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James Cameron Calls Wonder Woman “A Step Backwards”

While Wonder Woman continues to crush it at the box office, James Cameron isn’t very thrilled on the film’s depiction of women.

The Report

In an interview with The Guardian, James Cameron did not mince words regarding his thoughts on the biggest film of the summer, Wonder Woman.  As part of an interview discussing the 20th anniversary of Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Cameron exclaimed:

“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.”

James Cameron would go on to say that famous heroine Sarah Connor was not a “beauty icon” and that she gained the respect of audiences everywhere through “pure grit.”

These comments triggered a response from Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins where she said:

“If women have to always be hard, tough and troubled to be strong, and we aren’t free to be multidimensional or celebrate an icon of women everywhere because she is attractive and loving, then we haven’t come very far have we.”

What It Means

As one could have guessed, most people have been very critical of James Cameron since these comments surfaced.  From a warped perspective, one could understand Cameron since women are most certainly objectified in film.  However, these comments are horribly misguided considering what the character of Wonder Woman means to so many people.

A high-profile woman character can possess strength and power regardless of their looks.  The fact that Gal Gadot is an objectively attractive woman has nothing to do with the characters’ core beliefs.  Wonder Woman is a symbol of hope and optimism for the world.  In fact, Patty Jenkins has said on numerous occassions that there was a concerted effort on set to not use shots that would appear to linger on Gal Gadot’s body or imply any innuendos for exactly this reason.

Were there people who looked at Gal Gadot with some type of sexual undertone?  Sure, but Wonder Woman was nevertheless a strong character with great morals.

James, we all love your films and what you’ve done for cinema, but you might want to think about stopping from mansplaining social issues and get back to working on your four Avatar sequels that keep getting pushed back to later release dates.

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*Quotations via The Guardian

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Nick Kush

A current college student, Nick founded MovieBabble in October of 2016 in order to provide insightful film analysis that is meant to educate and entertain. Nick is also a member of the Internet Film Critics Society. You can follow Nick at the official MovieBabble Twitter account @MovieBabble_

39 Responses

  1. I agreed with Cameron’s comments. I go into further detail in it in my blog on the subject, but I will try to sum up my thoughts: The recent Wonder Woman (along with the actress who played her) have been shoved in the spotlight with the crown of feminist pinned to their heads. I say, “their” because both the fictional character of Wonder Woman, along with Gal Gadot (the actress who played her) have both been hailed as feminist heroes, and unfairly so. It is a slap in the face to real women who are fighting for real change, irreverent of the male gaze while doing so. The bottom line is this: When women pick fictional characters and people playing a fictional role, we will get fictional results. Look at all the fuss over how Wonder Woman appeared in the new Justice League (JL). She wore a VERY low cut shirt, and tight pants. Several shots lingered on her bum, and breasts, as well as zoomed up her skirt for bum shots. Feminist are in an uproar, angry at the makers of JL. They feel let down by a franchise they falsely believed had offered them a female hero. I have read literal death threats on twitter willed against the directors of JL demanding their female feminist super hero be returned to them. I can only shake my head. For one, Patty Jenkin’s Wonder Woman that women rallied behind was written by a man, the same man, Zach Synder, who directed JL. That is not to say the movie was bad. The point is Wonder woman was created by man and mostly for man. The actress who plays Wonder Woman is no feminist hero, either. She has splashed herself all over lad mags such as MAXIM. This is not just a harmless magazine either. These magazines promote a rape culture, and the sexual objectification of women. This not just my opinion either. Research has showed that everyday citizens have trouble telling the difference between language used by convicted rapist and lad mags like MAXIM. Again: Women have real heroes, and we need to start celebrating them. HINT: You won’t find them nearly nude with the “fuck me” look on their face. If you want to read the full blog post: https://wordpress.com/view/thefemalegaze2017.wordpress.com

    • Nick Kush says:

      I completely understand where you’re coming from, even if I dont’t necessarily agree. I would argue that the way Patty Jenkins showed respect to Wonder Woman as a character is vastly different than in JL. Jenkins has expressed in many interviews that it was a conscience effort to not linger on Gadot in any way with the camera. Obviously, under different leadership for JL, it was a little different. The Amazons also had very revealing armor that differed from WW which is another discussion altogether. In the end, it comes down to a respectful interpretation of a character. Wonder Woman obviously has some inherent things about her that can be sexualized very easily, and it’s up to the individual to not fall into those traps. There’s definitely a double standard at play with actresses who want to be feminist icons but then work in revealing photoshoot as you mentioned. But, I feel as if James Cameron’s words are incorrect for what Patty Jenkins and co. were going for in the film itself.

