What do crazed sports fans and passionate fans of superheros have in common? For starters, both groups are thought to be traditionally male-dominated. Both groups also are endlessly devoted to the objects of their fandom and are heavily armed with strong, unwavering opinions. These opinions, however, are often toxic and create discourse on a much larger scale.
For example, take this summer’s big blockbuster, . The film’s release in June was preceded by endless controversy. Male superfans of the DC Universe were quick to criticize the casting of Israeli actress Gal Gadot as the leading role. These fans griped that, at the time, Gadot was not curvy enough to play Wonder Woman, a character that had been portrayed in comic books and other prior iterations as well-endowed. Really?
Body-shaming actresses is not novel to Hollywood, but it is ridiculous. In an interview with , Gal thought just that of these body-shamers, saying, “Listen, if you want to be for real, then the Amazons, they had only one boob. Exactly one boob. So what are you talking about here? Me having small boobs and small ass? That will make all the difference.”
Throughout a 75 year history, Wonder Woman has always been regarded as a feminist character that embodies female strength and ability. Canonically speaking, she engages in rigorous combat and is capable of tremendous feats of strength. This important factor was not lost on Gal Gadot as she prepared for the role. In an interview with , Gadot said she began training for six months prior to filming. The actress trained for six hours a day, doing a multitude of different activities that would allow her to bulk up for the role. Two hours of gym work, two hours of fight choreography, and two hours of horseback riding a day caused the actress to gain 17 pounds of muscle. Gadot said that she knew you cannot fake that kind of strength — a clear indicator that she understands what Wonder Woman is all about.
The character is canonically strong, not canonically well-endowed. So, to have men comment on the actress’s breasts instead of her strong physique is a slap in the face not only for women, but for those who wish to stay true to the character.
However, the criticism of the film and Gal Gadot did not stop there. Famed director James Cameron criticized ’s message of feminism, months after the film was first released in theaters. In an interview with , Cameron stated, “ 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 [of Cameron’s ] 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!”
Almost immediately, fans took to Twitter to respond in outrage to Cameron’s remarks. In addition to this outcry, director, Patty Jenkins, tweeted a response to Cameron’s tone-deaf statement.
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