December 4, 2013
(Associated Press) (Associated Press)

We have a Wonder Woman! Well, the “Batman vs. Superman” movie has a Wonder Woman. Her name is Gal Gadot.

And already, the Internet has been registering its objections. “That’s not Wonder Woman,” my friend Julio Unpleasantness said. “That’s the skinny lady she saves from getting trapped under a coffee table.”

This would mark one of the first times that people, en masse, have objected to the fact that they were being handed an attractive slender model lady. “THIS PERSON IS TOO CONVENTIONALLY HOLLYWOOD ATTRACTIVE! GET HER OUT! GET HER OUT BEFORE SHE TOUCHES ANYTHING!” is not a comment you hear a lot, at least not in the circles I move in. But it’s been all over Tumblr and the comments sections of articles announcing the casting already, even prompting a parody from the Dorkly blog– “5 Reasons Why Katherine Dorselburg Is A Terrible Choice To Play Terrified Metropolis Citizen 3.”  It hits a lot of the problems with the criticism. 

Fans, especially comics fans, tend to be known for their lack of attention to detail and complete indifference to iconic characters. Remember how happy everyone was about Ben Affleck as Batman? “Seems fine,” they all said, and nobody turned bright green, exploded several stories in size, or started banging cars together. And DC comics has such a great track record not embarrassing people with its portrayals of wom– Oh. Oh. Sorry. Never mind.

Still, Gadot has the chance to prove her doubters wrong. Superhero movie casting tends to go through a cycle, like grieving or laundry. Actor Is Cast. The Citizens of Metropolis Have A Lot Of Feelings About It. The Actor Does A Good Job or a Bad Job. The Citizens of Metropolis Have A Lot Of Feelings About That Too. Here is a chart of the process.

casting

This isn’t the greatest chart ever made by a human being (question: what IS the greatest chart ever made by a human being? Maybe this?) but you get the idea.

It’s not entirely unfair to make this kind of judgment. Unlike non-graphic novels, where you eventually realize that you were picturing Lizzie Bennet as your old Sunday school teacher, comics include a very specific visual design that’s as deeply a part of the character as the words in his or her bubbles. And people get attached to the physical forms of their heroes — even more so to the physical forms of their superheroes, whom they want to look as much like sexy bowling pins as possible, inverted if male and right-side up if female. This is why we force Hugh Jackman to spend all his free time throwing iron lumps around and growing facial hair in specified patterns, and some people keep trying to slip adamantium into his bone health supplements. These demands may be ridiculous, but we make them of all the superhero actors, not just the ladies. From those to whom much has been given, much is, etc.

And complaining “HER PHYSICAL FORM DOES NOT RESEMBLE THE RIGHT KIND OF PARABOLA” is easier than shouting “I HOPE SHE HAS SOMETHING NUANCED TO DO IN THE FILM INSTEAD OF STANDING THERE WITH A HIP OUT, ESPECIALLY GIVEN HOW WELL FEMALE-HELMED FRANCHISES ARE DOING THESE DAYS” although, hey, that wasn’t as hard as I thought when I started the sentence.

 

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.