Wonder Woman (2017)


Introduction

Wonder Woman is a 2017 American superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name.

It is the second live action theatrical film featuring Wonder Woman following her debut in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

In Wonder Woman, the Amazon princess Diana sets out to stop World War I, believing the conflict was started by the longtime enemy of the Amazons, Ares, after American pilot and spy Steve Trevor crash-lands on their island Themyscira and informs her about it.

It was followed by a sequel in 2020, Wonder Woman 1984.

Outline

In present-day Paris, Diana Prince receives a photographic plate from Wayne Enterprises (accompanied by a letter from Bruce Wayne) of herself and four men taken during World War I, prompting her to recall her past. The daughter of Queen Hippolyta, Diana is raised on the hidden island of Themyscira, home to the Amazons, women warriors created by the Olympian gods to protect mankind. Hippolyta explains their history to Diana, including how Ares became jealous of humanity and orchestrated its destruction. When the other gods attempted to stop him, Ares killed all but Zeus, who used the last of his power to wound Ares and force his retreat. Before dying, Zeus left the Amazons a weapon, the “god-killer”, to prepare them for Ares’s return. Hippolyta reluctantly agrees to let her sister, General Antiope, train Diana as a warrior.

In 1918, Diana, now a young woman, rescues US pilot Captain Steve Trevor when his plane crashes off the Themysciran coast. The island is soon invaded by German soldiers, who had been pursuing Steve. The Amazons kill the crew, but Antiope sacrifices herself to save Diana. Steve is interrogated with the Lasso of Hestia and reveals that a great war is consuming the outside world and that he is an Allied spy. He has stolen a notebook from the Germans’ chief chemist, Dr. Isabel Maru, who is attempting to engineer a deadlier form of mustard gas under the orders of General Erich Ludendorff. Believing Ares to be responsible for the war, Diana arms herself with the “god-killer” sword, the lasso, and armour before leaving Themyscira with Steve to locate and stop Ares for good.

In London, they deliver Maru’s notebook to the Supreme War Council, where Sir Patrick Morgan is trying to negotiate an armistice with Germany. Diana translates Maru’s notes, revealing that the Germans plan to release the deadly gas at the Western Front. Although forbidden by his commander to act, Steve, with secret funding from Morgan, recruits Moroccan spy Sameer, Scottish marksman Charlie, and Native American smuggler Chief Napi to help prevent the gas from being released. The team reaches the front in Belgium. Diana goes alone through No Man’s Land and captures the enemy trench, liberating the nearby village of Veld with the aid of the Allied forces. The team briefly celebrates, taking a photograph in the village, where Diana and Steve fall in love.

The team learns that a gala will be held at the nearby German High Command. Steve and Diana separately infiltrate the party; Steve intends to locate the gas and destroy it, and Diana hopes to kill Ludendorff, believing that he is Ares. Steve stops her to avoid jeopardising his mission, but this allows Ludendorff to unleash the gas on Veld, killing its inhabitants. Blaming Steve for intervening, Diana pursues Ludendorff to a base where the gas is being loaded into a bomber aircraft bound for London. Diana fights and kills him, but is confused and disillusioned when his death does not stop the war.

Sir Patrick appears and reveals himself as Ares. He tells Diana that although he has subtly given humans ideas and inspirations, it is ultimately their decision to resort to violence, as they are inherently corrupt. When Diana attempts to kill Ares with the “god-killer” sword, he destroys it, telling Diana that as the daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta she herself is the “god-killer”. He fails to persuade Diana to help him destroy mankind in order to restore paradise on Earth. While the two battle, Steve’s team destroys Maru’s laboratory. Steve hijacks and pilots the bomber carrying the poison to a safe altitude and detonates it, blowing up the plane and himself. Ares attempts to direct Diana’s rage and grief at Steve’s death by convincing her to kill Maru, but the memories of her experiences with Steve cause her to realise that humans have good within them. She spares Maru and redirects Ares’s lightning into him, killing him for good. Later, the team celebrates the end of the war.

In the present day, Diana sends an email to Bruce Wayne thanking him for the photographic plate of her and Steve. She continues to fight on the world’s behalf as Wonder Woman, understanding that only love can truly save the world.

