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Patty Jenkins talks Wonder Woman and previews scenes in our edit bay visit

03.06.2017

If you're all caught up on the first part of our edit bay visit, then you're all set to get even more in-depth with some great info from director Patty Jenkins, who joined us (along with a host of journalists from other venues) in the edit bay to show off a few scenes and elaborate on her goals, fears, challenges, and excitement over making WONDER WOMAN come to life. Jenkins was very passionate in our discussion (which took place at an editing facility in the Soho district in London) and had a clear vision for the film she is trying to make and her hopes for what audiences will get from it. Below is a bulleted list of info and quotes gathered from our discussion, followed by a description/reaction to the footage she shared with us.

  • The goal is to make “a classic film” which is a composite of SUPERMAN meets CASABLANCA meets Indiana Jones. “It was those three films. It’s a classic film. We are making a classic film. We care about humor, we care about epic, we care about heroism, we care about arc and story. Make it elegant; go for it.”
  • Jenkins goal for this is that she wants “everyone to feel like WONDER WOMAN when they see this film. It’s the story of someone discovering their power and their decision to do good with it. That’s universal. We all come of age, so that’s the dream.”
  • Jenkins on Steve Trevor: “It was super important to me that there be a Steve Trevor who we truly loved, who we 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.”
  • The relationship between Steve and Diana was one of the things Jenkins cared about the most in making the movie. “I just fell completely in love with them and their dynamic and enjoyed it so much.”
  • Jenkins says it was ironic that MONSTER is the film she’s most known for, as WONDER WOMAN is a film she’d wanted to make since she was a little girl.
  • Jenkins met with WB in 2004 and pitched WONDER WOMAN and met with them every year since with different ideas, even as it took on many different shapes with many different filmmakers.
  • When WONDER WOMAN came back around it was now part of the DCEU, which complicated things, but WB wanted to pursue the origin story, which is exactly what Jenkins wanted to make as well.
  • Thor: The Dark World turned into a story she didn’t feel she was the right person to direct.
  • “She’s my Superman” is how Jenkins saw the character and did not want to make her dark or gritty. “Just let her be Wonder Woman”.
  • Wonder Woman has no feminist agenda at all, as she is oblivious to any differences in gender based on her upbringing.
  • There were many shifts and changes to the story along the way in development, from the original origin to something told in modern times. “I didn’t want to do her origin story in modern times.”
  • The studio and Zack Snyder were the ones who decided to make the time period about WWI, rather than WWII, due largely to the fact that it hadn’t been as explored onscreen. “It became a cool thing just to explore a different period of time and tell a story that you haven’t seen before.”
  • “She learns her power set throughout the whole movie. It’s that first time she’s testing her mettle against a big, next-level situation.”
  • Wonder Woman can speak hundreds of languages, as they are a bridge to all of mankind.
  • The Wonder Woman theme will show up in the film, but not used continuously. “It has its own journey. I see the movie as the creation of both the character and the theme, but it’s not the easiest thing to just throw all over the place.”

On her approach to Steve Trevor and making him the perfect counterpart to Diana

“I didn’t want him to be a damsel in distress, I didn’t want to make an issue out of it, I didn’t want to make a feminist statement with him. I wanted the guy who you want to be with, who’s cool that you’re trying to do something else at the same time and I wanted to live up to that emotionally myself.” “Make him someone I am in love with who believes in me and helps me where I have weakness and the vulnerability of that relationship meant everything to me.” If anyone gave any guff about Wonder Woman “needing” Trevor, Jenkins says that all superheroes need something from their counterparts. “You would never do that to Superman and you would never do that with Lois Lane. 

Okay, so if Superman was like ‘Fuck you, Lois, man.’ How satisfying would that be to anybody? They have to need each other. It has to be a love story. Everybody has to be stronger or more powerful or whatever and we just have to make it work in that sort of way and we can’t overthink what it means to say ‘she needs him for a second’ or ‘he knows more than her in this way and she knows more than him in another.’ She’s a superhero. Don’t worry about her, y’know? And so I think Superman is a great parallel for that. All of them are, y’know? You wouldn’t do it to Gwen Stacy, you wouldn’t do it to anybody. So, it’s important that all of those people have their people in the world who believe in them and love them and help them and yet understand that their lives are complicated.”

On the difference of Marvel and DC cinematic universes and why she departed Thor: The Dark World.

“Sometimes Marvel goes for more fun and DC goes to make a more serious film, but I think there are shades of grey in all of it. Like, I think Doctor Strange is a more serious film and I think this [Wonder Woman] is a lighter film. Suicide Squad was particularly un-light, y’know, they’re all over the place. Maybe slightly more consistency in the tone of Marvel films recently, but I don’t think that will always stay that way. I love them both. I’ll never stop being grateful to Marvel wanting me to do their movie. That’s not an obvious choice. I met them and we had great conversations about [Thor: The Dark World] and at the time it seemed like they could go a lot of ways and they wanted to go the way I wanted to go and then things shifted and they realized they needed to go another way to fit into their universe and it was not something that I find myself suited for. And so, it was a much more peaceful departure, but I’ve always had fond memories of them and respect what they do.”

