Why Gal Gadot is Actually Wonder Woman

Whoever told movie producers that no one would watch a female-lead superhero movie or play with their action figures, my twelve-year-old brother would like to disagree.

I just want to start off by saying I am not a huge fan of popular sci-fi movies. I have no desire to watch Lord of the Rings, and I only saw the Star Trek reboots for Chris Pine. However, I do have a little brother who is seven years younger, and I knew he didn’t want to bond over the same things I am interested in (I tried to get him in to watch Mean Girls and I’ve never seen him more disgusted). Since he was so opposed to my taste in recreation, I decided to bite the bullet and get involved with his interests. And because he is a sixth grade boy, that consisted of brushing up on my superhero and Star Wars antiquity.

Though I’m not always proud to admit it, I now know that Captain America’s shield is made of vibranium and have since stopped calling every alien in every movie Chewbacca. After earning my brother’s adorably nerdy respect, I was cool enough to sit next to him when we saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I loved watching how excited he was to see one of his favorite franchises onscreen, and even more thrilled to hear how he raved about his favorite characters.

Thus brings me to a busy December evening at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel. My family had spent the day at Magic Kingdom, and decided to stop for dinner. While they bought the food, I took my brother to one of the overpriced stores near the food court. Since the new Star Wars movie had just been released, all of the brand-new, last-minute Christmas toys were proudly on display. I allowed my brother to show me every one that caught his eye, and explain in great detail their included features.

He eventually picked up a box filled with six characters. There were four main characters, and two generic ones (I believe a Stormtrooper and a pilot). As I asked him to tell me who all of them were, I noticed one of my personal favorites – Rey – was not included, nor was Princess Leia.

I asked my brother why there weren’t any girls, and he told me they didn’t make Rey. I further questioned him as to why, and he said toy companies didn’t think boys would play with the girl ones, and that they considered Star Wars to be a “boy movie.”

What shocked me the most was what he said when I asked him if he’d play with a Rey action figure. His eyes lit up as he exclaimed, “Of course I would! She’s my favorite Jedi.”

My little brother didn’t look at Rey as a “girl-Jedi,” and as I learned later on that winter break, he didn’t consider a lot of other female characters to be girl-anythings. When he played video games, he chose female characters for their included stealth and agility. When he talked about comic books and superheroes, Catwoman and Black Widow were never regarded as girl-heroes. In his eyes, both genders were regarded with the same respect, and judged solely on their abilities to fight crime or use the force.

I learned a lot about the old fashioned view on women in lead roles verses the new millennials.' Someone in Hollywood doesn’t understand that women in these roles are not just to make little girls feel included while watching movies, but role models to real people based on their strengths and abilities.

I found myself nerding out to these female characters when taking my brother to see superhero movies, and feeling the child in me aspire to be just as courageous as they were. Whenever the movie ended, my brother never cared about how attractive Scarlett Johansson looked in her costume that was always unnecessarily zipped down the front; he was just amazed that she managed to hack in to Tony Stark’s house or interrogate bad guys.

To me, this sparked an interest in female roles that I never thought I would find in comic book or sci-fi movies, and a burning rage that they do not get the screen time they deserve with an accurate portrayal of real womanhood. That was why my expectations for Wonder Woman in the new Batman v. Superman movie were so low.

Though my knowledge on superheroes is subpar, as a kid myself I always admired the way Wonder Woman looked. She wasn’t slender and seductive like how other women were portrayed in pictures. Wonder Woman was built, and she was unapologetically tough. When I saw the pictures of Gal Gadot being casted as Wonder Woman, I joined the slew of those on the internet bashing her. Gadot was skinny, and nothing how I pictured the Wonder Woman of my childhood. Assuming she was another pompous celebrity ready to pimp her assets out for money and disregarding the people like my little brother who could honestly learn from her character, I didn’t even give her a chance.

And for that, I apologize.

Gal Gadot was the most amazing onscreen superhero I have ever seen. She didn’t have to rock her sexuality or have a tragic backstory full of sacrifice to hold her own. Her costume wasn’t zipped down the middle, and she didn’t have to seduce a single character to get her way. My brother noticed as well, and told me he would be the first in line should she get her own movie.

Because I was so mesmerized with how genuine Gadot seemed in the movie, I began to research who she was in real life. And just like a twelve-year-old declaring Batman was his favorite superhero onscreen, I came to the conclusion that Gadot was my favorite superhero behind the curtains.

She is a Feminist

Gal Gadot is a major advocate for women’s rights and feminism. In an interview with Glamour, she made it clear that the Wonder Woman she was portraying was independent.

“For [Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice] it was important for me that we show how independent she is,” Gadot stated. “She is not relying on a man, and she’s not there because of a love story. She’s not there to serve someone else.”           

Gadot also emphasized the importance of emotional intelligence.

“And it’s all her heart — that’s her strength,” Gadot continued. “I think women are amazing for being able to show what they feel. I admire women who do. I think it’s a mistake when women cover their emotions to look tough. I say let’s own who we are and use it as a strength.”

In other interviews, Gadot (much like everything Wonder Woman stands for) further applauded womanhood and feminism. When she noted that more men are supporting the idea of female-lead superheroes, she traced it back to feminism.

“There are such misconceptions as to what a feminist is,” Gadot explained. “Feminism is about equality. I want all people to have the same opportunities and to get the same salaries for the same jobs. I realize I’m doing what I want to do because of the women before me who laid the groundwork. Without them I wouldn’t be an educated working mother who is following her dreams; I wouldn’t be here.”

She’s Strong – Like, Army Strong

Wonder Woman’s character is known for fighting for justice, and that is exactly what Gadot did for her country. To the untrained eye, she seems small and petite, but Gadot actually served in the Israeli Army for two years back in 2004.

She is an Advocate for Body Positivity

It is so easy to be wrapped up by the way the media portrays women. Additionally, you would think someone who won Miss Israel wouldn’t have any insecurity. However, when Gadot accepted the role of Wonder Woman, there was a major backlash (that I was a part of) saying she wasn’t built enough.

In an interview with Robot Underdog, Gadot took the hatred with a grain of salt, saying, “They said that I was too skinny and my boobs were too small... When I was younger I would take criticism really hard. But now it mostly amused me.”

Gadot also explained that now that she’s bulked up for the role, she feels like being strong allows her to take on anything. And the criticism? She says it doesn’t bother her.

“After they asked me here – in Israel – if I have eating disorders and why am I so skinny, that my head was too big and my body was like a broomstick, I can take anything. It's just empty talk," she explained. "I understand that part of what I'm doing means being exposed. And part of being exposed is being under fire.”

Conclusion

I am beyond excited to support Gal Gadot as she gets her own Wonder Woman movie. While my brother will be rooting for the character, I will be cheering for the actress. Seldom does a woman playing what is usually a hypersexualized role involve herself in feminism and inner-strength. Gadot has shown her fans that, just like Wonder Woman, she is capable of holding her own in Hollywood.

Nonetheless, the real tragedy of D.C. Comics insisting its cinematic universe be dark and serious is that we’ll probably never get to see Gal Gadot do the spin:

 

 

Photo credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Interviews: GlamourRobot Underdog