This week, the greatest feminist super hero of all time enters the screens at home, known the world over as Wonder Woman. VALEUR has checked, whether the film adaption of the story about the revered and enduring DC archetype and a global symbol of strength and equality for more than 75 years leads us to new spheres.
Read more about the movie, and how it lets us understand, how and when she became what she is, and why did mankind’s welfare is so important to her.
POWER, GRACE, WISDOM AND WONDER
When we think of wonder, what comes into our mind? Especially in summer, many of us will think of beautiful places, the sea, sun, and similar things. Wonder Woman leads us to a place like this, more precisely to the paradisiacal Mediterranean island called Themyscira. It is a secret island gifted to her people from the king of the gods himself, Zeus.
Here, hidden from the civilized world, and from space and time, the young princess Diana lives a peaceful live. Wonderful Amazons protect the island as well as the young highness. But, Diana feels the urge to become a powerful warrior. However, to become a true warrior, she will need to carry the courage of her convictions – and an arsenal like no other – onto the most harrowing battlefield the world has ever known.
PRETTY & STRONG – GAL GADOT
A true wonder woman plays the powerful Amazon with the mind of a child: Gal Gadot. The Israeli model and actress is a breathtaking beautiful woman. In a harmonious way she combines hard contrasts. Gal is extremely sexy, but sweet. Wonder Woman is strong, but also vulnerable. She is smart, but naïve too.
When we first meet Diana in the story, she’s a curious little girl who’s very courageous but also sassy and a little bit naughty, Gadot smiles.
She admires the Amazon warriors she sees all around her, and she wants to be like them, to fight. However, Diana’s mother, Queen Hippolyta, is very protective of her young daughter, and does not allow her to train. But Diana has a spark in her, and a fire in her eyes. It’s clear that she will get her way, she will get what she wants, somehow.
PATTY JENKINS (DIRECTOR)
Patty Jenkins attests Gadot, that she fulfills the image of the Wonder Woman the world has been waiting for, inside and out.
Gal is literally the nicest, most beautiful, most dedicated individual you’ll ever meet. All she wanted out of this whole process was to do justice to the character. She genuinely wanted to embody the Diana everyone expects. And it wasn’t always easy, thanks to cold weather, extensive training, heavy action and the fact that Gadot appears in nearly every scene. When times would get rough on the shoot, it was Gal we looked to. She has such inner strength, such an iron temperament, that she could work through anything and always keep an upbeat attitude. She’s a pretty amazing person.
GAL GADOT ABOUT JENKINS
Gadot credits her director with keeping her spirits high. “I am so lucky that Patty was directing me on this movie,” she says. “She is so funny and warm, such a brilliant and talented person, and her vision and her passion were completely in line with mine. I remember the first time we sat together, we talked about the film but we also talked about life, our families…everything was so similar. To be able to work with someone you agree with creatively about almost everything is special. And even if our ideas conflicted, we would have a fair debate and I think we not only evolved from the discussion, but the result was that we got the best we could out of the scene. I’m grateful for her guidance and her friendship.”
THE QUEEN OF THE AMAZONES – CONNIE NIELSEN
The spirited and determined Diana instinctively knows her place is among the many warriors in her midst. Never ever she sways – proving she is. Indeed, her mother’s daughter. Hippolyta did not become queen through inheritance but through valor.
Connie Nielsen, who plays the most regal of all the Amazons, affirms, Hippolyta is very brave. Justice and truth guide her belief system completely. And she is raising her daughter to behave the same way.
© 2015 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC
Nevertheless, there is one truth Hippolyta is at first reluctant to accept: that Diana is destined to be a great warrior. She does not want Diana to fight. She knows what it really means to go to war, so of course she doesn’t want that for her daughter. But her daughter wants to be like her mom and, in Diana’s case, even more so like her aunt, General Antiope, the greatest Amazon warrior of them all. To make matters worse, Antiope openly questions her sister’s refusal to allow her to train Diana in the art of combat. She begins secretly training her niece.
THE GENERAL OF THE AMAZONES – ROBIN WRIGHT
Regardless of the sincerity of Hippolyta’s maternal love, there is something hypocritical in the silencing of her sister. Hippolyta knows that silence equals oppression, Wright attests.
Antiope sees her obsessive protection of her daughter as understandable but myopic. And Antiope, unlike her sister, recognizes and respects the power within Diana that is aching to be acknowledged. The Amazons have seen a lot of loss, a lot of pain, all of it due to war.
