If the reaction to Ben Affleck donning the Bat-suit in Batman vs. Superman made large segments of fandom apoplectic with rage, Warner Bros.’ announcement Tuesday that Fast & the Furious 6 actress and former model Gal Gadot would be cast as Wonder Woman was met with the kind of charmingly dismissive and patronizing reactions actresses tend to be subjected to when Internet commentary and big-budget comic book properties collide.
We’ve collected some of the more… contentious assessments of Ms. Gadot’s casting from around the web. What say you: do the teeming online masses have a point, or should they keep quiet until the first footage of Gadot gets some play?
Well, now that we have that well-reasoned argument out of the way…
We saw this kind of dismissive shorthand with Affleck, but “No” seems to be the easiest way for a fan to say that not only are they unhappy with the choice, but they’re unwilling to consider any possibility that said choice might somehow, some way work out.
This kind of certainty in one’s intractability – “My way or the highway” – must serve as some kind of comfort, because it sure doesn’t do anything to offer any kind of opinion or commentary.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to “like” a bunch of my friends and family’s pet photos on Facebook.
9. She’s Just a Model, Right?
This winner described the 5’9″ Gadot as a “runty, brown-eyed model,” as though those last two points are somehow pejorative. And Burt Reynolds once showed his stuff in the pages of Cosmo. What’s your point?
She’s a relative newcomer to Hollywood in the same way that Brandon Routh was a sometime TV actor before he got the Superman Returns gig or better still, the way no less than Sean Connery was a bodybuilder before Cubby Brocoli had the bright idea to put him in a tuxedo and give him a gun.
Besides, given her one-time beauty pageant ambitions, we know she’ll probably look great in a tiara.
8. She Wasn’t Very Good in the Fast & the Furious Movies
Over at The Escapist, commenter Voren had some strong opinions about the acting abilities of not just Gadot, but the entire Fast franchise, asking (pleading, really) “WHY in god’s name would you cast someone who’s acting handicapped when Jaime Alexander from Thor was already in the talks?”
An absolutely fair point, and really the only way we can consider Gadot as a performer. When Warner Bros. made the announcement, the majority of us had to rush to the IMDB to see what Gadot had done in the past, and even knowing that she was rolling with Vin and the crew in the car-racing saga, there were probably an extra couple of minutes spent trying to remember which of the very attractive criminals she played.
(She was the sexy Mossad agent who could drive very, very fast.)
Of all the Internet reactions, “Gadot wasn’t very good in the Fast” movies holds the most weight, even if that franchise was largely built on sexy lumps of charisma being hired to drive very, very fast.
Besides, if we held wooden performances against action stars, the ’80s literally would not have existed. And is that what you want, eh, Commie?
7. She Doesn’t Look Like Wonder Woman
Did Gene Hackman look like any conceivable version of Lex Luthor before he was cast by Richard Donner? What kind of nut would think the kid from Empire of the Sun would make a convincing Batman? And really? The Human Torch playing Captain America? C’mon!
As fans, we have these pictures of what our superheroes are supposed to look like, typically based on how our favorite artist(s) drew them over the years. If you’d asked me in the late ’80s/early ’90s, I would have suggested Fright Night star William Ragsdale as the perfect Pete Parker for the hypothetical Spider-Man movie in my head, based on Todd McFarlane and Erik Larsen’s takes on the character.
Now look at Gadot: she doesn’t look like the versions of Wonder Woman we’ve seen from artists like Adam Hughes, Darywn Cooke, Cliff Chiang or the Dodsons. But – and I hate that I have to type these words – that’s because Gadot is a flesh-and-blood human being who might possibly be very convincing when we see her on screen.
I’m more concerned with which actor will have the appropriately flat enough head to fit Black Manta’s helmet in the inevitable Aquaman movie.
6. Why Isn’t She Being Played by Jaimie Alexander (or “Insert Fan-Favorite Actress Here”)?!
I touched on this in the last entry, but as comic book fans, we have to deal with some actor – usually a relative unknown – getting the big role as one of our favorite characters, and it’s often frustrating. I know Gina Torres and Beyonce were a couple of names floated by fans (both no-way-in-hell choices, but Torres would have killed it).
If fan casting was a thing filmmakers actually did, Bryan Singer would have rushed out and put Misfits frontman Glenn Danzig in the role of Wolverine back in 2000. I mean, yes, that would have been awesome in its own right, and the tie-in concept album would have rocked our faces off, but in casting stage performer and the world’s most rugged singer Hugh Jackman, Singer found someone who could communicate the toughness, pathos, and humor of the Canadian berserker (after Dougray Scott dropped out, of course).
“Why didn’t you cast my favorite actor/actress” is simply another way of asking why the studios didn’t have the same vision of the character that the fans have in their minds. Unfortunately, fandom can be disparate, prickly, and sometimes unsure what vision of something is “right” (hey, there are still plenty of people out there who loved the choices Snyder and company made with Man of Steel).
Now are we going to get Danzig on the phone about my Old Man Logan pitch, or what?
5. Why Does Wonder Woman Have to Make Her Debut in Superman and Batman’s Movie?
After years of clamoring for Wonder Woman on the big screen we finally get one – possibly in an extended cameo in two other heroes’ movie?
