How many actors will get to say they played an iconic superhero at some point in their career? And of those names, how many will get to say that they got to play the most iconic female superhero of all time on the big screen? Gal Gadot is our new Wonder Woman, and she, alongside director Patty Jenkins, has done a spectacular job at bringing the Princess of Themyscira to life on the big screen in epic fashion, supercharging the DC Cinematic Universe in the process. After the lukewarm performance of Man Of Streel and the critically-panned outings of both Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice and Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman is a breath of fresh air and a certified blockbuster that is finally steering this Justice League saga in the right direction.
But while we celebrate the success of the new Wonder Woman film, let us look back at some of the actors who were so close yet so far to becoming Wonder Woman themselves. From top names in Hollywood to well-known TV personalities, numerous actors were, at one time, attached to the role of the iconic warrior. A select few even got to briefly wear the famous outfit!
14 Christina Hendricks
Now that Wonder Woman is a massive blockbuster success, it’s strange to think about the type of crazy backlash Warner Bros and DC had to put up with when Gal Gadot was first announced as our new Diana Prince. Needless to say, she was the best part about the critically panned Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, and she’s also the one who’s steering the DC cinematic universe in the right direction. Back when people weren’t so sure about Gadot’s ability to embody the Amazon princess, Mad Men star Christina Hendricks was one of the fan favorites to play the new Wonder Woman. But it wasn’t just the fans who wanted her to be the new Diana Prince. During a press junket for Nicholas Wynding Refn’s Drive, Christina Hendricks herself expressed a genuine interest in taking on the mantle of the Wonder Woman in DC’s slate of films! News started to swirl online that she was being considered for the role, but then quickly dissipated into the rumor-mill from whence they came.
Christina Hendricks would have been a very unorthodox choice had DC gone that route. It would have been very interesting if we got to see the usually-calm and composed Hendricks display such rugged intensity the role.
13 Adrianne Palicki
Unlike most of the other actors on this list, Adrianne Palicki did actually, officially, play Wonder Woman… for a whole 40minutes. Back in 2011, Warner Bros and DC were planning to launch a new Wonder Woman TV series much like today’s The Flash, Arrow, and Supergirl. They hired Palicki, who was an excellent choice, to play Wonder Woman, and shot a full pilot episode. Unfortunately, the pilot turned out to be a disaster, and NBC decided not to buy the series. The pilot episode was never televised, and the Wonder Woman TV show was immediately scrapped, canned, and put away in a vault… or was it?
The failure of 2011’s Wonder Woman series is the stuff of geek legend that still gets talked about today as one of the biggest superhero flops of all time. And the unaired pilot can still be, um, procured if you know where to look. Sadly, Adrianne Palicki never got to wear the (badly designed) armor again… but on the bright side, she went on to become a fan-favorite character on Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D, and starred in big movies like John Wick and G.I Joe: Retaliation. Still, playing Wonder Woman for a day is better than never playing her at all, and Adrianne Palicki will always have those bragging rights to her name.
12 Eliza Dushku
Joss Whedon is known today as the genius behind Avengers and Avengers: Age Of Ultron, and he’s currently hard at work completing Zack Snyder's upcoming superhero epic, Justice League. But long before we had superhero cinematic universes, the mastermind behind shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer was hired to pen the script for a Wonder Woman movie that Warner Bros had been trying to get off the ground for a few years. Joss Whedon described the process as a nightmare, and his frustration showed in the script which can now be read online. At the time though, one of Whedon’s long-time friends and stars of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Eliza Dushku, was noted as a frontrunner for the role of Diana Prince. Dushku herself said she was very keen in embodying Whedon’s version of Wonder Woman, but for better or worse, the studios had little to no interest in the script and yet another Wonder Woman film was canned.
It’s safe to say that Joss Whedon recovered spectacularly from that little setback, while Dushku went on to headline Dollhouse for a couple of seasons. She also does a lot of voice acting, and even played another DC character, Selina Kyle aka Catwoman, in the animated movie Batman: Year One.
