The Cable

The Cable goes inside the foreign policy machine, from Foggy Bottom to Turtle Bay, the White House to Embassy Row.

At the Last Minute, Lebanon Bans ‘Wonder Woman’

Lebanon, which is still technically at war with Israel, banned the film because the lead actress is Israeli.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 25:  Actress Gal Gadot arrives at the Premiere Of Warner Bros. Pictures' "Wonder Woman" at the Pantages Theatre on May 25, 2017 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 25: Actress Gal Gadot arrives at the Premiere Of Warner Bros. Pictures' "Wonder Woman" at the Pantages Theatre on May 25, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 25: Actress Gal Gadot arrives at the Premiere Of Warner Bros. Pictures' "Wonder Woman" at the Pantages Theatre on May 25, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

In Lebanon, this summer’s blockbuster superhero movie won’t be the DC Comics franchise, “Wonder Woman.” At least that’s what the government decided just hours before the film was set to premiere in select theaters across the country. Despite glowing reviews, and a seemingly uncontroversial plot, the decision to cast an Israeli actress as its leading lady has put the multi-million-dollar-budget film in the line of fire between Israel and Hezbollah.

Lebanon and Israel are still technically in a state of war, though they haven’t engaged in serious conflict since the 2006 war that left over 1,000 Lebanese people — mostly civilians — and over 100 Israeli soldiers dead.

Yet 11 years later, the government said a decades-old Lebanese statute applies to the move: It forbids the import of products from Israel and bans Lebanese citizens from traveling there. Gal Gadot, who plays Wonder Woman, is Israeli.

In Lebanon, this summer’s blockbuster superhero movie won’t be the DC Comics franchise, “Wonder Woman.” At least that’s what the government decided just hours before the film was set to premiere in select theaters across the country. Despite glowing reviews, and a seemingly uncontroversial plot, the decision to cast an Israeli actress as its leading lady has put the multi-million-dollar-budget film in the line of fire between Israel and Hezbollah.

Lebanon and Israel are still technically in a state of war, though they haven’t engaged in serious conflict since the 2006 war that left over 1,000 Lebanese people — mostly civilians — and over 100 Israeli soldiers dead.

Yet 11 years later, the government said a decades-old Lebanese statute applies to the move: It forbids the import of products from Israel and bans Lebanese citizens from traveling there. Gal Gadot, who plays Wonder Woman, is Israeli.

And Gadot — like the majority of citizens in Israel, which has mandatory military service — has served in the Israeli army and has also posted in support of the Israeli Defense Force on social media in the past, most notably in 2014 during the bloody war in Gaza.

Though Lebanon allowed the screening of another movie she appeared in last year, “Batman v Superman,” in which she played the same role, an organized media boycott campaign could be credited this time around with orchestrating the government’s sudden change of script.

The Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel-Lebanon, which staunchly protested the screening of the film, hailed the news, calling the action movie an “Israeli soldier film.”

A member of the campaign, Rania Masritold the Associated Press that the ban shouldn’t be taken personally, and had more to do with international politics than with the Gadot herself. “First and foremost she is Israeli. We don’t distinguish between a good Israeli and a bad Israeli,” Masri said.

Lebanon’s not the first country to turn down the allure of a blockbuster Hollywood film. China has banned “The Departed,” Vietnam and Thailand banned “The Hunger Games” and “Mockingjay” respectively, and Malaysia banned “Zoolander.” (Not on aesthetic grounds, oddly, but because of the movie’s plot featuring a plan to assassinate the Malaysian prime minister.)

But these were all content-based bans, under the pretense that the storylines in some way dispersed propaganda or incited political movements. No country has recently banned a Hollywood film because of the leading actress.

Photo credit: FRAZER HARRISON/Getty Images

More from Foreign Policy

Demonstrators and activists attend a vigil in support of Ukraine near European Union headquarters in Brussels on March 22.
Demonstrators and activists attend a vigil in support of Ukraine near European Union headquarters in Brussels on March 22.

How the Russian Oil Price Cap Will Work

Ignore the naysayers—the long-prepared plan is a smart way to slash the Kremlin’s profits.

Ukrainian soldiers ride a tank on a road in the Donetsk region on July 20, 2022, near the front line between Russian and Ukrainian forces.
Ukrainian soldiers ride a tank on a road in the Donetsk region on July 20, 2022, near the front line between Russian and Ukrainian forces.

‘They Are Pushing Everywhere’: Kyiv Goes on the Offensive

Ukraine may have achieved its biggest breakthrough of the war.

A Chinese Communist Party flag is seen next to a health worker wearing protective clothing as a worker registers for a COVID-19 test at a makeshift testing site in Beijing on April 28.
A Chinese Communist Party flag is seen next to a health worker wearing protective clothing as a worker registers for a COVID-19 test at a makeshift testing site in Beijing on April 28.

The Chinese Public Doesn’t Know What the Rules Are Anymore

Reckless policies have knocked out established norms.

An orchestra at the Bolshoi Theatre in Russia
An orchestra at the Bolshoi Theatre in Russia

The Last String of Russian Greatness Is About to Snap

A great classical music tradition might die because of the Ukraine invasion.