On the pressure of working on a big-budget superhero film

“It’s funny. There are two different realities going on. The one reality is the idea of getting to make a movie like the movies that impacted me as a child is my life’s dream, y’know? It’s my life’s dream to make a great film. To make a masterpiece in my lifetime would be my life’s dream. And so, you never will. You’ll never end up feeling like you did. So, each time I’ve ever worked on something or thought about something or made something; you’re aiming so high already for yourself. You’re like, ‘This could be it!’ It’s so hard to make a film.

On the one hand, almost nothing changed in my relationship to making this movie. ‘Am I the right director? Okay, can I do it? Okay, can I make it great? Oh my God are we getting close? Oh God, don’t let it get messed up! It’s like the same ride. But, certainly I flipped back out to this intense focus of ‘What does this movie mean and what does it stand for?’ And, I was very aware of that with Thor. Very aware, where I was like, ‘Um, if I’m not confident that I’m the best person for this movie and I’m not confident I can make a good movie out of this then this is politically a pretty big step backwards for women directing blockbusters, y’know? So, you do have to be very aware the whole time that these people need something great and do I believe I can aim for great with them and that we have a chance? So, you have to be aware of what their needs are to. In this case it was slightly less intense, because I believe in exactly a great Wonder Woman. I don’t have an alt agenda. I believe in a great Wonder Woman origin story, so all of those conversations become better.

It’s definitely an interesting life experience. Fascinating all the time. It’s wild how much it matters and how much it matters to a lot of people and girding yourself, y’know? Somebody’s gonna say everything. Somebody’s gonna hate it, somebody’s gonna like it and somebody’s gonna think it should be this way or that way and you hope for the best and you hope for all of those things, but you also have to know that you’re stepping into a very intense world where she belongs to a lot of people and you have a lot of people to please."

On her working relationship with Geoff Johns.

“Geoff and I are very close. Super close. Since my first meeting ever, years and years and years ago, I pitched in a room and I pitched a storyline and Geoff John’s eyes lit up and he said, ‘That’s what Dick Donner did for Superman’ and he and I were like ‘Ding!’ We’ve become super close. We have very similar goals for this movie and I love him and his work and I’m so grateful that he’s around.”

On how she defined her action style for Wonder Woman

“There wasn’t one particular thing. I think it’s a lot of different things. Like any dramatic scene, if you’re really tethered in your point of view then you know how to tell a story. I’m with her going across that battlefield and I’m telling the story of that.”

“There’s no influence in something like this, you’re just living up to the scene and how to really be there emotionally. And then when it came to like, where to employ different tricks and different moves, I don’t even know where to start and end, because we would look at hundreds of things for every scene to get the feeling we’re looking for, y’know? To really see her in action for the first time in the beach battle where you’re watching like ‘Whoa, what’s going on?’ someone seeing a battle for the first time, which makes it different if your question is ‘Who’s gonna win?’ That’s a different approach. You look from all different kinds of influences. That’s the interesting thing that I cared about was; telling this story completely from the inside of her point of view for the most part.”

Diana and Steve get awkward on a boat headed to London

We see that Hippolyta is crying as she watches Diana leave with Steve Trevor in a boat toward London. It appears that only Steve and Diana are on the boat and it’s later at night. Diana is very frank and forward in her exchanges with Steve, who goes about securing the boat methodically. He prepares an area for Diana to sleep. Diana tells Steve that she wants to be taken to the area with the most fighting as that’s likely where Ares is. Trevor seems to humor her, as he isn’t convinced of the whole “Gods” thing and tells her that it’s not that simple and that many men are fighting in the battle, trying to give her perspective. Diana replies at one point that “I’m the man!” when referencing the “man” or “men” who could end the war.

She has a youthful vigor and naïve confidence on display here, that bounces well off of Trevor’s somewhat cynical, yet experienced perspective.

Diana asks Trevor about the bedding area he made for her and he is very matter-of-fact that he made it for her in case she wanted to get some sleep. She lays down there and asks why he is not laying down with her. Trevor is taken aback and tries to explain that men and women don’t typically lay down like that together unless they’re married. Diana asks him to explain marriage and Trevor stumbles through it, almost realizing the absurdity of some of humanity’s “rules” the more he talks about them.

Diana continues to press the issue of Trevor “sleeping” with her and he eventually relents, saying “Fine, I’ll sleep with you” and he goes to lay down next to her. Conversation turns to creation (“My mother sculpted me from clay and Zeus brought me to life”) and then to sex. Diana informs Trevor that she is well aware of what sex is as she’s read many volumes of texts from Themyscira on the subject. Trevor playfully asks if she brought any of them with her. Diana then informs Trevor that men are essentially not needed for such pleasures to which he protests immediately.

