back to her class and to the education that every child in the world deserves. If Malala has anything to say about it, that day will arrive sooner rather than later.