Wonder Woman Director: ‘Why Do White Men Get to Be Universal?’

2 minute read

Movie industry logic has long dictated that audiences don’t want to see women kicking butt. That’s finally changing, thanks in large part to Wonder Woman, the highly anticipated film hitting theaters in June 2017. Warner Bros. released the first trailer for Wonder Woman at Comic-Con on Saturday. Later in the afternoon during a smaller panel celebrating the iconic character’s 75th anniversary in the comic books, the film’s director Patty Jenkins talked about how she’s been lobbying for a female superhero her whole career.

“The first meeting I had with Warner Bros. after Monster, they were like, ‘Great what do you want to do?’ And I was like, ‘I want to do Wonder Woman,’” said Jenkins. “There was a period of time where people were scared to make a female superhero movie, and a Wonder Woman movie in particular. There was an apologist attitude about how do we make her super hard and impressive? And I said, you have to make her universal.”

She continued: “Why do white men get to be universal and everyone else has to be a smaller story?”

The appeal of Wonder Woman, Jenkins argued, is that not only can she cause serious damage, she also can embrace her enemies with love. Worries about her being too feminine or too masculine are trivial.

“She is fierce. I’m not worried about that,” Jenkins said. “She’s also vulnerable, loving, falls in love, which is what we’ve always done to Superman. So that’s the thing that I cared the most about. It’s a universal story.”

Star Gal Gadot agreed. The actress earned cheers at a Comic-Con panel last year for reassuring a boy wearing a Wonder Woman T-shirt that guys could love Wonder Woman too. She emphasized Wonder Woman’s universal appeal again this year.

“I think it’s so important for girls, and boys as well, to have a strong role model. There are not many female superheroes that we’re exposed to. The fact that we have Wonder Woman coming back big time now is so important,” the actress said. “It’s not about being a woman or being a man, it’s a person’s story that everyone can relate to.”

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Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com