Cast

  • Gal Gadot as Diana:
    • An immortal Amazon warrior goddess who is the crown princess of Themyscira and the daughter of Queen Hippolyta and Zeus given to the Amazons to raise.
    • Emily Carey as 12-year-old Diana.
    • Lilly Aspell as 8-year-old Diana.
  • Chris Pine as Steve Trevor:
    • An American pilot and the love interest of Diana.
  • Robin Wright as Antiope:
    • The sister of Hippolyta, general of the Amazonian army, Diana’s aunt and mentor.
  • Danny Huston as Erich Ludendorff:
    • An iron-fisted general of the German Army during World War I.
  • David Thewlis as Sir Patrick:
    • Sir Patrick Morgan is a speaker for peace on the Imperial War Cabinet.
    • He is later revealed to be Ares, based on the Greek mythological god of war, who is in disguise and as part of his deceptive master plan of conquest and destruction.
  • Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta:
    • The Amazon Queen of Themyscira and Diana’s mother.
  • Elena Anaya as Dr. Isabel Maru:
    • The chief chemist associated with General Ludendorff who specialises in chemistry and poisons.
  • Lucy Davis as Etta Candy:
    • Steve Trevor’s secretary who befriends Diana.
  • Saïd Taghmaoui as Sameer:
    • A secret agent and ally of Steve Trevor.
  • Ewen Bremner as Charlie:
    • A sharpshooter and ally of Steve Trevor.
  • Eugene Brave Rock as Chief:
    • A Blackfoot demi-god, and a smuggler who trades with both sides of the war and knows how to get people across the front lines.
  • Lisa Loven Kongsli as Menalippe:
    • Antiope’s lieutenant and Diana’s aunt.
  • Additionally, Mayling Ng, Florence Kasumba, Madeleine Vall Beijner, Hayley Jane Warnes, Ann Wolfe, and Eleanor Matsuura portray Orana, Acantha, Egeria, Aella, Artemis, and Epione, respectively, all of whom are Amazons.
    • James Cosmo appears as Douglas Haig, Steffan Rhodri appears as Darnell, and Dutch supermodel Doutzen Kroes portrays the Amazon Venelia.
    • Samantha Jo was cast as the Amazonian Euboea, and previously played the Kryptonian, Car-Vex, in Man of Steel.
    • Zack Snyder also makes a brief cameo appearance in the film as an unnamed soldier.

Production

Background

Development for a live action Wonder Woman feature film began in 1996, with Ivan Reitman attached as producer and possible director. In 1999 the project became attached to Jon Cohen, who adapted Wonder Woman for producer Joel Silver, with the hope that Sandra Bullock would star. By 2001, Todd Alcott was hired to write the screenplay, with Silver Pictures backing the project. At that time, Mariah Carey and Catherine Zeta-Jones were also rumoured to be possible candidates for the role of Wonder Woman. Leonard Goldberg focused on Bullock who said that she was approached for the role. Lucy Lawless, the star of Xena: Warrior Princess, was also under consideration, though she stated that she would have been more interested if Wonder Woman was portrayed as a “flawed hero”. The screenplay went through various drafts written by Alcott, Cohen, Becky Johnston, and Philip Levens, and by August 2003, Levens had been replaced by screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis.

In March 2005, Warner Bros. and Silver Pictures announced that Joss Whedon would write and direct the film. Early drafts of his screenplay included Steve Trevor as the narrator, a fierce battle between Diana and her mother over Trevor’s welfare, and after leaving Themyscira, his need to frequently rescue a Diana rendered helpless by the modern world. Whedon was not able to complete a final version of his screenplay, and left the project in 2007.

Although Whedon stated in May 2005 that he would not cast the part of Wonder Woman until he finished the script, Kate Beckinsale was linked to the part. In 2010, Whedon admitted that he did have an actress in mind for the part, stating that “Wonder Woman was basically Angelina Jolie.”

A day before Whedon’s departure from Wonder Woman, Warner Bros. and Silver Pictures purchased a spec script for the film written by Matthew Jennison and Brent Strickland. Set during World War II, the script impressed executives at Silver Pictures. However, Silver stated that he had purchased the script because he did not want the rights reverting; while stating the script had good ideas, Silver did not want the film to be a period piece. That same year, Warner Bros. began development of a Justice League film with Michele and Kieran Mulroney writing the screenplay. The film, entitled Justice League: Mortal, was to be directed by George Miller and would have featured Wonder Woman as a principal character. Australian model Megan Gale was ultimately cast in the role in January 2008. The film would later be cancelled following production delays and budgetary concerns. By April 2008, Silver hired Jennison and Strickland to write a new script set in contemporary times that would not depict Wonder Woman’s origin, but explore Paradise Island’s history.

