Casting a superhero is a tricky. The actor has to personify a character with decades of history, but also look fantastic in skimpy attire. (Most of the best mainstream comics ever made could easily be subtitled “Muscular People with Personal Problems.”) Christian Bale and Robert Downey Jr. have done it, but there’s a whole graveyard of Brandon Rouths and Jennifer Garners who tried and failed. Playing a superhero is just plain hard, but it also has to be fun. And that’s why, when the time comes to finally cast the long-developed Wonder Woman movie, there’s only one real choice to play the Amazon: Beyoncé Knowles.
I caught some flak for making that suggestion over on our gallery of superheroines who deserve their own movies. Conventional wisdom says that musicians almost never give good performances in movies (except when they play themselves, like Eminem in 8 Mile or David Bowie in Labyrinth). But when you really ponder Beyoncé as Wonder Woman, there are only two major issues that come up:
1. Beyoncé can’t act. I refute this. Cadillac Records wasn’t a good movie, but Beyoncé’s Etta James was a magnetic revelation. She owns the screen. That’s also true of her role in Obsessed: the movie is ridiculous, but Beyoncé is such a snarling force of energy – “I’ll show you crazy!” – that she raises the whole project above shallow absurdity into gorgeous camp.
Would I want to see Beyoncé star in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie? No. But Wonder Woman is not a character who requires a Chekhovian level of emotional realism. She requires something far more challenging: presence. Wonder Woman is a ravishingly beautiful princess, but she’s also a warrior. She doesn’t just have to be gorgeous. She has to be believable in a fight. She has to be a brawler.
Watch Beyoncé sing “If I Were a Boy” at this year’s Grammys. She’s majestic, sexy, cocky, and brutally powerful (and all in heels). This is a woman who could lead an army of screaming Amazons into battle.
2. Wonder Woman is white. There’s a simple answer to this problem: Big Fat Who Cares? Wonder Woman’s creators don’t care, because they’re dead. Wonder Woman doesn’t care, because she’s not real. Speaking for all white people everywhere, I can affirm that we don’t care. And let’s be honest: Wonder Woman’s character history is so rife with reboots and retcons, hiring an African American to play her in a movie would be the least crazy change to make to the character.
No less a writer than Joss Whedon has already tried and failed to bring Wonder Woman to the big screen. It’s tricky: Wonder Woman was designed to be a pro-feminist icon, but she’s also a six-foot hottie wearing bright red boots. Beyoncé navigates that same curious gray area between girl-power feminist and booty-shaking bombshell every time she strolls onstage.
You might find that mixture problematic, but it’s infused in Wonder Woman’s DNA. A movie that owned the two sides of the character could finally break through the boys’ club of comic book movies. Hit Girl doesn’t have to be the only three-dimensional female movie superhero, right?
What do you think, PopWatchers? Am I crazy (in love)? Do you have a better actress? And do you think that your actress could defeat Beyoncé in a fight? Sound off below!