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Wonder Woman's CGI climax with Ares was mandated by the studio, says Patty Jenkins
Patty Jenkins had a lot more creative control over Wonder Woman 1984, as evidenced by the fact that she co-wrote the screenplay alongside Geoff Johns and Dave Callaham. When it came to production of the first movie, however, she was more beholden to studio mandates due to the fact that her only other feature at the time was 2003's Monster (a critically-acclaimed, but much smaller project).
Appearing on Marc Maron's WTF podcast, the writer-director revealed that the big CGI climax with militant deity Ares (played by Harry Potter's David Thewlis) at the end of the first Wonder Woman was done at the behest of Warner Bros.
"That was the only thing that the studio forced my hand on — was that it was not supposed to be. It was supposed to be, like, that he never turns into Ares. The whole point of the movie was that you get there, to the big monster, and he’s just standing there looking at you and saying, 'I didn't do anything.'” Jenkins said. “And then the studio kept saying, ‘Okay, we’ll let you do that. And then we’ll see.’ And then I could feel it creeping up. And then at the last minute, they were like, ‘You know what? We want Ares to show up.’ And I was like, ‘God d*mn it, we don’t have enough time to do that now.’ [They said] ‘No, you’ve got to do it.’"
Unfortunately, the VFX-heavy denouement ended up being one of the few things audiences didn't enjoy about the movie, which currently holds the highest Rotten Tomatoes score of any DCEU film produced to date. And until the release of James Wan's Aquaman in 2018, it was the second-highest grossing DCEU film of all time.
"It pisses me off now, because sometimes I’ll read the reviews and the only thing that we got unanimously some sh** about was that end pyrotechnics," Jenkins continued. "They're like, ‘DC always does this.’ And the truth was, it was them. The studio did make me do that. And it wasn’t right. But that’s okay.” The director went on to say that she "ended up being really at peace with what we did, but it was done too quickly ... Once you get the note, you embrace it — it’s happening anyway. I ended up super proud of it. It just didn’t have enough time to look as good as the effects needed to look. I loved all the ideas of everything I did, but it was just a little rushed."
Had things gone her way, Diana (played by Gal Gadot) would have a fought a non-armored Ares. "They would have a big fight because he's a god, he can do anything. She can't hurt him, but ... he didn't need the armor."
The YouTuber known as Nando v Movies has an interesting rewrite of the ending in which Ares is not defeated and lives on to serve as a "Big Bad" for a future movie. The first two Wonder Woman films are now available to stream on HBO Max. Jenkins is working on a third installment, in addition to a Star Wars: Rogue Squadron movie.