What to Expect from the Wonder Woman movie

We look at Wonder Woman's recent history to try and figure out which version of her story we'll see in the movies.

In June 2017, something we’ve been waiting for will finally happen – the first female-fronted superhero film in the current continuities of Marvel Studios and DC/Warner Bros will hit the big screen. Wonder Woman, will mark a significant overtake by the DC camp, who have been a few steps behind their Marvel rivals at the box-office since the conclusion of The Dark Knight trilogy.

As we assume you already know, Gal Gadot of the Fast & Furious series will play the character of Wonder Woman. By this point in time, we will already have met her in the clunkily-titled Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, which drops in March 2016.

While Wonder Woman has had a string of high profile romantic entanglements in the comic book world – including a recent (and in comic book time, reasonably long term) romantic entanglement with Superman – we’re expecting her solo film to shy away from anything too soppy for fear of unbalancing the tone of their shared universe.

As with the rest of the DC Cinematic Universe, and judging by the dimly lit pictures we’ve seen of Gal Gadot in costume, this film will be more Man Of Steel than the Lynda Carter series. That’s not the only difference we’re expecting from the still-familiar-to-many 1970s TV incarnation of the character. Here are our bets on what you can expect from this new Wonder Woman…

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The Origin Story

There is more than one answer to this question. Being one of the biggest comic book characters of all time, there are naturally multiple versions of Wonder Woman’s origin story, and several alternate versions of the character strewn across several sprawling universes.

In terms of the original and classic Wonder Woman, the generally accepted facts are these, though: Wonder Woman is an Amazon warrior princess, inspired by the Amazons of Greek mythology. They live together on Themyscira (previously known as Paradise Island), which is why you might have heard her referred to as “Princess Diana of Themyscira” in articles like this where the writer might fancy a break from typing out the words “wonder” and “woman.”

Princess Diana of Themyscira sometimes goes by the alias of Diana Prince when visiting the locales of other heroes. It’s about as original as changing Peter Parker’s name to Manfred Spider-Bloke, but we’re fairly confident Diana Prince will be the secret identity Wonder Woman uses in the film (if she needs one), so we’d probably better get used to it.

Here are the bits you will probably be familiar with even if you haven’t read any of the comics– Wonder Woman has a wide range of gadgets/weapons that she uses when stopping baddies, including her Lasso of Truth, some indestructible bracelets, a whopping great sword, and a tiara that she likes lobbing at people. Sometimes she has been seen utilizing an invisible airplane, brain-reading powers, and an injury-healing Purple Ray. We’re not as confident about seeing those last three in the movie, though. On top of that, Wonder Woman has been depicted with super strength, flight, hand to hand combat skills, and a Wolverine-style healing factor over the years, too. It’s worth noting that classic-era Wonder Woman was created from clay by the Gods, as well.

Which bits of this character’s detailed history will make it into the film, though? Well, the DC Comics ‘New 52’ (an all-encompassing reimagining of the DC universe) reboot of Wonder Woman is the currently-canon version of the character, so there might be clues there.

In the New 52, Wonder Woman is no longer a clay creation, but a demigod born from an affair between Amazon Queen Hippolyta and King of the Gods Zeus. This affair, and the fact that Zeus’ wife hates all Amazonians as a result, gives a different spin to proceedings. The only downside being that the created-by-females status of classic Wonder Woman has been compromised. She’s still an Amazonian princess, though, and her status as an iconic female character has hardly been tarnished. There are other, more problematic elements introduced, as well, but that would take up an entire article.

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The new Wonder Woman’s bracelets are more multi-purpose now, too. They allow Wonder Woman to call forth her swords from any distance (like Thor’s hammer) or to unleash her fully demigod powers when necessary. She has the power of flight in the New 52 as well, making any invisible aircrafts unnecessary. She earns the title of God of War in the new comics too, rendering her even more powerful.

Interpreting the comments of DC Cinematic Universe mainstay producer Charles Roven (watch until the end of this interview) , it sounds like the New 52 Wonder Woman will be an inspiration for the film.

