Posts Tagged ‘Katniss Everdeen’

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Yesterday, Variety reported that Israeli actress Gal Gadot was officially cast as Wonder Woman/Diana of Themyscira/Diana Prince for the upcoming Superman/Batman movie. Gadot, best known for her role as Gisele Harabo in the Fast and the Furious franchise, will join Henry Cavill’s Clark Kent/Superman and Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne/Batman. It still remains unclear how big of a role Gadot’s Wonder Woman will play in the film since it was also confirmed that The Flash will make an appearance and rumors persist about Nightwing/Dick Grayson making a cameo as well as rumors of Lex Luthor and a possible second villain (perhaps Doomsday?) taking up screen time. Given the cast so far, we’re one Green Lantern short of a Justice League Begins movie.

Zack Snyder, director of Man of Steel and the aforementioned Superman/Batman movie/sequel/whatever issued this statement about Gadot’s casting:

“Wonder Woman is arguably one of the most powerful female characters of all time and a fan favorite in the DC Universe. Not only is Gal an amazing actress, but she also has that magical quality that makes her perfect for the role. We look forward to audiences discovering Gal in the first feature film incarnation of this beloved character.”

man-of-steel-castWith the announcement of Gadot as the most iconic female superhero, it was inevitable that comic book fans and non-comic fans alike would chime in on the casting. It’s about what you’d expect; there’s as much backlash as there is support. Personally, I know nothing about Gadot as an actress. It’s been a long time since I saw the first Fast and the Furious movie and I didn’t exactly stick with the franchise, so I have no idea if the movies really showcase her talent or if she has that “magical quality” Zack Snyder is talking about. If there’s one longstanding compliment I can give to Snyder it’s that he always casts his movies well. I may have my problems with Man of Steel, but the cast isn’t one of them.

Not surprising, though, one of the first things to come up was Gadot’s look and how she measured upWW to the image of Wonder Woman. The most prominent reactions were to her weight. Gadot is a thin woman, which doesn’t necessarily match up with the perception of Wonder Woman, by many fans, as the warrior princess blessed by the Greek Pantheon. In the comics, Diana is often depicted with the body of an athlete, svelte but muscled. It makes sense because, while she may have been given extraordinary gifts by the Gods – depending on the origin story – she’s still part of a warrior culture. Her blessings give her greater power, but at the end of the day she’s still a capable fighter. Diana has been training her entire life, so if one were to logically think about how she’d look, female athletes would be the best real-world examples. There’s a reason why a lot of people were looking at MMA fighter turned actress Gina Carano for the role. Cliff Chiang’s version of Wonder Woman in her current solo title brings those logical elements together, creating a Wonder Woman who has the look of a warrior but retains her femininity. Other artists like Alex Ross and George Perez have emphasized these qualities as well.

While I do agree that Gadot is skinny, she’ll more than likely be hitting the gym. If Zack Snyder’s smart, he’ll make sure that happens. Not that Gadot would need much motivation. During her two-year term of service in the Israeli Armed Forces, Gadot was a sports trainer, so she already has an athletic background. At the very least she just has to bulk up a bit. Think Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2. Besides, she’s not the only actor to change her body for a role.

Christian Bale - The Machinist to Batman Begins

Christian Bale – The Machinist to Batman Begins

Henry Cavil Transitions to Superman

Henry Cavill Transitions to Superman

Ben Affleck...I'm sorry, what were we talking about?

Ben Affleck…I’m sorry, what were we talking about?

So, yeah, I’m sure it’ll be covered. If not, and she remains as thin as she is, then we’re getting into the dangerous territory previously tread when Jennifer Lawrence was cast as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. In that case, Lawrence was criticized for being “too fat” to play Katniss. With Gadot as Wonder Woman, we’re looking at the reverse with an actress deemed “too skinny” to play a role that many believe requires a woman of larger proportions. Given the choice, I fall on the side of casting someone with an athletic body to match the Amazonian warrior in my head, but that doesn’t mean Gadot and her trainer won’t strike a happy balance. The point is, there is a level of believability surrounding Wonder Woman as a warrior that needs to be satisfied. Just saying she’s strong because the Gods gave her these abilities robs her of the years of actual training she received from her sister Amazons that would reflect in how her body has shaped over time.

