Wonder Woman is a 2017 superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name. Produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, DC Films, Atlas Entertainment and Cruel and Unusual Films, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, it is the fourth installment of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), and a prequel/spin-off to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). Directed by Patty Jenkins and written by Allan Heinberg from a story by Heinberg, Zack Snyder and Jason Fuchs, the film stars Gal Gadot in the title role, alongside Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen and Elena Anaya. It is the second live action theatrical film featuring Wonder Woman following her debut in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. In Wonder Woman, the Amazon princess Diana sets out to stop World War I, believing the conflict was started by the longtime enemy of the Amazons, Ares, after American pilot and spy Steve Trevor crash-lands on their island Themyscira and informs her about it.
Development of a live-action Wonder Woman film began in 1996, with Ivan Reitman to produce and possibly direct. The project floundered in development hell for many years; Jon Cohen, Todd Alcott and Joss Whedon, among others, were also attached to the project at various points. Warner Bros. announced the film in 2010 and Jenkins signed on to direct in 2015. Inspiration for Wonder Woman was drawn from Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston’s 1940s stories and George Pérez’s 1980s stories about Wonder Woman, as well as the New 52 incarnation of the character. Principal photography began on November 21, 2015, with filming taking place in the United Kingdom, France and Italy before finishing on May 6, 2016, the 123rd anniversary of Marston’s birth. Additional filming took place in November 2016.
Wonder Woman had its world premiere at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood on May 26, 2017, and was theatrically released worldwide on June 2, 2017, by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film received positive reviews, being noted for its cultural significance, with praise for its direction, performances, visuals, story, action sequences, and musical score, though some criticism was directed towards the climax. It grossed over $822 million worldwide, making it the tenth highest-grossing film of 2017 and was the highest-grossing film by a solo female director until it was overtaken by Hi, Mom. The American Film Institute selected it as one of the top ten films of 2017 and it won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation in 2018. A sequel, Wonder Woman 1984, was released in December 2020, with Jenkins returning as director and Gadot, Pine, Wright and Nielsen reprising their roles. A third film was in development, with Jenkins and Gadot set to return but was ultimately canceled.
In 2010, Warner Bros. stated that a Wonder Woman film was in development, along with films based on DC Comics superheroes the Flash and Aquaman. Both Wonder Woman and Aquaman were still under consideration for solo film subjects as of June 2013. DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson said Wonder Woman “has been, since I started, one of the top three priorities for DC and for Warner Bros. We are still trying right now, but she’s tricky.” On October 5, 2013, WB chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara said he wanted to get Wonder Woman in a film or on TV. Shortly afterward, Paul Feig said he had pitched the studio an idea for Wonder Woman as an action-comedy film. The studio then began to search for female directors to direct the film. While Michelle MacLaren was the studio’s initial choice to direct (and while she initially indicated interest), she eventually left the project due to creative differences.
In 2015, Patty Jenkins accepted an offer to direct Wonder Woman, based on a screenplay by Allan Heinberg and a story co-written by Heinberg and Zack Snyder and Jason Fuchs. Screenwriter Allan Heinberg’s work had to be finished and rewritten by Jenkins and Geoff Johns after he had left to work on a TV show. Producer Charles Roven said that the duo had done “a tremendous amount of collaboration”. Johns was initially given screenplay credit by the studio but was left out in the official credits by the WGA. Of this version, Gadot stated that,
for a long time, people didn’t know how to approach the story. When Patty and I had our creative conversations about the character, we realized that Diana can still be a normal woman, one with very high values, but still a woman. She can be sensitive. She is smart and independent and emotional. She can be confused. She can lose her confidence. She can have confidence. She is everything. She has a human heart.
