In the upcoming Wonder Woman movie, when Diana (Gal Gadot) first leaves Themiscyra with Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) for the world of man, comic book fans might be jarred to see that the time period she finds herself in is not World War II as her origin story dictates. Rather, the creators of Wonder Woman, which opens in theaters everywhere Friday, opted to watch their princess come of age in 1918 Europe, at the tail end of World War I.
Screenwriter Allan Heinberg says the decision was a prescient one considering some of the similarities between that time and today.
“We are in a very WWI world today with nationalism and how it would take very little to start a global conflict,” he says.
When Heinberg and producer Zack Snyder were first breaking down the story structure for the film, WWI was appealing for a few reasons. “It’s the first time we had an automated war,” Heinberg says. “The machine gun was a new invention. Gas was used for the first time. New horrors were unleashed every day.”
Director Patty Jenkins had been flirting with directing Wonder Woman for a decade, and the setting for the film shifted as different writers worked on the story. At first, she was dubious about moving away from Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston’s original vision for his superhero, who came of age during the second world war.
“At first, I questioned it because it wasn’t her actual origin story, but very quickly I saw the genius behind it,” she says.
“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,” she adds. “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.”