[Editor's note: Last week Editor At Large Aaron Sagers traveled to Warner Brothers' production facility in London for details on the upcoming Wonder Woman movie. The report is broken up into three parts, and there are minor spoilers throughout for those who do not wish to know anything about the film.]
Rumors, speculation and allegedly leaked reports from test screenings; with just less than three months to go before the feature-length debut of Wonder Woman on June 2, there is a lot of chatter about the Gal Gadot-starring, Patty Jenkins-directed film ... but not much in the way of official word outside of two trailers and a plot synopsis.
That changed last week when I joined a small group of journalists in London at the Warner Brothers production facility in Soho for a series of reveals from the studio and from Jenkins herself.
There's a lot to unpack from the visit, but the first thing to explore is a detailed breakdown of the first third of the movie, which gives audiences setting and context for the film.
The following are descriptions by Wonder Woman production liaison Anna Obropta, which include background on Wonder Woman, character revelations (such as who David Thewlis is playing and who Diana will be fighting alongside), as well as information on Themyscira and the Amazonian mythology.
Who is Diana?
"Diana is everything you hope a hero to be, and more. What she stands for is as big as it gets. It's courage, it's power, it's beauty, it's grace, and it's love. She is aspirational because she can jump through great heights, and punch through walls, and deflect bullets, but is also really accessible. She has human emotions and vulnerabilities. She transcends eras, and historic events, and genres. She reminds us to be the best version of ourselves. She is a forever character. And she is the hero the world has been waiting for."
"While partnered with Steve and the rest of the team, Diana engages in many brilliant, brave battles. All the while, she is discovering her powers.
We know she can deflect bullets with her gauntlets; she can see them coming. She has a shield that allows her to deflect bullets from larger artillery. She has her amazing lasso for truth telling, but also to capture enemies and throw them around. She can jump to great heights and is super-fast, and [showing an image from the film] she just threw a tank like a bag of groceries, so she's got superior strength. These are some of the powers she discovers …
Her bracelets, [Amazons] all wear them even when they're training. We don't go into where they get those. I don't think it has anything to do with the material as to why she can deflect bullets. I think it has to do with who she is …"
Who is Steve Trevor?
"It is super-important to me that there be a Steve Trevor we truly loved, truly needed, who made us laugh, who made us feel stronger, and who was a great partner on the ride -- but let Wonder Woman become the great Wonder Woman she needed to be." – Patty Jenkins
"Steve doesn't have the powers of a god, but he's a hero in his own right. He is enormously courageous. He is a great warrior and a powerful partner to Diana. She doesn't know this world, so she needs Steve. He is a rogueish, jaded realist. But you come to understand, deep down, he believes the world is worth saving, and there is goodness in humanity.
I think we're all in love with Steve at the end of the movie."
"We open our film in present-day Paris. We re-meet Diana. She's sophisticated, stylish and smart, and works for the Louvre in antiquities.
Early in the film she receives a package compliments of Bruce Wayne. Inside is this daguerreotype 100-year-old photograph of her and this group of men. If you'll recall, she was chasing after this image in Batman v Superman; Lex Luthor had it, she never gets it. Now, thanks to Bruce Wayne, it's back safely in her possession. Looking at the image, she's overwhelmed by memories and feelings, and drifts back in time, in her memories, to the beginning of her story. The beginning of Wonder Woman. We go to her roots. To the Amazons, the gods, the island of Themyscira.
So we're introduced to this entire new world. It is isolated from the rest of the world. It is lush, and like nothing you've ever seen before. It's got this impossible landscape, these waterfalls, this wildlife … there are no doors. It is open, built into the natural structures of the island.
This is Diana's place of origin, Themyscira.
We meet Diana at eight years old, running through the market streets of Themyscira. She lives on the secret island with her mother, Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons played by Connie Nielsen. Presumably thousands of other Amazons live in Themyscira.
She is told by her mother that she is born of clay, and that Zeus brought her to life as a gift to her mother."
"Who is an Amazon? What is an Amazon? How did they come to be hidden away on this island?
We learn the story when Diana learns the story. She is read a storybook when she's eight. Her mother reads her the history of the Amazons, and this beautiful book comes to life. The painting in the book animates [in an entirely CG segment], and we go back to a time before time existed when gods ruled the earth.
Zeus, the king of all gods, decides to create mankind to be companions to the gods, and become kind, and live in peace. Zeus' son is Ares, the God of War. He is jealous of his father's relationship with mankind. He proceeds to poison the hearts and minds of mankind, turning them against one another, corrupting them. The world falls into wars, and violence, and darkness.
