-- When "Wonder Woman" landed the number-one spot on its opening weekend with a haul of more than $100 million, fans cheered that the success of the film, which was directed by Patty Jenkins, was a victory for women everywhere.
In a new interview with the Guardian newspaper Cameron said that the protagonist of the film, actress Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman, was "an objectified icon."
“All of the self-congratulatory back-patting Hollywood’s been doing over 'Wonder Woman' has been so misguided," he said. "It’s just male Hollywood doing the same old thing! I’m not saying I didn’t like the movie but, to me, it’s a step backwards."
In his critique of the movie, Cameron pointed to the female lead in "The Terminator," which he directed, as a better heroine.
"Sarah Connor was not a beauty icon. She was strong, she was troubled, she was a terrible mother, and she earned the respect of the audience through pure grit," he said. "To me, [the benefit of characters like Sarah] is so obvious. I mean, half the audience is female!”
"Wonder Woman," which set a new record for an opening weekend of a female-directed feature, has been lauded for inspiring young girls and dispelling the myth that female-driven movies aren't as lucrative as those with male leads.
In a tweet late Thursday night, Jenkins fired back at Cameron, stating that "if women have to always be hard, tough and troubled to be strong, and we aren't free to be multidimensional or celebrate an icon of women everywhere because she is attractive and loving, then we haven't come very far."
"James Cameron's inability to understand what 'Wonder Woman' is, or stands for, to women all over the world is unsurprising as, though he is a great filmmaker, he is not a woman," she wrote. I believe women can and should be EVERYTHING just like male lead characters should be. There is no right and wrong kind of powerful woman. And the massive female audience who made the film a hit it is, can surely choose and judge their own icons of progress."
Making "Wonder Woman" was a passion project for Jenkins, who fought for more than a decade to get it made. Fighting stereotypes, she told ABC News prior to the film's release, was a tough process.
"It got lost in this strange belief system that action movies were only for boys and that superheroes were only for boys," she explained. "[But] comics have always had a bunch of great female characters and a bunch of great female superheroes."
"I think [Wonder Woman] is the grand, classic superhero ... of which there are very few," Jenkins continued. "Many of the superheroes stand for different, smaller things. She is a hero: uncomplicated, loving, kind. Also sexy, cool, tough, badass."