5:41 pm - 12/12/2013

Dear Zack Snyder, Regarding Wonder Woman

Dear Zack Snyder:

I see you've cast The Fast and the Furious' Gal Gadot as Diana of the Amazons, aka Wonder Woman.

I see, also, that the Internet has reacted as it can be counted upon to do, when such casting announcements occur. Namely, with fulsome, fulminating nerd rage.

I am here to tell you, Zack Snyder: Keep your head down. Ignore it. Make your movie.

And not because it's all just more of the tiresome, predictable, reflexive carping that has come to serve as the static hiss, the universal background radiation, of comics culture, though it is that. And I know whereof I speak, here, as the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman in the very same movie led me to tiresomely, predictably and reflexively carp about it in this space.

(Point of order: My hand-wringing in the Batfleck case was and is born of my conviction that the past is prologue — that we've already seen the guy play a grim vigilante who haunts the shadows of the urban night — albeit one more given to red pleather than black Kevlar — and be hilariously, jaw-droppingly, savagely lousy at it.)

Gadot is different. We haven't seen her in a role similar to Wonder Woman, because the role of Wonder Woman is so singular. More on that in a second.

Much of the criticism directed at this casting choice — too much — has revolved around Gadot's physicality. She's too thin, too wispy, too short, goes the argument, when Wonder Woman is a badass. She's a kicker of butts, so you need someone with some meat on her bones and a proven track record of butt-kicking, like fellow Fast & Furious alumnae Michelle Rodriguez and ex-MMA fighter Gina Carano.

(Full disclosure: Ever since Joss Whedon's Firefly first aired back in 2002, I've been boring friends with my abiding conviction that Gina Torres was born for the role. And those who reacted to this casting announcement by noting that the mythical nature of Wonder Woman's ethnicity — Amazonian — means you ignored a perfect opportunity to put a woman of color in a landmark role? ... OK, yeah, they've got a point.)

But this focus on the musculature of the actor in question is a dead end, where Wonder Woman is concerned. Christian Bale bulked up for the role in Nolan's Batman, true, but Bruce Wayne's a mere mortal. We need to see that he's trained his body for his mission.

Diana, on the other hand, is creature of myth and fantasy. Her physical strength is an important aspect of her character, but it is not a function of her lean body mass. Whether or not Gadot will make an interesting, let alone convincing, Wonder Woman has nothing to do with the size of her biceps.

No, Wonder Woman is a presence, a figure of mingled strength and compassion. There's one and only one thing that Gadot needs to project, the moment she comes on-screen:

"I got this."

Call it gravitas, or regality, or plain old ordinary conviction. Wonder Woman may or not be large, but she's always, always, always in charge.

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Diana?

As you know, several factors have kept Wonder Woman off the big screen thus far, and one of them — the most-cited, in industry circles — is completely bogus: the notion that a female character can't open a blockbuster.

The era of studios being able to point to the failures of Catwoman and Elektra as proof that female superhero properties are nonstarters — as opposed to proof that Hollywood can make terrible movies — is over. It was always false, but now, in a post-Hunger Games reality, it's demonstrably so.

But there's another, deeper reason, and it has to do with who Wonder Woman is, at her core.

Her most essential self is an abiding contradiction, an oxymoronic riddle:

She is a Warrior ... for Peace.

She fights ... to stop us from fighting.

At first, it made sense. Because unlike Superman and Batman, who appeared before America entered World War II and who kept themselves stateside throughout the conflict, Wonder Woman was created expressly to go toe-toe with the Axis threat. She served as America's star-spangled ally in the war against a great and unambiguous evil — an evil that, she avowed, must be defeated utterly, if there was ever to be peace.

Historically, her greatest foe has been the God of War (referred to variously as Mars or Ares) — a powerfully evil figure who glories in the violence and chaos of armed conflict, and who was depicted pulling the Nazis' strings.

Wonder Woman's patrons, on the other hand, have included the Goddess of Love (Aprhrodite/Venus) and, more recently, the Goddess Minerva/Athena, a deity of battlefield strategy and honor.

When the war ended, her driving principle — "Stop fighting or I'll beat you up!" — grew harder to sell. She's been many things, over the years — a depowered globe-trotting kung-fu adventuress/fashion boutique owner, a Goddess of Truth, an Amazonian ambassador (complete with a colorful embassy staff), dead.

But these have all felt to me like iterations, imitations, off-brand avatars of her true self, who will forever be most at home punching Nazis in their collective schnoz.

Lately, in the pages of DC's recently relaunched Wonder Woman comic, writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang have come up with a fresh take that's opening up new sides to the character. In their book, they've lifted her out of the superhero world and returned her to her mythic roots, as a woman caught up in the machinations of a fractious and violent mafia family fueled by bile, guile and long-nursed grudges — who just so happen to be Greek gods. Think Bullfinch's Mythology by way of The Sopranos, and you begin to get the idea. I'd suggest, Mr. Snyder, that you read up on the version of the character in those pages, to get a sense of what I'm talking about.

(You can probably skip the more generic version of Wonder Woman now appearing in DC's Justice League book, and the book that chronicles her romance with Superman, for that matter.)