There’s also the possibility, and worry, that Gadot may have been cast because she’d look good in the costume. Let’s be honest, Zack Snyder doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to portraying women in his movies and there’s the very real possibility that Gadot’s Wonder Woman may only serve as eye candy. To his credit, Snyder did right by Faora (Antje Traue) and Lois Lane (Amy Adams) in Man of Steel, so hopefully he’s learned from those mistakes. Wonder Woman, from the moment you see her, exudes power and femininity, which should come from the actress portraying her, not through the use of slow-motion or ass-shots.

The issue of her costume, however, factors into how she’s framed within the movie. There was a huge backlash against DC Comics for giving Wonder Woman pants in J. Michael Straczynski’s run on the title, which the New 52 rectified by putting her back in her most iconic costume that’s essentially a one-piece corset/swimsuit and knee-high boots. How her outfit translates to the big screen is a different beast entirely. What works in the comics, doesn’t necessarily make sense in the “realistic” world being built up in the nascent DC Cinematic Universe, so Snyder and his team are going to have to make a choice and I can’t say that I envy them in this regard. Personally, I’ve never had a problem with giving her pants. The iconic costume is iconic for a reason, but putting Gadot in that costume also presents more opportunities for sexualizing the character instead of relying on the actress to transcend the outfit. If Superman is essentially wearing Kryptionian mesh armor and Batman wears a segmented, armored suit, then why does Wonder Woman have to wear a corset and boots? She’s just as powerful wearing pants. If they chose this route, they just have to avoid the David E. Kelley Wonder Woman outfit.Darwyn-Cooke-Wonder-Woman

The other issue appears to be with Gadot’s height. Henry Cavill is six foot one while Ben Affleck is six foot four, putting Gadot at a disadvantage, height wise, at five foot nine. Again, this boils down to how we perceive Wonder Woman, as an Amazon, compared to Superman and Batman. Generally speaking, Wonder Woman is usually depicted being as tall or taller than both Superman and Batman, which is a way of visualizing her power and strength. It’s been used in a lot of comics when artists and writers want to emphasize that Superman isn’t the only powerful hero in the DC Universe. Darwyn Cooke’s Justice League: The New Frontier is one of my favorite reveals of how Diana measures up to Clark as well as Jeph Loeb’s reveal of Big Barda’s height compared to Superman’s in Superman/Batman: Supergirl. In terms of the movie we either have to trust that Gadot’s acting abilities are top-notch that we don’t notice or they’re gonna give her some boots that give her some extra height.

Strangely enough, the reactions to Gadot’s casting don’t necessarily reflect poorly on her as they do emphasize that the first appearance of Wonder Woman on the big screen is a huge deal and that fans of the character have very different ideas of who the character is and how she should look. It’s no different from when we nitpick the casting of any actor or actress portraying a character that’s been around for 70 years. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman have gone through so many reboots and reimaginings that the likelihood of pleasing everyone is impossible. The only difference here is that this is Wonder Woman’s first time being featured in a movie whereas Superman and Batman have had multiple actors portraying them since George Reeves put on the cape in 1952. Actually, it goes even further back if you count the Batman and Robin serials of the 1940s. This is also the beginning of a shared cinematic universe for DC and Warner Bros., so the casting of Gadot and the choices they make in how she’s portrayed are going to be what sticks for the foreseeable future.

WonderWomanPictureFor my part, I’m always going to be more concerned with the story and where Wonder Woman falls into the plot. The role could range from cameo to supporting player and until WB puts out an official synopsis of the plot, we can only speculate how big of a role Wonder Woman will have in a movie that introduces her via her male peers with whom she’s supposed to stand alongside as an equal. I’m obviously not the only one who realizes this as many fans and articles have also commented on why Wonder Woman doesn’t just get her own movie before Justice League. And I’ve been on that side of the fence for a long time. I’ve written about it multiple times and I’ll continue to say that Wonder Woman doesn’t need to earn a movie of her own when every male character in the current comic book movie landscape got his movie without question. But we also don’t know WB’s long-term plan. We know Justice League is on the table, but how far out is still unconfirmed with the 2017 release date that came out of San Diego Comic-Con still a rumor. Like I said, the way things are shaping out in terms of the cast of Superman VS Batman, the proto-Justice League is already moving into place. I would love to see Wonder Woman get her own movie before Justice League because she’s Wonder Woman and she deserves it.