It’s a really funny, playful, and awkward scene that firmly establishes each character and the overall approach to how they’ll interact and develop. Diana is a strong-willed, smart, and naïve warrior, whereas Trevor is a practical, world-weary veteran. They couldn’t be more yin and yang if they tried and the chemistry is really great between the two. If any relationship needed to be nailed, it was the one between Diana and Steve and it appears that they’ve laid the right tracks for this one to make the journey.

We later see both Steve and Diana arrive in London, which is a far cry from the lush and beautiful world of Themyscira. Diana is enthralled by all that she sees and is constantly questioning Trevor and his protective motives as she has no basis for how this world works. She sees a woman with a baby and immediately runs to them, crying out, “A Baby!” Trevor pulls her away and says they need to talk to the war council first and foremost. She is full of vigor and is ready to march off, revealing her short costume through an overcoat, which Steve quickly covers up, explaining that woman in this world don’t dress that way. “We need to get you some clothes.”

General Erich Ludendorff and Doctor Maru discuss their plans for world domination

We see Danny Huston’s General Ludendorff walking with other German soldiers, one of them explaining why something isn’t going as planned. Ludendorff quickly establishes the kind of leader he is by shooting the man for his failure, just before entering a lab room that sees Doctor Maru working.

Ludendorff questions her about the progress of the deadly gas they’re developing and she says that progress has stalled, but she has something else she’s made that may help him regain his strength. She hand him a small blue vial, which he opens and breathes in, causing him to react in a kind of rampage, his skin glowing in parts and seemingly causing him pain. He grabs a pistol and shatters it into pieces by squeezing it, showing just a fraction of the power he has.

While he’s freaking out and adjusting to the substance he inhaled, Doctor Moreau uncurls some balls of paper around her and has a revelation, saying she has just thought of a way to make the gas work, ending on a kind of “evil smile” note.

Wonder Woman's first battle scene in "No Man's Land"

We see Diana, Trevor, and the rest of the team walking into a trench situated in what they call “No Man’s Land”.  Diana sees soldier and civilians in trouble all around her and she is eager to help every one of them with Trevor and the rest of the team continuously telling her that there’s nothing she can do for them. Diana is frustrated and seems to get angrier with every step. Once in the trench she sees a woman with a baby crying. Diana approaches her and the woman tells her that their town has been overtaken and there’s nothing they can do. Diana again confronts Trevor about taking action. He tells her that the reason they call that location “No Man’s Land” is because no one has been able to cross it for months. Diana isn’t having it.

In a very dramatic moment, she decides to finally take action, dropping her cloak and emerging in full costume, climbing the later of the trench to enter the field. Just as we’ve seen from the trailer, a shot is taken and she blocks it with her gauntlet. Trevor notices what she’s done and calls after her. She ignores him, committed to her task.

She blocks more bullets as they keep coming and she eventually picks up speed, running toward the German position. As she does, a small smile comes across her face as she begins to see what she’s capable of. She blocks more and more bullets with each gauntlet, going at a full run. The Germans bring out the big guns and start firing mortars at her. They explode around her and at one point she simply knocks one of the rounds away with her shield.

Finally she gets to the front of the positing and they turn all their heavy weapons on her. Just as we’ve seen in the trailer, she blocks the massive array of gunfire with her shield, but she’s essentially pinned as a result. However, this rallies the allies to exist the trench and rush to her side, where Trevor and his team, along with more soldiers, start to take out the enemy position. Diana also joins in the fun, jumping into the enemy trench and taking out a number of bad guys, before leaping out to head toward the overtaken town

Trevor and his team follow her and they stop just short of entering the town. Diana tells them to wait there while she handles the bad guys in the open area. Trevor raises his brow, while looking at his team, signifying that they should do exactly what she says.

It’s a cool scene and obviously a very big moment for the character of Diana as it’s her first big “Wonder Woman” moment in the film. While the effects weren’t all finished and a little clunky in parts, it’s otherwise a rousing sequence and one that’s sure to draw cheers when the finished product hits the big screen. It’s the kind of heroic moment you tend to look for in superhero films and it’s nice to see them pay attention to that.

FINAL THOUGHTS

That's it for our edit bay visit for WONDER WOMAN. Overall, I feel like this is a step in the right direction in terms of fan expectation of a proper Wonder Woman movie, as well as a lighter (yet still rousing), adventurous, and yes, humorous jaunt further into the DCEU. Jenkins is naturally passionate about the film and the character. This is by no means "just a job" for her and she's working hard to deliver something great to the fans. The pressure to do so is obviously not lost on her. While there's sill A LOT they haven't shared with us yet, I feel like we've been given more than a good taste of the potential this film carries. For me, I think they nailed one of the most important and essential aspects of the film and that's the relationship between Diana and Steve Trevor. Pine and Gadot have a natural chemistry and it feels like their dynamic will be one of the things people walk away from really loving with this film. And, y'know, seeing Wonder Woman kick some ass won't hurt, either.

WONDER WOMAN lassos into theaters on June 2nd, 2017.

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