Wonder Woman 1984: 32 Things We Learned On The Movie's Set
We visited the set of Wonder Woman 1984 and kept our eyes and ears open for everything we could learn about the sequel.
Visiting the set of a movie is simultaneously totally magical and utterly mundane. There's always a sense of "business as usual" from the bustling cast and crew who are used to tolerating journalists' presence while staying on schedule and getting the movie made. But you still can't help constantly reminding yourself that this is where it happens--you're watching a film get made from a vantage few people ever get to see.
The fact that it's been two years since we visited the set of Wonder Woman 1984 has only exacerbated the feeling that it may have all been a crazy dream. COVID-19 and other factors have caused multiple delays, and the entertainment landscape has shifted in large and small ways since Gal Gadot's Diana Prince made her last big screen appearance in the much-maligned Justice League (it will be interesting to see how, if at all, her role will change in the upcoming Snyder Cut).
But with Wonder Woman 1984's second trailer finally set to debut on Saturday, August 22 during Warner Bros.' DC FanDome digital event, we can say with relative certainty that it really happened. And in poring over pages of notes and hours of collective interviews with the film's stars and creators, we discovered that these are the most interesting things we learned about the highly anticipated sequel.
Wonder Woman 1984 is currently scheduled to hit theaters October 2.
1. The filmmakers don't consider this a "traditional sequel"
"It really is not a traditional sequel, in the sense that it is very much a unique, new, and very much standalone exciting adventure," associate producer Anna Obropta said during our set visit. That basically still sounds like a sequel to us, but we'll take her word for it.
2. There are three major locations
Wonder Woman 1984's story plays out in three distinct major locations: Themyscira, where Diana is from; Washington, D.C., where she lives in 1984; and Cairo, Egypt.
3. The movie opens with the Amazon Games
"Although most of the film takes place in 1984, we do start in a place where time does not exist: Themyscira," associate producer Anna Obropta said. The movie's opening is the "Amazon [Games]," as the filmmakers called it, an event that will show off the female warriors' impressive athletic abilities, much of it done on massive, practical sets that we visited. "You see these Amazons performing these otherworldly, impossible challenges, and they're graceful, and they're fierce, and it's like American Ninja Warrior meets extreme sports meets Cirque du Soleil, but kind of like none of that," Obropta continued.
4. Young Diana is back
And she's once again played by Lilly Aspell. "The camera pans this line of fearsome, focused, tall warriors, landing on the very last, who is much smaller than the rest, because it's young Diana at ten years old," associate producer Anna Obropta revealed. "Lilly Aspell is back as young Diana, and she's competing with these Amazon warriors in this all-star competition and the race is on. There's an obstacle course and there's horseback riding and there's swimming and there's archery. I won't tell you who wins, but I will say there are lessons to be learned."
5. We'll see some familiar faces in the opening scene
Since the opening scene is a flashback to Themyscira, we'll see some familiar faces from the first Wonder Woman movie, including Robin Wright's General Antiope and former boxer Anne Wolf's Artemis, revealed costume designer Lindy Hemming.
6. Director Patty Jenkins wanted to have the Amazon Games in the first movie
"In the first movie...it killed me, because we originally were going to do the Amazon [Games], which is how in the lore historically Diana always got there, and it didn't quite fit in the storyline," the director told us. "This was this great way to say, 'Oh, there's a lesson I really want to learn from the Amazons this time, and what did we miss last time? And how can we see something totally different?'"
7. In the 1984 setting, Diana works at the Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
They shot some scenes in the real Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History at the National Mall, said production designer Aline Bonetto.
8. The movie doesn't make fun of the '80s
"There have been lots of television and films, lately and historically, set in the '80s, but I think it's important to note that this isn't the 'funny ha-ha' mockery version of the '80s," said Obropta. "Patty will have fun with the rich cultural backdrop...Really the intention is to celebrate the best in terms of fashion and art and lighting and design and color of the times."
9. The Cold War will play a big part as well
"[The Cold War] ties in in a big way," said director Patty Jenkins. "I think the way that the world was at a modern standoff happening then is very evocative to what's happening now [in real life]."
10. Diana's apartment is in the Watergate building
At home, Diana lives in the infamous Watergate building, which is "an amazing building known for other reasons," said Bonetto. "I'm quite happy to give to this building something else [other] than to just be the building of a scandal."
11. The story involves people's wishes suddenly coming true
Director Patty Jenkins said Wonder Woman 1984's themes are "about excess and want," and the story involves humanity's wishes suddenly being granted. It all ties into the idea of the 1980s as an era of materialism, excess, and greed. "All of humanity's dreams start coming true," said associate producer Anna Obropta. "At first it's great. People are getting what they want. But what happens if everyone got everything they ever wanted? What happens if you got everything you think you deserve?"
12. That's possible thanks to Pedro Pascal's Max Lord
Game of Thrones star Pedro Pascal plays villain Max Lord in Wonder Woman 1984, but this isn't a version of the character fans will recognize from any specific comics. 1984's Lord is an infomercial huckster promising customers the fulfillment of the American dream, and he discovers a way to actually follow through, with what sounds like dire consequences. In the comics, Lord has had an on-again-off-again history with telepathic abilities--maybe we'll see something along those lines here?
