Now that San Diego Comic-Con has come and gone, the geekosphere is slowly recovering from yet another event-filled summer week of blockbuster teasers, secret announcements, and surprise reveals. The biggest news of the weekend was probably Zack Snyder surprising Hall H with an exclusive first look at Gal Gadot in full Wonder Woman regalia. DC’s new cinematic trinity — Gadot, Ben Affleck, and Henry Cavill — even joined Snyder on stage to tease actual footage from the movie.
The move made Batman v Superman the buzziest movie presentation to emerge out of San Diego by far. And to be honest, I think Gadot looks fantastic as Wonder Woman. Yeah, the internet’s got jokes, but I think the costume successfully threads the needle between comic book accurate and live action practical. For me, though, the thing that I find disconcerting about Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman isn’t how she looks, but what she believes.
But first, let’s back up a bit.
Ever since Gal Gadot was announced as the new Wonder Woman, reaction to her casting was mixed at best. Many worried that her thin acting resume would not be enough to pull off such an enduring icon. Others focused on her thin build and bemoaned Gadot’s lack of curves. To be candid, a lot of the skeevier fanboys just wanted a Wonder Woman with a bigger bra size.
I’ve always taken the other side of this debate. She was more than capable in playing a badass in the Fast & Furious movies — also she gets props for playing love interest to the homey Sung Kang. I’ve also never really had an issue with her body mass index. I don’t think body shaming — in either direction — is something I should be engaging in when discussing anyone. Besides, if #MightyKacy has taught us anything, it’s that size really doesn’t matter when it comes to pulling off superhuman feats of strength.
Sure, Batman v Superman still has the potential to be a major clusterfuck. It could either be horrible or the best movie ever. But I don’t think casting Gal Gadot is going to be the reason. At least not for her looks or her acting ability. Instead, her political beliefs could be the ultimate reason that I might find her Wonder Woman less than convincing.
You see, the day before Gadot and the rest of the Trinity boarded planes to surprise the folks at San Diego, she posted this photo on her Facebook page along with the comments below:
I am sending my love and prayers to my fellow Israeli citizens. Especially to all the boys and girls who are risking their lives protecting my country against the horrific acts conducted by Hamas, who are hiding like cowards behind women and children… We shall overcome!!! Shabbat Shalom!
#weareright #freegazafromhamas #stopterror #coexistance #loveidf
Look, I don’t begrudge anyone their opinions, especially someone who is ostensibly praying for the safety of her fellow countrymen. I mean, Gadot is an Israeli citizen — as well as a veteran of the Israel Defense Forces — after all. Also, I couldn’t fathom what it’s like to live somewhere that is constantly under the shadow of rocket and mortar attacks. So I completely understand why Gadot was compelled to use social media to show her support to her country.
But I have to admit there are a few aspects of this Facebook status that I find troubling.
First is that she implicitly justifies Israel’s targeting of Palestinian civilians because Hamas is “hiding like cowards behind women and children.” The notion that the disproportionate number of civilian casualties in Gaza is excusable in any way is already hard to comprehend. Not to mention the fact that the idea of using Palestinians as “human shields” has been debunked a number of times by major news organizations:
Jeremy Bowen, BBC Middle East editor: “I saw no evidence during my week in Gaza of Israel’s accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields.” The Guardian: “In the past week, the Guardian has seen large numbers of people fleeing different neighbourhoods… and no evidence that Hamas had compelled them to stay.” The Independent: “Some Gazans have admitted that they were afraid of criticizing Hamas, but none have said they had been forced by the organisation to stay in places of danger and become unwilling human-shields.” Reuters, 2013: “A United Nations human rights body accused Israeli forces on Thursday of mistreating Palestinian children, including by torturing those in custody and using others as human shields.”
Speaking up for the Palestinians does not mean you are supporting Hamas or even are anti-Israel. It is just impossible to ignore the facts. In this so-called “war” there are way more people dying on one side than the other. And most of the people dying are civilians. Not only that, but hospitals and schools are in the cross-hairs, too. Yes, any nation reserves the right to defend itself. But is this really self defense or a variation of Florida’s barbarian “Stand Your Ground” laws played out on a global scale?
The other thing that bothers me about Gadot’s stance on the conflict is one of the hashtags she uses: #weareright. That hashtag is buttressed by other, more palatable ones like #freegazafromhamas and #coexistance (sp), but it still oozes with the kind of nationalism that leads to the kind of escalation that will ultimately make everything worse for both sides.
Here’s the thing. When you have hundreds of people — most of whom are women and children — dead and hospitals and schools destroyed, no one is right. War is terrible and awful. Not a spectator sport. Supporting one’s country does not mean you have to also support what that country is doing, especially when so much death and destruction is the direct result of those actions.
The fact that Gadot will be the real life embodiment of Wonder Woman for generations to come is what makes this all so ironic. Maybe not as ironic as casting, say, Ted Nugent as Batman, but still. Wonder Woman is supposed to be an ambassador of peace. Of course, she’s also an Amazon warrior who isn’t afraid to take up the sword against evil, but Diana of Themyscira only goes to war for those who cannot fight for themselves.
Is it possible that, were Wonder Woman real, her view of the conflict in Gaza would be filled with more compassion for the oppressed? Isn’t that the kind of justice that a character like Wonder Woman is supposed to inspire?