This point of frustration is a whole lot harder to argue with than many others in this list given DC/WB’s seeming squeamishness about the character over the years (don’t forget, this is the studio whose boss once said that audiences weren’t interested in female action heroes). Seriously, how can one member of DC’s holy trinity be getting shuffled to the side like this?
In a piece for The Atlantic, comics critic and journalist Noah Berlatsky hits on why her inclusion in this roundabout way has some fans up in arms:
Originally, the fact that Wonder Woman was a woman was the reason she was the hero. Now, on the other hand, the woman in Wonder Woman tends to relegate her to being a bit player in some guy’s superstory.
My counter-argument, as lame as it sounds, is that we should give the studio and the filmmakers a good faith chance on this one. In their way, it’s clear WB is trying to build a cinematic universe piecemeal, introducing characters to jumpstart future franchises.
Besides, it could be worse: she could have made her debut in The Dark Knight Rises thus rendering her non-existent by a now-closed cinematic universe.
4. This Choice Is Bad for Feminism
Film critic and all-around smart guy Devin Faraci tweeted the quote above yesterday, and we got into a polite back and forth about what Gadot “represents” when it comes to Wonder Woman as a character. Devin’s point, I think, is that Gadot is “just” a model and therefore her casting is another case of Hollywood types being tone deaf when it comes to our pop culture.
That presents an incomplete picture of Gadot and, I feel, of feminism, which isn’t simply brassy ladies calling the patriarchy out on the mat every chance they get. Sometimes, feminism is a woman who served her country’s military and would later join one of the biggest action franchises on Earth (while still being mother to a small child). This view that somehow one aspect of her career somehow disqualifies her from the role is limiting, and kind of a patronizing ideal about who can and can not represent feminism.
Besides, we all know what the feminist/not feminist argument should be here: will The Man keep Wonder Woman from wearing pants?
3. Seriously, Did You See Sucker Punch?
Under the guise of making a movie about empowered woman taking control away from the patriarchy, Zack Snyder made Sucker Punch, one of the truly, perfectly awful movies of the last decade. With the alleged attempt at subverting the male gaze but, um, putting it on beautiful actresses in skimpy clothes acting out video game cutscenes, Snyder didn’t do a whole lot to elevate women in action cinema. The Mary Sue, while largely positive about the announcement of the first big-screen Wonder Woman, thinks Snyder’s rep with women in film might supersede the good news calling the director’s work with female characters charitably “hit or miss” (Sarah Kuhn was somewhat less kind).
So the thinking goes that his Wonder Woman will likely be somehow problematic in Batman vs. Superman, as that kind of piggybacks onto her third banana status in what’s ostensibly Superman and Batman’s film.
Snyder has a complicated relationship with women in his films (although I still love Sarah Polley’s character in his Dawn of the Dead remake), but this obviously has less to do with Gadot and more to do with the filmmaker directing her. Between her appearance and her beauty pageant career, you would be excused for thinking that Snyder and WB were simply pulling a Michael Bay: casting a hot model to stand next to – and run away from – the action.
Again, keep in mind they’ve brought in an actress who’s stood shoulder-to-shoulder with actors in one of the world’s biggest action franchises/perpetual nitrous emissions system.
2. Ugh, That Accent!
Star-spangled bathing suit aside, Wonder Woman’s not, you know, American.
In a comment written with a decidedly idiosyncratic command of capitalization, a poster at The Hollywood Gossip complained thusly: “Not only that, but Wonder Woman never had an accent either…” I’m assuming 2wild42long is referring to all of the previous televised appearances of the Greek magic lady invented in comics nearly a century ago to tie up Nazis and teach the world about love.
There have to be some fans out there at least a little excited about the possibility of getting a superhero(ine) who doesn’t sound like s/he just hopped off a bus from Duluth (or worse, has to struggle through the faux British thing that all tough, noble ladies have to get on the big screen).
It’s actually quite cool that should the character take off, Warner Bros. might be interested in anchoring a big budget feature film around an Israeli actress, complicating the long-running Hollywood narrative of foreign-born performers being pigeonholed in the exotic or villainous roles in mainstream features.
(Note: I may also be seeking to hear an Israeli-accented variation of David Goyer’s notoriously bad scripted insults.)
1. Some Variation of “Get This Girl a Sandwich”
This was perhaps the most prevalent criticism from fans and commentators after WB made their announcement: that Gadot is much too skinny for the part, ergo the studio needs to find someone else.
Now, ignoring that WB is likely to put Gadot on the same kind of regimen that’s already got Ben Affleck so swollen that the costume designers are telling him to cut it out, the core of most of the arguments seems to be that Gadot, because she’s thin, isn’t woman enough to play Wonder Woman.
It’s a variation of the empowering and also kind of dumb “real women have curves” meme, which is just another industry-driven way of saying that one type of woman’s body is better than another. I’m not saying thin women are some kind of oppressed minority, but Gadot isn’t some starving waif to be pitied or rejected for a big budget action role.
In the same way that Sony turned 90-lb weakling Tobey Maguire into a buff Peter Parker, expect trainers at Warner Bros. to also spend a lot of time working with Gadot so that she looks appropriately Amazon Princess-y.
Anyway, I should go – I’ve got a bunch of black kids to shame on social networks for not being blonde/tall/skinny enough to cosplay as their favorite comic book characters. What? Someone’s already on that? Oh. That’s it. I’m done with the Internet for the day.
Previously by Charles Webb
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