Another white savior depicted in Wonder Woman 1984

Monitoring Desk

As a year of illness, racism, extremism, and climate change comes to an end, 2020 gives the masses one more treat – yet another Wonder Woman film.

WW84, led by previous Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, starring Gal Gadot was released on Christmas day, across theatres and on HBOMax, and has thus far been met with polarising reviews. This relates to the usual critique criteria such as acting, character, plot, special effects, etc. as well as the worn out stereotypes and the obscure ‘barriers’ this film attempts to break. 

Amongst a number of different film critiques, some calling it slow, others highlighting poor performances, and plot holes, hardcore fans enjoyed the two some hours of WW84. Despite this, Warner Bros. have already announced a third and final WW film. 

A particularly problematic sub-plot has been raising conversations amongst internet communities. The sub-plot in question takes place in Egypt where WW’s rival solicits an evil Arab warlord (oil-rich and power hungry, naturally). 

The reality of Egypt in 1984 versus the portrayal of Egypt in 1984 was offensive, to say the least. Depictions of a devolved place where everyone donned traditionally inspired garments is out of touch, as many Egyptians took to Twitter to post pictures of themselves or their families during that year to highlight this fallacy and misrepresentation. 

Further to this members of the African-American community even noted on their on-screen depiction, “The movie is clearly very ethnically diverse, and I was happy to see Insecure’s Natasha Rothwell make a brief appearance as Minerva’s boss. But most of the characters of colour felt like a forced afterthought, so similar to the way POC actors were treated in ‘80s TV shows that I wondered if it was intentional,” explains one reviewer.

Three scenes take place here that have been particularly problematic: first, said evil warlord, played by Amr Waked, desires to erect a ‘divine’ wall throughout the land (that he wishes to conquer with brute force) keeping out “heathens.” This plays on tropes that are redundant on both big and small screens – the Arab culture is hyper-religious, power-hungry, misogynistic, and, of course, stupid. Why he chose to perpetuate this stereotype as an Arab, one can only assume a sizable payment and a widened portfolio. 

Second, and even more problematic to Arab audiences is Gal Gadot going over and beyond to rescue two Arab children about collateral damage in a climactic action scene. It looks out of place and forced into what was already an intense fight scene.

Israeli Defense Forces conscript, Gal Gadot, going out of her way to save two Arab children (one of which is an infant blonde girl wearing a loose hijab) while actually condoning the contrary in real-life. 

At the time of Gadot’s training in Israel, the state was actively bombing Lebanon, injuring, traumatising, and displacing Arab children. This is not withstanding all the crimes committed on a daily basis against Palestinian youth. But more importantly, and more tragically, the scene is reminiscent of the murders of four young boys playing football on the Gazan shore in 2014.

An Israeli Navy vessel was responsible for the shelling of these children – leaving a sour note in the mouths of many viewers. Further to this, as the clear white saviour, this seems to be a trend for Gadot, who just spoke out against vehement criticism for being cast as Cleopatra and essentially white-washing the project. It is worth noting Cleopatra will also be directed by Patty Jenkins (WW director) and partially produced by her husband, who appears in a cameo in the film, as well as her children. 

The climax of the film saw the main villain, Maxwell Lord, played by Pedro Pascal, broadcasting on television for wishes en-masse to take place – cut to the globe making said wishes, and an Arab ‘terrorist’ sniper appears on-screen wishing for, indeed, nuclear weapons. 

With the main actress as someone who has been raised in the Middle East quite literally surrounded by Arabs, one would assume it would be easy enough to clarify that this is playing onto harmful racial stereotypes and is in fact misrepresentation. Why does Hollywood insist on portraying Arabs as terrorists, no matter what year the film is set in, and regardless of how out-of-context it is? 

Aside from the general bad reviews this film has brought to light, it also continues to highlight active misrepresentation on the big-screen. It remains baffling that even with a cast and crew filled with people of colour, that this harmful misrepresentation has reached the masses. 

Courtesy: TRT World