James Cameron Calls ‘Wonder Woman’ a ‘Step Backwards’ for Female Protagonists

James Cameron Wonder Woman
Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock

Wonder Woman” may have received overwhelmingly positives notices, was a box office behemoth, and is even getting an Oscar push from Warner Bros., but it has one high-profile critic.

In an interview with the Guardian, James Cameron took on a different tone, taking aim at the way the iconic superhero, played by Gal Gadot, was portrayed.

“All of the self-congratulatory back-patting Hollywood’s been doing over ‘Wonder Woman’ has been so misguided,” he told the outlet in an interview to promote the “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” re-release. “She’s an objectified icon, and it’s just male Hollywood doing the same old thing!”

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Cameron has been recognized for his female protagonists, including Rose (Kate Winslet) in “Titanic,” Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) in “Avatar,” and perhaps most notably, Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton) in “Terminator.”

“I’m not saying I didn’t like the movie but, to me, it’s a step backwards,” he continued. “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!”

While “Wonder Woman” has been generally praised for portraying its title character (and her fellow Amazonians) as a powerful, complex female figure, it’s received its fair share of criticism, too. Director Patty Jenkins addressed those concerns in an interview with the Los Angeles Times in May, telling the publication, “I get frustrated by people who think that they’re defending [Wonder Woman] by trying to make her lesser. When people get super critical about her outfit, who’s the one getting crazy about what a woman wears? That’s who she is; that’s Wonder Woman. I want her to look like my childhood fantasy.”

But, still Cameron makes it clear that he continues to be all for women being represented in film.

“There are many women in power in Hollywood and they do get to guide and shape what films get made,” Cameron said. “I think – no, I can’t account for it. Because how many times do I have to demonstrate the same thing over again? I feel like I’m shouting in a wind tunnel!”

Variety has reached out to Cameron’s camp for comment.

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  1. KrisAK says:

    If a male director had made precisely the same film, cut-for-cut, would WW’s depiction have been perceived as ‘problematic’?

  2. “…Because how many times do I have to demonstrate the same thing over again? I feel like I’m shouting in a wind tunnel!” <- welcome to life as a woman, where you say something a thousand times, but are interrupted, spoken over, forgotten, straight up ignored, belittled, and told "you're misrepresenting women" at almost every turn.

  3. Crystal Brooks says:

    This is pretty manufactured outrage. I get his point. He liked the movie. He wasnt critical of the director. But people act like this was the best movie EVER by a female director. She just joined the comic book film directing club and saw millions of dollars in box office. Good for her. Its great to see a woman handle the reins. But I don’t think it was so awesome that she deserves an Oscar for it.

  4. Joe Smith says:

    misogynous, sexist pig cameron hates it when a strong female is depicted with superpowers: everyone knows such powers belong exclusively to the boys club.

  5. Nick Dalske says:

    Google search: “Linda Hamilton” sexy
    Would you look at that? A screenshot from his move with a bra-less and nipple-showing Linda Hamilton. The second image listed…. So yeah…
    https://www.google.com/search?biw=1920&bih=955&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=%22Linda+Hamilton%22+sexy&oq=%22Linda+Hamilton%22+sexy&gs_l=psy-ab.12…12359.12359.0.13547.1.1.0.0.0.0.151.151.0j1.1.0….0…1..64.psy-ab..0.0.0.eFHsBTeQ6LQ#imgrc=wsIcjI6QPjZv6M:
    Just pointing out the hypocrisy.

  6. Jaime says:

    Cameron has always been he typical arrogant male Hollywood director with an overinflated ego. Translation: I didn’t make the movie thus I think it’s “meh”. Not all of his characters have been groundbreaking and forward moving in my opinion. Zoe saladana’s character in avatar from my standpoint was typical female character make her seem powerful and strong but she still is someone’s girl and relies on some man to succeed. Wonder Woman is a comic book characater in a comic book film. Many of her statements to steve Trevor were quite forward moving and essential for young girls of our time to hear in atime of trump. Sit down and shut up James.

  7. pftpffftttt says:

    If I were a director I’d want people to like my film without knowing who the director was much less much less the person’s gender.

    (this is all the more important when you consider the wachowski brothers/sisters lol)

  8. M says:

    I think the points that Cameron makes speak more to the all-too-often shortcomings of the comic book genre and its heroes. The character of Wonder Woman — like many comic book heroes — lacks real depth, vulnerability and complexity. Compared to someone like a Sarah Connor or a Ripley, Wonder Woman is a physical specimen of stunning beauty and raw strength, but she lacks imperfection or vulnerability — whether it be internal or external — that gives a character depth.