Potential Villains

As with Aquaman, this is a tough question for Wonder Woman, who hasn’t exactly been blessed with Joker/Luthor-level bad guys over the years. As with most comic book heroes of her era (Wonder Woman was introduced in 1941), she began by fighting Nazis. Her first recurring enemy was Baroness von Gunther, a female Nazi spy with her own arsenal of gadgets and weaponry, who proved an effective – if not particularly inspired – foil for the Princess of Themyscira.

There was also the Duke of Deception who kept popping up in the early years – a lieutenant of Ares who lived on Mars and used his skill at lying to trigger many battles between nations during DC’s take on World War II.

Another male villain who featured throughout many arcs (from 1968 onwards) was Doctor Cyber, whose detailed schemes and huge intelligence made him Wonder Woman’s Lex Luthor equivalent. Arguably a little more original was Doctor Psycho, who uses telepathy, mind control, illusions and occult-y stuff to truly cause trouble for Wonder Woman (whilst secretly loving her all along).

Around the 1990s, Wonder Woman was repeatedly facing-off with Circe – a greedy Goddess who wanted to stop Wonder Woman from gaining power. She was essentially pushed as the anti-Wonder-Woman for a time – dressing the same and having similar powers, but showing her evilness through such schemes as trying to destroy Gaea (the spirit of the earth), kidnapping Wonder Woman, and gathering a team of villains to face her. Again, though, there’s nothing particularly original about Circe as a villain so the film might have to look bigger.

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Similarly persistent is the villain Ares, AKA Mars, AKA the God of War. Often preferring to do his villainy from the shadows, imploring the likes of the Duke of Deception to his bidding, Ares could potentially work as a Thanos-type big bad for Wonder Woman, teased in the background or showing up at the end, perhaps.

There’s also Cheetah (pictured above), who has topped a few lists of Wonder Woman adversaries over the years. Cheetah is a mantle passed amongst villains (three females, one male) over many years of Wonder Woman lore. There’s always a cheesy costume involved, and normally a raging vendetta to boot. The modern version is an archaeologist called Barbara Minerva, who took up the evil persona after eating a close friend in a cannibalistic ritual. Killing the original Cheetah gave her extra powers, so she’s now endowed with Flash-style speed.

In the New 52? Well, a lot of villains have had revamps: including the fishy Poseidon, a new take on the Minotaur and a reimagined Cassandra. There’s been a push towards the monstrous side of things, attempting to offer more of a challenge for Wonder Woman. Hera, the furious wife of the cheating Zeus, plays an overarching villainous role too, so perhaps she could be the Loki equivalent for Wonder Woman’s solo films (causing lots of fights, but not necessarily the core villain all the time)?

Still, though, the villains in the movie will of course depend on the story the filmmakers want to tell…

Iconic Stories

This is the sort of question you really need to ask to predict the direction of the movie. Zod-comes-to-Earth is a timeless Superman story, which already inspired a much-loved film before Man Of Steel, so it was hardly surprising that Warner Bros.’ Supes reboot followed that path. The Wonder Woman equivalent? Well, it’s hard to say.

Her origin story is a classic, but is unlikely to make the core focus of the movie given that she will have already appeared in Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice by this point. If DC’s creative team want to continue down the ‘versus’ route, and keep up the alarming rate of cameos we’ve been promised in Dawn Of Justice, something like JLA: League Of One could be a goer.

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It’s a story that sees Wonder Woman beat down every other Justice League member herself before tackling a massive baddie – a dragon called Drakul Karfang – on her own (due to a prophecy that stated that the Justice Leaguers would die if they faced the beast). Mythical, mighty and with plenty of room for cameos, it certainly ticks a lot of boxes.

If stories with a bit of a mythical edge are what DC want, The Twelve Labors could work too – it’s an arc inspired by Hercules, which sees Wonder Woman reintegrated into the world of heroics after losing her memory and powers for a time. It also includes plenty of JLA cameos, as they judge whether she is fit to return to the League. If Wonder Woman’s appearance in Batman v Superman includes memory loss, you can pretty much expect a take on The Twelve Labors – as a precursor to Justice League: Part One – to follow. It hardly seems the likeliest contender, though.