Development

In 2010, Warner Bros. stated that a Wonder Woman film was in development, along with films based on DC Comics superheroes the Flash and Aquaman. Both Wonder Woman and Aquaman were still under consideration for solo film subjects as of June 2013. DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson said Wonder Woman “has been, since I started, one of the top three priorities for DC and for Warner Bros. We are still trying right now, but she’s tricky.” On 05 October 2013, WB chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara said he wanted to get Wonder Woman in a film or on TV. Shortly afterward, Paul Feig said he had pitched the studio an idea for Wonder Woman as an action-comedy film. The studio then began to search for female directors to direct the film. While Michelle MacLaren was the studio’s initial choice to direct (and while she initially indicated interest), she eventually left the project due to creative differences.

In 2015, Patty Jenkins accepted an offer to direct Wonder Woman, based on a screenplay by Allan Heinberg and a story co-written by Heinberg and Zack Snyder and Jason Fuchs. Screenwriter Allan Heinberg’s work had to be finished and rewritten by Jenkins and Geoff Johns after he had left to work on a TV show. Producer Charles Roven said that the duo had done “a tremendous amount of collaboration”. Johns was initially given screenplay credit by the studio but was left out in the official credits by the WGA. Of this version, Gadot stated that,

for a long time, people didn’t know how to approach the story. When Patty and I had our creative conversations about the character, we realized that Diana can still be a normal woman, one with very high values, but still a woman. She can be sensitive. She is smart and independent and emotional. She can be confused. She can lose her confidence. She can have confidence. She is everything. She has a human heart.

This version was conceived of as a prequel to the first live-action, theatrical appearance of Wonder Woman, in the 2016 film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, placing Wonder Woman in the 1910s and World War I (a decision which differs from her comic book origins as a supporter of the Allies during World War II). As for story development, Jenkins credits the stories by the character’s creator William Moulton Marston in the 1940s and George Perez’s seminal stories in the 1980s in which he modernized the character. In addition, it follows some aspects of DC Comics’ origin changes in The New 52 reboot, where Diana is the daughter of Zeus. Jenkins cited Richard Donner’s Superman as an inspiration.

Casting

In late 2013, Zack Snyder cast Gal Gadot in the role of Wonder Woman for the 2016 film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice over Élodie Yung and Olga Kurylenko. Some fans initially reacted to this choice by criticizing Gadot’s appearance. Snyder later commented on his decision to cast Gadot, stating that he tested a “bunch of actresses, as you can imagine. But the thing with Gal is that she’s strong, she’s beautiful, and she’s a kind person, which is interesting, but fierce at the same time. It’s that combination of being fierce but kind at the same time that we were looking for. Gadot described Diana as having “the heart of a human so she can be emotional, she’s curious, she’s compassionate, she loves people. And then she has the powers of a goddess. She’s all for good, she fights for good.” She also said that Diana has “many strengths and powers, but at the end of the day she’s a woman with a lot of emotional intelligence”. As to how her character is different from her appearance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Gadot said “We go back 100 years to when she’s more naive”, further explaining, “She’s this young idealist. She’s pure. Very different to the experienced, super-confident, grown-up woman you’ve seen”. Gadot underwent a diet and training regimen, practiced different martial arts and gained 17 pounds of muscle for the role. Gadot was previously offered a different role (as a villain) in Man of Steel, which she declined because she was pregnant at the time; this allowed her to later be cast as Wonder Woman in the film’s follow-up. Gadot signed a three-picture deal. She was paid a base salary of $300,000 for the film itself.

Chris Pine was cast as Steve Trevor, a character he described as a “rogue-ish, cynical realist who’s seen the awful brutish nature of modern civilization” and added that he is a “worldly guy, a charming guy”. He signed a multi-picture deal. Lucy Davis’ performance as Etta Candy is the first live-action cinematic portrayal of the character. As well, Elena Anaya’s performance as Doctor Poison is the cinematic debut of that character. Nicole Kidman was in negotiations for the role of Queen Hippolyta, but was forced to drop out due to scheduling conflicts with Big Little Lies.

Filming

Principal photography on the film began on 21 November 2015, under the working title Nightingale. Among the film sets were Lower Halstow, Kent, and Australia House in England and the Sassi di Matera, Castel del Monte and Camerota in Southern Italy. Matthew Jensen was the director of photography, filming in the United Kingdom, France and Italy. Production in London concluded on 13 March 2016. Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, England was also used a filming location.

On 20 March 2016, filming was underway in Italy. In late April, filming took place at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, where a Wayne Enterprises truck was spotted alongside Gadot. Principal photography finished on 09 May 2016. Patty Jenkins and director of photography Matt Jensen said that the film’s look was inspired by painter John Singer Sargent. Jenkins said she shot the movie on film instead of digital video “because there’s a certain type of epic grander escapism that film gives you that you cannot – you will struggle very hard – to get that on video”. Reshoots took place in November 2016, while Gadot was five months pregnant. A green cloth was placed over her stomach to edit out her pregnancy during post-production.

