Wonder Woman isn't the big step forward for feminist movies

Wonder Woman is great...but not the greatest
Wonder Woman is great...but not the greatest Photo credit: Getty

When James Cameron ripped into Wonder Woman as a step backwards, he was right.

Well, the point he was trying to make is right. Predictably, the way he came across in the headlines predictably made him sound like a dork.

Cameron came out and said that Wonder Woman was not the great, feminist victory Hollywood is congratulating itself for; let alone because lead star Gal Gadot was paid a lot less than her male peers were for similar roles.

“All of the self-congratulatory back-patting Hollywood’s been doing over Wonder Woman has been so misguided," Cameron told  The Guardian.

"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."

He went on to argue that in his movies, the female leads weren't primarily sex symbols.

"Sarah Connor was not a beauty icon," Cameron said.

"She was strong, she was troubled, she was a terrible mother, and she earned the respect of the audience through pure grit."

And that's the part that I agree with. Many female action stars of the ‘80s and early ‘90s were inspirational purely because they were so human.

Maybe it was because the feminist movement was so strong at the time it couldn't help but bleed into the film industry. It produced heroines who were grimy, complicated, difficult and real, and their complexity made them all the more powerful.

They were pretty, of course, but they weren't just pretty. Sarah Connor, Ripley in Alien and Aliens, Princess Leia…

My personal favourite was Jamie Lee Curtis playing Helen Tasker in True Lies. Sure, she had that electrifying strip dance scene. But she was not just a sex symbol.

She turned from frustrated, domestic and neurotic legal clerk to kick-arse yet rawly human action hero. And her sex appeal didn't dominate the whole movie; a lot of the time she wore suits with shoulder pads large enough to eat dinner off.

The empowering thing about her and leads like her was that she was relatable. You watch Helen Tasker, so endearingly awkwardly awesome in the middle of an explosive action scene and you're like, "that's me! I WOULD DO THAT!"

You know that is how your superhero movie starts. And when you're sitting at work the next day punching numbers, you feel that the smell of explosives and adventure could be right around the corner…

Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman didn't make me feel that. It was a great movie, but I was blinded by her character being written as unattainably beautiful and ballsy.

She didn't make me feel like I could save the world - she just reminded me I can't do a sit up without crying.

So when it comes to powerful, hellraising legends - the old school wins every time.


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