The splendid news of a lovely new superhero film Wonder Woman (2017), based on the DC Comics character of the same name, hitting the screens first reached me through the inauspicious report that it had been banned in Lebanon. “What the hell?” I thought.
The film, I soon learned, was directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins, which is great, based on a story by Zack Snyder and others, which was terrible, for the world always associates the name of Zack Snyder with that horridly hateful movie “300” (2006) in which Persians and other “Orientals” appear as three-headed monsters feeding on their own children.
“Wonder Woman’ banned in Lebanon,” read the headline, “because lead actress is Israeli.” There we go again. A film starring an Israeli settler-colonist written by a man who sees Iranians as subterranean monsters. Could not wait to see it.
The “controversy”, as Americans put it on such occasions, surrounded Gal Gadot, an Israeli military officer turned movie actress. Traumatised by repeated Israeli invasion of their homeland, Lebanese are very particular about anything “Israeli”. To be sure, the same CNN report indicated not all Lebanese were happy with the ban and wanted to see the film, arguing “Gal Gadot may be an Israeli, but we want to watch a movie about the amazing character of Wonder Woman”.
As a fanatical movie fan, especially of superheroes (they are beautiful symptoms of ugly diseases), I, of course, categorically oppose banning any film. In fact, like millions of others, I become more eager and curious to see it precisely because it is banned. Being banned is the best thing that can happen to a film. It instantly raises its mysterious cache. In my book, if you don’t like a film for whatever reason you just write a bad review of it on your Facebook page. That’s all. You don’t ban it.
To be sure, in the United States, Wonder Woman was not only not banned, in fact, it is loudly loved and widely admired as a groundbreaking feminist film, opening to such record sale that would make a Hollywood executive summersault even higher than Wonder Woman herself.
Was Princess of Themyscira a settler colonialist, too?
When you finally sit down to watch the film, you recall how Wonder Woman (now portrayed by Officer Gal Gadot) is none other than Diana, the warrior princess of the Amazons, born and raised on a sheltered island paradise, just like Israel, or “a villa in the jungle” as one of their warlords once put it. She meets an American pilot (played by Chris Pine), just as they do in their regular joint military exercises, who lures her into the real world where war and misery abound and where the Themysciran princess saves the world and finds her true destiny.
Five minutes into the film, the metaphoric resemblance of the chief protagonist of the film to an Israeli warrior princess and an American fighter pilot who are coming romantically together to save the world with their militarised prowess gushes out of the screen, leaving you nowhere to hide.
Before we get too carried away with that uncanny metaphor, however, we must, of course, remember that, as a fictional superhero, Wonder Woman predates the Zionist occupation and theft of Palestine. The character of Wonder Woman first appeared in October 1941, demigoddess, ambassador-at-large of the Amazonian people, and eventually became a founding member of the Justice League – with her official title being Diana, Princess of Themyscira. But in this particular rendition, this specific Wonder Woman might have as well been commissioned by the Hollywood mogul Haim Saban and the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson together, putting their differences over Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton aside for the good cause of bringing US and Israel romantically together for the salvation of the world.
An Israeli soldier saves the world
That cinematic allegory brings us back to the lead actress, Gal Gadot, a settler colonialist who did not just serve in the Israeli army, as any other adult in Israel must (except of course those brave souls who refuse to do so), but actually cheered on her comrades-in-arms when they were slaughtering Palestinian woman and children in Gaza.
This particular Wonder Woman, Ms Gal Gadot, is no ordinary Israeli soldier. She is a fanatical warrior in the cause of the Zionist theft of Palestine and the uninhibited slaughter of Palestinians. Last time, she and her comrades went on a rampage maiming and murdering Palestinian women and children in Gaza and destroying their homes over their heads she cheered her comrades on:
“I am sending my love and prayers to my fellow Israeli citizens,” she wrote. “Especially to all the boys and girls who are risking their lives protecting my country against the horrific acts conducted by Hamas, who are hiding like cowards behind women and children…We shall overcome!!! Shabbat Shalom!
Now, “What does all of this have to do with the movie, Wonder Woman?” you might ask. Suppose you are a father or a mother living in Gaza, and like any other parent from Florida to Oregon you wish for your daughters to have a positive role model – then what? You hear there is this amazing Hollywood blockbuster championing the cause of a young female superhero. Could an Israeli soldier who learned her martial arts skills by helping drop bombs on your brothers and sisters, maiming and murdering them, be perceived as an Amazonian princess who is here to save the world?
The time that Hollywood could shove its superheroes down the world's throat and perpetuate delusion of truth in purposeful lies is over.
You may say, “Who cares if anyone sees the film in Gaza or not, or what they may think of it? – and you will be quite right. Certainly, no Hollywood producer in California or a film critic in New York could care less what a Palestinian child in Gaza or elsewhere might think of this particular Wonder Woman.
When reality thumbs its nose back at you
But Gaza is not just the largest open air prison in which Israelis have incarcerated some 1.8 million human beings. Gaza is also the moral measure of our humanity at large. If you are utterly enjoying this particular Wonder Woman as a role model for your daughters in a theatre near you and could not care less about a young Palestinian girl mourning her family in Gaza whom the woman portraying your superhero helped kill, then all the power to you. You need not bother to know that in this film Gal Gadot does not just personify Wonder Woman, but alas Wonder Woman disappears into Gal Gadot.
The time that Hollywood could shove its superheroes down the world’s throat and perpetuate delusion of truth in purposeful lies is over. Today, the world talks, walks, defies, imagines, and stages back against Hollywood and its dysfunctional mythologies that try to normalise the colonial thieveries of reason and decency. It was a strategic blunder to cast a settler colonial officer as a superhero woman who cares about humanity.
For when you thumb your nose at reality, reality thumbs its nose back at you, and it does so not by political manifesto, but in entirely and gloriously cinematic terms. Here is how: The entire CGI-festooned spectacle of Wonder Woman pales and melts into watery creampuff in comparison to a single sequence of a joyous masterpiece by the Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman. Take a look and marvel: Now that’s what I call a “Wonder Woman”!
Hamid Dabashi is Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.