11 Sarah Michelle Gellar
Since Joss Whedon was penning the script for Wonder Woman at one time, who better to cast as the Princess of Themyscira than an asskicker the future Avengers director knew all too well – Buffy the Vampire Slayer herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar! Now I know what you’re thinking – Buffy doesn’t have the physique to embody a superhero like Wonder Woman, right? Well, that’s where I beg to differ because neither does Gal Gadot! In fact, Gal looks vastly different from the iterations we see of Wonder Woman in the comics, and the actress said so herself on Jimmy Kimmel Live that fans were concerned about some of her, um, assets not being as prominent as her comic counterpart! To which I say… give me a break! This is where I side with filmmakers taking some creative liberties with the source material.
Apparently Sarah Michelle Gellar was Joss Whedon’s top choice for Wonder Woman back when he was assigned to write the script back in 2005. Although the project never came to fruition and Sarah Michelle Gellar never played the role on the big screen, she did get to don Wonder Woman’s famous outfit at the 2002 MTV Movie Awards, so I guess that counts for something?
10 Charisma Carpenter
Joss Whedon may have wanted Sarah Michelle Gellar to play Wonder Woman in his movie, but another actor was vying for the role just as much. In fact, during the early stages of development on Whedon’s production, media outlets and film pundits reported that Charisma Carpenter was just as much a frontrunner to the role as Sarah Michelle Gellar was. The two ex-Buffy stars were apparently neck and neck in the race to take on the role that never was. And I can see why Charisma Carpenter was a fan favorite. She’s strong, powerful, and has a sort of physical intensity that a role like Wonder Woman demands from any actor. And for a very long time, Charisma Carpenter was every comic book and superhero fan’s top pick when it came to casting someone as Diana Prince.
Although she never got to wear the tiara, Charisma Carpenter went on to have roles in a bevy of top-notch TV shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Sons Of Anarchy, Supernatural, Scream Queens, recurring roles in The Lying Game and Greek, and she even starred in a couple of The Expendables movies as a character named Lacy.
9 Catherine Zeta-Jones
Can we all unanimously agree that Catherine Zeta-Jones is a total badass? She’s 47 years old but looks like she’s in her early-30s at most, she’s funny, she was awesome in movies like The Mask Of Zorro, and she would have made a kickass Wonder Woman if only Joel Silver was able to make his vision a reality! Back in the late 90s, super-producer Joel Silver was bent on bringing a Wonder Woman movie to the big screen. Known for producing some of the biggest action flicks of their respective times (The Matrix Trilogy, Romeo Must Die, Lethal Weapon, Die Hard) Joel Silver felt that a Wonder Woman movie would be fantastic for business and tried numerous script treatments and various pitches, but to no avail. One of the people he had in mind for the role of Diana Prince was none other than Catherine Zeta-Jones, who was also simmering hot at the time thanks to movies like The Mask Of Zorro.
Obviously the Zeta-Jones version of Wonder Woman never happened due to a bunch of reasons, and fans had to wait nearly two decades to finally see their icon on the big screen. But then again, it was totally worth the wait!
8 Angelina Jolie
Speaking of Joel Silver and his Wonder Woman aspirations, another name that was closely associated with the role at the time was none other than Hollywood megastar, Angelina Jolie! Hot off her role as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, Jolie’s name was attached to the Joel Silver project for a long time before it all finally fell apart and ideas of a new Wonder Woman were sent down a few ranks to the TV department. Obviously, Angelina Jolie received a lot of positivity from eager fans who couldn’t wait to see her don the iconic red and blue suit and armor as the brave Amazon warrior from Themyscira. Studios and other producers weren’t so keen on making a big budget Wonder Woman movie just yet though, and once again plans of a new Wonder Woman flick were sealed and locked away in a corner.
It’s hard to say if a Wonder Woman movie would have worked in the late 90s given the state of superhero films at the time (Batman & Robin, anyone?), but you can bet that Angelina Jolie would have put her heart and soul into making it work. Heck, she made Maleficent work, and that movie was horrible from the get-go!
7 Lucy Lawless
Aah, the ultimate fan favorite! And guess what, she actually did play Wonder Woman! Well, kinda. Lucy Lawless was yet another frontrunner for Joel Silver’s failed Wonder Woman movie which was supposed to hit cinemas in 1999. However, as I mentioned, Lawless did indeed fulfill her dreams as well as the dreams of fans everywhere when she voiced Wonder Woman in the DC animated movie, Justice League: The New Frontier, back in 2008!
