Watch: The trailer for Wonder Woman 1984
Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 1984 is an epic in every respect. One of the rare sequels to equal the original, 1984 builds on the first film and expands on it to an extraordinary extent.
It’s an ambitious film, with more locations than 2017’s Wonder Woman, more complex villains, bigger action set-pieces, and a returning love interest who needed to rekindle the original’s lightning-strike chemistry... but from Wonder Woman 1984’s thrilling opening moments you really do feel like you’re in safe hands.
“When I saw the opening sequence I had a reaction I didn’t expect,” Gal Gadot said in a virtual press conference.
“I got so emotional. For the first time I didn’t feel like I was Gal the actress, Gal the woman, I felt like Gal the eight-year-old.”
Meeting that level of ambition took a lot of work, according to the cast. Forget the Fast franchise, or even the original Wonder Woman, 1984 sets a new benchmark for the actress playing the title star.
“It’s the hardest movie I’ve ever shot - by far,” Gadot says. “But it was worth it. It was worth it especially because the first movie was received in such an amazing way, so there was just no way we were going to take any shortcuts, we were just going to raise the bar and give everything we have, because we knew people were so invested in the character and cared so much about her.”
Speaking at the global press conference for the film, Gadot expanded on what made Wonder Woman 1984 so challenging. “It was a lot. Everything about this movie was a lot. Everything was super planned ahead, sets, locations, costumes, fight choreography, the acting… everything was laborious. But at the end of the day, that’s why – watching the movie – it shows.”
“We wanted to have a minimum amount of CGI, so most of what you see is real people doing the real thing, whether it’s us, or the stunt people, it’s real people. It took much longer to prep and rehearse.”
“The wire work that we do at the mall and for the fight with Cheetah, I don’t think it’s been done before. People don’t do these types of wire-rigs anymore, they just do CGI. You can tell it’s the real deal, you can see by the facial expressions, the weight, the movement, the speed.”
But it wasn’t just the action sequences that challenged the cast.
Newcomer Pedro Pascal looked to a surprising inspiration for his sinister villain Maxwell Lord, a thumbs-up businessman who twists and turns the power of positive thinking into a truly evil influence… And that inspiration? Himself!
“The scariest thing about this movie for me, this experience, was to do something that is a lot closer to me, at least energetically, to expose desperation and to – instead of brooding with a moustache – expose, expose, expose,” Pascal says.
“I had to use a lot of myself to do what Patty wanted. And so it was really scary, and thrilling. You knew what you didn’t want it to be, it was completely new as far as professional experiences are concerned, but completely closer to… me. Which is really scary.”
Of course, Chris Pine knew what to expect going into Wonder Woman 1984. In the first one, Gadot was the fish out of water. In 1984, it’s Pine’s Steve Trevor experiencing a new world for the first time. He must have picked up some tips along the way, right?
“It was a bit harder than I expected it to be,” Pine said.
“The greatest actor challenge of all time is to pretend to be a baby, a child in the world seeing everything [for the first time]. That was great fun. Everything became a moment for excitement or exploration or fear… Trying to figure out the logic of ‘How would I engage with this object that I’ve never seen before, or this experience?’”
But what about Charles Roven, uber-producer? He’s overseen everything from 12 Monkeys, to Nolan’s Batman trilogy, to the upcoming Snyder Cut, surely he found this a walk in the park?
“Every aspect of the movie had its challenges. I’ve been doing this for a while, it was one of the most complex on an individual basis – if not the most complex – movies I’ve ever had to produce,” Roven reveals.
“We wanted to make a movie that was very different from the first one, but was a logical progression. We expanded our global footprint. In the first one we shot in the UK, and in Italy. In the second one, we shot in Washington DC, in Virgina, in the UK, we went to Spain, we went to the Canary Islands. Our global footprint expanded significantly, and that makes it complicated.”
“But I had an amazing team both in front of the camera and behind the camera. Patty is amazing to work with, and this whole cast - Gal, Chris, Pedro, Kristen, they were always so game. No-one ever said ‘I don’t want to do this right now.’”
And when you listen to Patty Jenkins describe the themes of the movie, you start to understand why this cast was so game. You realise that all of this hard work has a purpose outside of trying to make the best movie possible – one that directly connects to what the film is about.
“The first film was about the birth of Wonder Woman,” Jenkins says. “What Wonder Woman goes on to stand for in the world, she’s trying to teach everyone she encounters to be their better self. She’s trying to help mankind be better.”
“The last one was her discovery of humanity, now how does she live within humanity - she’s not perfect either. So her own struggles and journey to do the right thing is universal to all of us. Being a hero is not an easy thing, it’s actually a super difficult thing.”
Being a hero isn’t easy, but maybe being a villain is. Kristen Wiig appears to have had the most fun out of everyone on set. Her character, shy geek Barbara Minerva, turns into the monstrous Cheetah over the course of the movie, and that evolution was enjoyable to explore for the actress.
“We didn’t want it to be the typical mousy-girl turned villain,” Wiig says. “What is it about her that makes her so lonely and invisible, and what does she really want? She goes through three really big stages. The wardrobe and costumes really helped, working with Patty to figure out who she is at every stage… I’ve never played anything like this before, so it was very scary. I felt very taken care of, and it was an amazing – scary – but fun experience for me.”
“I don’t really get asked to do those kinds of things,” Wiig continues.
“I’m a superhero movie geek, I see all the movies at the theatre, I was obsessed with the first one. So, to know I was going to be in it, and to be a villain - that Patty believed I could do it - it was an amazing life experience for me.”
So, Wonder Woman 1984 really did take a lot to make, but it was worth it.
Is Gal ready to tackle Wonder Woman 3? “I’m tired just thinking about it,” Gadot laughs.
Wonder Woman 1984 will be released in UK cinemas on 16 December.