No matter which way you turn, it feels like everyone is talking about Wonder Woman.
The female-led, and female-directed superhero film has been both a critical and box office success. Vox headlined their review, Wonder Woman isn’t just the hero Hollywood needs. She’s the one exhausted feminists deserve and it’s been widely proclaimed a “tremendous win” for the superhero genre.
Wonder Woman broke the record for the biggest opening weekend for a female-directed film, and they did so by attracting a largely female audience.
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The film’s success has been a liberating ‘told-you-so’ moment at a time when industry heavyweights continue to claim that female superhero films don’t make money, or that women in lead roles will somehow turn audiences off.
But despite the film’s popularity, Wonder Woman has been banned in Lebanon. And it’s all because of the leading actress’ political past.
Israeli-born Gal Gadot (pronounced ‘ga-daute’) began as a model in her late teens, and in 2004 won the Miss Israel beauty pageant. That same year, Gadot competed in the Miss Universe pageant, when she says she intentionally ‘rebelled’ against the competition.
“I was 19. I wasn’t that type of girl. I rebelled,” she told People magazine.
“I came down late, I showed up late to everything… I didn’t wear my makeup.”
But only a year after representing Israel in the Miss Universe pageant, Gadot was enlisted into the Israeli Defense Force.
Military service is mandatory for all men and women over the age of 18 in Israel.
For two years, Gadot trained with the Israeli army, and has said since that her combat training was helpful in preparing for her role in Wonder Woman.
In 2007, Gadot was featured in Maxim magazine's round up of "the world's sexiest soldiers".
The article was titled, "The chosen ones: Israeli Defense Forces," and introduced the women as, "drop-dead gorgeous and can take apart an Uzi in seconds. Are the women of the Israeli Defense Forces the world's sexiest soldiers?"
Gadot's profile outlined how she taught "gymnastics and calisthenics," to her fellow soldiers, and "they loved me because I made them fit."
The actress became a combat instructor while in the Israeli Defense Force, and said that the military is "a lot more intense" than training for a film.
"You give two or three years, and it's not about you. You learn discipline and respect," she concluded.
According to Vanity Fair, Gadot served during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War, a 34-day-long conflict which spanned Lebanon and northern Israel.
When Gadot returned from the military, she enrolled in a law degree. But after one year of studying, she was approached by a casting director who wanted her to audition for the part of Camille Montes, the Bond girl in Quantum of Solace.
Gadot missed out on the role, but was later cast as Gisele in Fast and Furious in 2009.
Since, Gadot has appeared in Fast and Furious 5 and Fast and Furious 6, as well as Keeping up with the Joneses, Knight and Day and Date Night.
But her subjectivity, a Jewish Israeli, and her part in the Israeli Defense Force, renders her a political figure.
When the Gaza conflict was escalating in 2014, the actress posted a Facebook status declaring her support for her fellow Israelis.
“I am sending my love and prayers to my fellow Israeli citizens,” she wrote, next to a photo of her praying with her daughter. “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! #weareright #freegazafromhamas #stopterror #coexistance #loveidf.”
#Nofiltermoment With the daily routine of life, family and work I'm distracted all day long . Today I had a moment with myself when I was looking out the window at the beautiful clear blue sky and realized that I'm 9 months (!!!) pregnant and soon will have a new lovepup as an addition to our family.. could not be more grateful to the universe . Sending you guys some positive gratitude energies. ✨????????????????✨
The war between Lebanon and Israel continues to rage, and thus just before the film was due to premiere in Lebanon, it was banned.
The Minister of Economy and Trade said in a statement on June 1, that they took "all necessary action," to ban the film starring "Israeli actress Gal Gadot."
For decades Lebanon has boycotted Israeli products, and just last year unsuccessfully attempted to ban Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, because of Gadot's role.
Nonetheless, Wonder Woman has been a global success. Gadot says of her character, "She is the ultimate symbol of strength. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd grow up to be in a movie playing someone who influenced as many women as she has."
From a model, to a combat trainer, to a Hollywood actress, Gadot's story is almost more interesting than the film.