Critics slam Wonder Woman 1984 for 'anti-Arab racism'

Critics slam Wonder Woman 1984 for 'anti-Arab racism'
Some viewers have accused the superhero film of reproducing racist, anti-Arab tropes.
3 min read
26 December, 2020
Israeli actress Gal Gadot plays the superhero [Wonder Woman/Warner Bros]
Hotly anticipated superhero film "Wonder Woman 1984" has been met with terrible reviews - and accusations of anti-Arab racism.

Viewers took to social media to express their concerns after the film premiered on the HBO Max streaming service on Friday.

Critics online were quick to pan the DC Comics film, calling the movie "hard-to-follow" and "poorly written".

But an Egypt-based subplot of the film prompted accusations of racism and Islamophobia from some.

"I'm stunned at how racist it was," tweeted journalist and podcast host Ahmed Ali Akbar.

"WW84 is that type of white feminist movie where a white man from Jim Crow-era segregation is the best man humanity has ever known, but the Arab men are fanatic bigots desiring a border wall and Latino men are wife beaters & megalomonics," Akbar wrote on Saturday.

That statement was echoed by Twitter user @altonwang: "All the evil things in the film - a literal border wall, domestic abuse - are portrayed by actors of color that have zero substance in their character other than to be the bad guys, only to be saved by white saviorism."

The superhero film "might be the most racist blockbuster I've seen in years. How did producers and executives in 2020 not raise the flag and go 'we can't do that'," said Twitter user @metalgearzeta.

Akbar pointed to a series of screengrabs from the film shared on social media, which show an Egyptian king played by actor Amr Waked calling for "heathens" to be expelled from his land.

Other social media users appeared to interpret the scene as an anti-Palestinian caricature.

"When they said Wonder Woman 1984 I thought they meant like neon colors and synths but they meant horrifying middle eastern stereotypes," said film podcast host Josh Lewis.

Akbar pointed to other scenes in the film as problematic, including a "random cut to a man in mujahideen-looking garb making a heartfelt wish for nuclear weapons".

Twitter user @foeyeahboi described the scene as an "anvil-sized racist moment".

In another scene, Wonder Woman reportedly uses a missile to save four Arab children about to be run down by a vehicle while playing football.

Some compared the scene unfavourably to Israeli forces killing of four Palestinian children as they played football on a Gaza beach in 2014. 

Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot served in the Israeli Defence Forces between 2005 and 2007.

The Israeli actress has previously attracted criticism for expressing support for the IDF during its 2014 bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip. 

Gadot also faced a backlash after she was cast as ancient Egyptian Queen Cleopatra.

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