Gal Gadot, an Israeli actress best known for playing Gisele in three of the Fast and Furious films, has been cast as Wonder Woman in the upcoming Batman vs. Superman film. Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck will join her as Superman and Batman, respectively, in Zak Snyder’s followup to this summer’s Man of Steel, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The fact that Wonder Woman would even be a character in the new film was kept under wraps until Wednesday —and with good reason. The inclusion of Wonder Woman in a feature film will likely stoke the controversy surrounding a potential movie in which Wonder Woman is the central character, rather than a supporting player. Critics and bloggers have complained for years that while movie studios seem to have exhausted both the DC and Marvel universes in their quest for summer blockbusters — Ant-Man will fly into theaters in 2015 — Wonder Woman has been left on the bench. Though Lynda Carter starred in a popular 1970s TV show about the character, Wonder Woman has yet to have her own big-screen project — despite the fact that there have been 40 (yes, 40!) superhero movies since 2002.
The reason? Studios probably worry that a female superhero will not draw the same crowds that Batman and Iron Man do. Halle Berry’s take as Catwoman in 2004 flopped, and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow in the Iron Man and Avengers films has been limited to a supporting role. And Wonder Woman was conceived as a uber-feminist Amazonian princess forced to live in a world “torn apart by the hatred of men,” as Sujay Kumar writes in a great Wonder Woman explainer at the Daily Beast. To make matters more difficult, historically, the heroine has been portrayed as both empowered woman and sex object — and any movie featuring her would have to wrangle with those two characterizations.
But the success of the Hunger Games franchise should prove that audiences are ready for a powerful female superhero to kick bad-guy butt on the big screen, even if she is wearing a glorified bathing suit and carrying a magic lasso (which just seems impractical). Until now, the lack of a Wonder Woman movie has represented the industry’s sexism and inability to understand the concept that if you make a good movie people will see it, regardless of the main character’s gender.
So with that debate brewing, Gal will be filling a large bustier when she takes the screen in a role that will likely make or break her as a star. But Snyder has confidence in her abilities. “Wonder Woman is arguably one of the most powerful female characters of all time and a fan favorite in the DC Universe. Not only is Gal an amazing actress, but she also has that magical quality that makes her perfect for the role,” said the director. “We look forward to audiences discovering Gal in the first feature film incarnation of this beloved character.”
Plus, Gadot’s casting means Wonder Woman will be Jewish, fulfilling many a fanboy’s fantasy.
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