Although she made her first appearance in the DC Comics cinematic Extended Universe in Batman v. Superman, one of the most beloved female superheroes finally gets her own theatrical film with this year’s release of Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot is taking on the most famous version of Wonder Woman since the 1976 Lynda Carter TV series, and fans are rabid to know what iconic WW items will make it into the film. The Lasso of Truth? Indestructible bracelets? Invisible jet? We traveled to the WB Studios in Leavesden, England, to find out what the production has planned for the Princess of the Amazons. Here’s what we learned from the set of Wonder Woman. (Possible minor spoilers ahead.)
The film will delve deeply into the origins of Diana Prince and Wonder Woman. We spend a portion of the film in Themyscira, the island home of the Amazons. Italy subbed in for the fictional island, much to the enjoyment of the cast. A major change to Diana’s origin is that the action is set during WWI, as opposed to WWII (as typically seen in the comics). The trenches of WWI France were filmed mid-winter in London, a far cry from the balmy Italian locations. When asked why the change was made, the production team said they felt that World War I, the first instance of mechanized warfare on a huge scale and the “war to end all wars,” seemed like a very good time period for Wonder Woman — whose great enemy is Ares — to come into man’s world and face off against him.
Greek god of war Ares (David Thewlis) serves as the antagonist of the film, and we’ll also meet the Amazons and Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), Diana’s mother. That brings us to the other change: in the classic comics, Diana was a clay statue brought to life by magic, but the film takes its cues from Wonder Woman’s New 52 origin, in which Diana is Hippolyta’s daughter by Zeus.
Of course, we’ll also meet Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), the romantic interest who introduces Diana to the world of mankind. Gal said that Steve was her favorite character in the film (apart from her own), because “I really, really enjoy working with Chris. He’s a great partner… funny, we have lots of laughs on set, and I think that his character, compared to Diana’s character, are very much yin and yang. He’s this realistic guy who’s been through a lot and knows what mankind is capable of doing, and Diana is this young idealist who thinks that the world is very white, very pure — mankind are only good. Once they get to know each other, he teaches her so much about reality and mankind, and she brings back hope to his life. So it’s interesting.”
Wonder Woman is a film set on an epic scale. For instance, the embattled city of Veld was almost completely built out, covering acres upon acres of the WB Leavesden backlot in mud, barbed wire, sandbags, and WWI matériel. That made some of the setups particularly tricky, sometimes requiring cast and crew to spend hours on treadmills or in water tanks.
The prop department on the film deserves (ahem) props for their work, too. The Lasso of Truth has some tricks tied into it — it’s hand-woven, but it still needed to be able to glow, so it became a crossover project between the prop and lighting departments — and Wonder Woman’s famous indestructible bracelets are featured heavily in the film’s climatic scene, when Diana’s true identity is revealed to mankind. Sadly, at last report, there’s no invisible jet in this film (at least not one that we see), but it’s always possible we’ll see it in future films.
Oscar-winning costume designer Lindy Hemming headed up the team creating the film’s impressive array of costumes, from Amazonian armor to WWI period clothes and uniforms, plus the iconic Wonder Woman suit itself. She told us, “This is one of the most design-heavy jobs, because every single thing — everything in this film — is a strange and unusual juxtaposition of date, period, and fantasy. So everything has had to be designed and made. This film has been a challenge and joy.”
The Amazon costumes weren’t made for stereotypical “amazons;” they were designed for a diverse collection of actresses of all shapes and sizes. And while designed for combat, the armor wasn’t without its creature comforts — Gadot’s Wonder Woman suit was lined with fur to keep her a bit warmer while filming during the chilly London winter.
Gal Gadot asked for this role five years ago, without actually realizing it: “I used to travel to Los Angeles and take general meetings with different producers, writers, directors, and they kept on asking me the same question over and over again: ‘What’s your dream role?’ I kept on saying, ‘I’m open to all genres as long as the story’s interesting enough. But if you really ask me what would I like to do, it’s to show the stronger side of women, because I feel that there’s not enough stories being told about strong women, independent women.’ And little did I know that five years later, I’d land the part.”
The idea of a strong heroine that her daughter can look up to — a princess that doesn’t need rescuing — is thrilling for both Gadot and her daughter, Alma, who is “super excited” about her mom’s movie. Gadot also observed that the only female role model she had to look up to growing up was her mother, and that this film may change that: “I feel very proud that finally this movie’s being made, because all of you guys — all men, all boys — always had a figure to look up to, whether it’s Superman, or Batman, or Spider-Man, or whatever it is, they always had heroes to look up to. For girls, it’s always the princesses, who are being saved, who are being passive, and finally Wonder Woman. She’s fierce, she’s proactive, she believes in herself, she believes she can do everything. That’s a true woman, to me.”
When asked about the fighting style of the Amazons, Gadot had a hard time describing their acrobatic MMA hybrid, saying, “Wow, the training. Yeah, I did a lot of training. I did swords training. I did boxing. I did martial arts. I don’t know what to call the styles that I’ve been taught. Really, it’s a real mix of everything, because all the stunt coordinators, they come from every discipline. So she just takes something from everybody, and they just made it into this amazing fighting style.”
It was suggested to her that perhaps it’s “Wonder-Fu,” and she agreed. “Yes. It’s a Wonder-Fu. It’s a new style.”
Wonder Woman is hitting theaters on June 2.