Wonder Woman returns in an epic actioner that takes audiences on an adventure through the not-too-distant past and our hero on a journey that spans the globe.
Director/co-writer/producer Patty Jenkins aimed to fill the screen with even bigger action and higher stakes for the title character. “ Jenkins directed from a screenplay she wrote with Geoff Johns & Dave Callaham, story by Jenkins & Johns, based on characters from DC. Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston.
“In the first film, Diana engaged with the first wave of the mechanization of the world; this time, she engages with humankind at the height of its success or, more accurately, excess,” she states. “As before, there’s something for everyone in the audience to enjoy, and a lot for the tried-and-true fans to love.” Jenkins—who sits squarely among the latter—says that is because “the core of the story never loses sight of what Wonder Woman is: optimistic, positive, courageous…our better self. She is a perfect example of what I believe superheroes are meant to do, which is to show us how to be our better selves and remind us that by doing so, we can create a better world.”
Gal Gadot, who not only returns in the starring dual role of Diana Prince and Wonder Woman, but is among the producers on the film, says, “In ‘Wonder Woman’ Diana was learning what it meant to live alongside humans for the first time. In this film, she has a parallel arc with humanity in that, over time, she has learned to feel as they do.”
“I felt that we did a good job establishing the character in the first movie and telling her coming-of-age story—how Diana became Wonder Woman—and now it was time to explore the character further and how she’s changed since we last saw her,” Gadot says. “Diana has lived in this world for a long time now and she’s not naïve anymore, but she is lonely. It’s difficult for her to let go of the past; she is focused on it through her work and she’s very aware of it in her heart. And though she’s involved in the world around her, she doesn’t really engage. Even as Wonder Woman, she works in the shadows. That was very intriguing for me to play and I was super excited to revisit this character because she is multi-layered and complex and inspiring at the same time, and we’ll see her go through something very profound and relatable in this story.”
Gadot emphasizes that Wonder Woman’s emotional storyline is explored right alongside all the intense and exciting action fans expect from a superhero movie. “The fight scenes are very much a part of her journey and very important to our story, and not just because we love to see her take on the bad guys,” she teases. “We see Diana at her best, this Amazon warrior goddess who can do anything—fight criminals, save civilians and some truly amazing things I can’t reveal yet…I don’t want to spoil anything. But her inner strength also comes into play this time, and so the stakes become much higher than ever before.”
Gadot recalls when the idea for this story first began to germinate for Jenkins. “Patty and I were still working on the first film, and we didn’t know how people were going to react yet. But we’re both big dreamers,” she smiles, “and we thought if we were able to make another Wonder Woman film, it would have to be a completely different chapter in her life.”
Producer Charles Roven, who has a long history of exploring very relatable themes through aspirational DC heroes, adds that, for this Wonder Woman story, “We wanted it to take place far enough into her future that she would have evolved and matured. The 1980s was an interesting time to place someone timeless like Diana because there was a sense of invincibility, that your aspirations could be limitless. But with the passing of that many decades, she has also had to deal with things she never did in her young life as an immortal Amazon: the loss of people she loves.”
Providing the character with an even deeper connection to an everyday human experience—the vulnerability that comes with longing—is the one individual Diana lost who has never really left her, at least in her heart: Steve Trevor.
Though Jenkins has kept the circumstances of the character’s return in the new film close to the vest, she says his involvement in the new story was never in doubt. “It made perfect sense within the plot that we were formulating. In fact, Gal and Chris knew halfway through shooting the first film what they could expect if we made a second.”
Chris Pine, returning in the pivotal role, offers, “Patty knew exactly how she wanted Steve to come back, and she’s such an incredible storyteller, pictorially, cinematically and in person. I was immediately excited by the prospect of being back in a world she would create again and, of course, working side by side with Gal.”
If the first film exposed Diana to romantic love, this one, Gadot explains, explores another value the character holds. “This film is about truth, which sounds simple but is, in many ways, very complicated. As people, we have to learn how to appreciate the here and now—the truth of our situation—but we also desire to set that aside for what we want, what we don’t have, what is not the truth of our situation. Of course we can try to have it all, but can we ever, really?”
Diana is convinced she cannot. That is, until she is suddenly face to face with her heart’s one desire, and her eagerness to believe leads her to cast any doubts she may have aside. But almost immediately, Diana and Steve’s reunion is interrupted by not one, but two iconic Wonder Woman Super-Villains: Maxwell Lord and the Cheetah.
Kristen Wiig takes on the dual role of bookish, awkward scientist Barbara Minerva and her alter ego the Cheetah, one of fandom’s favorites as well as one of Wonder Woman’s most formidable rivals. “When Patty called me about being in the movie, I immediately said yes because I loved the first one. It was that simple. Then when I read the script, I was so excited by the extent of the transformation of my character, how much she changes and how evil she becomes. I’ve always wanted to do something like that, so it was a dream for me to get to play her.”
Maxwell Lord, a villain who entered the DC canon in the 1980s, is played by Pedro Pascal. Having long admired Jenkins, the actor was admittedly as drawn to working with the director as he was to the role. “The era that has influenced me and really stayed with me the most is the `80s, for better or worse, I suppose,” he laughs. “That feeling of nostalgia, getting to plunge into that world with a brilliant filmmaker who understands it so well… Who wouldn’t want to be a part of exploring a character like Wonder Woman, the Super Hero we didn’t even realize we needed so badly? Until Patty and Gal brought her to us to remind us of our humanity in the most entertaining way.”