The reaction to those who continue to make the exact same statement has been one of, “Hey, we got Wonder Woman in a movie. We should be happy about this.” And, “I’m sure it means a Wonder Woman movie is on the way.” In regards to the first reply:  Yes, I’m happy Wonder Woman is going to be featured in a movie, but I will continue to question her purpose in it until I have some plot details and a better understanding of WB’s plans. Also, just being grateful that a character shows up in a movie is a double-edged sword. Until I see Gal Gadot in the costume and hear her speak, I can’t judge anything. The same goes for Affleck, but to imply that her just being in the movie is good enough sends a message to the filmmakers as well. What if it all goes wrong? What if Snyder falls back on what he’s done before regarding female characters in his previous movies? What if Goyer drops the ball and Wonder Woman is relegated to the background? Was I supposed to be happy about that the whole time? Obviously the reverse could happen and I would love nothing more than to be proven wrong. If this movie ends up being a fantastic superhero movie that gives Wonder Woman a fair shake along with Superman and Batman, I’ll be the first to admit it. But I’m not Mary Sunshine, so it’s great that others have such faith in what’s to come, but I’ll keep my skepticism and if I can respect your devotion, you can respect my reservations.wonder-woman

Concerning the second reply, it’s another show of faith in WB and the filmmakers that seems to be separating us. I hope to high Heaven that Wonder Woman gets a solo movie, but the constant assurances of it from others who know as much as I do about WB long-term plans for their movie franchises, which is nothing, that they’re certain it’ll happen doesn’t mean it actually will. We only really know that Justice League will happen, it’s just a matter of when and if they attempt to make another movie before then. So you can have you faith in the idea, but the fact of the matter is Wonder Woman has only ever popped up on the radar of WB in regards to movies in which she shares screen time with other heroes, never as a solo act. If, however, they announced a Wonder Woman movie would precede Justice League or that they were at least planning for one afterwards, then fine, your faith has been rewarded and I jumped the gun. Happy Happy Joy Joy to all of us! My concern will always remain with the hows and whens.

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So that’s all I got on the matter. This is, as always, one person’s opinion. But what do you think about the casting of Gal Gadot and Wonder Woman being part of Superman VS Batman? Should she get a movie before Justice League or are you content to wait?

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hunger_games_catching_fire_posterTrilogies are the equivalent of the three-act structure of any movie. The first movie is the set up, the second movie ups the stakes, and the third movie brings it all to a close. Of course there’s plenty of action, exposition, and world-building thrown in there at various points, but you get the idea. With this mind-set in tact, the second movie of a trilogy is usually the hardest to do since it’s the bridge between the almost simplistic set-up of the first movie and the, hopefully, more complex conclusion. It’s about keying up the protagonists for a cause they’re willing to fight for because there are stakes involved that have world-shattering and personal consequences.

In this case, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, directed by Francis Lawrence, benefits immensely from the missteps of the first movie to make a tightly packaged and mostly solid film. Everything’s bigger in this movie because the narrative demands it, which is why we get a greater production value, bigger sets, better special effects, and a stronger sense of who Katniss is and how her participation in the Hunger Games has affected her and affected Panem. To sum up the plot in a nutshell: After Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) defied the games and came out as dual winners, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) sees her as a threat to the power of The Capitol over the 12 Districts of Panem. While on a victory tour of the districts, Katniss and Peeta begin to see the results of their defiance as people from the various districts start to rise up and fight back against the power of The Capitol. Given an opportunity to squash the rebellious spirit she ignited, for the 75th Hunger Games, also called a Quarter Quell, Snow arranges for the game’s participants to be chosen from former winners. When Katniss and Peeta are chosen again, they need to figure out who to trust and how to survive even as their complicated relationship becomes more complicated.

