James Cameron disagrees that Wonder Woman should be considered progress for women in Hollywood. Director Patty Jenkins is the first female director to break the 400 million dollar domestic box office and Wonder Woman is the highest grossing super hero origin film, dethroning Sam Rami’s Spiderman. The media hailed this film a triumph as the film that cracked the glass ceiling. The film starred Israel’s reluctant beauty queen Gal Gadot.
However, James Cameron considers Wonder Woman anti-feminist because Wonder Woman is objectified. He refers to his two legendary films, Terminator: Judgement Day and Aliens, as examples of films that furthered equality for women in Hollywood because his characters were flawed.
"Sarah Connor was not a beauty icon," he said. "She was strong, she was troubled, she was a terrible mother, and she earned the respect of the audience through pure grit. And to me, (the benefit of characters like Sarah) is so obvious. I mean, half the audience is female!”
James Cameron believes that Patty Jenkin’s film Monster better progressed women’s rights in Hollywood because it represented a flawed woman.
Patty Jenkins claimed, “James Cameron’s inability to understand what Wonder Woman is, or stands for, to women all over the world is unsurprising as though he is a great filmmaker, he is not a woman…. But if women have to always be hard, tough and troubled to be strong, and we aren’t free to be multidimensional or celebrate an icon of women everywhere because she is attractive and loving, then we haven’t come very far have we.”
This would not be the first time in history that a well-respected professional artist misunderstood what Wonder Woman represented to women and feminists. In 1968, Denny O’Neil, former writer and editor of DC comics, rebooted the Wonder Woman series starring a depowered Wonder Woman. He believed at the time that Wonder Woman would better appeal to feminists if she was more similar to them. Wonder Woman lost the powers, the costume and fought crime using a variety of different self-defense martial arts.
O’Neil would later understand his mistake after Gloria Steinem, feminist activist, campaigned for the return of the original Wonder Woman. Steinem grew up reading Wonder Woman comics and the original Wonder Woman was a symbol for women’s suffrage to her.
Quite often discrimination is invisible to the person discriminating. O’Neil thought he was creating a better grounded character for relatability to women. It seems that Cameron believes something very similar that Wonder Woman is anti-equality because the character is super powered.
Superman has represented to his readers as a symbol for refugees. Spiderman is a symbol for the struggles of being a teenager. It might not have been the intention of theses characters’ creators but the audience reacted to their stories this way despite their super powers.
Wonder Woman’s struggle to be taken as seriously in Hollywood as Superman and Spiderman is a pretty blunt metaphor. All the power of the world doesn’t make people think you can be powerful.