During a virtual global press conference ahead of the Christmas release of ‘Wonder Woman 1984’, Gal Gadot, director Patty Jenkins, Chris Pine, Pedro Pascal, Kristen Wiig and producer Charles Roven chat about what makes this film special
Fans of Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman breathed a collective sigh of relief when Warner Bros announced Wonder Woman 1984 or WW84 would release globally across theatres and on HBO Max on December 25. The DC Extended Universe film’s release had been pushed a handful of times, but the excitement to see the next stage in the freedom-fighting superhero’s journey did not dissipate.
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At a virtual meet, Gal Gadot, director Patty Jenkins, Chris Pine, Pedro Pascal, Kristen Wiig and producer Charles Roven share in their eagerness to have something to share with the world during these tough times. WW84 follows immortal demigoddess Diana Prince living in Washington DC as the 80s sees a new wave of technology and the arts — it is a time of indulgence, indeed. In her continued mission to teach humankind about truth and freedom, she finds the world’s very foundations are threatened by power-hungry forces in the form of supervillain Maxwell Lord. As she navigates this contentious era, she must also find a way to deal with her losses and identity, making for layered storytelling — typical to director Patty Jenkins’ style of filmmaking.
Diana’s new story
Jenkins affirms that, as she and her team were about to wrap up Wonder Woman, she found herself “jolly frustrated by what she didn’t get to do with [the character.]” We spent the entire first film ‘making’ and ‘creating’ Wonder Woman; she’s only Wonder Woman in the last scene of the movie.” This experience set off a “craving to do a full-blown movie about Wonder Woman.”
Naturally, the filmmaker reflected on what was going on in the world in tandem and what would, in this case, Wonder Woman want to say to the world — this culminated in more stories. The director sums up, “Getting into Diana’s relationship with humanity; in the last film she discovered her own humanity, now she lives within humanity. And she’s not perfect either; being a hero is not an easy thing.”
For WW84, Gal Gadot is on board as a producer in the continued movement to help Diana Prince continue to find her voice in the saturated world of superheroes. It was integral to both Gadot and director Patty Jenkins that Wonder Woman / Diana Prince’s story between the end of the first film in 1918 and the start of WW84 in the 80s is addressed in some way. “She lost all her team members from the first film. She’s been very lonely, doesn’t want to engage and make new friends because they’re going to realise she doesn’t age, and they die and she has to let go. She has isolated herself from the world and her only goal is to help better mankind and be there for them and guide them and try to do good.”
Gadot states that, growing up, she did not have strong female on-screen characters to look up to, which probably fuelled her new position as a producer. Empowered to celebrate the female form through the more physical scenes, she explains, “I’ve never seen anything like this before. The girls do it the way girls do it, the women do it the way women do it. It’s not like you see women try to fight like men. Our bodies look and move differently, and just to see this is so great.” She also shares WW84 is the hardest film she has shot so far.
She commends Jenkins’ sincerity and drive as a director too, “There is something about working with a director that is completely there with you, for you, beside you. [Patty] gives us the freedom to let go, and take all the risks that one can be frightened to take if one doesn’t have such a partner.”
‘A whole new world’
When headlines announced the return of Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor, Diana’s love interest who passed away at the end of the first film, the world assumed he would be in either flashback form or ‘return from the dead’ form. When the latter was confirmed in the trailer of WW84 itself, it was interesting for audiences to watch the 1900s pilot adjust to a very digital age. The actor states the fun was in exploring the idea of “the man being the proverbial fish out of water, that’s usually played by the woman, as seen in the first film.”
He continues, “It was a bit harder than I expected it to be; almost like a ‘greatest actor of all time’ challenge to pretend to be a child in the world seeing everything — everything became a moment of excitement, fear or exploration, then trying to figure out the logic.”
For dramatic relief, Steve’s navigation of a new world incites some laughter as shown in the trailer when he tries on typical 80s ensembles, from parachute pants to shoulder pad-heavy blazers with the sleeves tucked up. Jenkins then appropriately reminds Pine of a denim vest and a cowboy hat which seems to have not made it to the film’s final cut.
The new kids
Pedro Pascal, playing the magnetic Maxwell Lord, is elated to be part of the superhero universe. Max Lord, the head of Black Gold Cooperative known for his culty TV infomercials, is certainly a layered character, Pascal agrees, calling this “the Patty Jenkins experience, in that you can’t get away with something typical, it has to be complete and have all the risks and danger, and, ultimately, the humanity no matter how dark of a character it is.” Pascal, having seen other films of Jenkins (Monster) as well as the mosaical performances in them, he admits he “wasn’t sure” if he’d be able to get there, but he owes it to his director “if it worked!”
One of the most surprising yet exciting casting choices for WW84 has to be Kristen Wiig for scientist Dr Barbara Minerva aka Cheetah. Typically known for her work on Saturday Night Live and other comedic realms, she has dabbled in the dramatic world: The Skeleton Twins and The Martian, which proves her acting chops. Agreeing with Pascal, Wiig explains, “We didn’t want [Barbara] to be this mousy girl-slash-villain, we wanted to know what it is about her that makes her so lonely and so invisible, as well as what she really wants. She goes through three big stages — yes, helped by the costumes — and being helped by Patty, who believed in me. I’ve never done anything like this before so it was very scary. I don’t get asked to do that kind of things,” she laughs.
She tacks on, “I could visualise what I didn’t want [Barbara] to be, more than what I did want it to be. I felt very taken care of.” A self-proclaimed superhero geek, ready at the theatres to see all the new releases, Wiig says, “I was obsessed with Wonder Woman,” admitting she felt the extra pressure to fulfil the role’s justice when she initially signed on.
Jenkins and the cast agree the experience would not have had the strength it did to succeed without producer Charles Roven. Roven explains Wonder Woman has had the resonance it has because, “the core property has within it many of the things of the character that Patty embraced. Having the opportunity, after so many years because the last time Wonder Woman was viewed, was by a sizable audience was back when it was a TV show. We hadn’t had a character that had been given a worldwide audience that this Wonder Woman had the opportunity to be seen by, so it was the exact right time in the culture of the world, for someone strong and courageous but also empathetic, truthful and loving.”
Roven adds that the storytelling was boosted by the fact that all the cast were “so game. Nobody ever said ‘I don’t want to do this right now.’ Everyone brought their A-game 100% of the time. And this is the funniest group of people.” With a wide smile, Patty responds to Roven, calling him “the greatest producer in history who never said ‘are you kidding me?’”