Ever since she was cast, poor Gal Gadot has been bombarded with all kinds of comments about her portrayal of Wonder Woman in [Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice](tag:711870). Even Ben Affleck, faced with following Christian Bale's iconic Batman, hasn't been subject to this kind of constant criticism, debate, discussion, and questions about his costume and body shape. (Is Ben Affleck really buff enough for Batman? Eh, it doesn't matter, they'll just pad his suit out with foam muscles anyway.)
Gal Gadot is too skinny, her boobs aren't big enough, she's not muscly enough, no wait she's too lean, she hasn't got the gravitas, she's too feminist, she's not feminist enough.... The comments go on and on and on. And although many of these topics are valid, it's not Gal Gadot that we should be targeting with them. After all, she's just doing her job. Yet no-one seems to remember that actually it's the writers, directors, and producers who are more responsible for Wonder Woman's role than Gadot is. And of course, that's part of the problem.
Betraying Wonder Woman's roots
This is the latest in a long line of criticisms. Grant Morrison, Wonder Woman's latest comic writer, has had a lot to say recently about her foray onto the silver screen. But his problem isn't quite what you'd expect. Contrary to what a lot of the fans are saying, Morrison asserts that she SHOULDN'T be a warrior woman.
"You see the latest shots of Gal Gadot in the costume, and it’s all sword and shield and her snarling at the camera. Marston’s Diana was a doctor, a healer, a scientist."
The "latest shots" he refers to are the literal 2 seconds of footage we got from the Batman vs Superman trailer. Unfortunately, Wonder Woman's appearance was very much blink-and-you'll-miss-it, but we did get some fantastic snippets of her fighting...
Yet as fun as this was for fans like me (look, I like my Wonder Woman tough as nails and able to beat up everyone), Morrison had quite a different idea. According to him, Diana Prince should be first and foremost a pacifist, contrasting against the likes of Superman and Batman for whom violence is the first option (uh, pretty sure that's not.... ok...)
Morrison's guiding light is William Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman, and what he thought the character should be. He wanted to create a heroine with "all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman." So far so good. But Marston claimed that the most important thing for Wonder Woman was that she embody the most essential things about women, their "tender, submissive, peace-loving" nature.
Strength from compassion
While this all seems pretty... iffy from a feminist perspective, what Marston was trying to do was to create a foil for the more masculine violent heroes that were all the rage at the time (and, um, nowadays). He felt it was important for any female hero not to just embody the strength of the male heroes, but have a more measured and intellectual approach to crime fighting. Enter Wonder Woman, champion of justice, whose chief weapon is not her brute strength (though she could punch you through a wall) but her lasso of truth. Which is showcased beautifully in the recently [DC animated universe (DCAU)](tag:2607839) film Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis...
This is the kind of Wonder Woman we need from Batman vs Superman: not just brute strength, not just a pacifist, but a hero for whom truth and justice are the ultimate prize.
Seeing through the lies
The trailer confirmed what we'd all long suspected: Lex is playing Bats and Supes off against one another for his own nefarious aims (and you can read more about that here!). The question is, who's going to break up the fight and reveal Lex's true purpose? We need someone who has some skill in seeing through lies, who is also strong enough to physically pull Batman and Superman apart if necessary. Hmmm, now who could that be...
Ultimately, Wonder Woman's role in Batman vs Superman could be crucial, not just in breaking up the fight but in setting up the DC Cinematic Universe's next big thing: the Justice League.
"She plays a super-important part. In a lot of ways, she’s the gateway drug to the rest of the Justice League."
The problem with Wonder Woman isn't that she's violent, as Grant Morrison asserts. It's if that's all she is. We need a Diana Prince in the movie universe who is everything she came to be in the comics: strong yes, but dedicated to justice, and passionate about helping others. I'll be the first one to complain if all we get from Zack Snyder's version is a pretty punching machine.
But the stage is set for the Amazonian queen to save the day, and that seems pretty empowering to me.