Director Patty Jenkins On Why ‘Wonder Woman’ Is The New Superman

Getty Image / Warner Bros.

When superheroes gets reimagined, they’re usually accompanied by a cool, hip, totally corporate way of branding this reincarnation as fresh, new, and edgier, something along the lines of, “This ain’t your parents’ superhero.” What’s interesting in this case is director Patty Jenkins kind of has given us “your parents’ superhero” with her vision of Wonder Woman. This isn’t a dark and gritty Wonder Woman. Instead she’s a hero brimming with truth and justice, a vision inspired by what Richard Donner did with Superman in 1978. She may be a version of “our parents’ superhero,” but in the world we live in, she’s desperately needed again.

It’s now strange to think of anyone but Patty Jenkins directing Wonder Woman, as she’s become the perfect ambassador during this press tour that started way back in July during San Diego Comic-Con. While talking to Jenkins, her enthusiasm is inescapable. This is the Wonder Woman she has desperately wanted to make for years and she is blown away by the early reaction on Twitter. (I, too, joined in with the almost unanimous praise.)

No one can questions Jenkins’ integrity: Here’s a director who backed out of Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World because Marvel wasn’t interested in her idea and she realized she couldn’t make a good version of what they wanted to do. Instead of making a mediocre product (which many, many directors would have just gone ahead and done just for a chance at a making a Marvel movie), Jenkins walked away. And she admits today that her Thor 2 would have been bad and there’s no way she’d be here today with her dream project, Wonder Woman. And six years after walking away from Thor: The Dark World, here she is with her Wonder Woman. And it’s the non-cynical, true north version of Wonder Woman she’s always wanted to make.

Wonder Woman is an origin story, but it’s not one we’ve seen before. Set during World War I, it follows Diana (Gal Gadot) as she decides to fight alongside Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) against the brutal backdrop of World War I. Diana, innocent and earnest, wants the war to end and will do everything in her power to end the bloodshed, which eventually leads to an encounter with an ancient foe.

Ahead, Jenkins (who, and I can’t stress this enough, is a delight to talk to because her energy is radiating) takes us through why this version of Wonder Woman, like the 1978 version of Superman that inspired her, is so important today, explains how she wouldn’t be here if she hadn’t passed on Thor 2, and talks about the uniqueness of a superhero movie set during World War I and the liberties of working with an event that’s not immediately known to most viewers. She is determined we will see the Invisible Jet someday. And she gives us her ideas of where Wonder Woman’s future solo movies will take us, and she’s adamant the next one, like this one, won’t be set in present day.

Wonder Woman reminded me of 1978’s Superman, and this is before I knew you were saying that was an inspiration.

I think that’s the greatest thing about it. You know, there are tiny homages, but the fact the spirit of it showed up to somebody who didn’t know that’s what I was trying to do, it makes me beside myself. That is what I wanted for her the most – for Diana to be that epic.