    How do people identify with a character who is essentially flawless? Wonder Woman is simply kicking tail and looking sexy doing it. Tony Stark? Same problem. He’s not only wealthy, handsome and charismatic. He also owns a billion-dollar arms company and can rain hellfire on anyone anywhere in the world at anytime. Oh, and he gets the good looking girl. Those types of characters can ultimate lead to a weak story.

    This is the reason I tend to avoid superhero-comic book films. The heroes have no real flaws. They are literally superhuman. In the end, we are subjected to two hours of CGI and carnage, and no real character arcs. Sure, the entire planet Earth may be in danger, but are there really any stakes? The heroes always win, and we know the outcome before even watching these films. How? Because they’re franchise-based, and the sequels were in development long before you purchased your ticket.

    • That's What She says:

      Something tells me that you haven’t seen any supermovies at all.

      Wonder Woman’s flaw is that she had to rethink her core belief in myth and her need to trust in the uncertainty of humanity. Stark started his story as the villain, later realizing the error of his ways. Not necessarily groundbreaking material (actually, Diana’s journey was rather new to witness), but far more than what you’ve obviously failed to grasp.

      • M says:

        Again, no real character flaws. Simply having to make a decision does not provide depth. I want to see a character with a genuine weakness, someone who is challenged to overcome adversity despite weakness. Whatever character development Tony Stark might have experienced ended after the first Iron Man. The problem with franchise universe films like Avengers is too many heroes and not enough screen time to adequately depict character arcs.

      • If you think those excuses for a plot are the same thing as ‘depth’, then you just don’t know how to watch movies. Superhero movies are mostly a model parade, no exceptions here.

  9. BobbieD says:

    He’s right. Gal Gadot was awful and a big step backward from Linda Hamilton and Sigourney Weaver. That and the plot was a mess. But we’re all so starved for a female super hero film we saw it anyway. Definitely won’t be watching another one.

  10. The kick-A toughness of the ‘Wonder Woman’ star Gail Gadot probably reminded Director Cameron of the innocent looking demure beauty turned radical tough-woman of Linda Hamilton, the Director’s Ex-wife whose undetected bi-polar Mood Swings coupled with his Film directing tunnel vision ruined their marriage.

  11. Marci says:

    For a kid’s movie, wonder woman was entertaining enough. But hardly groundbreaking on any level for any reason. It’s just as ugly and witless as every other dc children’s film.

  12. Je Vizzusi says:

    We all forget quickly Jenkins was not the original choice to direct but in my opinion the overwhelming right choice! An oscar nod will put icing on the cake. James has the power to make change, I’m just happy a woman directed.

  13. Erik Eriksen says:

    awww….look at all the poor little triggered snowflakes….so cute!!

  14. Sam says:

    In other words, he is pissed that a director (male or female) was able to pull it off/get it made, he didn’t. If he wanted to do the Wonder Woman movie, he should had done it already. There has been talk about doing a Wonder Woman movie since the 1990s.

  15. Topher S says:

    So basically he wants Wonder Woman not to look like Wonder Woman. He needs to go back to writing hack scripts with silly dialogue.

  16. ann says:

    totally agree with Cameron. wonder woman is so stupid. objectifying a woman in a bikini?!?! is that how we inspire young girls?!? how about learning math, innovationg green technology, learning how to play an instrument

  17. TV Viewer says:

    This is from the moron who claimed the RMS Titanic hit the iceberg because the lookouts were staring at Jack and Rose kissing on the deck instead of doing their job. It has been proven the ship hit the iceberg because it was going too fast, and because of a cold weather mirage which distorted the lookouts’ vision.
    He also said First Officer William Murdoch took a bribe, accidentally shot a person, threw the bribe money away, and then killed himself. He had to apologize to a lot of people because of his film.
    James Cameron is over rated and Wonder Woman was a very good comic book superhero movie.

    • joshua carpino says:

      “This is from the moron who claimed the RMS Titanic hit the iceberg because the lookouts were staring at Jack and Rose kissing on the deck instead of doing their job.”

      this is from the moron who thinks that he really thinks that!

      • TV Viewer says:

        Titanic (1997) was made by James Cameron. He’s the one who had the scene with the lookouts being distracted by Jack and Rose, instead of trying to do their duty and watch out for icebergs,
        James Cameron blamed the lookouts for the disaster and having them staring at passengers on the deck, (instead of looking at the sea), was His way of saying they were at fault.
        He also blamed First Officer William Murdoch and made him a corrupt person, willing to take bribes from people.
        In the 3-D release, the only thing he changed from the original release was the way the stars looked in the sky.
        Who made the movie Titanic (1997), the Only film ever made about the disaster that blamed the lookouts for the tragedy?
        It was James Cameron, Moron.

  18. Crabbieappleton says:

    Ripley’s a better bet than Sarah Connor, though, as far as a feminist icon (Rose is anything but).

    Still, I’ve always thought that Cameron is unable to see his heroines as anything other than a mother figure.