Anyway. I'll let you go, as you've got a lot of work to do, what with this sequel being rushed into production and all. If I had more time, I'd raise some of my concerns about your ability to understand and create compelling stories about women, but that would mean I'd have to bring up your film Sucker Punch, and ... well.

I don't want to talk about that. You don't want to talk about that.

Yours in cautiously pessimistic hope, or its closest analogue,

Glen Weldon

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ourferocity 13th-Dec-2013 01:57 am (UTC)
lynda carter was skinnier than this girl.

she's getting criticism cause she's israeli lbr
black_swan87 13th-Dec-2013 02:00 am (UTC)
the debates over whether or not she's white are really funny to me for some reason
breakingbed 13th-Dec-2013 02:03 am (UTC)
lol white people are so oppressed. when will they start receiving the proper representation? why would they go with this chick when they could have gone with Angelina Jolie? She looks ethnic enough, just look at those lips!
dafuqgetoffmeho 13th-Dec-2013 02:07 am (UTC)
idk anything about wonder woman. is she supposed to be white?
doimoveyou 13th-Dec-2013 02:09 am (UTC)
no it is because she is Jewish.
dearpencilpal 13th-Dec-2013 01:58 am (UTC)
i will forever mourn over gina torres not ever being wonder woman
kukamine 13th-Dec-2013 01:59 am (UTC)
anydoppelganger 13th-Dec-2013 02:13 am (UTC)
I wish they would cast Gina as Hippolyta :(
rare_lj 13th-Dec-2013 01:59 am (UTC)
I want a Wonder Woman movie that involve Geek gods. It could be a prequel to her going to Earth.
black_swan87 13th-Dec-2013 01:59 am (UTC)
has anyone really been outraged at this tho? the only thing i've seen is people complaining about her being too skinny, which is kind of dumb because it's not like no actor has ever gained weight for a movie.
rare_lj 13th-Dec-2013 02:00 am (UTC)
People just don't have any faith in DC trying to make Wonder Woman look like a warrior instead of a model.
coconutoil 13th-Dec-2013 02:34 am (UTC)
I highly doubt they'd make her gain weight, esp with Zack Snyder gaze
planetrob 13th-Dec-2013 03:19 am (UTC)
you think they're going to have her gain weight for this? lmao they will never
myhipusername 13th-Dec-2013 03:37 am (UTC)

which is my biggest problem
ohmiya_sg 13th-Dec-2013 06:33 am (UTC)
canuckgirl33 13th-Dec-2013 06:47 am (UTC)
This and why I do not like this casting
loveology101 13th-Dec-2013 03:53 am (UTC)
I think people are afraid of a feminist icon being over sexualized on screen
yurasama_love 13th-Dec-2013 01:59 am (UTC)
Just don't suck.
kairoso 13th-Dec-2013 02:00 am (UTC)
i don't get why people are so mad about this casting. i'm pretty sure they're gona have her bulk up/put on weight before they start shooting.
onyxrose81 13th-Dec-2013 04:02 pm (UTC)
LMAO. DC? Zack Snyder? Not in a million years will they let her bulk up.
anolinde 13th-Dec-2013 02:00 am (UTC)
Absolutely zero complaints with Gal Gadot being Wonder Woman. If Maggie Q can kick ass and take names on Nikita without anyone batting an eyelash, there's no reason why Gadot (who apparently was in the Israeli army?? idk, seems pretty legit to me) shouldn't be able to perform well.

idk, maybe I'm biased because I loved her in the F&F films.
foryoursake08 13th-Dec-2013 03:32 am (UTC)
Gal spent 2 years in the Israeli Special Forces, though it should be mentioned she continued to model at that time (apparently), so whether or not that means she was physically fit or what, I don't know, but it's more than a lot of the people complaining have ever done.
carolinga 13th-Dec-2013 04:50 am (UTC)
I'm holding out judgment on her casting, because I think she does have the right look, except for her thinness.

Here's the thing--the entertainment industry has a history of fetishizing super skinny female bodies to the exclusion of all other types. Wonder Woman was an opportunity to cast someone with a muscular, athletic body, and a lot of people were excited about that.

Casting someone who's not just slim but uber-thin...it's disappointing.
dafuqgetoffmeho 13th-Dec-2013 02:00 am (UTC)
oh i didn't realize this had been cast.

after reading so many reviews of catching fire talking about j-law's "amazonian" figure, it got into my head that she would definitely get the part if the movie ever happened.

Edited at 2013-12-13 02:01 am (UTC)
jane_wanderlust 13th-Dec-2013 02:03 am (UTC)
i like jlaw, but thank god that didn't happen.
hera_bearrra 13th-Dec-2013 02:21 am (UTC)
JLaw has enough franchises on her plate
breakingbed 13th-Dec-2013 02:01 am (UTC)
i don't understand why Zack Snyder gets to keep heading up all these projects when Man Of Steel bombed. Terrible reviews, GP found it boring and even the fight scenes were considered too long (and who considers fight scenes in a superhero movie too long?) and it burned out at $600 million when it was expected to make it to $1 billion? What a fucking flop. Anyone else would have been fired on the spot. He's such a dull, uninspired flat-toned filmmaker.

