Wonder Woman not 'groundbreaking', says James Cameron

Terminator and Avatar director James Cameron has repeated his claim that far from being a landmark moment for feminism in film, Wonder Woman was nothing more another case of Hollywood objectifying women.

He did, however, concede ever so slightly that it did give its heroine the upper hand sexually, "which was fun".

Cameron was speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, and was asked to elaborate on comments he made in August in an interview with The Guardian.

"All of the self-congratulatory back-patting Hollywood's been doing over Wonder Woman has been so misguided," he had told The Guardian. "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 had compared the character, played by former Miss Israel Gal Gadot, Sarah Connor, with the character played by his former wife Linda Hamilton in the first two Terminator movies (61-year-old Hamilton has recently agreed to reprise the role in a new film in the franchise, with Cameron producing).

That drew the inevitable response from Wonder Woman's Patty Jenkins, who was the first female director of a major Hollywood action movie, and has recently signed on to direct a sequel.

"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 wrote in a message posted on social media.

"Strong women are great. But if women have to always be hard, tough and troubled to be strong, and we aren't free to be multi-dimensional or celebrate an icon of women everywhere because she is attractive and loving, then we have not come very far. There is no right and wrong kind of powerful woman."

Now, Cameron has defended his earlier comments in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

"Yes, I'll stand by that," he said when asked about his earlier statement. "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."

The character of Sarah Connor was, by contrast, a "breakthrough" when she appeared on screen in The Terminator (1984) and especially in Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), he claimed.

Movie director James Cameron.

Movie director James Cameron. Photo: Nick Perry

"Linda looked great, she just wasn't treated as a sex object. 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.

"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 added that he thought it was "a good film" but felt "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."

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Cameron did finally concede that Wonder Woman did break new ground in one respect, however. "I like the fact that, sexually, she had the upper hand with the male character, which I thought was fun."

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This story Wonder Woman not 'groundbreaking', says James Cameron first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.