The “big” value of Wonder Woman as a character and icon is that everyone has heard of her. They probably haven’t heard anything else, but they know the name, the look, the basic idea and – most importantly – that she’s supposed to be the female equal to Superman: THE female superhero. What that means in terms of this current age of comic-hero movies is that, whereas Marvel/Disney will actually have to make and release a full movie for somebody like Ms. Marvel, all Diana has to do is show up and DC/Warners gets a certain amount of credit/cultural-cache re: overtures to female fans.

And now, show up she will: Warner Bros. has officially announced that the Gal Gadot, the former fashion model best known as Miss Israel 2004 and as Gisele in the “FAST & FURIOUS” movies, will play Wonder Woman in the mad scrambling clusterfuck to do something, ANYTHING with the DC properties as-yet untitled sequel to “MAN OF STEEL.”

This has been underway for awhile – it’s been “known” that Wonder Woman was in this movie to some degree pretty much ever since Warners started casting around for actresses who can aquit themselves in action scenes and wouldn’t confirm or deny that this was the role. For awhile, the steady gossip was that Wonder Woman and possibly The Flash (not the same one about to get his own TV show, because DC/Warners just isn’t good at this stuff) would be showing up in the film as cameos in their “civilian” identities, with their true selves being revealed either late in the game, post-credits or in subsequent movies. Maybe that “intel” was always wrong… but it wouldn’t surprise me at all that this is a pretty recent development.

The fact is, this is a movie being assembled in free-fall. Warners was caught completely off guard by the reception to “MAN OF STEEL.” The studio went gaga for what Snyder/Nolan had gotten up to on the feature (particularly that massive, meaningless-carnage finale that’s now the most criticized part of the fiilm) and went into this Summer convinced that not only did they have their “AVENGERS”-killer but that they had the new answer to “TRANSFORMERS.” Instead, while the film was still a HUGE moneymaking hit, it failed to meet their (foolishly made-public) sky-high projections and is now best known for generating a year’s worth of trend pieces about how badly the iconic hero was mangled and who in the production is most to blame.

So while I have no doubt in my mind that “the plan” was always to start laying track for “JUSTICE LEAGUE” by having Batman show up in the sequel, I absolutely believe the stories that they made the decision to make him a co-star (at least in terms of promotion/title/etc) literally just days before announcing it at comic-con. By the same token, it wouldn’t surprise me at all that Wonder Woman’s presence in this film started out as “easter egg,” got bumped to “surprise cameo” as the bloom continued to come off the MOS-rose and became “role we’re going to hastily expand announce a year in advance” when the “Female-Led Movies Set Thanksgiving Records” trend-pieces started hitting on monday morning.

Honestly? It’s really difficult for me to get excited about any aspect of this production so long as everyone guilty of“MAN OF STEEL” is still at the wheel. There was a moment there, right after “WATCHMEN,” that the notion of Zack Snyder putting the DC Trinity onscreen would have been the biggest, coolest, most-exciting news to hit this genre since “they’re giving Spider-Man to Sam Raimi!” Now? Tainted goods, and I blame Goyer (who has never been good) and Nolan (who is good, just not at this) for the most part. Just for one example: Not that it’s anywhere near the most important thing, but look at the overall visual/design aesthetic of “MAN OF STEEL” and try to imagine a Batman and Wonder Woman who would “fit” into that. Not terribly exciting, if you ask me.

I hope this is good. I hope this works out. I hope whatever lightning struck to make “THE DARK KNIGHT” happen amid Warner Bros. utter incompetence within this genre can hit again. I have no real opinion on Gadot’s casting – she’s very pretty and you can easily picture her in the part, which are exactly the same qualifications Henry Cavill had for Superman, and I don’t think it’s particularly noteworthy (good or bad) that she was a beauty pageant contestant before being an actress. It’s tempting to start in with “it’s too early to have an opinion at all,” but since they seem to be making this one up on the fly in response to whatever is currently-trending at the boxoffice, I’m not sure when it won’t be “too early.”

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