Wonder Woman is a film that is seen as a real boundary breaker for women. For years, Hollywood has been hesitant to produce standalone superhero films with a female lead due to the understanding that women wouldn’t actually go to the theaters. Obviously, that turned out not to be the case, but this wasn’t the only way the new film impacted people.
A lot of people were also astounded that they managed to make a female superhero that was strong without being masculine or cold, and feminine without being weak (I know, shocker). It was a mix that had never been successfully accomplished on the big screen with a female superhero lead (just look at the likes of the hyper-sexualized Catwoman starring Halle Berry, and the kinda stupid Elektra film with Jennifer Garner).
But of course, not everyone was convinced of this character’s greatness, and among these people was filmmaker James Cameron.
Here’s what he told The Guardian last June:
“All of the self-congratulatory back-patting Hollywood’s been doing over Wonder Woman has been so misguided. She’s an objectified icon, and it’s just male Hollywood doing the same old thing! I’m not saying I didn’t like the movie but, to me, it’s a step backwards. Sarah Connor was not a beauty icon. She was strong, she was troubled, she was a terrible mother, and she earned the respect of the audience through pure grit. And to me, [the benefit of characters like Sarah] is so obvious. I mean, half the audience is female!”
Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins didn’t take this sitting down, and responded to his comments with the following tweet.
— Patty Jenkins (@PattyJenks) August 25, 2017
Now, both people make well reasoned arguments. Cameron is basically saying that because Wonder Woman is beautiful, it’s somehow less of a step forward. Jenkins’ rebutted by saying that a woman doesn’t have to be damaged, broken, and unattractive in order to be considered strong, or considered a step forward.
Well, it doesn’t sound like we’ve heard the last of it. Speaking with THR, Cameron doubled down on his statements, saying:
“Yes, I’ll stand by that. I mean, [Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot] was Miss Israel, and she was wearing a kind of bustier costume that was very form-fitting. She’s absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. To me, that’s not breaking ground. They had Raquel Welch doing stuff like that in the ’60s. It was all in a context of talking about why Sarah Connor — what Linda [Hamilton] created in 1991 [with Terminator 2] — was, if not ahead of its time, at least a breakthrough in its time. I don’t think it was really ahead of its time because we’re still not [giving women these types of roles].”
And in response to the idea that a woman doesn’t have to look “hard, troubled and tough to be strong”:
“Linda looked great. She just wasn’t treated as a sex object. There was nothing sexual about her character. It was about angst, it was about will, it was about determination. She was crazy, she was complicated. … She wasn’t there to be liked or ogled, but she was central, and the audience loved her by the end of the film. So as much as I applaud Patty directing the film and Hollywood, uh, ‘letting’ a woman direct a major action franchise, I didn’t think there was anything groundbreaking in Wonder Woman. I thought it was a good film. Period. I was certainly shocked that [my comment] was a controversial statement. It was pretty obvious in my mind. I just think Hollywood doesn’t get it about women in commercial franchises. Drama, they’ve got that cracked, but the second they start to make a big commercial action film, they think they have to appeal to 18-year-old males or 14-year-old males, whatever it is. Look, it was probably a little bit of a simplistic remark on my part, and I’m not walking it back, but I will add a little detail to it, which is: I like the fact that, sexually, she had the upper hand with the male character, which I thought was fun.”
Again, it seems like Cameron missed the point of Jenkins’ statement and of Wonder Woman in general, but you can’t say the man doesn’t have his heart in the right place. He does make a couple good points (though he does seem to be stuck on an idea that a woman can’t be attractive), and at the end of the day, he’s always had a place for strong women in his film, and even in the upcoming Terminator film, they’re looking to cast a young woman to star as the next big lead.
What do you think of his comments? Do you think he’s right? Let us know your thoughts down below!
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