Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in Justice League

How involved are you working with [comic book writer and DC CCO] Geoff Johns?

Geoff and I are very close, super close. Since my first meeting ever, years and years ago, I pitched a storyline and Geoff Johns’ eyes lit up and he said, “That’s what Dick Donner did for Superman.” And he and I were like ding, so we’ve become super close. We have very similar goals for this movie. I love him and his work. I’m so grateful he’s around.

Obviously Richard Donner’s Superman is a major influence, but were there certain other types of genres or war films that you were drawing upon for the vocabulary of a film set in this time period?

It ended up being very Superman. For me it’s Casablanca a lot. It came up a lot. And Indiana Jones. It’s those three films. It’s a classic film. We’re making a classic film. We care about humor. We care about epic. We care about heroicism. We care about arc and story. Make it elegant. Go for it. Don’t hold back. Just try for that pocket all the time. Really those three films with a kind of war hero, who Steve Trevor is. Indiana Jones or Rick from Casablanca meets Wonder Woman and I’m in.

Can you talk about Etta Candy’s bond with Wonder Woman since they’re so close in the comics?

There are several different versions of Etta. She’s the version that works for Steve, obviously. She becomes the humorous woman who is specifically entrenched in this time period of the world where it is sexist and it’s all those things. But she’s got a great sense of humor and a great way of handling and navigating all of that and she adores Diana. So that’s the spirit of Etta Candy.

Will Wonder Woman’s theme show up in the movie?

It’s gonna show up, although it’s an interesting thing. It is a great theme, but it is a very specific theme. So it’s not the kind of thing you can just ladle all over a little girl, or a naive person, so it has its own journey. I see the movie as both the creation of the character and the theme. But it’s not the easiest thing to just throw all over the place.

Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman

When you’re in post, are you using temp tracks like this as inspiration for your cut? Or do you have your cut in mind and then you’re just applying music to it so you can get an idea of tone while you’re watching? What’s that process like?

It’s a little of both. There are a number of things like this that I ended up creating to the track in the first place. So when I started doing storyboards, I was trying to figure out pacing myself. It was an interesting one because a lot of people didn’t understand what I wanted, like with No Man’s Land. People asked, “What are you gonna do? How many bullets can she block?” And I was saying, it’s not about that. It’s not about action or fighting, it’s about her. It’s about “I’m gonna do this thing,” and then getting her way across. So it’s a very dramatic scene. You’re all just in a dramatic point of view, which is what I’ve loved about doing this movie, having a very strong dramatic point of view about where’s she’s coming from in every scene. As a result, I storyboarded it and treated it very much like I would a dramatic scene. It’s this rhythm. So I needed to see how many shots I wanted for each of those moments to build to that rhythm. So this was something that I found early on where I was, “Like this!”

But then there are other places where it’s a fascinating process like, “Well, I would have thought this kind of music would work,” but it didn’t. I’m a very musical person, so I think that way a lot. The same way that I’m a writer, I am with music later. I’ll write a scene 50 times to figure out exactly what I’m looking for, and I’ll throw 50 tracks up and be like, “Oh, that’s interesting.” Like the boat scene, such a romantic track. You wouldn’t think that would be so funny. It turns out that’s exactly what’s funny. It’s that the music is being completely sincere while they’re just incredibly awkward. If you put music on it that played the awkwardness, it wouldn’t be as awkward, because you’d be overdoing it. But instead you’re like, “Isn’t this wonderful?” And they’re like, “…Soooo.” And that turns out to be a much funnier blend. So that process of tonal discovery is really cool and integral. Because then once you get a composer on, you’re like, “I’ve already tried sincere. Sincere didn’t work and here’s why. So let loose.”

***

What was great about this interview is that Patty Jenkins never really felt like she was tapdancing. She feels like someone who is very self-aware and dedicated to making not only the Wonder Woman movie she has always wanted to make, but one that resonates with fans of all ages. It speaks very highly that she has a keen sense of whether she’s right for a project, and simply having the courage to take on something as daunting as Wonder Woman is an achievement in itself.

Between hearing what Patty Jenkins had to say about her approach to the movie and the footage that we saw in London, I’m really pulling for Wonder Woman to help the DCEU get back on track for those of us who haven’t been impressed by their cinematic offerings so far.

What do you think?

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