Helmed by Patty Jenkins, the Emmy-nominated director of The Killing television series and 2003’s critically acclaimed drama Monster, Wonder Woman stars Fast and Furious franchise actress Gal Gadot as the Amazon princess Diana, who becomes one of the world’s greatest heroes. The fourth film in Warner Bros. Pictures’ cinematic universe based on DC Comics heroes and villains, Wonder Woman provides an origin story of sorts for the iconic character who stands alongside Superman and Batman as one of the publisher’s famous trinity of superheroes.
Gadot leads a cast of impressive talent that also features Star Trek franchise actor Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, the World War I military pilot who washes up on the shores of Diana’s secluded island. They’re joined by Gladiator’s Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Ewen Bremner, and many others. With Wonder Woman’s solo debut hitting theaters June 2, 2017, here’s everything else we know about the movie.
The reviews are in
DC and Warner Bros. have dealt with some less-than-stellar reviews for their recent superhero flicks, but Wonder Woman has broken the mediocre streak. Critics had plenty of positive things to say about the new movie, to the point that Wonder Woman has a 92 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer at the time of this writing. That is head and shoulders above fellow DC Extended Universe films Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which have ratings of 25 and 28 percent, respectively. Only 2008’s The Dark Knight (94 percent) and 1978’s Superman (93 percent) have “fresh” ratings that top Wonder Woman.
The response is exciting. It seems that the film does justice to one of the most beloved superheroes of all time and that DC and Warner Bros. may have found their stride. That would bode well for the many other films they have in the pipeline, so we are hoping that is the case.
The roots of an altered origin
Traditionalists might have been miffed to discover that Wonder Woman has tweaked the origin story of Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), but the film’s screenwriter, Allan Heinberg, and director Patty Jenkins had their reasons for having her enter the world of men decades earlier than she does in the original comic books. DC Comics did the same when it relaunched its comic books with “New 52” in 2011, and that may have cleared the way for the change. Heinberg and Jenkins said they put serious thought into the matter.
They recently explained their decision to Entertainment Weekly, indicating that Heinberg and producer Zack Snyder were early supporters of the idea. They both found the earlier time period intriguing because of how war changed, with the machine gun and gas being introduced, for example, as well as the parallels to present day.
“We are in a very WWI world today, with nationalism and how it would take very little to start a global conflict,” Heinberg said.
Jenkins, on the other hand, was less sold on the idea of altering Wonder Woman’s original origin story at first. However, she eventually saw what she calls the “genius” behind the idea and came around to it.
“World War I is the first time that civilization as we know it was finding its roots, but it’s not something that we really know the history of,” she told EW.
In particular, she thought it was interesting to “take a god with a moral compass and a moral belief system, and … drop them into this world.”
Power (and screenings) to the ladies
To celebrate the big-screen debut of the world’s most famous comic-book superheroine, popular theater chain Alamo Drafthouse announced plans in May 2017 to hold several women-only screenings of the film at its New York and Texas locations, some of which sold out.
“Apologies, gentlemen, but we’re embracing our girl power and saying, ‘No Guys Allowed,’ for one special night at the Alamo Ritz,” reads the announcement from the theater chain. “And when we say ‘People Who Identify As Women Only,’ we mean it. Everyone working at this screening — venue staff, projectionist, and culinary team — will be female.”
While the decision was celebrated by a large portion of the theater-going population (men and women) on social media, it also met with indignation from some critics — mostly (almost entirely, in fact) men — who accused the chain of sexism. Iron Man 2 actor and Marvel Studios veteran Don Cheadle was one of several filmmakers to voice his disagreement with naysayers and support of the women-only screenings on Twitter in a series of updates.
Stupidly. There's no point to men making a point about celebrating themselves. That's called "the planet." Claro? https://t.co/DyaIS3iIaq
— Don Cheadle (@DonCheadle) May 30, 2017
Alamo was quick to respond to the criticism by, well … announcing more women-only screenings.
