In the motion picture "Troy" a war was started over the lovely Helen, played by Diane Kruger. Recently another war has started over a picture of another woman depicting a Greco/Roman heroine. I'm talking about the first official image of Gal Gadot as Diana/Wonder Woman in the currently in production film "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice". Actually the war began months prior with the announcement of her casting. Two major issues seemed to outrage some fans most. A) her physical appearance and B) her acting resume. We will just table B) discussions because the casting of relatively unknown actors with minimal previous credits is not new and actually quite common in the superhero film genre.
So lets get right into the "physical" debate. Hollywood and the surrounding media have long been criticized for their size 0 standard of beauty. Fashion gets most of the heat but the lack of "average" and or fuller sized women in prominent roles on TV and in movies also comes into question often. That is a debate for another site to handle. As this article is focused on female superheroes lets see if we can set a "standard".
So here we see three depictions of Wonder Woman over the last 30 years. Slim, athletic but not "built" frame, average bicep and shoulder musculature and moderate hip and thigh development. Not an imposing figure, but clearly far from waif like. Lets call her a B cup just to be fair. Now lets see some other depictions of female Superheroines of late.
Slight natural variations between the actresses but not too far apart. Johansen may be the current standard and with her more curvy figure she does stand apart from Ms.Gadot. As a side note I want to point out that ScarJo was not Marvels first choice to play Natasha/Black Widow. That would be Emily Blunt who had to pass due to scheduling conflicts with the filming of Iron Man 2.
Also for comparison are two images of Supergirl as depicted in different live action settings. If Helen Slater is to be considered closer to the "Hollywood" norm, then Laura Vandervoort is the most extreme deviation so far from that norm. Gal Gadot, we can agree started out closer to Vandervoort. That being said Malin Ackerman's Silk Spectre from" Watchmen" (also directed by BvS:DoJ director Zack Snyder) would be the next actress closest in frame and size to Gadot and Vandervoort.
As we can see Snyder had no trouble convincing the audience that Silk Spectre was a force to be reckoned with in the prison break-in scene from "Watchmen". Her power (not super power by the way) came across clearly as she gracefully and effectively took down rioting prisoners all while confidently strutting down the hallway along side Nite Owl 2 played by Patrick Wilson (aka Batman lite). Looking back to the top image we see Gadot has slightly more muscle on her than Ackerman at this point. It should also be noted that when Alicia Silverstone appeared as Barbara/Batgirl in "Batman and Robin" she was cruelly criticized as being too big.
Some fans have already labeled "BvS" a failure just based on this and other casting decisions. Regardless of where you fall in the debate you have to concede that Gal Gadot physically is currently not too far from the "Hollywood" norm at this point and Zack Snyder has experience in portraying that standard as a credible warrior within the context of a superpowered beatdown. Some other female superheroes we have seen are:
So while all these actresses may vary in shape and size (only Vandervoort and Romjin are as tall as Gadot) none are too far off the comics inspired "Hollywood" standard we have been given over the years. Therefore, it seems that for now Gal Gadot has earned a break from her critics as it appears that aesthetics wise, she is pretty much on the mark as far as Wonder Woman was going to look in todays cinema. Perhaps fans were looking forward to something closer to the cosplay girls we often see.
Alas it seems that when making this movie Hollywood was always going to do what it does best and give us what it thinks we need. I will leave you with a compilation of scenes depicting Wonder Woman in various animated battle scenes. In it she goes up against foes male and female who are much bigger and stronger than her. No stretch of the imagination is needed to believe that Diana/Wonder Woman is indeed capable of all of this and more.