Let’s talk about Wonder Woman.
Chances are, you’ve read that on Wednesday morning, DC Comics announced Israeli actress Gal Gadot had been cast as Wonder Woman in their upcoming Man of Steel sequel, or, as it’s been dubbed by the press, Batman vs. Superman. In what seems to have already become a trend with the film, the Internet was quick to respond with a whole slew of reactions to both Godot’s casting and Wonder Woman’s presence in Batman vs. Superman.
When Feliza, our editor-in-chief here at Girls in Capes, first shared the news with me, I’ll admit I wasn’t particularly surprised—every time I heard there’d been a new announcement about the film I felt an impending sense of dread—but more than anything, I was immediately incensed.
But I’ll save you any potentially grating redundancies, because this is not about Gal Gadot.
This is about one of the most powerful and well-known superheroes—of any gender!—being relegated to an accessory in an already character-laden film fixated on the rival between two men.
Batman vs. Superman has been, since the beginning, billed as a sequel to Man of Steel. Between that taxonomy and the prominence of characters like Lois Lane and Martha Kent, it’s safe to assume that Batman vs. Superman will be, first and foremost, a Superman movie. Batman, however, makes for a close second in prominence: even if it’s not formally his movie, there’s no doubt he’s going to be so featured given the film’s revealed artwork and the Dark Knight trilogy’s massive success. Everything we know about Batman vs. Superman’s plot has told us the film will be about these two caped crusaders and the tumultuous relationship Snyder has in store for them. So why include Wonder Woman?
In a narrative centered on two alpha males duking it out for dominance, it’s virtually impossible to maintain the brevity and relative plot coherence mandated by a major Hollywood studio while simultaneously featuring a well-developed third character whose narrative doesn’t serve only to support that of the first two. Perhaps there are ways for Wonder Woman to be a well-developed, autonomous character in Batman vs. Superman, but thinking realistically (given the state of women in the media), there’s no way it’s going to happen. Such autonomy is prohibited not only by the film’s narrative constraints, but also by the ethos that clouds Hollywood as thickly as does its very own noxious smog. That Wonder Woman’s role in the film will most likely be to support one or both of the two men is nearly inevitable.
The crux of my grievances, however, lies in that my previous argument is one I even have to make at all. We shouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of Wonder Woman being in Batman vs. Superman, because the fact of the matter is Wonder Woman should be in her own movie. There are plenty of reasons as to why, and including Wonder Woman in Batman vs. Superman invalidates the one reason DC has given as to why not.
Diane Nelson, DC’s Entertainment Chief, has stated that the reason a Wonder Woman film hasn’t come to fruition yet is because, despite DC and Warner Brothers’ “trying” to get one made, Wonder Woman is “tricky” because her storyline is a complicated one and they “have to” get her right.
Let’s recap: Wonder Woman is a character too complex to be properly re-introduced to the world in a feature-length film in which she is the main character right now, because DC wants to “get her right.” Instead, DC is re-introducing her—and all her complexities—in a film in which she’s a character of tertiary importance at most. If a full-length, Wonder Woman-centric movie can’t handle Wonder Woman, in what universe is it logical to then default her first contemporary cinematic appearance to one focusing on a glorified battle for dominance between two men?
This isn’t to say I’m not excited to finally see Wonder Woman on the big screen. Trust me: I am. And I’m more than excited to see Gadot take the role into her more-than-capable hands. (For the uninitiated, Gadot served in the Israel Defense Forces, and has some seriously established action movie chops.)
At the end of the day, it’s a huge deal that we’re finally going to see Wonder Woman in a live-action, feature-length film. Will we be seeing her in the context we should be seeing her in? Absolutely not. Will her character be done the justice she so heartily deserves? Only time can tell.