This version was conceived of as a prequel to the first live-action, theatrical appearance of Wonder Woman, in the 2016 film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, placing Wonder Woman in the 1910s and World War I (a decision which differs from her comic book origins as a supporter of the Allies during World War II). As for story development, Jenkins credits the stories by the character’s creator William Moulton Marston in the 1940s and George Perez’s seminal stories in the 1980s in which he modernized the character. In addition, it follows some aspects of DC Comics’ origin changes in The New 52 reboot, where Diana is the daughter of Zeus. Jenkins cited Richard Donner’s Superman as an inspiration.
- Gal Gadot as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman:
An immortal Amazon warrior demigoddess who is the crown princess of Themyscira and the daughter of Queen Hippolyta and Zeus being raised by the Amazons. Describing Wonder Woman and her appeal, Gadot said “She’s relatable. She has the heart of a human and is very compassionate, but her experiences—or lack of them, her naivete, really—make her interested in everything around her and able to view the world in a way that we’d all like to: with a genuine curiosity.” On Diana’s relationship with her mother, Gadot said “Diana is a very opinionated girl. Her mother is very opinionated. Her mother is very protective as well and they have, you know, the very natural clash that a mother has with her daughter, with their daughters, the first time they want to leave home.” On taking on the role as Wonder Woman, Gadot stated “I feel very privileged that I got the opportunity to portray such an iconic, strong female character. I adore this character and everything that she stands for and everything that she symbolizes.” On Diana going to the world, Gadot stated “When Diana comes to the real world she’s completely oblivious about gender and society rules, that women are not equal to men.” Describing Diana’s relationship with her mother and aunts, Jenkins said “She is the only child they raised together. And their love for her manifests in a different way for each of them.” On working with Gadot, Jenkins said “Gal quickly became the person I wanted to talk to about everything. We’d shoot together all day. And then on weekends, we’d be like, ‘What do you want to do?’ That’s maybe not totally normal.” Additionally, Lilly Aspell and Emily Carey portray Diana at ages 8 and 12, respectively.
- Chris Pine as Steve Trevor:
An American pilot and the love interest of Diana. On his role for the film, Pine said “I am an American pilot who’s a spy. It’s like a boy’s dream: You’re either a spy or a fighter pilot. The first thing I wanted to be was a fighter pilot a long time ago. I wanted to be Goose [from Top Gun]”. As to how his mortal character would interact with an Amazon, Pine stated “When I first read the script, it had elements of Romancing the Stone, kind of a very classic fish out of water. Two people that don’t really bond well at first and they’re butting heads and just fun, witty banter”. When speaking about meeting the director and being cast, Pine said “Patty is a pretty incredible human being. When we first met about the part of Steve, she sat across from me and essentially acted out the entire film over the course of a two-hour lunch. She was so specific, so articulate and so ardent. I would’ve said yes just for Patty alone.” Pine went through a workout regimen for the film, commenting, “I got in incredible shape for this film” but also joking “I was also wearing about 75 pounds of clothing. What I realized is that I made a major mistake, I got in great shape and they just put clothes over all my hard work.”
- Robin Wright as Antiope:
The sister of Hippolyta, general of the Amazonian army, Diana’s aunt and mentor. On being cast for the film, Wright said “It’s two-fold because when Patty Jenkins called me, the director, it was a three-minute long conversation. She said ‘I’m doing a movie about Wonder Woman. Do you want to be her trainer?’ And I was like, ‘Yes. Of course.’ And the general of the Amazonian army. That was pretty cool.” Describing her character mentoring and training Diana to be a warrior, Wright said “It’s a sixth sense that it is coming and I think that’s also in the mythological story behind Antiope and Queen Hippolyta. They know it’s coming and it’s her duty as the aunt to her young niece to make sure she is the fiercest warrior of all time.” On the Amazons fighting style, Wright said “It’s hand combat. Yes, swords and knives and arrows, but the precision that they have, right, as these warrior women; it’s so nice to see that disparity between what we had in the day of just raw fighting materials and the guns and how easy that is in comparison.” The message of the film, Wright stated “is not just female empowerment. It’s about love and justice. That’s what the film’s about. And what a great message to spread to our little ones.” Commenting about training for the film, Wright said “The most empowering was to get into that physical shape. So we were doing horseback riding training, weight training, martial arts and 2,000 to 3,000 calories a day”.
