Wonder Woman has received acclaim for all sorts of reasons — for being the highest-grossing live-action film directed by a woman, for finally giving comics’ most iconic female hero her own movie and for just being an all-around good film.
But filmmaker James Cameron, who is known for writing some of Hollywood’s strongest female protagonists, wasn’t completely impressed. “All of the self-congratulatory back-patting Hollywood’s been doing over Wonder Woman has been so misguided,” he said in an interview with 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.”
Cameron pointed to his Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day character Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) as what a female action protagonist could be.
“Sarah Connor was not a beauty icon,” Cameron 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!”
The writer-director-producer has been married five times and was once married to Hamilton, as well as Oscar-winning filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow. He wed actress Suzy Amis in 2000 after meeting her on the set of Titanic.
“Being attracted to strong independent women has the downside that they’re strong independent women — they inherently don’t need you!” Cameron said. “Fortunately, I’m married now to a strong independent woman who does believe she needs me.”
Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins responded to Cameron’s remarks on Twitter, saying, “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. 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 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. 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 a hit it is, can surely choose and judge their own icons of progress.”
— Patty Jenkins (@PattyJenks) August 25, 2017
Cameron is plotting four sequels to Avatar, which features Sigourney Weaver, who played another of the filmmaker’s tough protagonists in his Aliens franchise.
A follow-up to Wonder Woman, which starred Gal Gadot as the superhero and was directed by Patty Jenkins, is set for a 2019 release by Warner Bros.