The setup to the new Wonder Woman movie is perfect Zionist-conspiracy bait. For starters, the heroine comes from a quiet, beautiful, sacred piece of land where all residents must train to become world-class soldiers. As soon as a foreign army finds this paradise, they attack it. Though the local army is smaller, they are better soldiers and win the battle. To restore peace in the region, the heroine must lead a war, struggling to mentally balance the deaths of innocents with the deaths of the guilty.
Also, the bad guys are Germans, the lead actress is an Israeli supermodel and the movie was written by a gay Jew.
While the above description sounds awfully Zionist, it’s also, of course, awfully coincidental. Many of these details were written decades ago by the authors of the Wonder Woman comic books. (Her original backstory took place during the Second World War, but the screenwriters changed it to the First World War, which I like to think was because executives felt things were getting a little too “Jewy.”)
And the oxymoronic idea of “fighting for peace” is not a distinctly Israeli one.
‘If it were about some goyish-looking woman fighting on the fronts of Africa or Asia, people wouldn’t think about the film’s alleged, underlying Zionism’
It is primarily the casting choice of Gal Gadot, the 32-year-old Israeli actress (The Fast and the Furious franchise), model (Miss Israel 2004) and former soldier (her two years in the Israel Defence Forces overlapped with the 2006 Israel–Hezbollah War), that has led so many to try to read between the script’s lines. The Lebanese government has loudly banned the film because of it, and many in Jordan want their country to follow. Meanwhile, Fox News pundits recently got together to lament, bizarrely, how “un-American” the Amazon warrior seems – Why does she have an accent? Why isn’t she dressed in red, white and blue?
However, it’s worth noting that everyone on her island has an indiscernible foreign accent. Spanish? French? Danish? Romanian? It’s profoundly unclear, except for Gadot’s, because we know she’s Israeli, because it is difficult to see this film without thinking of the inundating emphasis on her nationality.
If this movie were about some goyish-looking woman fighting on the fronts of Africa or Asia, the rest of the plot could stay the same and people probably wouldn’t even think about the film’s alleged, underlying Zionism. But it’s about Europe and she looks Jewish. That, apparently, is enough.
So, for better or worse, the movie is now a Jewish film. Let’s own it.
After all, we don’t have many worthwhile Jewish superheroes. The Thing from the Fantastic Four had a bar mitzvah; token spinoffs Batwoman and Colossal Boy are members of the tribe; Albert Rothstein, a.k.a. Atom Smasher, once broke up with a woman because she wasn’t Jewish; and there are apparently two others called – and I am not making this up – Sabra and Masada, whose reputations are weaker than their names.
Besides, Wonder Woman is a pretty good movie. It moves at a breezy clip, hits all the right beats, is nicely directed and injects the tired superhero genre with some interesting questions about the nature of evil and purpose of war. Some on the left have argued the film isn’t bold enough in its feminist execution – Wonder Woman spends a lot of time smiling demurely in this new, perplexing world of men, and her adorable romance with Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine) is bluntly rushed. But aside from some distractingly bad special effects, the movie works.
Plus it was successful. It grossed over US$100 million in its opening weekend, breaking records for female-directed movies. This is particularly impressive because, unlike other superhero movies, there were no cameos. Batman and Superman are nowhere to be found, proving in so many ways that Wonder Woman clearly doesn’t need men.
So if the public is warping the main character of one of 2017’s top-grossing films, a renowned feminist icon and powerful warrior into a Jew, let them. She’ll do us proud.