You've all seen it. "Gal Gadot doesn't look like a warrior." "Gal Gadot is too skinny to play Wonder Woman." Every article remotely related to Gadot or the Goddess of War is covered in comments from angry "fans" calling for a recast.
But what really makes a warrior? Most people would probably immediately jump to strength. That's true, to an extent. Strength is important. Carrying equipment, wearing armor, and using a weapon effectively do all rely partially on strength. What good is strength, though, if you're not fast enough to use it effectively?
In melee combat, agility has a clear advantage over strength. Though strength allows for crushing blows and heavy hits, agility can effectively negate this with faster reactions, skilled redirection (a key part of melee combat) and quicker, more precise strikes. Someone who is slow but strong would find it difficult to land blows, while a fast, agile combatant would have an easier time getting in close to land precision stabs and cuts, while also making it difficult for the stronger combatant to land hits.
Of course, neither speed nor strength matter if you can't keep it up. Battle is a marathon, not a sprint. Combatants can't afford to burn out during a fight-because that means death. It's pretty clear, then, what the most important trait is: endurance. And you know what? The experts on it agree.
Raw strength is usually not seen as a plus. In fact, [U.S. Army] Special Forces physical requirements are weighted more towards endurance and physical toughness.
Tom Clancy's Special Forces: A Guided Tour of U.S. Army Special Forces details the physical aspects of being a top tier warrior. Endurance is valued because it allows soldiers to fight and march for days on end with little food or water, while carrying heavy equipment. They can operate day and night, and last through firefights that continue for hours. Even in melee combat, the principle is the same. Being able to keep up your pace and rhythm for hours on end would be invaluable. In an otherwise even match, the person who can keep up the pace longer will win. Wonder Woman is the ideal warrior, so it makes sense that she's built for endurance and agility over strength.
"But she's not muscular enough!" Tom, could you enlighten us again?
No, SOF personnel do not look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, or Jesse Ventura (though you will see Chuck Norrisses)... Sure, SF soldiers tend to be well muscled, shaped, and toned, but they are not taut hardbodies. They're more like distance swimmers or triathletes.
What does that remind you of?
Muscled (not as much as some, but muscled none the less), extremely in shape, and very toned. Our cinematic Wonder Woman may not look like a heavy hitter, but she's an expert at melee combat, she's fast, she's agile, and most importantly, she can endure through combat involving two of the world's most powerful gladiators. In other words, Wonder Woman is here to stay. And she'll be fighting the whole way.