— Alamo Drafthouse NYC (@AlamoNYC) May 26, 2017
You can get more information about the women-only screenings at the Alamo Drafthouse website.
More footage, more action
Although Warner Bros. Pictures remained curiously quiet on the Wonder Woman promotional front throughout the early months of 2017, the studio released some additional footage from the film in May 2017 during the broadcast of the MTV Movie and Television Awards ceremony.
Titled “Rise of the Warrior,” the new teaser for Wonder Woman features quite a bit of new footage featuring Gadot in action as the DC Comics superheroine, and a brief scene explaining how Diana, princess of the Amazons, ends up with the surname “Prince.” There’s also some footage that seems to depict how she acquires her lasso and sword from the Amazons before departing with Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor for the war-torn world of men.
A long road to the big screen
Development on a Wonder Woman movie dates all the way back to the mid-1990s, with various writers and directors loosely attached to the project, along with a long list of potential stars. At various points, the rumored contenders to portray the DC Comics hero included Sandra Bullock, Angelina Jolie, Beyoncé Knowles, Rachel Bilson, Megan Fox, Eliza Dushku, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, with Bullock the studio’s favored candidate. The project continued to cycle through screenwriters and casting rumors for several years before Warner Bros. Pictures officially announced in 2005 that fan-favorite filmmaker Joss Whedon would write and direct a Wonder Woman movie.
Fans’ excitement was short-lived, however, as Whedon exited the project just two years later. Various, unconfirmed reports suggest that the director was dismissed from the film due to creative differences with the studio over the tone and storyline for the movie — a scenario that would ultimately come into play again later in the film’s development.
The movie then fell into a cycle of high-profile development and casting announcements followed by relative silence for several years, until it was finally reported in December 2013 that Fast and Furious actress Gal Gadot (pictured above) had landed the lead role in the film. A year later, Breaking Bad director Michelle MacLaren was reported to be in talks to direct the film. The project appeared to finally be gaining momentum, only to have the wheels seemingly fall off in April 2015 when MacLaren exited the film, once again due to creative differences with the studio.
It didn’t take long for the studio to find a new director, though, as Monster filmmaker Patty Jenkins (pictured above) was hired that same month, putting her in line to become the first woman to direct a major summer superhero movie, and the first female director of a female-led superhero movie. Cameras began rolling on Wonder Woman in November 2015, and production concluded in May 2016.
Initially scheduled for release June 23, 2017, Wonder Woman later had its premiere moved up to June 2, 2017. The film was assigned a “PG-13” rating in March 2017.
Gods and monsters
Once Gal Gadot was cast in the film’s lead role, the rest of the cast soon followed — including a colorful collection of characters both human and, well … something else entirely.
Joining Gadot’s Diana among the Amazons is Gladiator and The Following actress Connie Nielsen as Diana’s mother, Queen Hippolyta. Diana is reported to be the daughter of the Greek god Zeus, so Hippolyta’s relationship with such all-powerful entities — and her island’s strict prohibition against men on its shores — is likely to present an intriguing plot element in Wonder Woman’s newly revised origin.
Also representing the Amazons will be House of Cards and The Princess Bride actress Robin Wright, who portrays Hippolyta’s sister, General Antiope. She’s joined by Force Majeure actress Lisa Loven Kongsli as Antiope’s lieutenant, Menalippe, along with other Amazons played by Mayling Ng, Florence Kasumba, Madeleine Vall, Ann Wolfe, Doutzen Kroes, and Samantha Jo.
Additional reports regarding some other, non-Amazon, non-human characters appearing in the film also surfaced during the casting process, but without any confirmation from the studio, they remain unofficial at best and potential spoilers at worst. However, with Zeus playing a role in Diana’s origin, it should probably be expected that some of the other gods from that pantheon could play a role in the film’s events.
