She embodies all the qualities that I love in people; She’s curious, warm, loving and inclusive. She’s not perfect, but she’s whole and interesting.
She’s known by many names, most of which grace her movie poster: Goddess. Warrior. Legend. But many of us know and relate to Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), a.k.a. Wonder Woman, as a total badass. Director Patty Jenkins brings the pages of the graphic novel to new life with WONDER WOMAN, DC Comic’s surprisingly inspiring action-adventure that’s as poignant as it is powerful.
Jenkins doesn’t think of the film in terms of what gender the hero happens to be – it’s that this is the right person called to be the savior. At the film’s press conference in Los Angeles, she specified,
The victory for that, from the start of the concept, would be the day where you can make a great movie about a hero and whatever they are is secondary. That will be the victory. ‘I’m a woman. Oh am I? Sure! Or maybe I’m in a wheelchair,” I don’t know. What difference does it…That will be the day that will be the victory. So that’s how we chose to approach this movie. I love Wonder Woman and I never thought about anything about why when I was growing up. That was our great aspiration. If we can make her a great hero, and make a great story, and make great Amazons where we’re not going to be thinking about any of that, that will be the victory. Of course, we’re all aware…I’m both honored and surprised at the position that we find ourselves in and we all want to bring a message of being a hero to the world, but a message of helping anybody else to find their voice. It’s with great respect and understanding that we take this on.
Connie Nielsen, who plays Diana’s mother Queen Hippolyta, said,
It’s an incredible superhero whether or not it’s a female. You have that dichotomy happening all the time. I wouldn’t want it to be a clashing element but more of a both kind of thing.
It’s of no surprise that Wonder Woman’s greatest asset is her compassion. Jenkins said of this trait,
She stands for something the opposite of violence, which is love, truth and compassion. That’s why she’s magical.
This quality resonated on a personal level with Gadot, who elucidated,
That’s one of her biggest traits. I remember when we first met and started to talk about families and life, I told [Jenkins] about my grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, and he had taught me that no matter how dark it gets in life, you need to find your inner light. Compassion is a very big thing. It was important to both of us that this movie has a profound message that everyone can relate to and take home and practice immediately.
She embodies all the most wonderful qualities that I love in people; She’s curious, warm, loving and inclusive. She assumes the best out of everyone. She’s curious and sassy and has her own attitude. At the same time, she’s not trying to be perfect. She can be very vulnerable and confused, but fixed on her mission. I love everything about her. Because she’s not perfect, but she’s whole and interesting.
Chris Pine, who plays spy/boyfriend Steve Trevor, said of his co-star Gadot’s similar qualities,
It’s a great a rare combination of qualities to have…physically very formidable, compelling and magnetic, which can at sometimes come across as harsh because there’s a sharpness to beauty that’s overwhelming. But simultaneously, she has a warmth and curiosity that’s very true and childlike. There’s a purity to it. That softness and strength is the critical combination – and she has that in spades.
In the film, Diana ventures away from her small corner of the world, the female warrior-dominated island of Themyscira, to meet the multi-faceted concept of humankind. That includes good people like Steve, and bad souls like Dr. Poison/ Dr. Maru (played by Elena Anaya) and General Erich Ludendorff (played by Danny Huston). Jenkins explained,
The great objective here was to have Wonder Woman to meet mankind. We wanted villains, but we didn’t want them to not be of mankind. The challenge was to see both the good and bad of mankind. Steve [Trevor, played by Chris Pine] ends up representing the good and complexity of mankind, but Dr. Poison and General Ludendorff are great examples of the bad of mankind – and about how that is not a conscientious choice to be a villain.
Both Dr. Poison and General Ludendorff exude gravitas unlike what you’ve experienced in any DCEU film before. Jenkins said of their character’s macabre relationship,
In the case of General Ludendorff, that’s a real man who gave birth to the beginning, a total belief system, in a total state of war. He believed any period in between war was the abnormality. He gave birth to the evil of World War II. Dr. Maru being someone who has felt great damage and wants the rest of the world to understand great damage. That’s why Steve is so savvy to be able to dig into that psychology. Dr. Poison is so cool; it’s great she is female villain. It’s great that she has an objective to create new weapons and spread them amongst the people. She and Danny created this whole world between them.
Huston likened the villainous relationship to sharing in a great love of destruction.
Basically we have this mission… I supposed great love is not just about loving each other, but is about loving each other’s dreams. They support each other in a way. Ludendorff attractive because she’s scarred herself in her quest to create this formula to create a certain amount of casualties, but for the betterment of my country. There’s commitment there and through that, there’s a feeling of tenderness possibly. What I relished playing someone of that demonic nature is that he’s a true character and what it would be like if he came across someone like Wonder Woman.
Jenkins’ goal is to blow any genre gender-bias out of the water with WONDER WOMAN.
There’s been an idea that action movies were more attractive to one gender than the other. What was interesting about this is – the truth is – action is not any different than any other part of story. If you have an objective and you’re tied to that objective, there you go. It was interesting to do action sequences that are inherent to the story that, in this case, happened to relate in a beach battle to all of these women needing to fight.
This led Jenkins to approach the way she constructed her epic action-driven set pieces in a genuinely unique manner.
As a woman, it was sort of interesting sometimes that you would say, ‘I think we might fight a little differently than [the male German soldiers] might fight.’ There were several things like punching in the face that I was like, ‘I’m not feeling.’ There was one thing we talked a lot about, like a battle cry, that could be done in another way. In that case, I was like, ‘I don’t feel that my Amazons that I’m working with here are screamers in that way. I think they are getting the job done – their heart is coming from a different place. They’re going to get down there and do it as fast as they can. But it’s a different approach. It becomes badass in a whole other way – this deft ability to think about surprise, get to a position with the sand or whatever. And collaboration. One person tees the other up for jumps. All of that stuff was fascinating to get into deep conversation with and then execute.
Gadot backed this up.
Patty was always invested, whether it was the fight sequences or the emotional or humorous scenes. She was always there to shoulder us.
Nielsen said she valued being able to get scrappy in those action scenes.
It was such a pleasure. Both Robin [Wright] and I were just insane about the stunt training and getting to wield those swords and bow and arrows. I would love to do that all the time. The costumes made it super hard to do it, but they did make you feel badass.
That said, the bumps and bruises incurred from fighting such as this, were nothing compared to what Gadot and Nielsen have gone through on their own home fronts. Nielsen candidly kidded,
We’ve given birth. These bumps and bruises are nothing.
WONDER WOMAN opens on June 2.