© 2015 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC
Gadot quickly bonded with her Amazon relations. We had a natural way of getting into our characters and immediately felt comfortable around each other, she says. They both share a number of traits with the women they play, Connie being very knowledgeable, confident, charismatic like Hippolyta, and Robin being vivacious, very easygoing, and so good with the youngsters on set, because she’s young at heart. And Antiope is the one the little Diana turns to as a mentor.
Hippolyta remembers how they were betrayed, despite their enormous service to the world, because they were feared by men, Nielsen says in defense of her character. She knows that where there is one man there are more, so she is worried for the safety of the entire colony of Amazons, including her daughter.
STRONG & VULNERABLE
Wonder Woman believes in the absolute good. Without thinking about consequences, she stands up to repel the evil. If necessary, she fights in the frontline alone. However, she has to learn that the real world is much more different than she thought. She must face her biggest fight, but she has also to ask herself, if it makes sense to protect that aggressive mankind.
Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot says, What attracted me so much to this character is that she is so many different things, and they live within her in such a beautiful way. And because this is the first time we’re telling the story of this icon on film, Patty and I had many creative conversations about her. She’s the greatest warrior in the comics, but she can also be vulnerable, sensitive, confident, and confused…everything, all at once. And she never hides her intelligence or her emotions.
Producer Zack Snyder relates, “There’s a purity to Wonder Woman that I love. She doesn’t have a broken past, she’s not seeking revenge on the people who wronged her and she isn’t coming from a dark place. Diana had an idyllic childhood and was taught to value life. She can be a hero purely from a place of wanting to do what’s right in the world, which is really cool, and I think both Patty and Gal found the perfect way to convey that in the movie.”
Is it possible to develop emotions in relation with an action movie? In case of Wonder Woman, the answer is simply: Yes! However, not the movie creates positive feelings only, but the play and personality of the beautiful Gal Gadot.
She acts and she looks like a girl, which believes in the pure good. Authentically, Gadot performs a naïve woman, in the most positive way. Diana isn’t the unbreakable super-hero, but she is a girl with a great heart and soul.
This matches with Gal Gadots personality. Therefore, she was by far the best choice to bring Wonder Woman into our real world. With her natural character and smile, Gadot enchants the hearts of the audience instantly.
THE MAGICAL STORY
When a man—the first one Diana has ever seen—comes to shore, he opens her eyes to the larger world outside of her sheltered island, an undertaking he begins quite by accident, by crashing off Themyscira’s shores.
Producer Richard Suckle notes, She saves his life and, in turn, it’s Steve Trevor who teaches Diana about man’s world. They’re a great couple in the canon, but I really love the way they are in this film. There is chemistry, and the movie does allow for that to play out within this huge action adventure, and without a damsel or a dude in distress. They need each other, they learn from each other, and they’re equals.
Jenkins adds, From the moment they meet, there is a spark, and the way their love story unfolds is captivating and unique, especially for this kind of movie and for the time in which it’s set.
THE SPY WHO LOVED HER
Chris Pine, who plays Captain Steve Trevor, enjoyed the parity between them, and appreciated what Steve is able to learn from Diana as well.
I felt part of something very special, making this film, which I think is much more than a superhero movie. It’s using the global medium of film and this bold manner of storytelling to depict the actions of this very powerful woman in a violent, male-driven world. She shows my character – who has been a spy, who has seen evil up close and been fully immersed in the morally gray, toxic universe of war – that there is still room for idealism and for an earnest desire to do right by others. It’s a story that resonates and that’s very a propos to today.
Every superhero has his or her strong points, Jenkins contends, but I think the greatest thing about Wonder Woman is how good and kind and loving she is. Yet none of that negates her power; it enhances it!
“Welcome to jolly old London.” –Steve
“It’s hideous!” –Diana
“Yeah, it’s not for everyone.” –Steve
Wonder Woman isn’t another action hero movie. It’s a warm story about the good and the evil. A story about love and passion. It is a fairytale about selflessness, honor, and helpfulness. Finally, Wonder Woman is a story about true love.
Of course, the story is simple, but also sophisticated and emotional. In times of terror, it is pleasant to see, that the hero thinks only in black and white. Wonder Woman doesn’t know compromises. She believes in purity, simplicity, and that the good invariably triumphs over evil. Therefore, she isn’t afraid to be harmed.
