When Wonder Woman premiered in theaters in 2017, it changed the landscape of genre film. We saw our comic book hero on the big screen for the first time (barring her appearance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), and the world responded. The film took home a whopping $821 million worldwide.
SYFY FANGRRLS had the opportunity to visit the set of Wonder Woman 1984 in London a while back, speaking to director Patty Jenkins about the film as well as stars Gal Gadot and Chris Pine, who is back (though we don't know how) as Steve Trevor. Jenkins chatted with us about where this film fits into the DCEU, gave us a look at Barbara Anne Minerva, aka Cheetah (Kristen Wiig), and Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), and how a movie set in the '80s taps into modern-day issues.
Wonder Woman meant so much to so many of us, and it still rankles that it took so many decades to get a well-done female-fronted superhero movie. In the first film, we saw Diana struggle to understand how women fight in the dresses of WWI, and why women were treated differently from men after growing up in Themyscira in an all-female society.
We asked Jenkins about the relationship Diana has to feminism in this film as opposed to her first solo outing. "I think it's similar," she said. "The interesting thing about Diana to me is seeing feminism through the eyes of someone who's absolutely oblivious that it would even be an issue. And that was what I loved in the first movie. It's like she has no chip on her shoulder. It never occurred to her that you would not see men and women as absolutely equal. Here I think she continues to just be her own sole person, but now she's aware. So now you see this awareness of like, 'Oh, okay, this is different and that's different, and there is a relationship to it,' and people are reacting to her as they work."
Gadot came over to the group in costume mid-shoot. We asked if she took all that this film means to women and girls with her on set. "On set when we're shooting a scene?" she asked. "I don't think, 'Wow, when I need to be this and that' in order to carry what you're talking about. But I think overall, this character embodies those things. So it's not something that I think about when I work, but it's there all the time."
Diana showed up for a short, but memorable appearance in Batman v Superman, and again in Justice League. Though this set visit took place before Joker premiered, and before The Batman was announced, we were curious if any of the storylines we're going to see in Wonder Woman 1984 would pay off later in the DCEU at large. Jenkins said, "I mean, I think there's little this and that…" She referenced former DC President and Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and explained that "...he's such a great writer and such a great partner, and he doesn't have an agenda in the greater picture like that." She said he was excited about the story she was telling. "I think there are little things, but those come secondarily to the story. I'm not a huge fan of doing chapter two of a seven-chapter story. That's just not my jam. I feel like that may happen in the way background, but every movie, in my opinion, I want to make sure is its own great movie."
The first film was set in WWI, but this time around, we're seeing Diana in Washington, D.C. Gadot said she loved shooting there: "I'll also say we had a blast shooting in Washington. And it was my first time being there, and I was shocked by how emotional I got as an Israeli by all the monuments and Lincoln. I think that we also — you know, there's so many beautiful scenes that we shot there by the reflecting pool or by George Washington monument or by the Capitol. It's beautiful and it's definitely going to have a lot of presence in our movie. The movie is not a political movie, but you can definitely — you know, it taps on issues that are very current."
Of the villains in the film, Gadot said, "They're not the obvious villains. And that's what I love about their characters so much. When I first read the script, I told Patty, "Wow, I like I like them as much as I like Diana and Steve." She continued, "I'm so tired of the obvious villain, the German soldier that you know from the get-go, okay he's the bad guy — they're like real people. Just like you, and you, and me. They're just in a position where… we can see ourselves in them. And they're not bad people per se. But they just didn't make the right choice at the right time."
Cheetah is a pretty bloodthirsty character in the comics. Jenkins spoke about her interpretation of her, saying, "…there have been many physical manifestations of Cheetah, but the core has always been the same, which is someone who wishes they could be like these other superheroes or gods, and that already is a kind of emotion run amuck. That's already a little dangerous because what are they wishing for? Not necessarily to save the world. So I think that all stays very much in tune with the core."
As far as Maxwell Lord goes, Jenkins said, "He's just great and he's a super part of the times, and that's what's so fun about him to me. It's like, what is the epitome of the '80s, but also very symbolic to our times right now. Which is somebody who's everything about the era and what we believe in then that has resulted in who we are now."
And what about Steve Trevor? We know he died in the first film, and we know he's back, complete with fanny pack, in this one. Pine couldn't tell us very much about where he is in this film or how he got here, but he did give us a look at his state of mind. While he said Steve was the "straight man, funny man" before, he said, "in this it's kind of — it's flipped. I think you see in Steve this time, which is a bit fun… is less [of the] jaded realist that's ween the worst sides of humanity. There's a playfulness and a boyishness to him. There's an earnestness to this wide-eyed, glorious taking in of this role that he could never imagine, which for a man, is interesting to play, I think, because heroes are meant to be furrow-browed and that whole thing."
Of their relationship now, Gadot said, "I think Steve and Diana have a really special dynamic that's really… wasn't fully explored in the previous movie, because we just met and we just built a relationship. And now we got an opportunity to kind of continue from where we stopped last, and now we're doing it after, at least my character, carried the big loss of him all those years, so having someone that you love so much after so many years, and be with him again is just great."
Wonder Woman 1984 will hit theaters on October 2, 2020.