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Gal GadotVarious Wonder Woman movie projects have been in development over the years, but it looks like the comic book super-heroine will finally come to life on the big screen in the highly-anticipated feature Batman vs Superman.

The  Warner Bros film,  due out in 2015, will pit Ben Affleck’s Batman against Henry Cavill’s Superman  And in an announcement this week,  director Zack Snyder  cast Israeli beauty queen Gal Gadot as the Amazon princess. Wonder Woman may be the highest-profile female super-hero, but she has been relegated to sidekick status since the the 1970s show starring Lynda Carter.

Gadot was crowned Miss Israel in 2004 and represented Israel at the Miss Universe contest the same year. Since embarking on a career as an actress, her work has included roles in the films Fast & Furious and Date Night.

“Wonder Woman is arguably one of the most powerful female characters of all time and a fan favorite in the DC Universe,” Snyder said in a statement.

“Not only is Gal an amazing actress, but she also has that magical quality that makes her perfect for the role,” he said.

“We look forward to audiences discovering Gal in the first feature film incarnation of this beloved character.”

The announcement is significant, as it ends what has been seen by many comic book fans as a failure to successfully bring the Wonder Woman character back to the live-action screen.
Excitement is tempered by the fact that she is reduced to second-tier billing, and her name does not join DC Comics’ other two icons in the film’s title.

Several Wonder Woman projects have been proposed in the last decade, for film and television, but one of the hurdles to casting the role has been the enduring popularity of Lynda Carter. Playing Wonder Woman from 1975 and 1979, Carter delivered a definitive performance which remains beloved by fans of the franchise. What sold audiences was not only her looks, but her confidence, attitude, beauty and style.

The character of Wonder Woman – better known as Diana, the daughter of Amazon queen Hippolyte, was sent into “Man’s World” from Paradise Island to fight for justice.  She was first created by American psychologist and writer William Moulton Marston,  a committed feminist who conceived Wonder Woman in the 1940’a as a replacement for the Man of Steel.

Among the notable accessories in Wonder Woman’s debut: bracelets which could deflect bullets, a girdle which allowed her to retain her Amazon strength away from Paradise Island and a “golden lariat” which compelled those bound by it to tell the truth. The feminine accoutrements have been decried by many feminists

Marston’s goal with Wonder Woman, was to create a figure who would convince both girls and boys of the value of women and femininity. The whole point of the character was to present a female icon as heroic; a character that demonstrates that the feminine virtues of love, affection, and strength are important.

Contemporary fans are sometimes put off by the complicated gender depiction but the fact is Wonder Woman wasn’t created as a sidekick; she didn’t spend her time encouraging Superman to be awesome, because she was too busy being awesome herself.

Unlike Superman, Wonder Woman cannot fly – though at times in the comic book she wore boots with small wings, and seemed to take flight. At other times she flew in an invisible plane. The character used the alias Diana Prince, a switch of her real name, Princess Diana, and was at various times an army nurse, and a yeoman in the US War Department.

In the current iteration of the comic book franchise, published by Warner Bros-owned DC Comics, she does not have a “secret identity”, one of the historic leitmotifs of comic book superheroes. (Superman’s was Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent; Batman’s was millionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne.)

Recent depictions of Wonder Woman include an animated series, “Superfriends”, voiced by actress Shannon Farnon and an animated film released in 2009 with actress Keri Russell providing the voice.

Ally McBeal producer David E. Kelley attempted to bring a TV series to the US network NBC in 2011, featuring Adrianne Palicki in the lead role, but the pilot was not picked up. Another project, titled Amazon, was in development in 2012 but did not even reach the pilot stage.

For a time Warner Bros was planning a Justice League film, which would feature Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and other heroes in the DC Comics stable, but the script, from screenwriter Joss Whedon, never made it out of development. Australian model Megan Gale was considered for the role of Wonder Woman in that film.

The revelation about Gadot met with mixed reaction on Twitter and elsewhere.  It seemed there was equal praise and derision for the casting choice.  A common complaint involved Gadot’s  short resume and her waifish physique,  making her an unsuitable  to play the iconic Amazon warrior. Many purists had hoped for a fitness model or Crossfit chick.

So now that Gal Gadot has been cast, how will Wonder Woman evolve?  Will she get her OWN film sometime soon?  Several successful female-led movies just opened so the studio can’t complain that women-led films aren’t commercial enough. Whether or not you like the choice of Gadot, we can all be happy about the fact that WW is finally coming to the big-screen and, if the film is the kind of blockbuster many expect, it may pave the way for a stand-alone Wonder Woman film.

 

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