To find the perfect location to shoot the Amazon island of Themyscira, the birthplace of Wonder Woman herself, the film’s producers searched all over the world, finally settling on the Cilentan Coast: a stretch of coastline on the Tyrrhenian Sea, located in the Province of Salerno in Southern Italy. It was chosen because most beaches in the world that sit below big cliffs disappear beneath the tide for part of every day. Production designer Aline Bonetto and her location manager Charles Somers considered 47 countries and visited several of them before they found what they were looking for. Bonetto explained that, “Italy had beautiful weather, a beautiful blue-green sea, not too much tide, not too much wave. Our effects team added some cliffs in post-production, and it was the perfect way to go”. The estuary at Lower Halstow in Kent is featured in the scene in which Diana arrives at a Belgian creek to make her way to the warfront. Bill Westenhofer served as the visual effects supervisor for the film and Martin Walsh served as editor.

Music

On 03 November 2016, Rupert Gregson-Williams was hired to write and compose the film’s music. He was joined by Evan Jolly, Tom Howe, Paul Mounsey, and Andrew Kawczynski, who provided additional music. The soundtrack was released on CD, digital, and vinyl the same day as the film. Australian musician Sia sang a song for the film, titled “To Be Human”, featuring English musician Labrinth. Written by Florence Welch and Rick Nowels, the track is also featured on the soundtrack. The soundtrack also features samples from Wonder Woman’s theme “Is She with You” from the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice soundtrack composed by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL.

Additional music featured in the film are: “Another Little Drink Wouldn’t Do Us Any Harm” by Clifford Grey and Nat Ayer and performed by Edgar Trevor and Cecil Cooper; “Molly O’Morgan” written by Fred Godfrey and Will Letters and performed by Ella Retford; “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” written by Jack Judge and Harry Williams; “Sous les ponts de Paris” written by Jean Rodor and Vincent Scotto and performed by Lucienne Delyle; “I’ll Walk Beside You” written by Edward Lockton and Alan Murray and performed by Ewen Bremner; “Green Grow the Rushes, O” written by Robert Burns and performed by Ewen Bremner; and “Schatzwalzer Op. 4” written by Johann Strauss II and performed by the Berlin String Quartet.

Release

Wonder Woman had its world premiere on 15 May 2017, in Shanghai. It premiered on 25 May 2017, in Los Angeles. The film’s London premiere, which was scheduled to take place on 31 May at the Odeon Leicester Square, was cancelled due to the Manchester Arena bombing. The film had its Latin America premiere in Mexico City on 27 May. It was released in most of the world, including in IMAX, on 02 June 2017, after originally being scheduled for 23 June. Belgium, Singapore and South Korea received the film first, with 31 May openings. On 17 April, it was announced that Wonder Woman would be released in China on 02 June, the same day as its North American release.

Marketing

The success of the superhero television series Supergirl informed the marketing and promotion strategy used for Wonder Woman. According to Time Warner chief marketing officer Kristen O’Hara, they wanted to approach the Wonder Woman marketing campaign in a light manner, similar to how they did with Supergirl. O’Hara elaborated that the modest campaign route they took for Supergirl aided in establishing a large central fanbase among women well in advance of the series, which reportedly generated 5 million female superhero fans in one week. They were then able to model over time, and grow that audience leading up to the 15-months-later release of Wonder Woman. Though neither the film nor the series are aimed exclusively at women, the latter’s campaign gave them their first opportunity to begin collecting data about female superhero fans. In May 2017, a promo for Wonder Woman was released during the season finale of Supergirl, featuring a remix of the song “These Boots Are Made for Walkin'” and Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) wearing Wonder Woman’s boots. The promo included an appearance by Lynda Carter, star of the 1970s Wonder Woman, who plays the American president on Supergirl.

The costs for television advertisements for Wonder Woman are higher in comparison to that of previous DCEU film Suicide Squad. Warner Bros. has spent over $3 million on advertisements for Wonder Woman, whereas they spent $2.6 million on advertisements for Suicide Squad. Ticket selling site Fandango reported that Wonder Woman rounded the final leg of its marketing campaign as the most anticipated blockbuster of summer 2017, according to a poll conducted by 10,000 voters, the biggest survey in company history. Separately, Fandango also found that 92% of people surveyed said that they are looking forward to seeing a film that features a standalone woman superhero, and 87% wished Hollywood would make more women-led superhero films. In May 2017, NASCAR driver Danica Patrick drove her No. 10 car with a Wonder Woman paint scheme at the Go Bowling 400 in Kansas and at the Monster Energy Open in Charlotte.