If franchise-launching is the aim of the game here (which it surely is), George Perez’s Gods And Mortals achieved success re-launching Wonder Woman post-Crisis On Infinite Earths – in 1987. The story isn’t quite movie material, though – it jumps between points in time and essentially re-tells Wonder Woman’s origin, something we may not need after Batman v Superman. The following volume (Challenge Of The Gods) sees the first post-Crisis reintroduction of Cheetah and pushes Diana to physical and mental limits. Again though, it doesn’t quite read like a movie that Warner Bros. would make in the post-Nolan era.

Spirit Of Truth, another classic, sees Wonder Woman re-evaluate her role on Earth in a short-but-beautifully-illustrated graphic novel. Again, though, it doesn’t feel like a fit to the Snyder-verse. With a Game Of Thrones alumnus like Michelle MacLaren in the director’s chair, we’re expecting huge-scale conflict. Which makes Twelve Labors or League Of One seem more likely with their mix of big battles and heroic cameos.

Iconic graphic novel The Hiketeia fits the bill, coupling a fight against Batman with a story that sees Wonder Woman protecting a young woman who has become embroiled in a spot of bother involving drug dealing, sex slaves and murder. Now things are sounding a bit more Snyder-friendly, right? If an even bigger fight is sought, the Wonder Woman versus Medusa battle of Eyes Of The Gorgoncould be a winner, too.

Odyssey is an iconic one as well (Wonder Woman’s timeline is in disarray, Paradise Island is destroyed – The Princess Of Themyscira must find answers), but the fact that it could be mightily confusing for casual cinemagoers probably rules it out.

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While there are plenty of options for action-packed movies in this brief run-through of popular Wonder Woman tales, none of them are quite what we’re expecting from the film…

The new cinematic Wonder Woman will almost certainly be inspired by the demigod daughter-of-Zeus New 52 version of events. Gal Gadot will have already shown her face, in heroic form, in Batman v Superman. These two facts have us hedging our bets on one idea alone.

There are rumors out there that Wonder Woman is being envisioned as a trilogy, potentially one that spans the 20th and 21st centuries, with Diana as an immortal. She might not even know her true origins when we meet her in Batman v Superman. Regardless of that, her first film will almost certainly focus on her New-52-style origin and the trouble that it causes. By trouble, we mean the wrath of Hera – Zeus’ wife – who spends her time trying to kill the illegitimate offspring of her unfaithful God-King hubby. Action, mythical links, character material – this strand, plucked straight from the New 52 comics, is the perfect way to launch a big screen franchise.

Wonder Woman, in the comics, finds out her origins later in life, having been fed lies to protect her from Hera. When she finds out, all hell breaks loose. Hera’s tendency to send other villains to do her bidding gives director MacLaren plenty to work with to keep the casual viewer happy, while the character material – if pulled off correctly – could impress the comic book fans, too.

Now, this doesn’t mean that villains and story beats from other comics might not befall the cinematic Wonder Woman at some point, but we wouldn’t put massive money on Cheetah, Duke of Deception, or Circe appearing in lead roles straight out of the gates. Without spoiling too much, we’ll just tell you that the events of Wonder Woman, Volume 1: Blood from the New 52 range are probably where you want to look for further clues.

For those who do want to know more, though, know this: it’s an epic tale which sees Wonder Woman meeting other illegitimate Zeus offspring with fantastical superpowers, before facing off with the immortal man mountain First Born (Hafthór Júlíus Björnsson of Game Of Thrones would be perfect casting) who is sent to kill her by Hera.

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Big fights, big character moments, with plenty of mystery and future teases, too… We’ll eat our hat if this doesn’t end up as the focus of the movie. We’ll eat a second hat if there isn’t a massive Justice League tee-up hidden in there, too.