Gal Gadot is currently on the promotional trail for her latest film, the much-anticipated Wonder Woman remake, which is set to hit UK cinemas in June. And given that she’s playing one of the most iconic female superheroes of all time, it’s understandable that many of the questions being fired in Gadot’s direction centre around the topic of feminism.
In a new interview, the 32-year-old Israeli actor says that “of course” Wonder Woman is a feminist – and defines what that means to her, both off- and on-screen.
“I think people have a misconception about what feminism is,” Gadot tells Entertainment Weekly. “People think [feminism means] hairy armpits and women who burn bras and hate men. That’s not it.”
Gadot’s reference to “hairy armpits” seems pointed, given the furore that erupted on social media after it emerged that Wonder Woman has completely smooth underarms in the new film – despite having grown up on a mythical island in the early 20th century, completely cut off from modern Western beauty standards.
“For me, feminism is about equality and freedom and [women] choosing what we want to do,” Gadot continues. “If it’s salaries, then we get paid equal to men. It’s not men vs. women or women vs. men.”
When you get down to it, it’s pretty simple stuff – and Gadot says that she tapped into this straightforward understanding of gender equality in tackling the role of a lifetime.
“It was important to me that my character would never come and preach about how men should treat women – or how women should perceive themselves,” says Gadot.
Instead, the new Wonder Woman deploys her character’s ignorance of societal norms to highlight issues of inequality. The film begins in 1918, with Wonder Woman – otherwise known as Princess Diana and Diana Prince – travelling to England, with the aim of putting a stop to World War I.
But since Diana was born and raised on the mythical island of Themyscira, a matriarchal society comprised entirely of warrior women, her understanding of sexism and other oppressive social conventions is completely non-existent.
“It was more about playing oblivious to society’s rules,” Gadot explains. On screen, this translates into a perplexed Wonder Woman asking questions like: “What do you mean women can’t go into Parliament? Why?”
“It’s just reminding everyone how things should be,” says Gadot. “I wanted to play the fish out of water, but I didn’t want to play her too silly.”
Diana’s love interest, American spy Steven Trevor (Chris Pine), was also considered carefully through a feminist lens.
“We didn’t want to make Steve the damsel in distress, and we wanted them to have a very equal relationship,” says Gadot. “If she falls in love with him, then he should be someone that every woman falls in love with.”
It all sounds like the perfect recipe for a smash-hit woman-led blockbuster – and if early reviews of Wonder Woman are to be believed, the film doesn’t disappoint. The small group of US journalists who have seen Wonder Woman in advance were granted permission to tweet their opinions on Thursday night, and their verdict was pretty much unanimous: this is one seriously good film.
Loved WONDER WOMAN. She reminds me of Christopher Reeve's Superman: true north superhero w/ no angst or cynicism, which is needed right now.— Mike Ryan (@mikeryan) May 19, 2017
Wonder Woman opens in UK cinemas on 2 June. Time to book those tickets…
Images: Rex Features