Home Media

Wonder Woman was released on Digital HD on 29 August 2017, and on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray and DVD on 19 September 2017. The film debuted at the top spot of both the NPD VideoScan overall disc sales chart and the Blu-ray Disc sales chart.

Controversies

Arab Countries Ban

On 31 May, Wonder Woman was banned in Lebanon after the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel asked the Lebanese government’s Ministry of Economy and Trade to block the film because its star, Gal Gadot, is a former Israel Defence Forces soldier. The Lebanese government did not ban Gadot’s Fast & Furious films which did screen in Lebanon. On 06 June, Variety reported that Algiers, the capital of Algeria, pulled the film from the “Nuits du Cinéma” film festival. On 07 June, Variety also reported that a Tunisian court suspended the theatrical release of Wonder Woman after a lawsuit brought by the Al-Chaab party and the Tunisian Association of Young Lawyers to have the film blocked due to Gadot’s military service and public comments she made in support of the Israeli military during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict between her native Israel and the Palestinian enclave of the Gaza Strip. Jordan was reportedly also considering a ban of the film and suspended screenings pending a decision, but on 11 June, it was reported that the government decided not to do so, as there was no legal precedent for it. On 30 June, Qatar issued a ban on the film.

Women-Only Screenings

Women-only screenings were held at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas. Opponents of the gender-restricted screening stated on Facebook that such screenings were discriminatory against men. A gay Albany Law School professor initiated a complaint with Austin’s Equal Employment and Fair Housing Office claiming discrimination against male prospective customers and employees of the theatre. The chain responded with an online statement saying the event “may have created confusion – we want everybody to see this film” and announced a similar event at their Brooklyn location. Tickets sold out in less than an hour, prompting the chain to schedule additional screenings. On 18 July, Alamo Drafthouse proposed settlement offers of a Wonder Woman DVD to the complainants, stating “Respondent did not realize that advertising a ‘women’s only’ screening was a violation of discrimination laws.”

Box Office

Wonder Woman grossed $412.6 million in the United States and Canada and $409.3 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $821.8 million, against an estimated production budget of $120-150 million. Estimates for the number the film needed to surpass internationally in order to cover its production and promotional costs and break even ranged from $300 million to $460 million. Deadline Hollywood calculated the net profit of the film to be $252.9 million, when factoring together all expenses and revenues, making it the 6th most profitable release of 2017.

Sequel and Spin-Off

Sequel

Originally signed for three feature films, with Wonder Woman and Justice League being her second and third films, Gadot signed an extension to her contract for additional films. Jenkins initially signed for only one film, but in an interview with Variety, Geoff Johns revealed that he and Jenkins were writing the treatment for a Wonder Woman sequel and that he has a “cool idea for the second one”. At the 2017 San Diego Comic Con, Warner Bros. officially announced a sequel would be released on 13 December 2019, and would be titled Wonder Woman 2; the date later was moved to 01 November 2019, to avoid competition with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Later, Jenkins was officially signed to return as director, with confirmation that Gadot will be returning as the titular role. Days later, the studio hired David Callaham to co-write the film’s script with Jenkins and Johns. In March 2018, Kristen Wiig was confirmed to play Cheetah, the villain of the film. That same month, it was announced that Pedro Pascal would have a key role in the film. By May 2018, long-time DCEU producer Zack Snyder confirmed on social media platform Vero that he, along with wife Deborah Snyder, would serve as producers on the Wonder Woman sequel. In June 2018, the title of the film was announced to be Wonder Woman 1984. The film’s release has been delayed several times, including owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, and was not released until 16 December 2020.

Spin-Off

It was announced that an Amazons spin-off film is in the works with Patty Jenkins executive producing the film.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Patty Jenkins.
  • Producer(s): Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder, and Richard Suckle.
  • Writer(s): Allan Heinberg, Zack Snyder, and Jason Fuchs.
  • Music: Rupert Gregson-Williams.
  • Cinematography: Matthew Jensen.
  • Editor(s): Martin Walsh.
  • Production: DD Films, RatPac Entertainment, Atlas Entertainment, Cruel and Unusual Films, Tencent Pictures, and Wanda Pictures.
  • Distributor(s): Warner Bros. Pictures.
  • Release Date: 15 May 2017 (Shanghai) and 02 June 2017 (US).
  • Running Time: 141 minutes.
  • Rating: 12A.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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