Supermensch: Jewish Actors Save the World

From Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man to Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, Jewish stars are making their mark as superheroes on the silver screen.

Avshalom Halutz
Avshalom Halutz
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Avshalom Halutz
Avshalom Halutz

Israeli model and actress Gal Gadot, as reported last week, will fill Linda Carter’s boots and play Wonder Woman in Zack Snyder’s “Batman vs. Superman.” The choice set the Internet abuzz, focusing on whether a girl from the central Israeli town of Rosh Ha’ayin is the right choice to play an American icon.

Whatever the answer, it’s clear Jewish actors have at least one magic power: the ability to land leading roles in superhero films. Gadot, known for the “Fast & Furious” series, joins a long list of Jewish actors and actresses saving the world in ridiculous costumes.

Pretty fly

It all started with Helen Slater, the blonde Jewish actress who in 1984 played Supergirl, the mightiest female superhero ever (at least in this writer’s opinion). Slater proved you don’t mess with Jewish women when they’re upset, especially when they’re in the shower. Not even if you’re Faye Dunaway.

Hammer horror

She may be small and delicate, but Natalie Portman captured the heart of Thor and his huge hammer in the “Thor” action films. Portman, who was born in Jerusalem to Israeli parents, became a child star and entered the American pantheon with her appearances in the “Star Wars” series. She looks innocent, but nary a villain will take her on after she turns into a black swan.

The social net

Andrew Garfield showed us that Jewish actors not only play nerds, they play nerds who spin webs. Garfield, who’s British, Jewish and American, starred in the 2012 hit “The Amazing Spider-Man.” It grossed more than $750 million around the world.

Steel magnolia

Gadot may have snagged a role in a Superman flick, but who can compete with Ayelet Zurer, the Israeli actress who actually gave birth to Superman? Zurer appeared in Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel,” which came out this year, as Superman’s mother. Even Superman needs a good Jewish mother who’ll push him to fly higher.

Black and blonde marvel

She may be a blonde, but Scarlett Johansson was the natural choice to play Black Widow in “Iron Man 2” (2010) and “The Avengers” (2012). She’s expected to be back in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” to be released next year. This bombshell is one reason Marvel Studios puts out such blockbusters. She proved that even Jewish women who don’t serve in the Israeli army can hold their own in battle.

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in "Marvel's The Avengers."
Israeli model and actress Gal Gadot.Credit: AP

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