For a very, very long time (six seasons to be exact), Lucy Lawless was everyone’s perfect alternative to Wonder Woman on TV. Lawless played the titular Xena in Sam Raimi's Xena: Warrior Princess, a show that became a staple of 90s television and spun off into a number of other shows including an animated movie called Hercules & Xena: Battle For Mount Olympus. For many fans of the sci-fi/fantasy genre, Xena was a grungier, slightly darker version of Wonder Woman herself. She was a strong and powerful female protagonist who fought all manner of creature and every once in a while, brought down a bunch of demigods just for good measure. Although playing Wonder Woman would have been way too similar to embodying Xena, fans were still keen on seeing Lawless suit-up as Diana Prince and wouldn’t have had it any other way!
6 Sandra Bullock
Rounding up this series of Joel Silver era hopefuls is none other than Oscar winner Sandra Bullock, who was in talks with Warner Bros and DC circa 1998 – 1999 to don the iconic Themysciran tiara and bring Wonder Woman to glorious life on the big screen. But as I’ve mentioned a bunch of times already, that movie never happened and all these hopefuls never got to kick ass as one of the most iconic superheroes of all time.
In all honesty, Sandra Bullock would have been a really good fit for Wonder Woman. She has the height and the build to personify Diana Prince, she’s a damn good actor, and her status as one of Hollywood’s elite would have garnered the attention of mainstream moviegoers to cinemas everywhere; raking in millions of dollars for the movie in the process. But I guess at the end of the day, it’s a good thing that Silver’s project never got off the ground, because if it had, who knows if we would have got the iteration of Wonder Woman that we have now, courtesy of director Patty Jenkins and the Princess of Themyscira herself, Gal Gadot! Sometimes a little patience is all it takes.
5 Olga Kurylenko
Long before Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice began production, director Zack Snyder and the team at Warner Bros and DC were hard at work sifting through audition tapes and holding screen-test sessions, eagerly searching for the perfect actor to finally bring the iconic Wonder Woman to the big screen after all these years.
Obviously, Gal Gadot was one of the actors who auditioned for the role. But there were other prominent names who vied for the coveted title alongside Gadot. One of those names is Olga Kurylenko. The one-time Bond girl (Quantum Of Solace) was one of the many actresses who reportedly screen-tested for the role of Diana Prince in DC’s mega movie event, and to be completely honest, she did fit the bill as far was Warner Bros’ casting sheet was concerned. The role called for a “tall, brunette, athletic and exotic” personality, and Olga Kurylenko checked those boxes off with ease. Of course, Gal Gadot met the studio’s criteria as well, and I guess Warner Bros and DC loved what Gal Gadot brought to the table so much that they decided the role should be awarded to Gadot in the end. Needless to say, their choice paid off spectacularly!
4 Elodie Yung
As I mentioned above, Warner Bros and DC put out a casting call for someone who is “tall, brunette, athletic and exotic” to finally embody their much-anticipated live-action version of Wonder Woman for the DC Cinematic Universe. They needed someone strong and powerful, but also feminine and confident to do the iconic superhero justice, and Gal Gadot managed to do all that and a whole lot more!
Another actor who auditioned for the role is Elodie Yung. She clearly fits the bill as far as the casting call was concerned, but for better or worse, didn’t manage to nab the role. As Hollywood twists and turns would have it, Elodie Yung soon found herself in a different universe… which was also very similar in more ways than one. She may not have nabbed the role of Wonder Woman, but Elodie was soon wielding the Okinawan sai as Elektra on Marvel’s Daredevil series on Netflix! It looks like Elodie Yung was always destined to play an asskicker one way or another, and the best part is she’s set to reprise her role in the upcoming season of Daredevil, as well as the Netflix mega event, The Defenders!
3 Jessica Biel
We’ve covered actors who were almost Diana Prince from the failed Joel Silver Wonder Woman production, we touched on Joss Whedon’s treatment of the character and how he wanted a few big names to embody the iconic superhero, and we also moved past the talented names who auditioned alongside Gal Gadot before Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice went into production. But there was yet another major Warner Bros project that was destined to have Wonder Woman in its ranks, that unfortunately never made it past the pre-production stage.
