The Case For and Against Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman 3

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Gal Gadot will return as Wonder Woman. Or maybe… not? That’s what it felt like after the last week of whiplash-inducing headlines which involved the Israeli actress and her signature role as Diana of Themyscira. Infamously, the big screen future for the current lineup of DC actors started to crumble when Warner Bros. Pictures parted ways with writer-director Patty Jenkins, who helmed both Wonder Woman (2017) and Wonder Woman 1984 (2020).

At the time, creative differences separating a director from producers was nothing new, although a bit eyebrow-raising since Jenkins shattered industry conventions when she became the first woman to direct a major superhero blockbuster hit. The bigger surprise, however, was the fact that Wonder Woman 3 was itself being put on pause, which is a polite term for being cast into the fires of development hell. Some incorrectly speculated new DC Studios heads James Gunn and Peter Safran were responsible, but this decision occurred before they even arrived in their new jobs (Gunn was in fact still working on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3). So the question became… what would they do when they took over?

As we now know, if it’s not a full-set reboot, it’s pretty damn close to one. At the beginning of the year, Gunn announced there would be a new DC Universe with a new Superman (Henry Cavill had already been asked to step aside last fall) and a new Batman, who incidentally would not be related to the one Robert Pattinson plays. But Wonder Woman, the last third of DC’s sacred trinity?  The only thing announced in Gunn’s “Chapter One” was a television series called Paradise Lost, an HBO series set on Diana’s mythical home island. Yet even by the emphasis on its original name in DC Comics, “Paradise Island” (as opposed to its Themyscira moniker which was used in Gadot’s Wonder Woman films), the intention seemed to be to suggest this is something different.

Which made last week’s seeming bombshell at Comicbook.com so intriguing. While speaking to the website for a new project, Gadot said, “I love portraying Wonder Woman. It’s so close to and dear to my heart. From what I heard from James and Peter is that we’re gonna develop a Wonder Woman 3 together.” Yet lest fans of the DCEU rejoice, insiders close to Warner Bros. appeared eager to throw cold water on the hype. Speaking to Variety, unnamed sources insisted nothing was promised to Gadot, nor has there been any “definitive discussion” about her appearing in the new DC Universe.

From a distance, this looks like parties close to WB’s future plans wanting to dampen any expectations Gadot (or by extension fans listening to her interviews) might have about her returning to the DC Universe. But, seriously, is there a good reason Gadot shouldn’t return? And even if there is, does it outweigh the justified popularity of her interpretation of the character? Let’s consider the pros and cons.

Pro: She Is Terrific in the Role, So Why Recast?

Let’s start with the obvious: Gal Gadot is both beloved and wonderful in the role of Wonder Woman. Despite the typical type of online snobbery and misogyny that rears with most castings of female comic book characters, Gadot silenced doubters with a performance that was ethereal in the 2017 film directed by Jenkins. Her acting range can be limited, but it can also seem effervescent when handled by a great director… and certainly iconic.

There are few superhero movie moments of greater impact than when Gadot’s Diana crosses a World War I battlefield after telling Chris Pine, “I am no man.” For multiple generations of young girls who are still growing up today, she became Wonder Woman in that moment. To take the role away from her due to some larger corporate strategy is frankly distasteful. Also to take it away from a legion of fans who now associate the character with her—after she publicly has insisted she wants to continue playing the role—puts the new DC Universe in an awkward position. The next actor to play the role would likewise be in an unenviable position.

Con: James Gunn Wants to Build His Own DC Universe

There is something to be said about starting fresh. A big reason the DC Universe is in free fall is because of inconsistency, as much in terms of quality as continuity. Nonetheless, any leftovers from an era for the DC brand that appears likely to end on a whimper—with The Flash alone being the biggest flop in Warner Bros. history—could theoretically keep audiences away.

The DCEU never quite clicked with the widest audience, and it was a disappointment as early as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), the movie which introduced Gadot as Wonder Woman. Gunn shouldn’t have to hold onto anything from that when his mission statement is to create a DC Universe as interconnected and pleasing to general audiences as the Marvel Cinematic Universe was in the 2010s. The various Justice League-adjacent movies Gadot appeared in were never that.

