After years of it seeming that Wonder Woman would never be brought to the big screen (or small, for that matter) alongside more 'bankable' heroes, fan prayers were answered by Warner Bros. and Zack Snyder - but they didn't have long to celebrate the news that Diana would join Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice before the Amazonian princess' casting once again divided the conversation. Nearly every fan saw Fast & Furious actress Gal Gadot as a surprising choice for the part, but some saw it as a misguided decision altogether.
We were among those who argued that the Israeli actress could bring some unique strengths to the role, but for an outspoken chunk of the audience, it wasn't Gadot's nationality, costume, or even her short resume that caused concern - but her physique. Questions of how well an actor can fulfill the physical demands of a superhero role are hard to avoid, but with Wonder Woman, they were more passionate than usual. Thankfully, Gadot herself has now responded to the criticism surrounding her casting, calling much of it "empty talk."
As Dawn of Justice began and completed production, Gadot's minimal involvement seemed to confirm that Superman (Henry Cavill) and Batman (Ben Affleck) would anchor the story, with a small introduction to Diana prior to the Justice League team-up. Even so, her own solo movie is coming in a hurry, meaning Gadot has been spending more than a few hours training to play the DC Comics demigoddess.
In a recent interview with YNetNews, Gadot said that criticism was nothing new, choosing to address some of the more personal attacks on her ability to fill the role head on:
"They said that I was too skinny and my boobs were too small [Laughs]... After they asked me here, In Israel, if I have eating disorders and why am I so skinny - they said my head was too big and my body was like a broomstick - I can take anything. It’s just empty talk. I understand that part of what I’m doing means being exposed. And part of being exposed is being under fire.
"When I was younger I would take criticism really hard. But now it mostly amuses me. The true amazons had one boob so it wouldn’t bother them in their archery. So it’s not going to be like real amazons. We always try to make everyone happy but we can’t."
It's nice to hear that Gadot is keeping a sense of humor about the reactions to her casting, given that they're based on no actual evidence of what Zack Snyder has in mind for the Amazon warrior. There has been evidence that Dawn of Justice will keep the supernatural elements of her origin story, but Gadot is right to point out that DC's Amazons are a work of fiction - not history.
As female moviegoers have shown more and more clearly (with Marvel's films, especially) that their dollars are just as worth pursuing, studios have been slow to react. Though some within Marvel have a clear explanation for why that remains the case (in short: stupidity, sexism and misogyny), all sides now seem to be taking strides to introduce female stars. But none will endure the pressure and expectations of the first superheroine to become a global icon.
Nervousness is to be expected, but Snyder - and Warner Bros. - have clearly placed their trust in Gadot. For her part, the weight of the Amazonian crown seems something that Gadot is eager to bear:
"Playing Wonder Woman is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I can’t describe to you how much I wanted to play this character without even knowing I wanted to play her. I met a lot of people from the industry in LA for meetings. They always asked me ‘what’s your dream role?’, and I never could define it... I don’t want to play a damsel in distress that needs to be saved. I don’t like it when women in the movies are shown as the victims. I always thought that if I could send out a message, I want to show the strong side of a woman and how she can handle tough situations.
"I get to play the strongest most empowering woman ever – Wonder Woman. I’m so grateful and I thank God every day. I want to devour it and enjoy every bite."
Those who criticize Gadot's casting based on her physical measurements now have a direct response, while those interested to see what she and Snyder are creating will be pleased to hear the negative reactions haven't hampered her enthusiasm. Gadot's ability to carry a film as epic or ambitious as Wonder Woman would demand has yet to be seen, which means the days of her drawing criticism are far from over.
What do you think of Gadot's comments? Do they offer some perspective on the challenges she's faced in the past, or do your concerns (or optimism) have little to do with her muscle mass? Sound off in the comments.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice arrives on March 25th, 2016. Wonder Woman will be in theaters June 23, 2017.