Themyscira is a hidden island where Amazon women of Greek myth have thrived for centuries, living in harmony and free to self-govern away from the gaze of man. It’s also, of course, the birthplace of Wonder Woman, who after years of false starts, is finally a movie star. With a much heralded introduction in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is now a cornerstone in Warner Bros.’ DC Comics multiverse, with a crucial role in the first Justice League movie (out November 2017), and the center of her own long-awaited film, which will hit screens next June.
Directed by Patty Jenkins (Monster), Wonder Woman will be an origin story illustrating the transformation of a young Princess Diana into the greatest female warrior of all time.
She will need some help getting there, though. Preparing her for a world of men are three regal women: Diana’s mother, Queen Hippolyta (Gladiator’s Connie Nielsen), and her two military aunts — General Antiope (Robin Wright) and Antiope’s lieutenant, Menalippe (Force Majeure’s Lisa Loven Kongsli). This trio of immortals is responsible for both raising and training Diana — the only child on this estrogen heavy isle — but they don’t always agree. Hippolyta, a revolutionary leader, longs to shelter her beloved daughter from the outside world, but Antiope, the Amazon responsible for Diana’s training, wants to prepare her. “She is the only child they raised together,” says Jenkins, calling from outside London, where she is deep into the film’s production. “And their love for her manifests in a different way for each of them.”
To create Themyscira, Jenkins and her team used exotic islands off the coasts of Italy and southern China to enhance the otherworldliness of scenes filmed on Italy’s Amalfi coast. Still, designing a fantastical place proved challenging. Every decision about it, she says, came back to a central question: “How would I want to live that’s badass?”
Adds producer Charles Roven, “Themyscira is influenced by the Greek but it’s clearly more then that,” he says. “It’s a place that has the ‘you’ve never been to’ kind of feel. But once you’re there you’re not so sure you really want to leave so fast.”
That uniqueness extended to how the Amazons look, too. “To me, they shouldn’t be dressed in armor like men,” Jenkins says of the women’s battle wear. “It should be different. It should be authentic and real — and appealing to women.” Jenkins and her costume designer, Lindy Hemming (The Dark Knight), crafted a look that showed off the women’s ripped shoulders and toned legs, in outfits that looked practical but that still featured the tropes of the comic book, in particular the braces on their wrists and, yes, even the high heels.
Jenkins defends the impractical footwear. “It’s total wish-fulfillment,” she says, adding that the warriors have flats for heavy fighting. “I, as a woman, want Wonder Woman to be hot as hell, fight badass, and look great at the same time — the same way men want Superman to have huge pecs and an impractically big body. That makes them feel like the hero they want to be. And my hero, in my head, has really long legs.”
Wonder Woman is slated to debut on June 23, 2017.