13. That's almost certainly how Steve Trevor returns
It's no secret that Chris Pine's character from the original movie, Steve Trevor, somehow returns in Wonder Woman 1984 despite his very heroic death the first time around. We're still not sure exactly how he returns for this movie, but producer Charles Roven suggested the answer is obvious. "Many of the characters in this film have desires that they're trying to fulfill," Roven said. "I think if you connect the dots with what I just said, you're gonna figure out [how Steve fits in]." In other words, Steve returns because it's Diana's wish to be reunited with him--we think.
14. Max Lord was inspired by Donald Trump
Among other influences, including famous fraudster Bernie Madoff, Wonder Woman 1984's version of Max Lord was inspired by Donald Trump, from the snake oil scams to the "goofy hair." The President of Black Gold [Max Lord] appears to have quite a lot of money, but not so much taste," said costume designer Lindy Hemming. "I can't tell you too much about him other than he's a little character and a lot of costume. But there is something about the period--Donald Trump, being a businessman, you know, of being rather sleazy and...you know, goofy hair."
15. This version of Max Lord is relatable
"I think [Max] is very human," said actor Pedro Pascal. "I don't think we can get away with something that you can't connect yourself to in Patty's world. And that's really cool. Because yeah, I've played people that I don't like, and I'm not supposed to like this person. I gotta say, I like this guy--particularly his clothes."
16. Diana and Barbara (Cheetah) start the movie as friends
Similar to their comics history, they're friends and co-workers. Diana and Kristen Wiig's character, Barbara--who later becomes Cheetah--work at the Natural History Museum together before Barbara is sucked in by Max Lord's promises.
17. Cheetah goes through quite a transformation
Costume designer Lindy Hemming shared some details about Barbara's transformation into Cheetah through the lens of her outfits. Barbara starts out as a typical 1980s woman, but winds up leaning more punk as she transforms into Cheetah. "In this film, punk and punk looks are kind of quite a big thing," Hemming said. Her punk outfits include python-print skirts and studded leather jackets, inspired by examples like Daryl Hannah's character Pris in the original Blade Runner.
18. This version of Cheetah is an amalgamation of different comics versions
"There're so many different versions of [Cheetah], and I like them all," said director Patty Jenkins. "Really the same way I kind of approached the first movie where I was like, 'What's the core of Wonder Woman that we're all fans of and how do I honor that?' That's what I feel like I cared about with Cheetah. So instead of saying, 'I'm going to take [comic book artist] Liam [Sharp]'s version of it,' or any one person's version of it, I really looked at all of the different incarnations of Cheetah and said, 'So what's the core of Cheetah? Who is Cheetah in the world and what does she stand for and how do we [tell that]?'"
19. There's a fight scene in the White House
During our set visit, we witnessed Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, and Pedro Pascal shooting a fight scene in the halls of the White House. It sounds like the scene will take them all the way to the Oval Office.
20. The president in the movie is not Ronald Reagan
That said, the president in Wonder Woman 1984 is not Ronald Reagan, the real-life president at the time. In fact, director Patty Jenkins said she went out of her way to make sure their fictional president is nothing like Reagan. "[Trump] is [an influence on Max Lord], but I'm not trying to make [a point]," she said. "I don't want to get political."
21. Diana is lonely at the start of the movie
Wonder Woman has been living basically in isolation when we pick up with her in 1984. "She's quite lonely," Gal Gadot told us. "She's engaging with people, but she doesn't have any close relationships because it's either she's going to hurt them, at some point she'll have to disappear, or she's going to get hurt because they'll die and she won't. And I think she accepted [that] as fact. At her core, her calling is to be here and to help mankind, to do good. And that's exactly what she's doing. But she's still missing, you know, the one who was the love of her life. She never got to really explore the relationship [with Steve]."
22. They wanted to do a movie where Wonder Woman was still "in the shadows"
When she appeared in Batman v. Superman, Wonder Woman discussed having walked away from humanity. "That's kind of answered in Justice League in the sense that the definition of her walking away from humanity was that she simply wasn't going to allow herself to be somebody who was a symbol because she was doing things in the shadows," said producer Charles Roven. "At the end of Justice League she comes out of the shadows. So, when we pick her up in 1984, she's still in the shadows. That's the point."
23. Patty Jenkins didn't want to deal with the group dynamic
Another reason this sequel is set in the past, rather than after the events of Justice League, is that director Patty Jenkins didn't want to deal with the group superhero dynamic: "For her in particular, she just became Wonder Woman in the first movie, so I kind of wanted a much more solo movie, and as soon as you go current day, you really have to deal with all the other heroes," the director said. "So I was like, 'We need a movie about Wonder Woman, now, on this world.'"
