As the release of Wonder Woman was getting closer, fans of the genre had piled the expectations onto the movie like the ultimate test of the Amazon princess's strength: Will it be any good? Will it live up to the 75 years of the character's comic book popularity? Will it actually save the DCEU?
But one thing that wasn't up for discussion was #GalGadot's ability to play Wonder Woman, ever since she erupted on the screen of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with a brighter aura than the energy-powered villain she took down. Though the legacy of Lynda Carter's iconic portrayal looms over the character, Gadot's take on Wonder Woman is one of those unique cases of an actor merging with their story, similar to Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark. Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman, and Wonder Woman is Gal Gadot.
Gadot's Wonder Woman Is Naive, But Not Stupid
The first thing she does especially well is dial back the years her character has been alive, infusing her with the youth and naiveté she's clearly lost by the time Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne rolls around. She borrows from Thor's "fish out of water" scenario, discovering man's world with fascination, disgust and a charming incredulity. Yet despite the risk of her simple views and ancient armor feeling straight-up ridiculous, Gadot infuses Diana with an earnestness and integrity that make us root for her, instead of laugh at her.
On top of that, she's got the poise to remind us that while she may be unfamiliar with the world of man, she's a wise and old being who's learned more than anyone else around her, starting with nearly the entirety of human languages. It's a careful balance between her youth and inexperience and the focused, hyper trained side of her that Gadot manages to perfectly convey.
In A Word, She Shines
The most striking thing about Gadot's interpretation of Wonder Woman, however, is that she absolutely nails the character's unwaveringly positive outlook on life. She's a force of nature who believes in the greater good; her conviction that she's meant to save the world is stronger than her bullet-deflecting shield. She's genuine, she's fun, she's the warm source of energy at the heart of the movie.
Her positive aura is just another marker of the influence of Richard Donner's Superman on Patty Jenkins, whom the director has repeatedly cited as her No. 1 superhero movie reference. After a few especially grim installments of the #DCEU, it's refreshing to see Gadot's confident Wonder Woman, who brings us back to the kind of inspiring hero that was played by Christopher Reeve.
Last but not least, Gadot's impressive physical performance is what makes her a truly credible Amazon. Granted, Gadot has served in her country's military, citing her training as the perfect introduction to the discipline required to shoot a blockbuster, but the fighting scenes really fully rely on her boundless energy. Can you imagine, she went in for reshoots five months pregnant? In the featurette above, her co-star Chris Pine describes how they shot scenes outside in the cold, and Gadot was the only one prancing around in her semi-naked outfit without batting an eye.
In her own words:
"I can't be cold! She's Wonder Woman! I think that because I was so focused on telling her story and being her that I literally repressed the physical challenges."
If that isn't commitment, I don't know what is.
Wonder Woman is out June 2, 2017.