'Wonder Woman' Director Patty Jenkins Explains the Movie's World War I Setting

Wednesday, 31 May 2017 - 10:52AM
Comic Book Movies
DC Comics
Wonder Woman
Wednesday, 31 May 2017 - 10:52AM
'Wonder Woman' Director Patty Jenkins Explains the Movie's World War I Setting
By now, critics pretty much universally agree that Wonder Woman is a great movie. It's also universally agreed that if this movie has a single glaring flaw, it's that it borrows a little too heavily from Captain America: The First Avenger—not least because it involves a superhero fighting alongside soldiers in a World War.

The World War I setting proved a challenge in many ways for Wonder Woman, especially considering DC's shift in tone to focus on light humor rather than the kind of grumpy angst that defines Batman v Superman. But according to director Patty Jenkins, in spite of the challenges that the Great War provided to the movie, this setting was chosen deliberately as a reflection of modern life.

Opening quote
"At first, I questioned it because it wasn't her actual origin story, but very quickly I saw the genius behind it. World War I is the first time that civilization as we know it was finding its roots, but it's not something that we really know the history of. Even the way that it was unclear who was in the right of WWI is a really interesting parallel to this time. Then you take a god with a moral compass and a moral belief system, and you drop them into this world, there are questions about women's rights, about a mechanized war where you don't see who you are killing. It's such a cool time."
Closing quote


Taken from this perspective, it's easy to see how setting Wonder Woman at the time of The War to End All Wars works with the movie's themes. The idea of mechanized war, and the question of the place of women in society, is as relevant and timely now as it was years ago.

At the same time, though, there's something timeless about the period setting that makes Wonder Woman stand out from the rest of the DCEU. While Man of Steel and Batman v Superman are, if anything, trying to be too contemporary, filling their heroes with a very modern sense of paranoia and frustration at the current political climate, Wonder Woman's reliance on this bygone era helps to give it a unique charm as it hearkens back to a time when heroes were actually, undeniably heroic.



The analogy between Captain America's first blockbuster movie and this one is pertinent for another reason. While BvS director Zack Snyder insists that Superman isn't relatable because he's too noble, righteous, and kind, both Cap and Wonder Woman show that superheroes can be honest and genuine while still being interesting. Wonder Woman is the story of an earnest hero trying to do good in a murky world, and this theme taps perfectly into the fears and desires of many modern audiences.

It's strange to think that, an entire century after the events of World War I, its setting's unique politics still feel familiar to moviegoers. While future Wonder Woman movies won't share this setting, it was very wise to start the series off by showing that being a good person never goes out of fashion, no matter how bleak the world may seem.

Wonder Woman hits US theaters on June 2nd, 2017.
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