After three relatively underwhelming superhero movies, Warner Bros. Pictures finally struck gold with 2017’s Wonder Woman, a critical and commercial hit that broke a long list of box-office records on its way to becoming one of the most successful superhero movies of all time. The latest update on its sequel, Wonder Woman 1984, provides the first look at the film’s villain.
The Wonder Woman sequel was officially confirmed in July 2017 and was given its official title almost a year later. Director Patty Jenkins later agreed to return to direct the follow-up to her record-breaking film, with star Gal Gadot already locked in for another adventure as the iconic superheroine.
Wonder Woman 1984 hits theaters November 1, 2019.
Enter the Cheetah
The Wonder Woman sequel is bringing in one of Hollywood’s most entertaining actresses to play the villain in the DC Comics heroine’s next big-screen adventure. Jenkins announced the casting of Bridesmaids and Ghostbusters actress Kristen Wiig in the role of Cheetah via a March 9 update on Twitter.
So excited to confirm the most thrilling news. Yes! It’s true! So incredibly lucky to welcome the sensationally talented Kristen Wiig to our Wonder Woman family. Can't wait to finally work with one of my favorites. And SO excited by what we have planned. #Cheetah!!! @GalGadot pic.twitter.com/Gn0jICiIAH
— Patty Jenkins (@PattyJenks) March 9, 2018
In late June, she posted the first photo of Wiig in character as Barbara Minerva, whose DC Comics counterpart is a former archaeologist who was transformed into a demigod with the characteristics of a cheetah — enhanced strength, speed, and senses, as well as sharp teeth and claws.
Photos, cameras, and an official title
In mid-June, a flurry of updates on Wonder Woman 1984 made it clear that work is indeed moving along on the film.
After releasing a promotional image featuring “WW84,” Jenkins, Gadot, and the studio confirmed the official title for the film, Wonder Woman 1984, in a series of social media updates. Along with signaling the start of production on the film, the updates also featured the first two photos from Wonder Woman 1984.
An update from Gadot had her character gazing into a series of television screens, many of which depicted iconic imagery from the ’80s.
Following the above update, Gadot also gave us our first look at Wonder Woman’s new outfit. It is largely similar to the one she wore during the first movie, but this new costume is a bit brighter. It has a shine to it that fits in well with the aesthetics of the 1980s.
Meanwhile, Jenkins posted a particularly interesting photo, as it seems to show Chris Pine’s character from the first film, Steve Trevor, in a 1980s shopping mall. Given his decision to sacrifice his life in Wonder Woman, and that he’d be more than 80 years old in 1984, the photo featuring a still-young Steve Trevor has sparked quite a bit of conversation among fans.
— Patty Jenkins (@PattyJenks) June 13, 2018
From Westeros to Themyscira
Game of Thrones actor Pedro Pascal will reportedly play a key role in the Wonder Woman sequel. The identity of the character played by Pascal is not yet known, according to Variety, but the role is expected to be a pivotal one in the film.
Pascal is best known for playing Oberyn Martell on HBO’s Game of Thrones, as well as Javier Peña in the Netflix drama Narcos. He had a featured role in last year’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle, and will star opposite Denzel Washington in the upcoming sequel to The Equalizer.
The Wonder Woman sequel will be a reunion of sorts for Pascal and Jenkins, as the actor previously appeared in the 2015 drama Exposed, which was directed by Jenkins.
After initially assigning the Wonder Woman sequel a December 13 release date in 2019, Warner Bros. Pictures later moved the premiere a month earlier to November 1.
The move was made in the wake of Star Wars: Episode IX shifting from its initial May 2019 release date to the weekend after Wonder Woman 1984 arrives in theaters, December 20. The studio wisely wants to give the sequel to Wonder Woman some time to breathe and avoid competing with the juggernaut that is the Star Wars franchise, and given how well Thor: Ragnarok did with an early November release this year, the weekend seems like a good one for superhero fare.
New time, new place
Before she was officially confirmed as the sequel’s director, Jenkins discussed some of the ideas she hoped to bring to the second chapter of Wonder Woman’s solo saga.
According to a May 2017 profile of Jenkins, the second film would have a more contemporary setting than the World War I backdrop of Wonder Woman. Later reports indicated that the Cold War era would be the time period for the second film, with the action unfolding in the U.S. during the height of international tensions, rather than returning to Europe.
Whatever the story does entail, it has an impressive writing team scripting it. Geoff Johns, a veteran DC Comics writer and DC Films co-chairman, initially crafted the story for the sequel with Jenkins, and The Expendables screenwriter Dave Callaham was brought on in September 2017 to join the writing team.
Diana’s in for the long run
Gadot will return as Wonder Woman for the sequel, but her continued presence as the face of the franchise wasn’t always so certain.
The star of Wonder Woman was initially contracted for just three films in WB’s superhero universe, and after appearing in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman, and Justice League, her deal was due to run out before Wonder Woman 1984. At some point after the release of Wonder Woman, however, Gadot’s future with the franchise was reportedly extended beyond those three films. How far beyond those films she’ll go remains uncertain at this point.
Breaking more than box-office records
When Jenkins made her return for Wonder Woman 1984 official, she broke yet another record in a long list of accolades associated with the superhero’s still-young film franchise.
The filmmaker’s deal to direct, co-write, and produce the sequel to Wonder Woman reportedly makes her the highest-paid female director in Hollywood history. The contract was the product of an “unusually lengthy and tough negotiation,” according to The Hollywood Reporter, with Jenkins pushing to earn as much as Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice director Zack Snyder. (Wonder Woman was both critically and commercially more successful than both of those films in U.S. theaters.)
Not only does Jenkins’ deal reportedly earn her between $7 million and $9 million for her credited work on the film, it also gives her a relatively large percentage of the film’s back-end earnings (the money it makes after covering its production and promotion costs).
In much the same way Wonder Woman effectively set a new standard for female-led and female-directed action movies, Jenkins’ deal for Wonder Woman 1984 goes a long way toward setting a new precedent for compensating female directors, who have traditionally earned less than their male counterparts in Hollywood.
Updated June 28: Added the first photo of Kristen Wiig from the set of the film.