But then again, what else do you expect from DC?
rare_lj 13th-Dec-2013 02:03 am (UTC)
It was expected to earn more, but it still wasn't a box office failure.
breakingbed 13th-Dec-2013 02:05 am (UTC)
considering that it was basically marketed as the spiritual sequel to the Dark Knight series, yes it was a box office failure. the only thing you can say it outdid was that godawful 2006 movie.
walker_sarah 13th-Dec-2013 02:10 am (UTC)
I don' think this counts as a flop but more as a dissapointment because it still made money

it had one of the worst 2nd week drop and yes they were expecting this to do better like at least tasm numbers but I wouldn't call this a total failure
troy_macclure 13th-Dec-2013 03:24 am (UTC)
mte. too bad about the decent box office, tho.
wauwy 13th-Dec-2013 03:42 am (UTC)
$660 million made from a $225 budget is a very profitable film, lol...
mortimer123 13th-Dec-2013 04:15 am (UTC)
God, Man of Steel sucked. The WB shrills piping up everywhere trying to get people to see the movie. Once people saw it, a lot of them were like "what the fuck was that POS". It's now aptly named "Man of Suck".
liliana_ 13th-Dec-2013 02:02 am (UTC)
I'm criticizing the choice because I think it speaks volumes about what their future plans are...namely none. They hired someone with minimal talent who they have no intention of ever carrying her own franchise.
hera_bearrra 13th-Dec-2013 02:05 am (UTC)
Isn't Gal Gadot virtually an unknown, though? The only movies I've seen her in is Fast 5 and 6.
liliana_ 13th-Dec-2013 02:09 am (UTC)
That's my point. And she's really bad in those movies as well. Call me cynical, but this doesn't read as "I'm sure they searched exhaustively and she was the absolute best". It reads as "she was cheap and the role is just a cameo where all she has to do is look good punching anyway".
black_swan87 13th-Dec-2013 02:27 am (UTC)
her casting isn't that different from cavill's imo
colonel_green 13th-Dec-2013 03:51 am (UTC)
I don't agree there. Casting virtual unknowns is really not unusual for these types of roles. And if this works, there's no way they wouldn't want to put her in films of her own.
chaotic_n 13th-Dec-2013 02:04 am (UTC)
I just hope Wonder Woman gets to kick major ass, tbh. Maybe then we will finally have a full length move of her.
hera_bearrra 13th-Dec-2013 02:07 am (UTC)
lbr there are going to be A LOT of action sequences, lots of pummeling, civilian casualties, more invoking of 9/11 imagery, etc.
chaotic_n 13th-Dec-2013 02:21 am (UTC)
You're probably right. How I wish they would get someone else to write the script.
walker_sarah 13th-Dec-2013 02:10 am (UTC)
well at least we are getting a woman auperhero with actual powers. I hope she does well
hera_bearrra 13th-Dec-2013 02:25 am (UTC)
I'm looking forward to Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch in Avengers 2 more, seeing as how Joss did a pretty good job with Black Widow in the first movie.
walker_sarah 13th-Dec-2013 02:40 am (UTC)
yeah I look forward to every marvel related thing than dc but ww is such an iconic character I just want her to do good

I hope wanda shows her powers in full

blackwidow 13th-Dec-2013 03:52 am (UTC)
I am so here for Elizabeth Olsen owning that entire movie with Scarlett, and Cobie. They could honestly make a movie with those three kicking ass and I would be first in line to see it.
xxxquothxxx 13th-Dec-2013 10:11 pm (UTC)
i'm still annoyed they've seemingly white washed her origins sigh.
geraldine_blank 13th-Dec-2013 02:10 am (UTC)
I watched Man of Steel exclusively for Henry Cavill and Henry Cavill's Butt and I was still utterly disappointed

it was just so BORING
walker_sarah 13th-Dec-2013 02:14 am (UTC)
I watched it for his chest hair

that's why I needed more of these
piscesvstaurus 13th-Dec-2013 03:04 am (UTC)
For a quick second, those dumbbells looked like the little pink ones my Mom uses from Dec. 31-Jan. 2 for her ~*~New Years Resolution~*~.
planetrob 13th-Dec-2013 03:22 am (UTC)
ya don't forget them tits of steel now
windyourneckin 13th-Dec-2013 02:33 am (UTC)
sistula it was NOT boring
those destruction scenes were fucking cool
frozenish 13th-Dec-2013 02:56 am (UTC)
Man I tried to watch it and obviously dude has a ridiculous body. But I'm sorry I cannot be attracted to someone walking around in a red cape. You look like a fool.

And yeah beyond that it was just more boring than watching grass grow.
evil_slayer 13th-Dec-2013 02:11 am (UTC)
Oh no, I love her. Hope she rocks the role and makes the haters stfu
disco_friends 13th-Dec-2013 02:11 am (UTC)
i think she is perfect. she is so classically pretty, and im sure she will train for the role. people need to chill.
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