No, James Cameron doesn’t have Wonder Woman wrong.
Wonder Woman was okay, not great. There, I said it. Empowering, yes. Symbolic, yes. Historic, yes. Beautifully shot, yes. But good? Meh.
I really didn’t want to say it, because I knew I would get roasted by the feminist brigade. But I specifically recall sitting in the movie theater back in June wondering when I would see depth and complexity, in the character and in the storyline, that never came.
Look, as women we should indeed all stick together and support one another. I’m with it, until mindless groupthink ceases to make sense.
Our being women does not mean we can’t point out obvious shortcomings in another woman’s work. Especially when those shortcomings prevent what could have been a powerful movie from becoming just that.
I already explained some of my concerns with the film’s failures. Those failures weren’t exactly small. They missed opportunities to pay attention to nuance, instead choosing to keep Diana Prince’s motivations very simple. The counterargument here is that five year-old girls needed to appreciate this film too, so it needed to not be complicated. Fine. I kind of buy it, kind of don’t. Iron Man, first installment, was very human, character was complex, a powerful social theme was woven in. It was more appropriate for ages 13+ for sex and violence, but Wonder Woman didn’t need Iron Man‘s sex/violence, just his depth.
That said, Cameron is right.
Diana Prince is cute, but she’s got nothing on her female heroine predecessors Sarah Connor in Terminator, Ripley in Alien, or Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill.
The Hollywood Reporter piece on this issue quotes Cameron and then goes on to refute his words:
“‘Sarah Connor was not a beauty icon,’ Cameron went on to say in his Guardian interview. “She was strong, she was troubled, she was a terrible mother, and she earned the respect of the audience through pure grit.” This is another reduction of Wonder Woman’s legacy and perhaps even a misguided and a deep misunderstanding of his own character. Sarah Connor isn’t diametrically opposed to Wonder Woman because the former didn’t give a shit about her looks. And Wonder Woman didn’t care about her looks! That her hair remained perfect after walking into a field of bullets was a choice made by the people behind the screen, not the character herself.”
-Jill Pantozzi, What James Cameron Doesn’t Get About Strong Female Characters
Yet after Ms. Pantozzi questions if this legend of multidimensional storylines and characters understands his own character, she goes on to justify why Wonder Woman’s hair remained perfect in a fight scene. Yeah. Mindless groupthink. Can’t do it.
Um, what Cameron describes in Terminator‘s Sarah Connor is me. My mom. And my grandmother. Plus my boss. She is everything we are every day on our jobs and in our relationships. Some will say Diana Prince is too, but…
… why was Wonder Woman’s hair perfect after walking into a field of bullets?
Exactly. It’s the kind of nuance that separates her from Sarah Connor and Beatrix Kiddo. And what separates Patty Jenkins from James Cameron.
Sorry, ladies, better luck next Wonder Woman.