The internet went all crazypants yesterday with the announcement that Israeli actress Gal Gadot was cast as the superheroine known to the world as Wonder Woman. The hunt for the Amazon warrior to appear in Zack Snyder’s upcoming flick uniting Batman and Superman (to be titled BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN or WORLD’S FINEST or THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD or DC COMICS PRESENTS or BRUCE AND CLARK GO TO WHITE CASTLE) had been going on for a while, and many famous names had been bandied about, so the decision to cast a relatively unknown actress came as a bit of a shock.
“Outrageous!” your fanboy friend exclaimed on his Twitter feed. “How dare Gadot be cast as Wonder Woman? She is meant to be played by a man, as she was when Shakespeare originally staged the character at The Globe! She should clearly be Idris Elba.”
The fanboy reaction was essentially the same as it was a few weeks ago, when PHANTOMS star Ben Affleck was cast as an older Dark Knight, as the world became outraged at the idea that actors could portray a character mildly unlike the characters they had portrayed in the past. “Gadot can’t possibly do it,” screamed your other annoying fanboy friend. “She’s way too skinny and doesn’t have muscles! Princess Diana is supposed to be an ass-kicker!”
(You can tell when someone refers to Wonder Woman as “Princess Diana” that they’re letting you know that they respect the character soooo much that they’re on a secret identitied-basis with her. I do the same when I refer to “Paco” when mentioning my Vibe slash fanfic.)
While I’m in the minority in that I have not yet formed an opinion on the performance in a film that has yet to be made by an actress I have yet to see in any real capacity, I’m cautiously optimistic. I have heard rumors that it is, in fact, possible to change one’s physical appearance with a regimen of training – there’s even been speculation that this has been done to prepare for a role in a superhero film before. So I’m not really concerned with the fact that Gadot seems at first sight to be less of a physical presence than the live-action Wonder Woman I had in my mind.
Honestly, I’m just happy there will finally be a second live-action Wonder Woman in a theatrical film.
Yep, second. Sort of. The road to a non-comic Wonder Woman has been long, and with the notable exception of Lynda Carter and appearances in the animated “Justice League,” the portrayals in other media have been… problematic. She had a terrible live-action TV pilot in the ‘60s. She was portrayed by Cathy Lee Crosby. She helped the Brady Kids. And the only other time a “Wonder Woman” appeared in a live-action theatrical film, it was for about ten seconds and just to join into a musical number.
Yes, long two decades before Gadot took the role, “Wonder Woman” appeared briefly in 1989’s ALYAS BATMAN EN ROBIN, a goofy-as-hell Filipino musical comedy paying homage the 1966 “Batman” TV series. Still, she was featured on the poster in order to lure people into the theaters when the film was finally released two years later.
The woman who would become Wonder Woman is reporter Angelique Legarda, played by Dawn Zulueta, who works for the Daily Star, thus setting the film on Earth-2. Legarda sets out to cover the crimes being committed by a couple of guys who’ve decided to take on the identities of the Joker and the, er, “Paenguin” in order to rob banks and perform musical numbers that rip off ‘60s surf hits.
Meanwhile, a pair of brothers inspired by the exploits of Batman and Robin from the comics decide to take up the masked identities, and Legarda falls for the Filipino Caped Crusader. She tries to discover his secret identity, but mostly just pines for the guy, wanting to become “Bat-Ma’am.” (Seriously.)
It all ends in a musical number that rips off is inspired by “At the Hop,” featuring lyrics about fearing God and loving love, but just before then, Legarda switches into her Wonder Woman costume. And, ta-dah, the motion picture screen’s first actual Wonder Woman is born. A dwarf Spider-Man also shows up. Catwoman also appears.
So everybody quit your whining about Gadot, at least until the movie is actually made. Gadot won’t be the first Wonder Woman to hit the screen, and she won’t even technically be the first non-American actress to have played the role. Okay, so ALYAS BATMAN EN ROBIN is about as far from an authorized portrayal of the Amazon Princess as you can get, but Dawn Zulueta will always have a place in history as the first woman to have portrayed her in a theatrical film. And if nothing else, Zack Snyder’s film is unlikely to have her playing second fiddle to a singing Joker in a musical number.
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