  2. thedanny1972 says:

    i amwith james cameron. Let us honestly answer the following question would this make a billion dollars if leslie jones were in the titular role?the problem is that being a beauty is a pre-requisite to play the part.

    • Nick Kush says:

      I see where both of you are coming from considering the Gal Gadot is gorgeous, but the character itself stood for hope and optimism, two ideas that have nothing to do with how she looked

  3. Damien Riley says:

    He must have a Linda Hamilton sex crush.

  4. I’m female and been dead against the new wonder woman movie when they first announced it. Then Gal Gardot was cast hated it even more and after Batman vs Superman… (aside from Suicide Squad) I have sword off all DC movies. Stick to the CW people cause the shows are better than the movies! (P.s. they might want to lighten up the tones when its NOT a batman movie.
    Alan Ritchson will ALWAYS be Aquaman as far as I’m concerned! looks just like the cartoon and what I’ve seen of the comic)

  5. rhythmprism says:

    It’s true that Wonder Woman is beautiful–but so is Superman, and Batman. We like our movie stars to be attractive. Not a gender thing. This Wonder Woman wowed me. She’s strong, courageous and moral. She’s also beautiful. I won’t hold that against her.

    • Nick Kush says:

      Exactly! Henry Cavill is absolutely oogled at in his films. Remember when the camera panned up his abs in Man of Steel? lol

  6. Jina Jay says:

    Hi Nick. I have nominated you for a Mystery Blogger Award. Okoto Enigma @ okotoenigmasblog created the award to recognise the many amazing blogs out there. So, it ”is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion” (– Okoto Enigma). There is no obligation to take part, but if you wish to participate, please check out The Mystery Blogger Award nomination post on my blog. 🙂

  7. James Cameron is 100% right.

    I’ve grown up with Wonder Woman my entire life. She’s never been any more than Comic Book Barbie, created for the benefit of young adolescent males for their sexual fantasies, and later co-opted and marketed to little girls for the sake of selling action figures and Halloween costumes. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but she is what she is.

    The cynical Hollywood execs tried spinning her and this movie as “feminist” to capitalize on Third Wave Feminism and to pat itself on the back for being progressive. Cameron called the b.s. for what it is, and rightly so.

    Don’t get me wrong. People are allowed to love Wonder Woman all they want. But trying to boost her into some kind of deep feminist icon and symbol of empowerment when she’s never been anything other than one dimensional Comic Book eye candy, that’s a whole other story. People don’t even give James Bond that kind of credit, but now everyone wants to give a vapid female superhero character all this depth and nuance that she never had?

    As for the snide comments about Cameron, all I can say is, as I get older, that America is becoming a place that doesn’t deserve people like him or so many other progressives like him who have worked so hard over the years to transform media for the better. Cameron was *the* director who redefined roles for women in the 1980s and 1990s. Before him, women were just dumb, helpless bimbos who hung off the action hero’s arms. After him, women would hold their own.

    His Titanic taught millions of young girls all over the world that they didn’t need a man to live their lives to the fullest, at a time when all the 1990s rom coms were telling them the opposite, that their lives wouldn’t be fulfilled until they found Mr. Right.

    To see Americans turn on him now like this, to paint him as The Enemy, to dismiss all the heavy lifting he’s done, to make fun of Avatar, to call him an “egotistical ass,” to write him off as a “mansplainer,” it turns my stomach because it confirms something a professor mentioned with anxiety in a Q and A with Kathleen Turner some ago. She said that she was worried to notice that the younger generation no longer seemed to understand or care about the many strides that the older generation had mad over the years. Turner was rather hopeful about it and said, “Don’t worry about it. They’re immature now. One day they’ll get it.” That Q and A was years ago, and now it looks as if the professor was right in her concerns. No one understands. No one cares.

    • Nick Kush says:

      You certainly bring up some valid points there. As much as I disagree with Cameron on this one, you’re lying if you don’t see her as a sexual icon in some capacity.

      However, I would retort your ideas with the fact that, although you may feel differently, Wonder Woman was a strong symbol of hope and power in this new film which is certainly grounds for to be a strong female character. Did she wear revealing clothing? Yeah, but people also respected her for her morals. We didn’t see her prance around in the film only to wait for men to come save her.