The girl on fireThat’s about as basic as I can get, but trust me when I say there’s so much more going on in Catching Fire and none of it feels out of place or unearned. Catching Fire is about the aftermath of a defiant act and its impact, but it’s also about positioning Katniss into the role of a willing revolutionary. The games don’t even factor into the movie until the midpoint because, really, the games aren’t as important to the narrative as they are a plot device to motivate Katniss. Before the games, she’s still trying to deal with the post-traumatic stress of “winning” the games. She can’t hunt without seeing hallucinations of the people she killed and she wakes up screaming from terrible nightmares. Her relationships with Peeta and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) are strained because of what she did during the games, and everything she’s done up to this point has been about keeping her mother and her sister Prim (Willow Shields) safe. A visit from President Snow before the victory tour, threatening her family and blackmailing her, only amps up the tension and the pressure Katniss is under. She doesn’t want to be a hero or an example, but because of the nature of The Capitol and its obsession with power and image, Katniss has become a reluctant symbol of revolution. When she doesn’t act, people get hurt, and when she does act, people get hurt. There’s no middle ground for her anymore, so she has to choose a side and by the end of the movie, when they cut away from her, we as an audience know exactly what Katniss has decided.

The cast is just amazing this time around. Jennifer Lawrence, once again, makes Katniss the coldest and most vulnerable character without forcing the emotions. Katniss is such an interesting protagonist because she doesn’t see anything she does as revolutionary or special. She does what she has to do to survive, reserving what little capacity she has to care for a spare amount of people. She can’t concern herself with the bigger picture because it doesn’t mean anything to her and Lawrence does a fantastic job of showing how reserved she is and the slow burn of her emotional state changing over time. Josh Hutcherson finally gets a fair shake in this as Peeta’s allowed to be more than just dead weight. He’s not just the lovesick puppy of the first movie, he understands the political and image-conscious side of the games more than Katniss and he tries to protect her as much as she protects him. The script also allows for a more nuanced exploration of their friendship/romance, making it easier to see why Katniss would really start to fall for him. Donald Sutherland’s President Snow is the only other major player in the movie and he’s suitably creepy while simultaneously displaying a charming facade. He’s so invested in what Katniss could become that he doesn’t see what he’s making her become until it’s too late and Sutherland does a wonderful job of maintaining that restrained menace.ID_D35_14123.dng

The supporting cast gives it their all even if their time is sparse. Woody Harrelson’s Haymitch has returned to his alcoholic, yet still knowledgeable and caring ways while Elizabeth Banks’ Effie Trinket finally comes around as more than just a typical representative of The Capitol. When she tries to express herself and breaks down at the thought of what Katniss and Peeta are being forced to do, she wins you over entirely. Lenny Kravitz returns as Cinna and Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman, bringing the right amount of subdued cool and over-the-top excitement respectively. Added to the cast are Philip Seymour Hoffman as the new gamemaker, Plutarch Heavensbee, and Sam Clafin as Finnick Odair, a former winner of the games and possible ally. Hoffman is especially commendable for his performance. He’s unassuming in a way that makes you feel like you know who he is from the get-go right before he pulls a one-eighty and reveals his true colors. Filling out the cast are Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plummer, and Jenna Malone as former winners out to help Katniss survive and fight back. If there’s one weak link, it’s probably Liam Hemsworth’s Gale. He doesn’t do much other than talk about fighting back and taking up space as the third member of a love triangle. Hopefully he’ll have more to do in the split Mockingjay movies.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is one of those rare instances where the sequel outshines its predecessor, but a lot of that has to do with the actual success of The Hunger Games. Thankfully, Catching Fire learned from what didn’t work before and made the proper improvements. There’s less shaky cam, the effects are almost seamless, and there are some genuinely exciting and heart-wrenching moments. The only big gripe I’d really have is with the final reveal at the end, but you can make a case for a lot of the reasons why things happened the way they did. It just seems a bit farfetched, but you’ll have to be the judge on that when you see it for yourself.

See, two can play at this game.

Hey, girls, do you like Princess Merida from Brave? Do you like Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games? Do you remember Geena Davis? Do you want to play war games on the playground like all kids do? Well guess what, Nerf has their own line of girl-oriented weaponry for you to fight back against…whatever it is you’re fighting against that makes you “strong”. How do I know these weapons are for you?