  19. Tom Lee says:

    Sarah Connor was a strong character, but Cameron is way off base saying she “was not a beauty icon”. BS! She was gorgeous. And if he thinks that, why did he emphasize her nipples so much??

    • atomicgirlnyc says:

      You obviously weren’t around for when T2 came out. If you had, you’d know that what you said is not even close to being true.

      The most defining feature of Sarah Connor in T2 wasn’t her looks but her athleticism. Literally, the most commonly asked question that Linda Hamilton was asked over and over again was how she got so ripped for the movie, especially her arms. She generated so much buzz with her biceps that people coined the phrase, “Linda Hamilton arms.” To this day, when you Google articles and blogs about Sarah Connor, you will never find anyone talking about her “beauty” but her toned body. Nothing about her looks.

  20. Paula Stiles says:

    Can’t say I’m surprised, considering his appalling record in not giving credit to the people (especially women) he worked with who helped make him famous.

    • Tom Lee says:

      You must not have been around for the first one…and ripped Linda was just as sexy. Or do you think she was ugly? Unfeminine? I don’t. Sarah was still a highly sexual character, although the script did not emphasize it, and I couldn’t care less what any articles or blogs said at the time. Of course they talked about Linda getting ripped-it was a big change for her.

  21. Phillip Ayling says:

    He was asked a question and he answered it…so this isn’t going to end well.

  22. Ellie says:

    Tired of super heroes, be they men or women.

  23. Jerry says:

    I wonder…who the real hero in the movie was, a demi-god that’s bullet proof or “Steve” who knows he’s putting his life on the line and does that flight anyway. The focus seems to be on a character and her politics and in that I agree with Mr. Cameron as I’ve seen personally what This characters politics translate to in the real world and it’s not as pretty as it’s talked up.I’ve seen lives ruined too many times to count. I loved the movie as well in the confines of a comic book and am quite sure that the original story/comic book versions wouldn’t have made it to the big screen as they were.

  24. lfire1 says:

    Most self congratulatory director in Hollywood calls out female led movie for being self congratulatory and ‘wrong’ in how it portrays legendary female hero. Go back to planning your endless Dances with Smurfs sequels you egotistical prat, and stop telling women how they *should* be in order to be heroes. It may come as a shock to you Cameron, but male *and* female heroes can come in all shapes, sizes and temperaments…y’know, just like *actual* real people?

    • joshua carpino says:

      “Most self congratulatory director in Hollywood calls out female led movie for being self congratulatory”
      yeah, the difference is he earned it.

      • That's What She says:

        “yeah, the difference is he earned it.”

        … said a casual moviegoer who’s never seen Monster.

  25. George H. says:

    So… in Cameron’s eyes, Wonder Woman isn’t a strong woman because of the clothes she wears? Sounds like he’s belittling her out of pettiness or something. And besides, would love to see a male superhero run around in the Wonder Woman outfit and try to tell people she’s not strong because of the outfit. The boots alone would make any man whine their feet hurt, including me, lol.

    • Jason Marcel says:

      Nah, he just looks desperate to be relevant by his stupid comments. It took all of film history to this point for women and girls to finally be represented with their own female super hero, and “Wonder Woman” did well at the box office, with critics, and with general audiences. Total nonsense to call that a step back and total nonsense to claim she’s being objectified in the movie when there isn’t any evidence of it in the movie (in fact, it’s buddy boy who gets objectified early on in the scene where he’s naked).

  26. Fernando says:

    Cameron is wrong. There just aren’t that many ways you can portray Wonder Woman.

    Similarly, you can’t portray Superman as a skinny guy playing the hero in a psychological drama about saving the earth from green house gases.

    They are superheroes and some superficiality and cliches come with the terrain.

    Still, Wonder Woman was portrayed smart, strong and independent. That’s why the movie resonated with so many people.

  27. Response says:

    Sigourney Weaver’s “Ripley” in Cameron’s 1986 film “Aliens” — greatest movie heroine ever!!!

    • That persona comes from Ridley Scott’s Alien. Cameron just followed suit.

      • That's What She says:

        As opposed to the first Ripley who countermanded Dallas’s order, led the survivors after Dallas’s death, and devised multiple ways to kill the Alien, all while being scared. The sequel’s Ripley was a natural expansion of the first. Cameron following suit doesn’t diminish her character.

      • Ripley may have appeared in Ridley’s film first, but she was more of a “final girl” type in that film. Resourceful and smart, but also scared and heavily traumatized by the experience. ALIENS showed a new dimension to her character: a tough-as-nails survivor willing to face her fears and protect her “family” from horror. Her 3rd-act mission to rescue an adopted daughter showed considerable depth to her character, and that was all Cameron.

  28. ............. says:

    Oh STFU.

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