Wonder Woman: Patty Jenkins on Aspiring to Something “Bigger”

The director of the Wonder Woman movie debut talks bringing this beloved icon to the big screen.

Just before she went onstage for the Warner Bros. presentation at WonderCon in Anaheim, California this past weekend, Den of Geek had the opportunity to speak with Patty Jenkins, director of the upcoming Wonder Woman solo movie. The panel itself was unremarkable: Jenkins and DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns discussed the film in general terms and showed two clips that were brief extensions of scenes already available in the trailers, as well as a truncated version of the latest trailer itself.

But one thing that came across both from Jenkins onstage and as we spoke with her in the press room beforehand was her clear and unfiltered passion for this character and this project. A big-screen version of Wonder Woman has been long overdue, and we asked Jenkins what creative and cultural responsibility she felt in shepherding Diana’s story to the screen. “The biggest responsibility to doing Wonder Woman is that I love Wonder Woman and it comes very naturally to me to understand how important this is to everybody,” she replied. “ just had this thing about an 80-year old woman who has been saying she’s been waiting for Wonder Woman. There’s also little kids who are going to watch this … that’s a serious responsibility, to be the person bringing that superhero to so many people who love her because I love her too.”

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She continued, “As far as what it is to bring this kind of message into the world, it’s incredible. What an opportunity, in this time of so much change and so much tension, of everybody coming in into each other’s countries and now all of us being so overlapping on the internet and in the world, to tell the story of trying to be a good and loving character despite your power or lack of power. I took that very seriously. You have an opportunity to get millions of people to see a film talking about goodness and love and power, that’s serious. We aspired to do something bigger than Wonder Woman with it.”

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Of course, we’ve already met Diana, as played by Gal Gadot, when she was introduced in last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. But the Diana we’ll see in this film, which is very much her origin story, is just learning who she is and what she can do, as opposed to the seasoned warrior we encountered in Zack Snyder’s movie. Did Jenkins have to consult with Snyder to make sure that what she did with the character lined up with the Wonder Woman of Batman v Superman and also this year’s Justice League?

“There’s still a long way to go, a long period of time before Batman v Superman (in my movie),” she explained. “So there was consultation, but it was not a complicated consultation. This movie has to be the origin story of Wonder Woman. It’s not about presenting a character who goes nowhere between now and Batman v Superman. This is the birth of Wonder Woman. She will have many adventures ahead and as long as she’s the same person, that’s okay. It was good. Zack and I definitely talked about it and made sure everybody was on the same page, but they gave me a lot of freedom and support.”

Even before its release, Wonder Woman has indirectly started breaking down the longstanding wall that kept female superheroes from leading their own films: Warner Bros. and DC are putting Gotham City Sirens and Batgirl into the pipeline, while Marvel is finally moving ahead with Captain Marvel. Yet the former two have male directors while the latter has not yet filled that position. We asked Jenkins if she thought the dynamic could change for women directors in the way it’s finally changing for the powerful women onscreen.

“I support any reason that all different kinds of people get hired to do it,” she answered. “I don’t feel that only one kind of person can direct any kind of film, but I do encourage women to be given the opportunity just as men have been given regardless of how much experience they’ve had doing tentpoles before. That’s not stopped lots of other people from doing it before. I hope that continues and I hope that the diversity of the audience out there inspires studios to hire just as diverse of people to write and direct for them.”

Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Danny Huston, Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen, arrives on June 2.

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