With approximately 17 Avatar sequels in development, James Cameron doesn’t have a ton of time for interviews. But when he does, the director makes sure to detract from cinema’s most successful female-helmed blockbuster.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the filmmaker doubled down on controversial comments he made in August, in which he called Wonder Woman “a step backwards” because he saw leading lady Gal Gadot as “an objectified icon.”
At the time, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins hit back at Cameron — who cited Linda Hamilton‘s grizzly Terminator character Sarah Connor as the ~ultimate~ female action hero — by arguing that Gadot’s beauty does not take away from Wonder Woman‘s power.
Well, just like his movies, Cameron is drawing this drama out twice as long as it should be. In his interview with THR on Wednesday, the director was firm he will “stand by” his original comments, but offer a bit more clarity into what exactly he meant.
As for the drop-dead gorgeous Gadot, he explained:
“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. It was all in a context of talking about why Sarah Connor—what Linda created in 1991—was, if not ahead of its time, at least a breakthrough in its time. I don’t think it was really ahead of its time because we’re still not [giving women these types of roles].”
Cameron noted that Hamilton “looked great,” but unlike Gadot’s Wonder Woman, “she just wasn’t treated as a sex object. There was nothing sexual about her character.”
The 63-year-old went on to say that unlike other female leads, Sarah Connor “wasn’t there to be liked or ogled” — she was driven by “angst,” “determination,” and “will” — yet, “the audience loved her by the end of the film.”
So, Gadot loses points for being likable, too? Tough grader…
Circling back to his original remarks, Cameron ultimately blames studio executives for still developing female-led blockbusters under the male gaze — something not even Jenkins could escape with Wonder Woman. He continued:
“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. I thought it was a good film. Period. I was certainly shocked that [my comment] was a controversial statement. It was pretty obvious in my mind. I just think 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. Look, it was probably a little bit of a simplistic remark on my part, and I’m not walking it back, but I will add a little detail to it, which is: I like the fact that, sexually, she had the upper hand with the male character, which I thought was fun.”
Well, at least he had some good things to say about it… which, ironically, revolves around Diana’s sexuality! Hmm.
What do YOU think of Cameron’s criticism?