On Wednesday, Variety broke the news that Warner Bros. has cast Gal Gadot, of the Fast & Furious franchise fame, as Wonder Woman in the upcoming sequel to Man of Steel, currently under the working title Superman Vs. Batman. What in blue blazes do we do now?
Here’s the good: we finally have a Wonder Woman for the big screens. This isn’t some lowballed $2-$3 million project that couldn’t get past the base outline because of a stifling lack of interest from the producers—this is a big, no-nonsense $100+ million dollar movie that will open so damn big it has midnight screenings on Wednesday. That means big exposure with big potential.
Is this long overdue? Yes. Will our Princess of Themyscira receive less screen time than she ultimately deserves? Most likely. Will she be shoehorned into a already problematic plot in a way that just won’t do the characters justice? Probably.
Here is the real problem with this: Zack Snyder. After Sucker Punch and Man of Steel, I simply don’t trust him to do anything but a massive disservice to such fantastic characters. It’s only recently have I learned that, when written well, I prefer a good Superman or Wonder Woman book over an equally well-made Batman title. Why? Not sure—I’m still figuring that one out, but I guarantee that opinion holds when it comes to the movies. When Man of Steel first came out, I desperately wanted to love it, for months I would defend it tooth and nail, but it wasn’t to last. The rose-tinted glasses came off and I grew dissatisfied with the movie, because it was just supremely uncomfortable in my head. There were a lot of little pieces they did so very well, and overall it was a fine movie—it was just a terrible story about Superman. Based on Synder’s adaptations of Superman, 300 and Watchmen; I can safely say I don’t trust him to do a good job.
Do these feelings extend to the others? Hell no. I want to give Ben Affleck a chance (remember what people said when Heath Ledger was cast in The Dark Knight?), I have liked previous work and will go on to like the future work of David S. Goyer (screenwriter), and I actually still like Henry Cavill’s Kal-El/Clark Kent. This extends to the casting announced for Gadot. It’s been years since I’ve watched one of the three Fast & Furious movies she’s been in, but I know I have no beef with her. That’s something I usually remember.
Here’s what we don’t do: we don’t say she needs to put on some muscle weight. We don’t get our underwear in a twist by demanding a visually-perfect adaptation of a character who has had numerous iterations. In some, she’s built like a Venice Beach muscle (wo)man and others she looks like an taller-than-average woman…with a pair on indestructible bracelets. Honestly, it’s like asking the geometrically ruptured subjects of a Picasso painting to “just straighten up already.” It’s just not a valid argument. A set of giant biceps doesn’t make Diana of Themyscira Wonder Woman. Her determination in the face of deadly trials, her unwavering belief in justice, the way she caries out her duty—in some versions as a diplomat representing the Amazons’ civilization on the world stage—and so many other traits that make her a true Wonder. Gadot doesn’t need to fully look the part, she needs to play the part to the best of her ability.
My overall feeling is apprehension. I want it to be so awesome that all my hair falls out, but I know it won’t. At worst I see this is a blithely pathetic attempt by Warner Bros. to placate the folks demanding a proper Wonder Woman, and like an arm-itching junkie, we’ll happily believe that her inclusion in the next DC movie will lead to the road of real films. For now, I’ll set aside any judgements of Gadot until I see her performance within the context of the role Diana will play and furiously re-read the currently running comic series by Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang.
Seriously folks, read the heck out of this series—I can’t recommend it enough.