- Danny Huston as Erich Ludendorff:
An iron-fisted general of the German Army during World War I. Huston described Ludendorff as a “pragmatist, realist, patriotic, fighting for his country”, further explaining, “he lost his son on the German front lines and was just quite tortured, diabolical, stubborn and believes that what he’s doing is for the betterment of mankind.” On his character, Huston said “Ludendorff is a believer that war is a natural habitat for humans.” Huston stated the film as an anti-war film and “somebody like Ludendorff would probably think that the idea that love conquers all is quite a naive concept. But finally it’s true and sometimes the best way to examine mankind is from another perspective.” On the genre of the film, Huston said “It’s Greek mythology. It’s the origin of story and sometimes we need demigods to look at us to understand what our weaknesses are. It serves the mythological world.”
- David Thewlis as Sir Patrick:
A speaker for peace on the Imperial War Cabinet later revealed to be Ares, based on the Greek mythological god of war, who is in disguise and as part of his deceptive master plan of conquest and destruction. Describing the Sir Patrick persona of his character, Thewlis said “Sir Patrick’s entire drive through the other half of the story is to bring about the armistice. That’s his whole intention no matter what’s going on. He meets Diana and sees in her somebody who is sympathetic to his cause, quite vehemently so.”
- Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta:
The Amazon Queen of Themyscira and Diana’s mother. After meeting the director for the role, Nielsen said “Patty and I met in London and we just hit it off from the get-go. We couldn’t stop talking. What was supposed to be a one-hour meeting turned into a two-and-a-half-hour lunch and we just really got each other.” She described Jenkins’s directing style for the film as “She’s also the kind of director that I really flourish under. She has very strong and particular and specific ideas about what it is she wants to say. She comes from a place of strength always. And so, when you are dealing with someone like that, you feel absolutely free to be vulnerable, to be creative and I am a big researcher.” On playing the character, Nielsen said “It was a complete and utter pleasure and I absolutely loved every second of playing her.” On her character being Diana’s mother and Amazonian queen, Nielsen stated “I’m queen and I’m preparing my child for a world that entails a lot of responsibility. So it was important to me to bring that into the character.” She read The Amazons by Adrienne Mayor to familiarize herself with women warriors and said “I used what I learned in Mayor’s book as a rallying cry for how I approached Hippolyta. And then, of course, what is a leader who is elected by her peers every year and has been doing this for a thousand years? That too was interesting to think about”. Nielsen went through a workout regimen for the film, saying “I did six hours a day. You know, two hours of weight training, two hours of swords training and then two hours of horseback riding”. Producer Zack Snyder was the one who fought for Nielsen to get cast after Charlize Theron turned down the role.
- Elena Anaya as Dr. Isabel Maru:
The chief chemist associated with General Ludendorff who specializes in chemistry and poisons. On her role, Anaya said “Well, it was a small role in this big ensemble, but it is an important character in the story. I’m going to be a big nightmare” for Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor. Describing her character, Anaya said “Dr. Maru loves rage and enjoys people’s pain. She’s creating terrible weapons and her purpose in life is to kill as many people as possible and provoke as much pain as possible”. She researched World War I and Fritz Haber, the scientist who created mustard gas, to prepare for the role. On the character’s facial scars, Anaya stated “I went to Patty Jenkins and asked ‘What happened to her?’ And she said ‘She did it on purpose.’ I was like, ‘What? Patty, you’re going further than I ever imagined.’ She said ‘She wants to provoke painful suffering, so she tested her own gas on her own face. She wanted to know how deep this form of her gas would go, so she put it on her own face.’ You can see half of her face is completely gone. This is the sadistic side of Dr. Maru”. She also stated her character “is quite the opposite to the lead role of this movie, one of the strongest characters ever of DC comics, Wonder Woman. I can tell you that Doctor Poison is someone with a capacity to provoke so much pain.” On Dr. Maru’s relationship with General Ludendorff, Anaya said “I think that they have a relationship based on loyalty. Ludendorff is a very tormented General that lacks self-confidence. That’s why, in part, he takes these drugs that Dr. Poison gives him. They are from different worlds, but they complement each other”.
