Gal Gadot

Titanic Lapse in Judgement: Why James Cameron Just Doesn't Get ‘Wonder Woman' Appeal

When it comes to his criticism of "Wonder Woman," Cameron is living in his own world

James Cameron created a dystopic future in "The Terminator." He staged an epic battle for the ages in "Aliens." He wrought Pandora for "Avatar."

But when it comes to his criticism of "Wonder Woman," Cameron is living in his own world.

Cameron recently dismissed the cinematic rendering of the character, played by Gal Gadot, as an "objectified icon." "Wonder Woman," he told The Guardian, represents "a step backwards" for women in film, 33 years after he introduced Sarah Connor in "The Terminator."

But the famed screenwriter and director, to put it Cameron-esque terms, makes a titanic error in assessing the appeal and impact of a movie that’s already pulled in $800 million worldwide.

"Wonder Woman" is a pure, modern superhero hit — the best flick out of DC Comics canon in years and its most successful.

A more apt comparison rests in how the character and film stack up in their genre. Legions didn't accuse Captain America of being a caricature of earnestness or Iron Man of coming off as a glib cartoon in their respective first solo Marvel Universe outings.

Those characters grew more complex with successive films – just as Sarah Connor did in "T2" and just as Ripley reached new levels of fighting-machine prowess when Cameron took over the "Alien" franchise.

Wonder Woman got off to a great start, kicking butt with red-and-gold boots, as Gadot imbued the character with a mix of smarts, righteousness and naivety destined to make her evolution in sequels to come a must-watch.

Cameron’s own fighting spirit extends to off-screen clashes, as evidenced by his 2010 observation that "The Hurt Locker," directed by his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow, would have been better in 3D. The comment came months after “The Hurt Locker” beat “Avatar” for the best picture Oscar and Bigelow bested Cameron for best director honors.

"Wonder Woman" director Patty Jenkins fought back against Cameron’s latest proclamation with a tweet that praised him as a “great filmmaker” while slamming his take on her work.

"There is no right and wrong kind of powerful woman," Jenkins wrote.

In the end, the fans speak strongest for "Wonder Woman," the highest grossing film directed by a woman. As Jenkins put it: “The massive female audience who made the film a (sic) hit it is, can surely choose and judge their own icons of progress.”

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Wonder Woman proved this summer she can fight her own battles, on her own terms. She’s already in a universe all her own.

Hester is Director of News Products and Projects at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.

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