From a naïve but determined young Amazon princess to the glorious warrior she becomes to the villains she faces down, Jenkins states, “I have compassion for every single character in this movie, for what they’re pursuing because of what they feel is missing in their lives, because I think we can all relate. So often our superheroes don’t have to face moral dilemmas that tie them to the actual story of the film, and I loved the challenge of doing that with Wonder Woman and seeing our own Wonder Woman, Gal, along with our entire cast—Chris, Pedro, Kristen…every single actor we had—play these imperfect characters so authentically. We really feel for and understand everyone’s side of the story when we see ourselves in them, even as we’re watching them do things we only do in movies, like use a lasso to ride a lightning bolt!”
In addition to upping the ante and the action with a high-stakes global challenge for the DC Super Hero that’s both physical and emotional, the `80s also offered the filmmakers exciting design opportunities for the look and feel of the film, from its environs to costumes.
For Jenkins, the setting was a personal as well as professional choice. “The initial idea of setting the story in 1984 came from my desire to see Wonder Woman in my era, an era that to me is synonymous with her, in terms of the character’s cultural popularity. What then became really fun and challenging about the setting was trying to make a film that wasn’t referential to the period, but that actually recreated the feel of watching a movie in the `80s, that felt authentic to that experience.”
The impressive format, along with the incredibly detailed settings, allowed the filmmakers and cast to fully immerse themselves and the audience in a not-too-distant bygone era seen through the eyes of one of the world’s most inspiring superheroes. “This is now the Wonder Woman we all remember, who can come in and easily handle a crime in progress, no big deal, right?” Jenkins asks. “It’s easy for her, she’s the most powerful she’s ever been, or will be…or at least it seems that way.”
Gadot observes, “Patty’s vision for this movie was so ambitious. The whole world is at stake and within that we have four storylines—Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor, Cheetah, Max Lord. All the stories we are telling are personal and beautiful and intimate, but at the same time, they’re huge and full of action. It is full of heart and at the same time super entertaining and so thoughtful. It truly gives the audience all the excitement and action of a big superhero movie, and also something to think about, and I love when movies do that.”
“There are a lot of superheroes now,” says director Patty Jenkins. “And they mean many different things. I am a fan and I celebrate all of them. But the classic purpose of a superhero, and one that I think is important to always remember, is they are fantasy and wish fulfillment— they are who we would be if we could. Superheroes answer the question: If you could fly and you had superhuman strength and you could take on the evil of our time with your own bare hands, what would you do?
“As filmmakers, we take these universally beloved characters who do extraordinary things and face extraordinary odds in order to answer that question in ways our audience can enjoy and relate to. That’s what superheroes are all about and, to me, Wonder Woman is the best of the best, the epitome of all they represent.”
PATTY JENKINS (Director/Co-writer/Producer) is an award-winning writer and director best known for directing DC’s 2017 blockbuster Wonder Woman and her debut Oscar-winning feature “Monster.” Additionally, Jenkins is responsible for casting, building and helming the pilot and finale episodes of AMC’s hit show The Killing, garnering her the 2012 DGA Award for Best Director of the Year along with a Primetime Emmy nomination.
Jenkins began her career as a painter at The Cooper Union in New York City. Upon transitioning to filmmaking, she spent eight years as an Assistant Camera Person/Focus Puller for various commercials and then attended the AFI in Los Angeles.
In 2003, Jenkins wrote and directed her debut feature film Monster, starring Charlize Theron. The film garnered Jenkins numerous awards, including Best First Feature at the Independent Spirit Awards, AFI’s Movie of the Year and Roger Ebert’s Best film of the Year (2004) and Third Best film of the Decade. Additionally, Theron went on to sweep the awards circuit amongst every acting award of the year, including winning the Academy Award in the Best Actress category.
After the success of her debut feature, Jenkins went on to direct many commercials and TV programs. Jenkins recently directed and executive produced and TNT’s limited drama series I Am the Night, which premiered to critical acclaim in January of last year. She also signed an overall, multi-year TV deal with Netflix, in which she will produce new series exclusively for the streamer.
GEOFF JOHNS (Co-writer/Executive Producer) is an award-winning comic book writer and screenwriter. After graduating Michigan State University, Johns moved to Los Angeles and began assisting legendary “Superman” director Richard Donner.
While filming on set in New York, Johns started his comic book career with Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. for DC Comics. A New York Times bestselling author, Johns has written some of the most recognized and highly acclaimed superhero stories of the modern era, the most recent being the critically acclaimed Watchmen sequel entitled Doomsday Clock, with longtime collaborator, illustrator Gary Frank.
Under his Mad Ghost Productions banner, Johns currently serves as an Executive Producer and Showrunner on the Warner Bros. Television series Stargirl, which he created for The CW, among other various film and television projects.
Johns was proudly born in Detroit. He currently resides in Los Angeles.
DAVID CALLAHAM (Co-writer) grew up in Orinda, California, and graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English. He sold Horsemen, his first screenplay, in 2003, and has since worked on 2005’s Doom (story, screenplay), 2009’s Tell-Tale (writer, executive producer), 2010’s The Expendables (story, screenplay), 2014’s Godzilla (story), and 2019’s Zombieland: Double Tap (writer).