The human factor
Leading the cast of human characters in the film is Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor, a military pilot who has been Wonder Woman’s frequent love interest and ally in DC Comics lore. Pine officially joined the cast of the film in July 2015, and signed a multi-movie deal that will likely see his character return in future installments of the series despite the film’s World War I setting.
Steve Trevor isn’t without some allies of the human variety, either, as Shaun of the Dead actress Lucy Davis portrays Steve’s assistant, Etta Candy, while Trainspotting actor Ewen Bremner plays a sharpshooter named Charlie, and Saïd Taghmaoui plays a secret agent named Sameer.
As for the film’s villains, X-Men Origins: Wolverine actor moves from the Marvel universe to DC Comics with his role as Erich Ludendorff, a general in the German Army during World War I. He’s joined by The Skin I Live In actress Elena Anaya as Maru, a dangerously unstable scientist with an affinity for deadly chemicals that has earned her the nickname “Doctor Poison.”
Hailing from a less-certain moral (and possibly human) standpoint is a character played by Naked star David Thewlis, who’s said to be playing Sir Patrick Morgan, a member of the war council.
In keeping with DC Comics’ own reboot of its superhero universe, Wonder Woman shifts the character’s origins from World War II to the early 1900s and World War I — a change that was made to her comic-book counterpart during the comics publisher’s “New 52” relaunch in 2011.
Along with changing the time frame for Wonder Woman’s early years, the film also followed suit with DC Comics’ origin shift by making Diana the daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta. In her original incarnation, Wonder Woman was sculpted out of clay and given the gift of life by Athena, and imbued with other powers by the gods.
Despite these changes, most of the traditional elements of the character appear to remain intact in the film, from her powerful bracelets to her costume, secret identity, and even her magical lasso. That said, we have yet to hear about Wonder Woman’s storied invisible plane.
Audiences got their first look at the iconic hero in action when Warner Bros. Pictures released the debut trailer for Wonder Woman during 2016’s Comic-Con International in San Diego. The first trailer was received warmly by fans, and was followed by a second full-length trailer a few months later.
The second preview, released in November 2016, put more focus on the film’s action sequences, as well as the villains Wonder Woman will face.
The third trailer for Wonder Woman was released in March 2017, focusing on the origin story the film will present.
— Gal Gadot (@GalGadot) March 12, 2017
From the past to the future
Although Wonder Woman’s origin story will largely unfold during World War I, her story continues into the present day in Warner Bros.’ extended universe of films based on DC Comics characters.
Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot made her debut as the character in 2016’s Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, which was set in the present day and had Ben Affleck’s Batman discover photographic evidence that Diana Prince has a history dating back more than a century. After helping Batman and Henry Cavill’s Superman defeat a monstrous villain in the final act of that film, Wonder Woman returns to ensemble work in November 2017’s Justice League.
At this point, it’s unknown whether Warner Bros. has any sequels to Wonder Woman planned, and if so, whether they would unfold in the modern timeline or sometime between the events of her first solo film and Dawn of Justice. The fact that Pine is signed on for multiple pictures — and is, after all, a mortal — may give some hints as to the timeline of future installments, though it has also been rumored that Pine will be playing dual roles in DC’s cinematic universe.
The rating game
Given the dark tone of the first three films in Warner Bros. Pictures’ superhero universe, Wonder Woman fans have wondered for quite a while now whether the character’s solo feature would lighten things up.
The film’s “PG-13” rating from was assigned by the Motion Picture Association of America due to “sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive content,” according to the official MPAA description.
For reference, that designation by the MPAA put Wonder Woman in line with the rating — and explanation for the rating — assigned to Marvel’s Doctor Strange, but leaves out some of the additional concerns outlined in the explanations of the “PG-13” ratings given to prior DC superhero films Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Both were cited for their “intense” violence, among other concerns.
Updated on 06-01-2017 by Stephanie Topacio Long: Added details about the film’s critical reception.
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