- Lucy Davis as Etta Candy:
Steve Trevor’s secretary who befriends Diana. Describing her character, Davis said “She’s a woman in a man’s world and so being heard and seen aren’t the easiest things, but it kind of doesn’t deter her”, adding, “Etta is unapologetically herself and I think that that’s the thing that has drawn me to her the most”. When asked if she was previously familiar with the character, Davis responded, “No. I wasn’t. It took me a while to know that I was auditioning for Etta because even when I found out it was Wonder Woman, I still had no idea what the role was. It took a little while then I Googled the character”. On Etta Candy’s relationship with Steve Trevor, Davis said “One of the great things that Etta gets to work with Steve Trevor is because Steve is not your typical man, in that he does entrust her with things that in 1918 probably wouldn’t have been entrusted to a secretary of somebody who is quite important”, further explaining, “So I think that [Trevor] needs her just as much as she needs that because now she’s been given responsibility that she wouldn’t have normally be given before and equally he has somebody who could probably fly under the radar a bit. So he can trust the person who no one’s really looking at”.
- Saïd Taghmaoui as Sameer:
A secret agent and ally of Steve Trevor. On his casting, Taghmaoui stated “I was among hundreds of potential candidates and I slowly became the favorite”, adding, “It wasn’t easy. It took me three months. [I’ll have to go through] extensive physical training.”
- Ewen Bremner as Charlie:
A sharpshooter and ally of Steve Trevor. On his role, Bremner said “I play a character who’s enlisted by Wonder Woman to help save the world as part of a small, unlikely band”. Describing his character, Bremner stated “He’s a shellshocked soldier who’s been discharged from the war and is brought back to help on a secret mission”. On working with Jenkins, Bremner commented, “Patty Jenkins is a force of nature. She has fantastic vision, strength and enthusiasm, which is completely infectious and motivates a cast and crew of thousands to really go beyond themselves.”
- Eugene Brave Rock as Chief:
A Blackfoot demi-god, and a smuggler who trades with both sides of the war and knows how to get people across the front lines. On his casting, Brave Rock said “I had no idea it was for Wonder Woman. I lost it when I showed up and I couldn’t remember my lines. I didn’t take it literally until a month later, I got a call saying I got the role and they wanted me to fly to London for a fitting.” Brave Rock raised several concerns with Jenkins over the representation of the character in the film, particularly that he was not comfortable playing into stereotypes and that he was not keen on his character being simply known as “Chief”. Jenkins responded by giving him some extra creative control over his character which Brave Rock says was “unprecedented”.
- Lisa Loven Kongsli as Menalippe:
Antiope’s lieutenant and Diana’s aunt. Describing her character, Kongsli said “Menalippe is a fearless warrior with a strong justice needs. She lives with the other Amazons on the island Themyscira and exercising continuous battle to assist man in the fight for the good.” On filming, Kongsli stated “It’s a blast. I’ve worked damn hard to make this happen, so it’s absolutely absurd and fun all at once.”
Additionally, Mayling Ng, Florence Kasumba, Madeleine Vall Beijner, Hayley Jane Warnes, Ann Wolfe and Eleanor Matsuura portray Orana, Acantha, Egeria, Aella, Artemis and Epione, respectively, all of whom are Amazons. James Cosmo appears as Douglas Haig, Steffan Rhodri appears as Darnell and Dutch supermodel Doutzen Kroes portrays the Amazon Venelia. Samantha Jo was cast as the Amazonian Euboea and previously played the Kryptonian, Car-Vex, in Man of Steel. Zack Snyder also makes a brief cameo appearance in the film as an unnamed soldier.
June 2, 2017
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