Wonder Woman’s character enables the audience to feel, laugh and cry with her in every second of the movie. Gal Gadot’s amazing performance plays its part, too.
WONDER WOMAN ENCHANTS EVERYONE
If, however, one believes Wonder Woman would be only good for men is wrong. It is a movie for everybody. Because of the story, because of Gal Gadot, as well as because of Chris Pine.
The renowned actor, well-known from the 3rd Star Trek generation, isn’t only a true eye-catcher, but a perfect counterpart for Wonder Woman. He supports her, and he learns to believe in her supernatural power. Both harmonize perfectly.
Commenting on the film’s take on the well-known character, Chris Pine observes: He’s a classic kind of early 20th-century depiction of masculinity. He’s rough and roguish. Furthermore, he’s got a sense of humor about himself, and is realistic without being righteous, romantic without being saccharine. Steve earnest about his mission and wants to do right by those he serves, but he doesn’t have to please everyone. He’s a great maverick.
Coming to grips with the fact that he’s landed in the middle of an island of strong warrior women, Steve is respectful of them amidst his general confusion about them. And despite his protestations, he reveals his status as a spy and outlines his mission in great detail to the Amazon council, thanks to the Lasso of Hestia or, as it’s more commonly known, the Lasso of Truth. Such wide-eyed optimism is wholly unfamiliar to Steve.
CHRIS PINE ABOUT STEVE TREVOR
The war has stripped him of any of that,” Pine asserts. “He’s a jaded realist who has seen the absolute nadir of morality that human beings can have, such as the need to kill needlessly, often mercilessly. And here is this woman with her wonderful hope in what humankind could be, and he just cannot relate.
What Diana brings to Steve Trevor – to this man who has seen the worst of the world – is that there’s still room for idealism,” says Pine. “That no matter how ugly the world that we live in is, no matter how much desolation we encounter, there is still hope that in the best parts of ourselves we will protect and do right by one another. That’s what we should hold onto, and that’s what she represents.
THE TRUE LOVE?
Diana likes Steve. Gadot notes, She’s very curious about who he is, and even more so about the world he comes from. When she first gets to London, she’s a fish out of water, overwhelmed by all that she sees. I think she expected to see something that is more similar to Themyscira, so she must therefore rely on Steve to help her navigate this new world.
Gadot also felt a bit of a parallel between the storyline and her own journey. I felt very comfortable working with Chris, she says fondly. That worked to my benefit because Chris has so much experience, but this was my first lead role ever.
There he was guiding me through London as Steve Trevor, but also guiding me through this experience in such a nice way. He is very much a leading man—talented and smart, and totally hilarious. I’m not sure people know how funny he is; we ruined so many takes because he made me laugh.
Pine says he enjoyed the collaboration as much as Gadot, expressing great admiration for her command of the title role. Gal knocked it out of the park. She’s physically perfect for it and she’s got a work ethic like no one I’ve ever met before. She’s a tremendous actress and I was so glad to play opposite her.
THE DARK VILLAINS
THE GENERAL OF THE EVIL – DANNY HUSTON
Actor Danny Huston plays the film’s formidable villain, the maniacal General Ludendorff. Huston says of his dark-hearted character,
Ludendorff possesses a dogmatic, stubborn, committed, unfailing desire to win. He lacks all compassion for the individual, and is more than willing to have great losses to achieve victory.
Standing proud in his uniform adorned with medals, Ludendorff “represents our fascination with decoration, with pomp,” adds Huston. The attitude, his sense of empire…if you look at First World War Germans, they wore the red and gold colors of imperial Rome. All these elements are historically part of our larger culture, and I don’t think we can ignore them entirely, even today, which made him very intriguing to play.
When Ludendorff approaches Diana, he claims the night is for celebrating victory, the impending accord notwithstanding. War, he explains, is a god who demands human sacrifice. In exchange, war gives man purpose, a chance to rise above his petty moral life and be better than he is. His words stir Diana. She knows she must stop him or the war may never end.
DR. MARU – ELENA ANAYA
One, who has suffered unspeakable horrors but who has chosen instead to embrace them, to even devote herself to furthering the evil in men’s hearts, is Dr. Isabel Maru. Her genius, fostered by the German army, is in developing chemical warfare, which would allow for killing on an almost incomprehensibly massive scale.