Ares proceeds in killing off the other gods. So Zeus, in an attempt to stop them, creates a great race of women warriors, the Amazons. They born out of the sea (but Diana is not born of the original Amazons). They succeed in restoring peace, but only for a short period of time.
Ares' rage is relentless, and he's unstoppable. Soon, the Amazons find themselves enslaved by mankind. Hippolyta is the one who has the strength to break the chains that bind them. They rise up in revolt. In the meantime, Ares has killed off all the gods but Zeus. Zeus and him are battling, and delivers a massive blow that wounds Ares severely. In Zeus dying last breath, he creates the island of Themyscira so the Amazons have a place to escape to, where they're safe from mankind, and away from Ares.
Before he dies – as Diana is told as a young girl – Zeus leaves behind a gift, the Godkiller, which she is told is a sword held in an armory on Themyscira … her mother tells her the gods have given them many mystical gifts.
She begins to wonder who will wield this sword one day. She has no idea what her future holds, or what she's capable of, but she longs to train like the warriors she admires.
Why are they all training? They're warriors; it's what they do. But there is still the legend of Ares out there. They are always preparing to protect their shores."
"Diana wants to train with them but her mother Hippolyta holds her back, and doesn't want her to train. She fears if she becomes a warrior, someday she will seek out Ares. She wants to protect her from this. Antiope [played by Robin Wright], Hippolyta's sister, has a different philosophy. She thinks the best way to protect Diana is to train her. So she starts to train in secret.
As young as eight years old, Diana and Antiope train in secret. This is where you start to see Diana develop her skills as a warrior. She grows stronger, more able, but also has the very human experience of falling, and failing. Through these lessons, she learns to overcome her self-doubt, and step into her power.
Hippolyta eventually catches them, when Diana is about 15 years old. She gets in trouble, and the two sisters argue, but in the end, Hippolyta agrees Diana should train, and train to be unconquerable, to be the greatest Amazon warrior to ever live.
'You're stronger than this, Diana,' Antiope yells at her during a training session. And Antiope is right; Diana is stronger than she knows.
She is now a young adult, training against the Amazons and her aunt. In a moment of almost self-protection -- she's been disarmed -- throws her arms up in this iconic gesture, and generates an enormous energetic blast that we know from Batman v Superman. But this is the first time she's ever done this, and she throws her beloved aunt back, and injures her, and throws all the other Amazons back.
In that moment, they all know her powers have exceeded that of an Amazon. She's tapped into other godlike, otherworldly powers. She is ready to fulfill her destiny, and answer the call."
Steve Trevor's entrance
"The call comes quickly in the form of Steve Trevor crash landing on Themyscira. She pulls this stranger from the wreckage, and brings him to shore. There she is, face to face, with the first man she's seen.
The two are captivated by each other, but their magical moment ends abruptly, and badly.
We learn Steve is an American fighter pilot undercover for the British Allied Forces in World War I. He has stolen intelligence from the Germans, and they want it back. They are chasing him, and storm the supposedly impossible to penetrate beaches of Themyscira.
And the first of many great battles in the movie unfolds.
The Amazons do what they're trained to do, and show up with their swords, spears, stallions, bows and arrows.
Steve looks at her, and goes, 'Tell me they have guns.'
Of course Diana has never seen a gun before – they've been on the island thousands of years – so how does an army of women with bows and arrows stand a chance against an army of men with modern, mechanized weapons?"
Amazon fighting style
"Patty worked really hard with her team to design a style of fighting that was incredibly badass, and believable.
Where Batman will punch somebody in the face, and that's effective, that's not how the Amazons and Diana fight. They have a disciplined specialized, collaborative fighting style. They work together as a team, and leverage each other's strengths.
They are mighty, they are beautiful. And as the Germans learn, this new breed of badass warrior women are deadly.
They take some casualties but win the day."
Departure from Themyscira, and Wonder Woman's mission
"They are left with the problem of this Steve Trevor guy. They lasso him up, and of course they compels him to tell the truth.
Steve doesn't want to talk at all, but he talks emotionally of this great war abroad 'to end all wars.' Millions have died, and the war has raged on for years. There is an armistice in the works, but Steve has just stolen some intelligence, secret documents, proving that there is a rogue German general Ludendorff (played by Danny Huston), who is partnered with the evil Dr. Maru – this mad scientist played by Elena Anaya – and together they have developed a weapon of mass destruction.
