Gal Gadot or Lynda Carter, who is the better Wonder Woman? A look at campy charm against blockbuster heroics
With HBO Max releasing all episodes of the 70s 'Wonder Woman' series just days before the big release of 'Wonder Woman 1984', the comparisons between both versions of Wonder Woman are inevitable. Gal Gadot's modern blockbuster era Wonder Woman is a lot different from Lynda Carter's more charming, long-running television series, but both women managed to bring a balance between toughness and compassion that sets Wonder Woman apart.
Putting both heroes side by side, as HBO Max as done, however, begs the question — which version of Wonder Woman is better?
Both versions of Wonder Woman have a significant advantage over the other. For Lynda Carter, it's consistency. Though she spent a lot more time performing as Wonder Woman than Gal Gadot did, the vision for the 1970s 'Wonder Woman' was simple and had the formulaic appeal of the time — adventure stories that were just this side of campy, meant to appeal to younger kids and inspire them.
Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman retained characteristics of bravery, restraint, compassion and kindness, all throughout the series. Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman, however, changes from one director to the next. Where Patty Jenkins brings out Gadot's compassionate warrior, Zack Snyder tended to focus more on the sexualized superhero aspect of the character — and with six hours worth of 'Justice League' to appear on HBO Max, we're about to see just as much of Snyder's vision of Diana as Jenkins'.
On the other hand, ignoring the blockbuster budget for a moment, Gal Gadot had one thing that Lynda Carter did not have — at least not to the same degree — and that's pressure. Female-led superhero movies had done consistently poorly at the box office, after failures like 'Catwoman' and 'Elektra'. Even with a character as iconic as Wonder Woman, Warner Brothers was taking a risk — the kind of risk that would decide whether or not female-led superhero films would be backed by studios going forward.
More than any other superhero film up to that point, 2017's 'Wonder Woman' needed to be good. It paid off, with 'Wonder Woman' becoming one of the highest-grossing DC films of all time, and Gal Gadot's performance played a massive part in achieving that success.
While comparing a light-hearted TV show with a film meant to be an anchor point to a film franchise worth billions of dollars is unfair, comparing performances does reveal one thing — audiences had a lot more time to enjoy Lynda Carter's performance. 'Wonder Woman' the TV series ran for four years, over three seasons and 60 episodes.
Fans had a chance to get to know and love Lynda Carter's performance, while they're still getting to know Gal Gadot's Diana. While the 'Wonder Woman' movie is undoubtedly a stronger viewing performance, Gal Gadot has a long way to go before her Diana is able to embed herself as strongly into the hearts of fans as Lynda Carter did.
'Wonder Woman 1984' airs on HBO Max on December 25.