On March 20, The New York Times published a Metropolitan Diary column about a group of octogenarians on their way to see Fences. While taking an escalator in a movie theater near Union Square, the women chatted about the future. “I hope I live until summer,” said one. “Why?” asked another. “Because your granddaughter is getting married?” “No!” the first woman said. “Because I want to see the Wonder Woman movie.”
That little exchange has had a big impact on Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins. “It brought tears to my eyes,” she says. “Because I love Wonder Woman, and I have grown up seeing who else loves Wonder Woman, I know there is this huge swath of women — and men — who love Wonder Woman in this old-school way.”
On June 2, Jenkins (Monster) will unveil her action-packed ode to the iconic Amazon princess, and finally — 76 years after psychologist William Moulton Marston created her — Wonder Woman will star in her own film. The origin story tracks Princess Diana’s transformation from a young, curious, and somewhat rebellious child living on the idyllic island of Themyscira among her all-female family into a bullheaded young woman. Played with a mix of spunk and humility by Israeli actress Gal Gadot, Diana is spurred toward her destiny when Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American spy, crashes near the island and informs Diana of the horrors awaiting him back in World War I Europe, circa 1918. Motivated by her duty as an Amazon to protect the vulnerable, she ventures to London on a mission to kill Ares, the God of War, whom she suspects is responsible for it all.
“Diana starts more naive than most of us, but she ends more mature than most of us,” Jenkins says. “She learns that it’s not going to be at all what you think it is to be a hero, and that what it means to be loving and kind is complicated.”
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What’s even more complicated than Wonder Woman’s hero quest is the character’s decades-long journey to the screen. In this week’s cover story, we examine why Warner Bros. has made seven Superman movies since Christopher Reeve first showed audiences he could fly in 1978 and eight Batman films, but not one Wonder Woman project until last year when she debuted in D.C.’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
We trace the studio’s efforts to tackle the Amazonian and the fits and starts along the way. Plus we take a closer look at Jenkins’ long history with the film. For more, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly.