The positive reactions to Wonder Woman continue to pour in, echoing many critics' reactions, including our own. While we could list what we think was different in this approach, as compared to the previous three DCEU films, it’s interesting to hear it from someone involved, while reflecting on what didn’t work and what the production team will take from this moving forward.
Wonder Woman producer Charles Roven spoke with CBR about the positive reactions the film is getting. Roven worked on all of the DC Extended Universe films thus far -- Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad -- and he's encouraged that even some their harshest critics have come around to praise Wonder Woman. Roven also offered some insight as to why that has occurred, as well as a breakdown of the key elements of the film. Beware of some spoilers if you haven't seen the film yet.
First off, Roven was asked what he thought was different in Wonder Woman, which has earned such positive connection. He began by noting that Wonder Woman is an extremely positive character, and continued to say:
"She’s infectious. You want to really root for her in every way, and you track her emotions. She’s a completely relatable character. Also, I think the film, even though there are some sad moments in it, is uplifting. I think those things are really what helps galvanize people towards it. And I’m happy about that. You make movies and you want them to be embraced, revered; not just financially successful.
You also have to take the criticism, and you have to walk a careful line of still having your own personal artistic integrity, but also listen to what’s being said.
With Wonder Woman, I don’t think it would have been possible to make a dark character, because that’s just not who that character is. You would be completely violating the canon. We tried very hard — Patty leading the way, and Gal — to make sure the integrity of the character from the canon came out. I think that goes a long way to why I think people might be embracing the movie."
Given all the decades worth of stories to mine, Roven said that Zack Snyder and screenwriter Allan Heinberg came up with a number of potential story ideas, as they ultimately had to make sense of the version that appeared in Batman v Superman. When they realized that Diana is one of the few superhero characters who knew as a young girl that she wanted to be a hero, that opened up the direction of where they wanted to go. Roven credited DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns for filling in for Heinberg, who had to return to writing duties on ABC's The Catch. But some other key elements came from Jenkins, who wanted to build around Wonder Woman's desire to be a hero:
"Patty was so great about realizing, there’s this character who’s desperate to be a hero, who has all this compassion for mankind, and who’s desperate to protect those who can’t protect themselves. That’s a great piece of character. But the other thing is, she doesn’t know anything about the world. All she knows is Themyscira, where there are women who train and fight; this beautiful, idyllic place. She knows a lot of languages, she knows a lot of things, but she doesn’t know anything about what the world is like out there. From the moment that mankind enters into her world with Steve, there’s a lot of wonderful humor, because of her naiveté. That’s an interesting character — this superhero who’s innocent. That’s when the whole thing [came together]."
Finally, Roven discusses the elements of Wonder Woman entering a man's world, and during which war that should be. The Crimean War and World War II were batted around, but the creative team ultimately settled on World War I for various reasons:
"One was, it allowed her to come to London just when women were getting the right to vote. We thought that her blending into the mores of society in London at that period was going to be fun — and it turned out to be fun. Also, she comes from a culture of hand-to-hand battle, where it’s the good fight, and it’s an honorable fight, and if you die, it’s an honorable death, because you’re looking at your enemy in the eye, and you both have a certain honor in the fight."
Furthermore, the nature of the warfare in World War I -- from the battles fought in the trenches to airplanes to long-range weapons -- stacked up a mighty big deck of things Diana was unprepared for. Based on what little she knew about man and the world sitting outside of Themyscira, that forced a contrasting image of an uplifting and devoted hero: Diana against a bleak world. The massive gap of information in between was filled in by the supporting characters, but also pitted Diana's innocence and idealism against one of mankind's worst eras.
Those hoping the film would be layered with DCEU easter eggs might walk away disappointed, however. The film isn't weighed down with DCEU references, or even a post-credits scene, by design. Roven explained that Diana "hasn’t really been a part of the nomenclature in the DC Extended Universe,” and that allowed them the freedom to do anything they wanted, as long as they tied it all to that picture that we first see in BvS.
As for what comes next, director Patty Jenkins has been locked into returning to helm the sequel, along with star Gal Gadot, though Roven said that nothing has been written yet as to when a sequel would take place, except that it has to be after World War I. He pondered about it being set before BvS or after Justice League. However, in this THR profile, the sequel was stated to be set during contemporary times.
What was it that worked especially well for you when you watched Wonder Woman? What sets it apart from the rest of the DCEU films?