So, yeah, looks like the one thing keeping girls from meeting the boys on the playground of battle was a stylish line of crossbows and guns color-coded for your gender-specific pleasure. I know marketing toys for boys and girls has always been part of advertising, but seriously what the fuck is this? Rebelle? Not only did Nerf and Hasbro color-code the weapons for girls, but they had to genderize the spelling of “rebel” while adding bird-like flairs to the weapons and projectiles. This is like some next level, we-really-need-the-money, BS. You know what Nerf items I played with when I was a kid? The same ones the boys did. The neon orange footballs, the blue, red, and yellow guns and crossbows, pretty much everything short of the actual weapons were colored the same and it didn’t matter. Did the advertisements feature boys more prominently? Yeah, and that’s where the problems lies. Katniss

Anita Sarkeesian recently put out her fifth installment of Tropes vs Women in Video Games where she defined the Ms. Male character: a female character who is essentially the twin of the male protagonist or default character and is usually differentiated by gendered signifiers like the color pink, a bow, makeup, and long eyelashes. Sarkeesian points out that this is not limited to video games, but is ubiquitous to all mediums of pop culture, which solidifies as part of our culture in general. Case in point, the Rebelle toy line highlights the same trope in how we market anything to girls. Nerf products default to boys because boys like to play games and run around and simulate violence, right? Girls don’t do any of that stuff, so of course we’d only feature boys in the advertisements as the consumers of said product. Boys and girls clearly don’t like the same things, ever, so we need to make sure that the toys they play with reinforce their defined gender roles. However, should girls actually reveal themselves to be violent, bloodthirsty hellspawn indistinguishable from boys, we might as well market their line of weaponry in a way that lets the girls know that this is clearly for them. Boys get the regular Nerf weapons, girls get a highly stylized, gender-specific brand.

Pink Camo ChildAnd I know this is Nerf and Hasbro’s way of trying to cash in on The Hunger Games. I get it. Girls want to be strong yet fashionable when they’re mowing enemies down with bullets or shooting arrows into the chest of an attacker. If they really wanted to make this commercial tie into The Hunger Games, Katniss would shoot her arrows into the girls one by one, showing why the Guardian Crossbow, Heartbreaker Bow, and Pink Crush are ineffective at improving performance, style, or strength. Everybody loses, but mostly the girls these toys are geared towards because it’s just another dose of gender reinforcement wrapped up in a new package. Next thing you know the only way to distinguish the girl soldiers from the boy soldiers will be if the girl soldiers are wearing pink camouflage with a gun to match.

The reverse, however, doesn’t necessarily change the dynamic. Products marketed to girls shouldn’t just be considered for girls only, but we color-code and stereotype because it’s easier that way to sell one product to girls and another to boys. But what if a boy wants to play with the “girl” toy? Easy Bake Oven, a product that is heavily advertised as a toy for girls, got some flack when little boys started asking for their own version because boys like to bake too, right? Baking isn’t a girls only domain, The Food Network proves that every day. But it then begs the question: Why change the Easy Bake Oven for boys? If a boy wants to use the toy, then use the toy. What’s wrong with the product that requires changing?

Girls Version

Girls Version

Boys Version

Oh…

Well, then, it seems that colors really do make a difference when you’re baking a cake. This example is just one of many cases where girls toys, a lot of them in varying shades of pinks, purples, and pastels are considered to be derivations from the norm. Boys want to bake, well they can’t do it using a purple apparatus. That’s what a girl would use. We wouln’t want boys to feel weird about using such a horrifying display of unmanliness, so change the color and make him feel better about himself when he’s icing that brownie!  And I’m sure if the boy wanted the purple version, then he’d use it, but the boy gets an option. He can have his pick, but girls are relegated to only this color scheme in terms of what products are marketed towards them.

Does this really make sense to anyone? Black and turquoise Easy Bake Oven vs pink and purple Easy Bake Oven. Nerf Rebelle? Who the hell cares? Here’s a thought, make the products in a variety of colors so maybe the kids can just choose which one they like based on their favorite color.  Change up the color combos. Do what Harrods and a bunch of retailers in the United Kingdom are doing and eliminate the whole “Girls” and “Boys” sections of the stores. Stop looking at girls like they need something different than what’s already available to them. Wouldn’t a better form of advertising be a commercial that includes boys and girls playing with the same toys on an equal playing field? And if you’re going to market something to girls specifically, try appealing to them as people, not as a stereotype.