24. Steve and Diana's romance continues, but it's different
When Steve returns in this movie, he'll still be Diana's love interest. But their dynamic will have changed, Chris Pine and Gal Gadot explained. "He's not who he used to be, she's a little different," Gadot said. "It plays from a different place because Steve was her first love and the first man she ever fell in love with. And she was very young when she met him and he kind of opened her eyes and discovered the world for her in a way, literally with romance, and with the world itself. Now their relationship is much more mature and there's been so many longings, and, you know, it's true that you know what you had only after you lose it."
25. The idea to bring Steve back originated during production of the first movie
Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot, and Chris Pine all enjoyed working together so much that they began conceptualizing ways to bring Steve back while they were still making the original film. "You know it's funny, we shot Wonder Woman and we were already fantasizing on the next one," said Gadot. "The three of us work really well together and truly love each other. And even on this one, we're already talking about our next journey together, and 'What's the next movie we're going to do together?' just because we really have great chemistry and we enjoy working together."
"This entire story came to me probably midway--not the whole thing, not in great detail--but the shape of this came to me, I'd say, midway through shooting the first movie," Jenkins elaborated. "It was not born from, 'Oh s***, that was so great. We have to get Steve back.' It's actually all of the story is one story that fits hand in hand."
26. Steve and Diana's roles are reversed in this movie
There's one other important factor to Steve and Diana's relationship in 1984: their roles are reversed from the first movie. "The first film is obviously very much Diana being a fish out of water, and then this one is fun for the audience and it's a total switch of that dynamic," Chris Pine told us. "[Steve] is way less of the jaded realist in the war, the war pro that he is in the first one, and this one is just kind of, you know, boy transfixed by the wonderment of this incredible, incredible era of sophistication. And now it's Diana who's been jaded by, like, all of her friends have died, her love has died."
27. There's an interesting correlation between Diana's fights in both movies
"In the first movie, Diana saw the world in black and white and saw war as a person or god that she could just defeat," Pine hinted. "And now greed is sort of like this big abstract concept. How does she go about trying to defeat that as a concept--if she even tries to?" The actors hinted that it won't be so simple.
28. Pedro Pascal is a blabbermouth
The creation of a massive superhero movie like Wonder Woman 1984 is always shrouded in secrecy, but Pedro Pascal revealed that he had trouble keeping a lid on his excitement. He recounted a story of having drinks with Kristen Wiig and two of her friends. "Her friends were asking me about the story. 'How do our characters get into it?' and stuff like that. 'How much did Kristen and [you] do together?' And I was like, 'Hasn't Kristen told you?' And this is her best friends! And they were like, 'She says she's not allowed.' I'm like--I was telling the taxi driver."
29. Wonder Woman's golden armor will have the iconic wings--sort of
One of Gal Gadot's costumes in Wonder Woman 1984 is a big screen version of the character's iconic winged, golden armor from the comics. "There's been miles and miles of debate about 'Do wings really go with this [movie]?'" So, in the end, the wings have become a shield," revealed costume designer Lindy Hemming. "The wings are almost like paragliding wings, and so, at a clunk and a clunk, they become like Roman shields. So, she's protected. I won't give away the story of why that's the kind of protection she needs, but, basically her fighting style is with the shields. So, I'm really pleased now because I think that there was no logic for it to be a pair of wings, really. But there is a logic to be something she can glide in on."
Jenkins elaborated later: "She needs a different style of armor to fight Cheetah because Cheetah can get you on all of your limbs."
30. Even the actors never get used to seeing Gal in costume
"It's amazing," Pascal said. "It is pretty nerdy-feeling--that, you get even just meeting her for the first time. And the feeling that you have, I got it today--you don't ever really get used to it, you know? She comes in and she greets you with this really warm smile, and is like, you know, 'Let's get a burger on Saturday. I want a f***ing burger. Let's get one.' You know what I mean? And she's in a Wonder Woman outfit. You know what I mean? And you're just like, 'This is cool. This is really cool.'"
31. Jenkins has ideas for a third Wonder Woman movie as well
Obviously the Coronavirus has changed the entertainment world since we spoke with director Patty Jenkins in 2018, but at the time, she had hopes for a third Wonder Woman film. "Where the second movie came from was me as a fan of her and as a fan of superhero films, craving what I haven't gotten, which is, I wanted to see Wonder Woman out in the f***ing world, not finding herself. Like, f***ing Wonder Woman!" Jenkins said. "And so there's one more thing I'm craving, which is true to her theme, which is true to everything that she stands for, that I'm like, 'Ooh, there's one more chapter of Wonder Woman that we don't quite get. It doesn't quite make sense for this movie. It didn't for the last either.'"
32. Sounds like the invisible jet is not in this film
There's at least one iconic Wonder Woman trope that we've yet to see in the DCEU version: the invisible jet. While Jenkins insisted she couldn't discuss it, the director did explain that it would "have to be done in a whole new way."
"I think that the invisible jet is one of those things that is so funny, because every single thing that any of these superheroes have is so silly in theory, and then when we talk about it, we talk about it as if nothing is going to be done to update it," the director said. "So the only thing I'll say is what I've always said about the invisible jet: I'll do it when I can do it in a way that's super cool. It's got to be something different than her flying through the sky in an invisible jet, which is fine on page, not great in modern [film]."