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With two Avatar sequels shooting back-to-back and a Terminator franchise to reboot, James Cameron doesn't have a lot of free time. And yet, the acclaimed director wasn't too busy to double down on controversial comments he made in August, in which he called Wonder Woman "a step backwards" and said the hero, played by Gal Gadot, was "an objectified icon."
At the time, Cameron cited Linda Hamilton's Terminator character, Sarah Connor, as the ideal female protagonist, since she was not a "beauty icon." Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins responded to Cameron via Twitter, arguing that his "inability to understand what Wonder Woman is, or stands for, to women all over the world" was "unsurprising," since "he is not a woman." Moreover, Jenkins said, "There is no right and wrong kind of powerful woman."
In a wide-ranging interview with The Hollywood Reporter published Wednesday, Cameron said he will continue to "stand by" his original comments. Referring to Gadot, he said, "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 acknowledged that Hamilton "looked great." But unlike Gadot's Wonder Woman, he argued, "She just wasn't treated as a sex object. There was nothing sexual about her character."
Instead, Cameron insisted that Sarah Connor's "crazy and "complicated" appeal was about "angst," "determination" and "will." Unlike other female leads, he said, she "wasn't there to be liked or ogled," as she was central to the story. "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. I thought it was a good film. Period," he said. "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."
Jenkins has not yet responded to Cameron's latest comments.
In November, Gadot will reprise her heroic role in Warner Bros.' Justice League. Jenkins will direct the actress again in the Wonder Woman sequel, scheduled for a Dec. 13, 2019 release.