      This debate really comes down to one’s experiences. Clearly you’ve had different experiences than I, so your opinions come from a different place. Although Cameron was out of line (in my humble opinion) I can’t knock you for feeling the way you do.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Thank you! Can I say it again? THANK YOU. So well said! I blogged about the Wonder Woman with similar sentiments as you! https://wordpress.com/view/thefemalegaze2017.wordpress.com

  8. raistlin0903 says:

    Cameron is certainly a director I highly respect and I love his films, but some of his comments just aren’t hitting the point (in fact just missing it). Sure Gal Gadot is a beautiful woman, and there as I am a male I won’t be a hypocrite in denying the fact that she is surely very pleasurable to watch, but in the case of wonder woman, it’s the character itself that makes the impact. And to say she is just mere eye candy, is so not true.

    • Nick Kush says:

      Absolutely. A woman doesn’t have to be dirty, gritty, or troubled to be a role model. Just being a good human should be enough!

  9. fillums says:

    Cameron is not wrong, Wonder Woman is objectified – you don’t see skimpy outfits and high heeled boots on any of the male superheroes. The point he misses though is that, unlike Sarah Connor, she is allowed to be more powerful than everyone else and she doesn’t need a guy, either human or male-identifying cyborg, to save her. Wonder Woman doesn’t break all of the concerning and limiting female stereotypes but it breaks an important. one and in a popular genre not known for having positive and relatively complex portrayals of women.

    • Nick Kush says:

      Very well said! You’d have to be pretty naive to think that Wonder Woman isn’t objectified, but that’s clearly not the point of her character.

      • Jina Jay says:

        I would agree with fillums. I think the female protagonists in films like Alien, The Abyss and Terminator are much more interesting and empowered. They still have flaws like everybody else but it only makes them more real to me. Even Natalie Portman had to lose half her shirt in that ‘pit’ scene in Attack of the Clones, so we can get to see her midriff. She is the only one in that scene who has that creature claw off just about enough cloth to make it still look fashionable and sexy. They don’t tend to depict male protagonists that way. It’s not that I’m not a fan of superhero films. I’m definitely a big fan. I’m looking forward to seeing The Wasp in action. I think, she will be another strong character in the superhero genre. I have been a bit disappointing with the depiction of some of the female characters in the new DC Comic films.

      • Nick Kush says:

        I would say that Wonder Woman’s portrayal is in line with the comics in terms of her appearance. That being said, she was full of hope and power and that cannot be dismissed.

  10. Despite his success, I fear the good director is criticizing a better movie than he himself has made in quite some time.

    • Nick Kush says:

      That’s a great way of putting it! He’s been so busy with Avatar for so many years that he just hasn’t done much.

  11. What? Wonder Woman is a fictional character. As such, she is subject to multiple interpretations and presentations. Likely she has been objectified at some point, but not in the 2017 movie.

  12. notdonner says:

    I particularly like the comment from the director regarding Cameron’s opinion that women need to be “hard , tough and troubled to be strong”! Sure, there have been a lot of puff-pieces in the past. But here again, is another guy talking out his ‘arse’ as to what women should be in film. who really knows what someone else (fill in the identifying race, creed, color, etc) should be?

  13. Cameron needs to back off. Gal Gadot is extremely beautiful (I mean she was Miss Israel for crying out loud), but she’s also a total badass in real life! Now don’t get me wrong, I love Cameron’s work, but he is completely wrong on this on. I know that for myself and many of my friends we look to Wonder woman as a role model. I can’t put into words how empowered I felt leaving that film both times I saw it.

  14. Dear, Mr. Cameron: I respect you as a director and I respect your films. I love how you continued to help Ellen Ripley grow as an awesome character. I love how you developed Sarah Connor into a flawed, though strong-willed woman. Your comments aren’t entirely out of line, since we were initially skeptically when Gal Gadot was first announced as Wonder Woman back when “Dawn of Justice” was getting made. However, I saw her in that film and her self-titled film. I didn’t really see any scene that tried to exploit her. Unless you point out where in those two films those “shots” are there to back-up your comments, I don’t want to hear this and I’ll gladly side with Patty Jenkins in this argument.

  15. While there’s no denying Cameron’s a sometimes brilliant director, he’s always been a bit of a self-righteous, egotistical ass.

  16. cherriopolis says:

    Sheesh… Mansplaining.. Smh

  17. rakioddbooks says:

    Please, no more Avatar!

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