During our visit to Patty Jenkins at the Wonder Woman edit bay last week, we discussed many aspects of the film, and marveled at 15 minutes of footage, which we dissected here. However, we also got a fascinating glimpse into what the first act of the film will look like, and what it means for the lack of gods in the DCEU, when Anna Obropta, production liaison on Wonder Woman, gave us a detailed overview of the film’s first section.
For starters, the film is told as a flashback from the framing device of 2017’s Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) sending Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) a long lost photograph of WWI glory days. Yet, luckily, from that point, the movie promises to be fairly straightforward by following Diana’s origin from eight-years-old and onwards. Indeed, the actual history of the Amazons will be related to a child Diana when her mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) reads a storybook to Diana, which will come alive in an animated sequence that sounds vaguely reminiscent of A Monster Calls.
“It looks to me almost like a Michelangelo painting that comes to life and animates to life,” Obropta says. “So it’s not live-action. It’s a bit of a film that’s entirely CG.”
It also will come with some interesting revelations: There are almost no Greek gods left in the DCEU other than Ares. Even Zeus, who instead of Aphrodite is credited with creating the Amazonian race in the Wonder Woman movie, will have long expired when the story starts. In a twist that has both vaguely Christian and Arthurian undertones, Zeus created humanity to be companions to the gods, but like the Bible’s Lucifer, Zeus’ son Ares, the God of War, becomes jealous of the King of the Gods’ affections towards man. So he sets off to poison man’s mind with war and by killing the other gods.
Zeus creates the race of warrior Amazon women to fight Ares, allowing them to rise out of the sea like a legion of Aphrodites, but the God of War again gets his way by turning man against the Amazons and having them enslave the women (this is also why Hippolyta wishes to have nothing to do with Steve Trevor or his “war to end all wars” later in the movie).
Hippolyta eventually earns her crown by freeing the Amazons from mankind’s treachery, but by then Ares has dealt a killing blow to Zeus, the last living god in his way. As Zeus dies, he creates Themyscira, an island where the Amazons can be free from Ares or man.
He also creates the God Killer sword, which unlike in the comics, comes with a prophecy: A young girl will be born to the Amazonians who is destined for greatness, and who will use the sword to kill Ares. For the record, the Amazonians are unsure who this proverbial Arthur will be to remove the sword from the armory stone, but since Diana appears to be the only child born among them (supposedly a gift from Zeus, as he breathes life into a clay figurine Hippolyta makes), it’s surprising it takes so long for them to wager the guess.
Against Hippolyta’s wishes, Diana is trained in the Amazonian arts by the queen’s sister, and Diana’s aunt, General Antiope (Robin Wright). Antiope wants Diana to prepare for battle, and sure enough Diana will eventually prove herself to be stronger than her militaristic aunt or any other Amazonian before her. And when she eventually learns of the Great War—after the German Army unsuccessfully tries to invade Themyscira, no less—Diana becomes convinced she must help Steve Trevor escape by taking the God Killer Sword out of the armory, as well as what will become the iconic Wonder Woman costume, and find Ares hidden somewhere among the war’s frontlines, wherever the fighting is fiercest.
It is here where another scene we had screened for us should be noted, and it is a sequence between the villainous German General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and his mad scientist helper, Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya). Ludendorff establishes typical villain bonafides early with his “kick the dog” moment being him shooting one of his lieutenants for no other reason than to scare his other underlings. As according to Obropta, Ludendorff has gone rogue and is planning to win the war, despite German leadership seeking an armistice, by developing a new poisonous gas with WMD capabilities. The gas is designed by Dr. Maru, and in our scene she promises it will “be terrible.”
But more tellingly, she also gives a dose of another special gas to Ludendorff, whose face becomes aglow in CG-veins, and who suddenly gains a new strength that allows him to crush the gun in his hand like it was made of plastic. She also promises it is meant to allow him to “regain your strength.” If Wonder Woman is on the search for Ares, it might seem like a good bet that Ludendorff is the fearmongering Greek god in disguise. In fact, that question was posed exactly to Patty Jenkins, who, ever so delicately, pivoted in a dodging motion.
“This whole thing is really interesting to me, because I don’t think we set out to be super mysterious with who the villain is,” Jenkins says. “But it’s kind of funny it’s turned into what it’s turned into. So now I don’t want to comment about it, but there’s definitely, you know, good fun characters.”
We are not so sure we entirely buy that artful explanation, but we’ll all know for sure just who Ludendorff really is when Wonder Woman opens on June 2.