Pro: She Deserves a Better Send Off Than a Couple of Cameos

Still, it’s pretty ridiculous to hold flops like The Flash or Shazam! Fury of the Gods against Gadot or her version of Wonder Woman. It’s even more disappointing that DC Studios seems content with making her hackneyed cameos in both films the swan song of such a popular performance. Seriously, Gadot brought back a sense of hopefulness and mystique to a character who had been turned into nothing but a barbaric warrior cliché in modern comics (and Zack Snyder films). Gadot’s poignant version of the character deserves better than to be mistakenly used to prop up WB’s previous poor decisions and then thanklessly shown the door with maximum indifference.

Con: Audiences Could Be Confused by the Sight of a New Superman Interacting with Gal Gadot

Here is the old studio logic at play: Will casual moviegoers understand that Gadot might be playing an all-new version of Wonder Woman who is definitely interacting with an all-new Superman? Or might the confusion just inspire antipathy? Again, the DCEU brand is pretty toxic at this point, and perhaps the best way to get folks to forget how much they disliked many of those films is to pretend as if none of them existed.

Pro: Continuity Is Overrated, and James Gunn Knows It

That above argument, however, would carry more water if it hadn’t already been confirmed Gunn is bringing back Viola Davis as Amanda Waller in a Max TV series, not to mention John Cena’s Peacemaker continuing to keep his peace on streaming. There are also (unsubstantiated) rumors that state we have not yet seen the last of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. But then… all three of these actors worked with Gunn on the film The Suicide Squad, and Gadot did not.

Still, that seems to suggest in their bones, Gunn and Safran know you can convince the core audience with enough marketing to understand these are new(ish) versions of the character and/or their universe. And if you’re making an exception for Peacemaker, you sure as hell can do it for the actress who headlined the best superhero origin movie of the last decade.

Con: Will She Want to Be Doing This for 10 More Years?

Of course the other crude elephant in the room is that Gunn and Safran have announced that the continuity which kicks off properly with Superman: Legacy is part of a vast 10-year plan (at least) for the DC Universe. And in this attempt to clone Marvel Studios’ pop culture dominance in the 2010s, this means actors playing the core characters are expected to do the role for roughly a decade, similar to the 11-year stint Robert Downey Jr. did as Iron Man and the 11 years Scarlett Johansson endured as Black Widow.

While we’d argue the DCEU failed to really make the most out of Gadot’s Wonder Woman—two solo films, one disastrous team-up movie, and a whole lot of cameos—she’s already portrayed the role for seven years. And if the new DCU decade-strategy begins in 2025, she’d be 50 in 2035. Of course beyond whether she’s interested, this also invites the insidious and sexist double standards held against women in Hollywood. We might point out, however, no one raised questions about Downey playing Iron Man until he was 54.

Pro: Another DC Universe Afraid of Including Wonder Woman… Really?!

Obviously, no matter what the final verdict is, Gunn, Safran, and the larger executive apparatus at WB has already considered the above in great detail. Perhaps that’s why they’ve also decided not to address this publicly. At all. The Variety report was based on anonymous sources, and the only thing announced about Wonder Woman in the DC Universe is a Diana-less Max television series about all her Amazonian compatriots on Paradise Island. But not her.

Honestly, this seems a bit mistaken to us. While a supposedly Game of Thrones-like Amazonian TV series sounds interesting, we’ll see if it plays like George R.R. Martin or as Marvel’s supposed foray into espionage thrillers via Secret Invasion. Either way, trying to do a Wonder Woman TV series without Wonder Woman echoes older, stranger eras in superhero fiction, like when a Birds of Prey TV series set in a Gotham attempted to exist without Batman, or a Smallville TV show featured a Clark Kent who refused to put on the costume even when he was pushing 30.

If the gamble is to withhold Wonder Woman so long that audiences forget about Gadot, it’s a cynical one—especially since it means that also like the 2000s, we’ll be in an era where DC is more interested in yet further stories of Batman and Superman but is shy around the only woman considered their equal. No thanks.

The post The Case For and Against Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman 3 appeared first on Den of Geek.

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