Gal Gadot

How ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot overcame her acting inadequacies to rise in Hollywood

Gal Gadot, who turns 36 today, is probably not the best actor. This is not as much a shade at her as much as trying to reason out why despite her limited acting capabilities, her rise in Hollywood has been meteoric.

Gal Gadot is a tall and athletic woman who looked like a superhero way before she donned the Wonder Woman costume. She was one of the big reasons the DC Extended Universe got a shot in the arm with her 2017 debut as the superhero when it was teetering on the brink of disaster after the successive disappointments of Man of Steel, Batman V Superman, and Suicide Squad.

But while one can say that her screen presence is regal, one cannot say the same about her acting. This is not as much a shade at her as much as trying to reason out why despite her limited acting capabilities, her rise in Hollywood has been meteoric.

Wonder Woman was just the beginning, as her star power ensured even after the mixed reception to Wonder Woman 1984, the franchise will get a threequel. Additionally, she will don the role of Cleopatra in an epic historical movie on the Egyptian queen. She will also essay the primary antagonist Evil Queen in the live-action Snow White from Disney.

But as I said her DC solo debut (she had portrayed Princess Diana in a cameo in Batman V Superman) was the beginning of her, and it is the perfect example of how a role and performance can hide acting talent.

Directed by Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman was about the titular Diana, a warrior goddess hailing from the hidden, utopian island paradise of Themyscira populated by martial women. The film had her venturing out to the rest of the world from out of her prior sheltered existence. She was on a quest to hunt down Ares, the dreaded Greek god of war who she believed was behind all the death and destruction in the world.

Wonder Woman, the movie and the hero both, are at their best during the No Man’s Land scene. A gorgeously assembled scene, it is a four-minute masterclass in superhero filmmaking. It also establishes Diana as a heroine who will do whatever it takes to end the misery and suffering in the world. Before, all the unpleasant stories she had heard about the outer world as a child were vague things. It is only now she is looking at the atrocious things humans are capable of doing to each other. She is shocked, and wants to do something, despite what others say.

The film also derived humour from Diana’s fish out of water situation, as she gets surprised — pleasantly or unpleasantly — at nearly everything she spots in early 20th century London. She is as much a curio for the world as the world is for her. She stops to coo at a baby, and opines the secretary of Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor is actually his slave, and so on.

But amid all that, if one is careful it is easy to spot how the writing has accommodated Gadot’s lack of dramatic inadequacies. Her character does not have to emote all that much, the dialogue is straightforward, again owing to how the character is written, and her expression, save for when she has to fight, for most of the movie is that of a woman who is out of her depth, which again fits well with the character.

The aforementioned No Man’s Land scene is a great example. If you focus on Gadot’s face and her face alone, you get an idea that the scene would have worked with a turnip.

Once again, this is not to say that Gadot is undeserving of her status in Hollywood, which she is not. In fact, it is a testament to her choices of roles that make her look majestic, and her awareness of her strengths, which have made her a force to be reckoned with.

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