After years of watching boys headline the superhero genre, comic book movie studios are finally investing in leading ladies. Cynical viewers may think that the recent announcements of Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel movies, on top of Agent Carter and Jessica Jones TV series, are little more than shameless attempts to appear gender equal. However, anyone familiar with Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, or Wasp, not to mention established heroine Black Widow, know that these characters aren't just some of the best female characters in Marvel and DC's roster, they're quality do-gooders with rich backstories, regardless of gender.
Still, out of the upcoming superheroine roster, there's no question that Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman has been the most contentious - as fans, creators, and actors from all corners of the industry have weighed-in on a number of topics (albeit some of which are more legitimate than others). Throughout, Gadot has attempted to reassure fans that they'll be getting a Diana Prince that is true to the comics - while also forging a modern version for the future.
Nevertheless, recent conversations, especially criticisms from beloved comics writer Grant Morrison, have called into questions whether or not everyone is even on the same page about what Wonder Woman originally represented and should embody going forward. Morrison indicates that when William Marston created Wonder Woman, she was intended as a response to masculinity in comic books, specifically that Diana was supposed to be "a doctor, a healer, and a scientist."
No doubt, preview images of Wonder Woman and footage of her character in Batman V Superman's trailer depict a hardened warrior but that doesn't mean that Gadot's version is a thoughtless brute either. Speaking to Interview Magazine, Gadot teases what fans can expect from Diana in Dawn of Justice (and beyond), asserting there's a difference between brute force and feminine strength in her Wonder Woman:
“I told them that I wanted to be able to show the stronger side of women. I didn’t want to do the obvious role that you see in Hollywood most of the time, which is the heartbroken girl who’s waiting to be rescued by the guy, blah, blah, blah.”
“I’m so excited about this role. I feel like I’ve been given a huge opportunity to inspire people, not only women. And not because of me but because of who Wonder Woman is and what she stands for. There’s a lot of responsibility. But I have the best team and the best people to work with. It’s going to be an amazing ride, knock on wood.”
Gadot stops short of revealing exactly what she thinks Wonder Woman "stands for" but it's clear that her goal is to deliver a character that is just as inspirational as she is tough. Comments from the actress indicate that she's aware Wonder Woman can be more than just a power fantasy for female moviegoers - positioning Diana in her rightful place as an equal partner in DC's iconic trinity.
A nuanced and inspiring portrayal stands in stark contrast to NBC's failed Wonder Woman pilot, starring future Marvel favorite Adrianne Palicki, which preached girl power - while forcing the titular hero into a busty corset and skin-tight spandex.
That all said, how exactly Gadot's Wonder Woman fits into Dawn of Justice, in addition to the larger DC shared movie universe, is still unclear. We've been told that Diana is the "gateway drug" to Justice League but it's still unclear exactly which comic book origin Warner Bros. intends to base their big screen superheroine on - as well as how much backstory the character already shares with Bruce Wayne and other established DC movie characters. Concept art from Comic-Con 2015 revealed Wonder Woman standing amidst World War I soldiers, indicating that Diana may have been an active protector for over a century; still, there's no official confirmation that Patty Jenkins' 2017 solo film will, ultimately, incorporate this pre-production concept as part of the character's actual backstory.
It remains to be seen whether or not Snyder's Diana can win-over skeptics (like Morrison) - especially since, much like Superman and Batman before her, it's increasingly clear that there is not one definitive version of the character that will make everyone happy. Wonder Woman has come to mean, and represent, different things to different readers and viewers - paving the way for a third possibility: Gal Gadot's iteration may not be a perfect fit for any one single version but could become the definitive version for a whole new generation of superhero fanatics.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will be in theaters on March 25th, 2016; Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman – June 23rd, 2017; Justice League – November 17th, 2017; The Flash – March 23rd, 2018; Aquaman – July 27th, 2018; Shazam – April 5th, 2019; Justice League 2 – June 14th, 2019; Cyborg – April 3rd, 2020; Green Lantern – June 19th, 2020.