Patty Jenkins claps back at Titanic director’s Wonder Woman criticism

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Amy Swales
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Whether you’re a fan of Wonder Woman or not, the fact is that the women-led film of the comic book, directed by Patty Jenkins and released this year, has broken records, been critically acclaimed and inspired countless young girls.

But famed director James Cameron, of Titanic and Avatar fame, doesn’t believe the film is as feminist as its many fans do, describing it as a “step backwards”.

Discussing female protagonists and his character Sarah Connors – the troubled, ass-kicking mum played by Linda Hamilton in the first two Terminator films – he was asked in an interview with The Guardian what he made of the superhero’s recent big screen outing.

“All of the self-congratulatory back-patting Hollywood’s been doing over Wonder Woman has been so misguided. She’s an objectified icon, and it’s just male Hollywood doing the same old thing! I’m not saying I didn’t like the movie but, to me, it’s a step backwards,” he told the newspaper.

“Sarah Connor was not a beauty icon. 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!”

In the interview, in which he also joked that his love of “strong independent women” had an effect on his five marriages (“[it] has the downside that they’re strong independent women – they inherently don’t need you”), he also said he didn’t know why Hollywood hadn’t much improved when it came to depicting women on screen.

“I don’t – I don’t know. There are many women in power in Hollywood and they do get to guide and shape what films get made. I think – no, I can’t account for it,” he said.

“Because how many times do I have to demonstrate the same thing over again? I feel like I’m shouting in a wind tunnel!”

However, Jenkins wasn’t going to let the comments slide, and took to Twitter to respond.

“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,” she shared in a tweet.

“Strong women are great. His praise of my film Monster, and our portrayal of a strong yet damaged woman was so appreciated.

“But if women always have to be hard, touch 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?”

She continued: “I believe women can and should be EVERYTHING just like male lead characters should be. There is no right and wrong kind of powerful woman.

“And the massive female audience who made the film [the] hit it is, can surely choose and judge their own icons of progress.”

Wonder Woman has largely been praised by critics, hailed as “a masterpiece of subversive feminism” by some, though others believe it’s “not the feminist fantasy we’ve been told it is”.

It became the highest-grossing live-action film to be directed by a woman (replacing Mamma Mia!, which was directed by Phyllida Lloyd) with more than $800 million so far (approximately £620m)  and broke records by raking in millions over its opening weekend in June.

The sequel will be in cinemas December 2019, with both Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot already signed on.

Images: Rex Features