Elena Anaya, who plays the poisoner, says, Dr. Maru hates the weak, and hates to be weak, but loves her job, the marriage of science and war, so much it seems to entertain her. She could work day and night, completely focused on inventing these new formulas that can destroy mankind. Dr, Maru is outwardly scarred, but the biggest damage is deep inside her.
She has no empathy, Anaya continues. Hers is a crazy mind and a dark soul. So she and Ludendorff complement each other quite well.
WHEN GAL GADOT BECAME WONDER WOMAN
To fight the god of war, Gadot had to look the part of an Amazon warrior.
This is the first time Diana is in a real battle, she allows. Before this, all she did was train. Now she really has to defend herself, and others. Knowing that achieving the right physique could make or break the character’s believability, Gadot put her all into training.
I had five months of training during preproduction, of doing horse riding and martial arts and a lot of body work. I worked with magnificent people that I admire and was inspired by, including Ruda Vrba. He was my trainer, and Dan Naprous was my horse master. As exhausting as it was, I felt strong and fit and ready.
THE HARD TRAINING
Gadot trained hard – bulking, weightlifting, and cardiovascular training – alongside a company of castmates. Also stunt performers and pro athletes portraying the other Amazons. The preparations also consisted of a great deal of choreography and weapons training necessary for the complex battle scenes, courtesy of stunt coordinator Damon Caro.
The women practiced archery, sword fighting, horseback riding, and martial arts. It was a journey that was both individual and collective.
It was a personal path for each woman, says Twight. But many of the steps on it were shared. When you’re all headed in the same direction, any hardship is possible to overcome. I noticed with the women there was a lot more emotion. With a group of guys in a competitive environment, it’s often more about conquering, a bit more thuggish. I don’t want to say that we are any less emotionally developed. We just don’t wear it on our sleeves. But the women were more sharing, like ‘we are all doing this together.
I don’t suppose I thought ahead about the fact that we were shooting a Wonder Woman movie in the middle of winter in England, Gadot laughs. We had a lot of locations to shoot in, and Wonder Woman doesn’t wear much. But I thought to myself, ‘Okay, it’s cold, but I was so single-minded, so focused on telling her story, that I simply couldn’t be cold. At least not until we finished for the day.
The design of her gauntlets, greaves, headband, and bicep band remained unaltered, though the material was also brightened to match her armor. Her Lasso of Hestia was reused, but her shield and sword underwent a makeover.
That was a major decision, because they’re such an integral part of the story, notes property master Terry Wood. She worked with set decorator Anna Lynch Robinson. Everyone wanted to get them right because they will be among the things that are probably remembered the most.
Diana does wear one outfit that is distinctly not Amazonian. Upon her arrival in London, Etta takes her to Selfridges, where she is perplexed by Edwardian women’s wear.
The pair eventually agree upon an Englishwoman’s army suit, the nation’s first attempt at tailoring a uniform for women. Practically and symbolically, it is the perfect camouflage for Diana, but she still stands out.
To complete the look, Steve adds a pair of eyeglasses to her disguise. Later in the story, Hemming had the opportunity to dress her in an elegant blue silk gown. There were many costumes to design for this 1918 period, varying from battlefront to ballroom, Hemming sums up.
THE DIRECTOR’S RESUME
The time is absolutely right to bring Wonder Woman to movie audiences, says Jenkins.
Fans have been waiting a long time for this. But I believe people outside the fandom are ready for a Wonder Woman movie, too.
Patty Jenkins is right. Wonder Woman is an action move. Yes! The special effects are brilliant. However, it is much more than this. In times of terror and war, it is a story about the pure good.
In times of a growing selfish society, which can’t look and think further than arm`s length on the smartphone, it is a film about helpfulness and selflessness. It’s a movie with heart and soul.
A film about the good. Therefore, its more than a movie, it’s a story which could motivates us to look positive into the future. We should only learn to give a helping hand to others.
Furthermore, we should learn, that it’s better to stand up for our friends and freedom than to accept compromises.
OUR RATING IN %CAST 100%
Therefore, our conclusion is: absolutely worth seeing.
Text: Marco Kokkot & Warner Bros. Entertainment
Pictures: © 2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and RatPac-Dune Entertainment LLC.
WONDER WOMAN and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © DC Comics. All rights reserved.