This weapon is a poisonous gas they intend to drop all over the front lines. General Ludendorff is operating rogue and working outside the German army. He has his own agenda, and a partner in crime, and Steve now learns about all this.
He implores Hippolyta to help him get back to London: 'I need to deliver this information to the Allied Forces, and I need to stop this gas attack.'
Hippolyta doesn't have a lot of love for mankind since they enslaved Amazons, so she feels no responsibility to help mankind or Steve Trevor. But Diana remembers the story about the reason Amazons were created, and recognizes this great war is the work of Ares; the God of War has to be behind it. She reminds the Amazons of their ordinance to restore peace in the world, and love in the hearts of mankind.
Hippolyta forbids her, and doesn't believe mankind deserves her help. Diana knows what she needs to do …
After she determines she is going to partner with Steve, and get him off the island – and go find and slay this god, she has to break into the armory, which is protected, and where they keep all these mystical gifts, and where the Godkiller sword is held. She is there, and says, 'Hey that looks like a cool outfit.' So we don't know exactly where the costume comes from, but believe it was one of the mystical gifts from the gods, along with the lasso, and she picks up her shield as well …
She makes a deal with Steve Trevor to help him get off the island, but 'you need to take me to where the fighting is most intense' because she is sure that is where she'll find Ares.
Steve is not super-sure about the whole God of War thing, but knows he has to get off the island, and so they strike a deal.
Diana leaves everything she knows behind because she believes she has a responsibility, a higher calling. She is driven by her values, she fights for freedom, she fights for justice. She fights for peace."
London, and the world of man
"We enter the world of mankind. Diana shows up in London in 1918, and it's smelly, and dark, and crowded. It is a far cry from the green, pristine world of Themyscira she left behind.
They are on these intense missions. Steve has got to get to the Allied Forces to present his evidence, and stop the gas attack. Diana has got to get to the front lines, or wherever the fighting is most intense, to stop Ares.
But their journey still has an enormous amount of light, and playfulness, and humor.
Diana is amazed by this new world, and is innocent in this way. She tastes her first ice cream, sees her first baby. She has her first unfortunate experience with hoop skirts and corsets.
Steve realizes Diana doesn't really have any clothes on, so even though they're on a mission, it's important to stop and shop. She has a makeover, and after some trial and error, leaves this elegant department store in this dowdy, gray suit."
David Thewlis, the War Council, and reinforcements
"Steve and Diana go to the British War Council to deliver the news of this impending gas attack. That's where we meet David Thewlis, who plays Sir Patrick Morgan.
He is speaking about peace when they enter the Assembly hall, and he is advocating for this Armistice. But his voice is barely audible over the jeers and cries from the other assemblymen contradicting him, and disagreeing with him.
It isn't until Diana enters the room that they are stunned to silence, because women aren't allowed into the cabinet. Eventually they have a meeting with the smaller War Council group, and Sir Patrick Morgan is present. While he is the most supportive of them, they get no support from the Allied Forces. General Haig says, 'Hey, the peace process is too fragile; we cannot send a bunch of troops to the front lines chasing after some gas attack that may or may not happen.'
He tells them they have to stand down, but Diana doesn't do 'stand down,' and neither does Steve. They're going to go without official support. He collects his buddies, and these are the reinforcements, his longterm friends and allies:
Charlie [on the far right in above photo], played by Ewan Bremner, is a heavy-drinking, cheerful, shell-shocked sharpshooter. He has a little post-traumatic stress.
Sameer [far left], we call him Sammy, is played by Saïd Taghmaoui. He is flirtatious, charming. He is sort of a master of disguise, and speaks multiple languages.
Chief [middle right] is played by Eugene Braverock. He is a trademan, and knows how to move people and goods through dangerous territory, and across the front lines.
Diana is not particularly impressed with the reinforcements, and they're not into bringing a woman to the front lines. So all of them must learn to trust, and respect, each other on the journey. They learn to fight together, and to win together.
I am not going to into much more detail, but these are some frames from the trailer, to tease some of their other great adventures, which include a solo dance in the snow, so you see their relationship does progress on the journey.
And there's a gala, and an electric, fabulous blue dress. The evil General Ludendorff is at the gala, but luckily we've accessorized and bedazzled our dress with the Godkiller sword, so that’s super handy."
NOTE: This is part 1 of a three-part breakdown of everything we learned about Wonder Woman. Go to Part 2 - our interview with Patty Jenkins or Part 3 - our scene by scene, super detailed breakdown of what we saw in the movie.
Are you excited for Wonder Woman, opening June 2? What lingering questions do you want answered before the movie? Sound off in the comments below!