Thursday, December 5, 2013

And We Have Our Wonder Woman

For better or worse, it seems the time has come...the walrus said...

Wonder Woman has been cast in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel / Batman vs. Superman movie / semi-Justice League precursor. Gal Gadot—model-turned-actress, as of now best known for some of the Fast & Furious movies (none of which I've seen)—is going to be our Amazing Amazon.

Huzzah...I guess.

I suppose I should start with some thoughts on Man of Steel, the Batman/Superman movie, and Warner's apparent movie-verse ambitions.

I've not seen Man of Steel in its entirety yet—only a few clips, the fight with Faora, and the final battle with Zod. As such, I cannot give a thorough review, just reactions to what I have seen, heard, and gleamed.
And based on that, my response is pretty much...meh.

Overall, I felt it took itself way too seriously, and—as I've already stated elsewhere on this blog—one thing that always turns me off about Superman is when they have him endlessly brood about how he's an alien, and not part of the human race, and he doesn't belong, and blah-de-blah-de-blah, boo-hoo, if we have Superman constantly angst, that'll make him relatable, right..?

From what I've seen of Man of Steel, it's basically half the movie brooding and then it turns into Dragonball Z for the the last forty minutes or so. Which I can appreciate on a purely absurd, smashy-smashy level, but I feel that is undermined by the otherwise dour, joyless, overly serious tone of the movie.
Other stuff like Jonathon Kent's characterization, Zod's death, the Jesus symbolism...just rubs me the wrong way. And that's coming from someone not particularly invested in Superman.

I'm sure I'll see Man of Steel beginning to end, sooner or later (most likely when it ends up on HBO), and when I do I might post my full thoughts on it. But from what I have seen/ know what, if this is what Superman fans want, I'm not going to begrudge. But as someone who's not all that into the character, Man of Steel isn't going to be the thing that converts me.

And I think that is worth considering because I know a lot of decisions made with Superman and Man of Steel were made with people like me in mind. The people that might not necessarily be into Superman, but could at least be tempted to buy a movie ticket, pick up a comic book, or check out a TV show.

Moving on, when it was announced Man of Steel's sequel would be a crossover with Batman, my immediate reaction was a sardonic laugh.
If the rumors are to be believed, in the weeks leading up to Man of Steel's release, the execs at Warner Bros. were patting themselves on the back, saying, "We got this! We got Superman!" and were expecting Dark Knight numbers at the box office.

Even though Man of Steel was by no means a bomb, I guess it didn't make as much money as Warner wanted—evidenced by their falling back on their usual answer to when things aren't going as well as they'd like with their comic properties: throw Batman at it.
(See also: animated movies, animated shows, and comics)

Overall, the whole notion of doing Batman vs. Superman, and for that matter, using this to introduce and establish the new version of Batman just seems terribly ill-conceived, poorly planned, and frankly, nothing revealed or rumored since the announcement has suggested otherwise.

I'm neither angry, nor enthused by Ben Affleck's casting. To be frank though, it seems a choice based more on wanting headlines and attention rather than genuine belief he's good for the part. He may very well turn out to be a decent Batman, but I don't believe that's why Warner hired him.

And in a fashion that seems to gradually becoming typical for DC, once in a hole, they simply continue digging. We've now reached a point where this is not just a Superman sequel, not just a Batman reboot, but also an introduction to Wonder Woman and (if rumors are to be believed) possibly the Flash and Nightwing.

They might as well shoe-horn Green Lantern in and call this Justice League. Because, honestly, by not giving these characters their own movies and building up to it properly—the way Marvel did—and instead cramming them into supporting roles in what is supposed to be Superman's franchise, this is basically turning into what I always imagined a Justice League movie would wind up being:

"SUPERMAN! BATMAN!..............and the rest."

Avengers felt special because the main heroes each had their own movies to establish each character and make them feel important. When Batman met Superman in their animated series, it felt special because Superman's show had been on for a few years and Batman's since the early 90's. Their actually meeting was a big deal because of that history and build up.
In the wrestling industry, they call that long-term booking. When you want a main event with a big pay-off, you have to build up your two wrestlers so when they fight, it's a big deal that people want to see.

But in that regard, I'm sure I'm not saying anything that hasn't already been said or figured out. So, finally, on to the subject at hand and lady of the hour, Gal Gadot.

As of this writing, it's only been a day since this was announced, and the bulk of responses I've seen have either been cautious optimism or disappointment. The bulk of disappointment—if not anger—has been directed over Ms. Gadot's frame.

Specifically, when one pictures Wonder Woman, one sees a tall and physically fit, if not muscular, woman. And Ms. Gadot, despite having a history in the Israelli military and fitness, is a rather petite young woman.
Nothing wrong with that—it's just not how one pictures a live-action Wonder Woman.
The more optimistic of fans will be quick to point out she can always bulk up for the role. I'm sure she will, though how much and to what extent will be something to be seen.

I cannot comment on Ms. Gadot's acting ability. As said, I've not seen any of the Fast & Furious movies—and even if I did, I wonder whether they should be regarded as an adequate test of her range as an actress.

Me, personally, it's hard for me to manage a reaction in the positive or negative. Mainly because, well, I think when it comes to Wonder Woman there are far greater things to worry about than how muscular her chosen actress is.

Gal Gadot might turn out to be a fantastic actress. She can dye her hair black, put in blue contacts, and bulk up into a fully believable Amazon warrior. But it won't matter if her character is written for shit.
They could travel back in time, borrow a young Lynda Carter, combine her with a fusion of Gina Carano & Jaime Alexander, and inject her with the acting range of Meryl Streep...and it won't mean shite if Wonder Woman isn't written properly.

Remember the failed David E. Kelley pilot?
Adrianne Palicki is a fine looking woman, and I could totally have believed her as Wonder Woman. But at the end of the day, it didn't matter how she looked or that by the end of the episode she was wearing the classic bathing suit costume, she was working off a script that portrayed Wonder Woman as a violent sociopath.

As implied by everything I said regarding Man of Steel, the decision to make this a Batman vs. Superman movie, and Warner's choices regarding...pretty much everything pertaining to their DC properties...I find myself lacking in confidence.

Zack Snyder commented that Wonder Woman is a great and powerful character and he can't wait to bring her to life. I've heard lip-service like that before. Many times. As far as I know, the only time David S. Goyer has dabbled in Wonder Woman was co-writing a JLA/JSA crossover. Although it was admittedly not an offensive portrayal, it wasn't anything memorable or noteworthy. She was kind of just there, doing her "warrior" shtick...although that might have had more to do with the guy who co-wrote it with him.

And as said, everything about this project just seems rushed and poorly planned. In a perfect world, Wonder Woman should've gotten her own movie—which she deserves—that would portray her properly and do her justice. Instead, it seems she's getting shoe-horned into a desperate cash-grab as a third wheel in a Superman/Batman movie.
I shudder to even think how ugly this could turn out.

So is Gal Gadot "hot" enough to play Wonder Woman? Can she physically transform herself into a believable Amazon? Can she even act? As of now, the only response I can muster is: whatever.
There are bigger fish to fry and far more important things to worry about in my estimation.

Or let me put it this way:
when all is said and done, and this movie (which I have zero faith in) finally comes out, and the dust is settled...if the worst thing we can say about Wonder Woman's portrayal is, "The actress they picked was miscast," I think we'll have done okay.

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