We’re still basking in the glow of Wonder Woman‘s success. Justice League might suck, and Jessica Jones might be the only interesting female to come out of the Marvel universe, but Wonder Woman made it clear that Hollywood owes us many more female-lead superhero movies directed by women for women.
Gal Gadot had her own experiences that made her feel Wonder Woman was her opportunity. “I’ve had my moments where I’ve felt like men were misbehaving–nothing sexual, but inappropriate in a sexist way. Dismissive. Life wasn’t always rosy and peachy for me as a woman in the world,” she told Rolling Stone for its newest cover.
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She was famously Miss Israel long before an actress, but she deliberately sabotaged her own chances in the Miss Universe pageant by pretending to not speak English and wearing the wrong stuff—”I victoriously lost,” she said. She didn’t want to model, either, and she started law school to pursue a career not based on her looks. Getting cast as an action star and then Wonder Woman was a personal vicotry and a symbol for women.
Since the film overtook the box office, Gadot has enthusiastically been at the center of a ongoing conversation about representation and women. In her opinion, there’s no middle ground. “People always ask me, ‘Are you a feminist?’ And I find the question surprising, because I think, ‘Yes, of course. Every woman, every man, everyone should be a feminist. Because whoever is not a feminist is a sexist,'” she said.
That conversation sometimes dipped down into the muck, with critics denigrating Gadot for being Israeli or for having too small a chest. “I told them, ‘Listen, if you want to be for real, then the Amazons, they had only one boob. Exactly one boob,'” she recalled. “‘So what are you talking about here? Me having small boobs and small ass? That will make all the difference.'”
It didn’t. Wonder Woman was a triumph. Gadot is on board for a sequel, and director Patty Jenkins is working hard to secure herself a better deal, one that will make her the highest paid female director in the industry. In the meantime, Gadot is training, little girls—and little boys, too—are dressing up like Wonder Woman, and excitement is growing. The precedent is set, and movie executives needed to cough up on their feminist debt.