After starting a public feud with one of the few female blockbuster directors, James Cameron, the man behind several of the biggest moneymakers in cinematic history, doubled down on his critique of Patty Jenkins’ massive hit Wonder Woman. Asked if he stood by his statement that Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was playing just another “objectified icon” and thus a “step backward” for female leads, Cameron said emphatically, “Yes.”
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter just days before beginning what will be four sequels to Avatar, Cameron expanded on his claim that rather than being an empowering role, Gadot’s Wonder Woman was just another sexualized female lead.
Asked by the interviewer if he stood by his description of Gadot’s inspiring heroine as an “objectified icon,” Cameron didn’t hesitate, citing Gadot’s past as Miss Israel and her “bustier” and “form-fitting” costume as evidence of her objectification.
“Yes, I’ll stand by that,” he said. “I mean, she was Miss Israel, and she was wearing a kind of bustier costume that was very form-fitting. She’s absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. To me, that’s not breaking ground. They had Raquel Welch doing stuff like that in the ’60s. It was all in a context of talking about why Sarah Connor — what Linda [Hamilton] created in 1991 — was, if not ahead of its time, at least a breakthrough in its time. I don’t think it was really ahead of its time because we’re still not [giving women these types of roles].”
When THR cited Jenkins’ response that not all female characters must look “hard, troubled and tough to be strong,” Cameron responded by continuing to celebrate his own directorial choices in Terminator.
“Linda looked great. She just wasn’t treated as a sex object,” he said. “There was nothing sexual about her character. It was about angst, it was about will, it was about determination. She was crazy, she was complicated. … She wasn’t there to be liked or ogled, but she was central, and the audience loved her by the end of the film.”
He then offered some praise to Jenkins for having directing one of the biggest box office successes of the year, but quickly dissed her film again for not being “groundbreaking.”
“So as much as I applaud Patty directing the film and Hollywood, uh, ‘letting’ a woman direct a major action franchise, I didn’t think there was anything groundbreaking in Wonder Woman,” he said. “I thought it was a good film. Period. I was certainly shocked that [my comment] was a controversial statement. It was pretty obvious in my mind.”
Cameron then widened the scope of the discussion to Hollywood in general, saying, “I just think Hollywood doesn’t get it about women in commercial franchises. Drama, they’ve got that cracked, but the second they start to make a big commercial action film, they think they have to appeal to 18-year-old males or 14-year-old males, whatever it is.”
He concluded by admitting that he might’ve done a better job of making his initial point.
“Look, it was probably a little bit of a simplistic remark on my part, and I’m not walking it back, but I will add a little detail to it, which is: I like the fact that, sexually, she had the upper hand with the male character, which I thought was fun,” he said.
Cameron is about to simultaneously film two Avatar sequels at once and plans to film another two if/when he pulls that off. Meanwhile, the rest of us are way more excited about the next time we get to see Wonder Woman on the big screen than giant blue animated cat people.