Notes: Malice in Wonder Woman-land

By Jim Slotek

Some semi-wondrous thoughts, after Wonder Woman’s $225 million worldwide opening.

HOW’S YOUR BOYCOTT GOING? The ripple of alt-right male outrage – including one human rights commission complaint - over those women-only screenings of the movie at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas, apparently did not wash over the entire continent.

Hmm, I hear there’ve been women-only audiences at Nicholas Sparks movies. Time to get Breitbart on it.

Gal Gadot

Gal Gadot

Nor did the banning of the movie in Lebanon (over the fact that star Gal Gadot is Israeli) put much of a dent in Wonder Woman’s foreign box office ($125 mil).

But then, it’s almost as if boycotts are guaranteed to backfire these days. After all, Christians were encouraged to boycott Beauty And The Beast because of the admission that the character of LeFou was gay. The movie has taken in more than $1.2 billion.

WHATEVER IT IS, I’M AGAINST IT. I recently said to a contrarian colleague that, if he had the ability of the aliens in Arrival to experience time in a non-linear fashion, he could see what people love next year and start hating it now.

That said, Wonder Woman’s 92% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes is a little misleading, since most critics had a reservation or two about it, but liked it overall (Original-Cin’s Liam Lacey called the movie, “neither a wonder nor a blunder.”)

It means that near-universal B or B+ rating gives you an A+ overall score.

Still, there is one name that towers above them all when it comes to contrarianism. Armond White – currently writing for the National Review – was, for example, the one reviewer who hated “Get Out.”

And he “went there” with Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, calling her earlier Oscar-winner Monster “repugnant,” and adding, “One cannot ignore the fact that Wonder Woman was made under cultural pressure. Jenkins is not an action director; clearly, she was hired only as a politically correct token.”

Patty Jenkins

Patty Jenkins

Except that NOT hiring action directors to direct action movies is fast becoming standard procedure. The Russo Brothers (whose biggest claim to fame was the TV comedy Community) have ably taken the reins of the Captain American franchise. And James Gunn, the guy who wrote Scooby Doo, seems to have done all right with Guardians Of The Galaxy (starring a character actor from the sitcom Parks & Recreation).

It’s almost as if the action parts of action movies handle themselves (they’re what ADs and cinematographers are for). Making it breathe and seem human (the parts they can’t replicate with CGI) would be something for which an indie filmmaker or TV series showrunner is ideally suited.

Anyway, despite the precedents, this only became an issue when the indie director being given the reins was a woman. Funny that.

As for White, he does it for attention. And as usual, he got it. It’s a living, I guess.

It’s troubling for the likes of us, fledgling bloggers, who look at a digital universe that rewards perverse positions and controversy. Is there a way to get noticed besides saying outrageous things and riding a wave of outrage?

Hell, that’s how you get elected President these days.

NOT SO SUPER ANY MORE. Finally, one of my favourite lines about current movies came out of the mouth of Esquire writer Stephen Marche. On a CBC Radio panel, he said being a critic during the super-hero movie era is, “like being a food critic and being told you can only review burritos.”

He said it a year ago. I’m still waiting for the long-awaited “super-hero fatigue” to set in among audiences.


Jim Slotek

Jim Slotek is a former Toronto Sun columnist, movie critic, TV critic and comedy beat reporter. He’s been a scriptwriter for the NHL Awards, Gemini Awards and documentaries, and was nominated for a Gemini Award for comedy writing on a special (the NHL Awards). Prior to the Sun, he worked at the Ottawa Citizen as an entertainment reporter.