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By Richard Bruce BA, MA, and PhC in Economics

Wonder Woman & Captain Marvel down played sexy

On Jimmy Kimmel's feature, Mean Tweets, Gal Gadot reads a tweet that complains about her small breasts, I believe the topic also came up on another talk show. Clearly Gal Godot's relatively small breasts contrasts with the traditional Wonder Woman of the comics. Furthermore, it is clear that Hollywood is filled with actresses who show abundant cleavage, much of it no doubt artificial. So what gives?

Let us note that Wonder Woman is not the only superheroine with her own movie recently. Captain Marvel was the second one but had an even bigger boxoffice. I have not heard much controversy over the figure of Brie Larson, or her outfit, but her superhero costume covers her from the neck down, and is by the standards of most female superheroes very modest.

It seems clear that both Warner Brothers/DC and Disney/Marvel have made an intentional decision to play down the sex appeal of their superheroines, and it makes sense that they would. In 2004 Warner Brothers distributed Catwoman and in 2005 Fox distributed Elektra, both flopped. This is probably the main reason why Hollywood was so reluctant to produce superhero films with women leads. It was not that the idea had not been tried, it was tried and failed miserably. But Elektra and particularly Catwoman tried to sell the product on the basis of sex appeal. It did not work so Disney and Warner Brothers took a new tack. They played down the cheese cake and reaped box office success.

There are a couple of reasons that this was a good idea. First, porn and even soft core poor is cheap. If you spend fifty to a hundred million trying to sell the female body, you are making a very expensive product that is competing with much cheaper products. This is generally a good way to lose lots of money.

Superhero movies are action, special effects, fantasy movies. Trying to sell the movie with skimpy costumes and curvy figure confuses your marketing effort.

Of course, it is also politically incorrect which seems to have a huge influence on the reviews, even if the audience does not care. If you use skimpy costumes you lose all of your political progressive points and apparently a lot of boxoffice too.

I used to think that skimpy outfits and curvy figures were good for the women on superhero teams, but not for a superheroine with her own movie. But given the failure of the earlier movies with skimpy outfits and the success of the more conservative recent movies it seems likely that any attempt to use very revealing costumes to sell superhero movies is probably a mistake.

It is commonly thought that quality is not the road to riches in popular culture but the numbers suggest it is.

In conclusion, Gal Gadot's figure is part of the plan, not a casting error.

Last edited April 23, 2019

Index of pages on various cultural and media topics


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Index of pages on various cultural and media topics

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Index of pages on various cultural and media topics