Bulk, breast, and beauty: negotiating the superhero body in Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman

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This article discusses how the choice of actress Gal Gadot to play Wonder Woman negotiates between comic book fans’ expectations and society’s gender schema. It has taken 75 years for the industry to produce a film adaption of Wonder Woman, perhaps due to the ‘problem’ of female muscles. This article focuses on the significance of Wonder Woman’s muscles using theoretical frames from sports sociology. One frame is edgework, coined by sociologist Stephen Lyng about dangerous activities that amateurs perform. The second frame is the feminist analysis of women’s muscles. Women navigate the boundary between what sociologist Shari Dworkin calls ‘emphasized femininity’ and what is beyond this femininity. The article introduces Wonder Woman’s origin, then presents theory of edgework and female muscles, third, it analyzes Wonder Woman as bodywork and edgework, and, finally, discusses Gadot’s Wonder Woman body as feminist physique.

StatusE-pub ahead of print - 29 jan. 2019