On television, female superheroes — ranging from Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman to Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl — have become something that’s been accepted over the years. On the big screen, that rise has been slower in coming, though that seems likely to change with the release of Wonder Woman, with Gal Gadot in the title role.
Introduced as the character in last year’s Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, Gal returns as Diana, the Amazon princess, under the guiding hand of director Patty Jenkins. The film, set during World War I, is an origin story. When military pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes on the female-only inhabited island of Themyscira, he’s nursed back to health and reveals much about the world — especially the war — which inspires Diana to put an end to that war as Wonder Woman. But first, she’s going to have to stop the warrior god Ares (David Thewlis), who is manipulating humanity down a path of destruction.
The Israeli-born Gal, who has co-starred in three of the Fast And The Furious films as Giselle and in the spy comedy-adventure Keeping Up With The Jonses, has also established herself as a model. And while Patty didn’t actually cast her as Wonder Woman (that was done by Batman V Superman’s Zack Snyder), she couldn’t be happier with the choice.
“I didn’t get to choose her, but boy was I relieved once I realized who she was,” laughs Patty. “That is like a make it or break it thing, who plays these characters. So when I first heard Zack Snyder had cast somebody as Wonder Woman, a movie I had wanted to make for a long time, I was cautious. But then, oh my God, they couldn’t have found anybody better in the whole wide world. Just look at Gal Gadot when she smiles or when she meets somebody and shakes their hand. That is the embodiment of Wonder Woman. She is so beautiful and powerful, but kind and generous and thoughtful. She’s just an amazing person.”
The admiration for the actress doesn’t stop there. Chris, perhaps best known as Captain James T. Kirk in the rebooted Star Trek film series, isn’t exactly holding back the praise.
“I think the beauty of what Gal has is that she is physically very imposing,” he offers. “She’s stunning; she’s like six-feet tall. She’s super strong emotionally and her presence is very captivating. But she also, at the same time, has this beautiful spirit to her that’s very — and I know she hates me saying this — it’s not child-like, but very open and warm and inviting. She’s got a wonderful maternal quality to her and a deep kind of love for the world. That is very much this juxtaposition of Diana and Wonder Woman in this film.”
For her part, the feeling is mutual for Chris. She describes him as being unexpectedly funny, to the points where many film takes were ruined by him causing her to laugh. “But I felt very comfortable working with him,” Gal emphasizes.
It’s a sentiment she also feels towards Patty, who she found to be extremely opinionated about Wonder Woman as a person. Importantly, both women were united in their vision for the character.
“I remember the first time we sat together, and we were talking about life, and then we were talking about our families and everything was so similar,” she points out. “The way we see the world, Patty and I, is very similar, and to be able to work with someone whom you can get along with, you agree creatively about almost everything, and even when we had our conflicts, it was always fair. It made me think and it made her think. We both evolved from it. You know what I mean? And the result that we got was the best that we could get.”
While Patty acknowledges that the arrival of the first big screen superheroine is significant, it’s not something that impacted on her through production.
“I’m not looking at her as being any different than any other superhero,” she says. “And that’s the victory. I think the reason that there wasn’t a woman superhero made for a long time is because people were assuming that it had to be a different kind of thing. This is Wonder Woman. There’s nothing different. There’s Batman, there’s Superman, there’s Wonder Woman. She’s the full-blown real deal. So it’s very significant, but I also just went forth trying to make a great superhero film the same way I would have with any of them, which was great.”
Chris believes that Wonder Woman conveys an important but “beautifully transparent” message that no matter how ugly this world gets that we live in, there is hope.
“No matter how much death we encounter,” he explains, “no matter how many homicidal dictators are out there, no matter how much genocide happens, how many wars happen, there is still hope in the best parts of ourselves to be good and to protect one another, and to do right by one another. That’s what we should hold on to and that’s what she represents. So she’s not just your regular everyday superhero because of X, Y and Z capabilities with capes and whatever they use to defeat the bad guy. Not only can she defeat the bad guy, but she has a powerful, loving spirit aside from that. You know, she’s a savior in many ways. She sees the best parts of ourselves.”
Gal feels the beautiful thing about Wonder Woman is that she represents so many different things as a person. She’s someone who can be vulnerable and sensitive, and the greatest warrior that’s ever existed.
“When you first meet Diana on the island, she’s about five or six, and she is this curious little girl who’s very courageous, who’s very sassy and naughty,” Gal says. “And she’s very inspired by her aunt. She wants to learn how to fight, but she’s been very sheltered and protected by her mother, who does not allow her to do so. But Diana finds her way; she has this spark in her. She has this fire in her eyes, and eventually, she gets her way.
“I think that everything Wonder Woman stands for is brilliant,” she closes. “She stands for justice, and peace, and wisdom, and love, and acceptance, and compassion. And all of these things are becoming rare in our world.”