George Miller, the director famous for the high-octane Mad Max films, was hired to direct and release a brand new Justice League movie titled Justice League: Mortal back in 2009. He cast Armie Hammer as Batman, D.J. Cotrona as Superman, and Adam Brody as The Flash. Teaser posters were released and production was about to begin, when Warner Bros decided to pull the plug on the project all of a sudden! As for Wonder Woman, Jessica Biel was one of the frontrunners for the role, but George Miller eventually decided on another actor that I’ll get to below. Warner Bros scrapped Miller’s Justice League epic altogether and moved into high gear with a new Superman movie which would eventually turn out to be Man Of Steel. Miller, on the other hand, went on to direct Mad Mad: Fury Road, and it’s safe to say that moviegoers wouldn’t have it any other way.
2 Megan Gale
For the longest time, Jessica Biel was said to be a shoo-in for the role of Wonder Woman in George Miller’s Justice League: Mortal movie. For better or worse, the coveted title finally landed in the arms of Megan Gale – a lesser-known Australian actress who stunned the studios and Miller alike during her screen test. If official test photos (seen above) are any indication and if Justice League: Mortal was never yanked from production, Megan Gale would have made a fantastic Wonder Woman, no doubt about it. Whether the movie would have been any good is a whole other story though. The film centered around Batman creating an army of robots as a contingency plan against his fellow Justice League members, only to lose control of the robots thanks to a rogue AI virus… or something.
Sounds kinda lame, and I’m glad the DC Cinematic Universe is finally headed in the right direction. It’s a shame that Megan Gale will probably never fully play Wonder Woman though. She was officially the Diana Prince that never was. But don’t feel too bad for Gale, because George Miller invited her into his familiar wasteland, where she was cast as The Valkyrie in Mad Mad: Fury Road!
For many fans, Olivia Munn is the perfect combination of sheer hotness mixed with an unprecedented amount of geekery. She has been a fan favorite choice for not only Wonder Woman, but a slew of other strong female characters in both the Marvel and DC cinematic universes. Olivia Munn finally nabbed the role of Psylocke in X-Men: Apocalypse – which turned out to be a case of perfect casting for a criminally underused character – but before she was rocking the indigo spandex, Munn was rumored to be circling an unnamed Wonder Woman project.
As you know by now, Warner Bros and DC have been trying to get a Wonder Woman movie off the ground long before they finally made it happen with Gal Gadot... and apparently one of these projects involved Olivia Munn as one of the choices for the epic role of Diana Prince. And why wouldn’t she be? She's beautiful, she's strong, she has the acting chops (if you haven’t seen her in Newsroom, check it out to see what I mean), and also she said this: “I love Wonder Woman as much as I love Batman. But obviously a little bit more because she's such a strong female figure, and there aren't that many strong female superheroes out there.”
1 Alexandra Daddario
Much like Olivia Munn, Alexandra Daddario was at one time rumored to be one of the top picks to play Wonder Woman in one of DC’s dozen unnamed projects that never happened. Not only is Daddario still a fan favorite for the role, but she’s admittedly a big fan of the superhero herself. Back in 2013, Alexandra Daddario stated her interest in the role by saying she “would love to play the Amazonian warrior.” And fans went nuts!
Like so many other names on this list, Alexandra Daddario has the look, the physique, and the talent to embody Diana, Princess of Themyscira. If you’ve only seen her play surface level roles, go check out the first season of True Detective to watch Daddario whip out the dramatic acting chops. But be warned, you’ll never see her the same way again after you’ve seen that show. Let’s just say it’s not exactly wholesome family entertainment, and Woody Harrelson does a thing or two that’ll stick in your mind for months – maybe even years – after you’ve seen that critically-acclaimed series. Needless to say, Alexandra Daddario is doing pretty well for herself by starring in some major movies alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and as for the rest of us, we couldn’t be happier with our current incarnation of Wonder Woman in the DC Cinematic Universe, the one and only Gal Gadot!