‘Wonder Woman’ Producer Charles Roven on the Many Writers That Tried to Tackle the Script

     June 1, 2017

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Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman has been a very long time coming. Hollywood has been trying to get a big screen adaptation of the comics hero off the ground for decades now, and it’s finally happened with filmmaker Patty Jenkins delivering quite simply one of the best superhero movies in recent memory. But this version of Wonder Woman wasn’t easy to come by, and even at Warner Bros. as the DC Extended Universe was being developed, this version of Wonder Woman went through many different iterations before Jenkins came in and brought her vision to reality.

Collider’s own Steve Weintraub recently spoke with producer Charles Roven about the film, and he was pretty candid about the lengthy development process for Wonder Woman and how it involved a handful of different screenwriters working at the same time:

“Really early on, before Patty came on the project, we put our toe in the water with two writers. They took completely different approaches on the material—one was the Crimean War and one was World War I, but a completely different World War I experience. We had quite a Writers Guild arbitration with a number of writers because we had a lot of writers, and then there were the preceding writers and the other incarnations of the development of Wonder Woman. But for our Wonder Woman we didn’t like the ultimate take on those scripts, even though they’re talented guys, and Zack [Snyder] and Allan Heinberg then collaborated on a story. We had a different director on at that time, and that director—which was OK’d by the studio—brought a number of writers on. We had more writers working with—everybody had knowledge because you can’t do it with the Writers Guild without telling everybody what you’re doing and everybody has to be OK—but we had more writers working at the same time than I’ve ever done. In the history of all the movies that I’ve done, it never worked out that way before.”

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Image via Warner Bros.

Roven is referring to filmmaker Michelle MacLaren here, who was the first director attached to Wonder Woman based on the strength of her TV work on shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, but who eventually departed the film over creative differences. The final screenwriting credits for Wonder Woman are screenplay by Heinberg, then story by Snyder, Heinberg, and Jason Fuchs, the screenwriter behind WB’s Pan. As Roven tells it, the script finally began to take its final shape once Jenkins came onboard:

“While there are things that most of [the other writers] contributed that are in the script, there wasn’t anybody who ended up making such a contribution that they were able to get a credit. A guy by the name of Jason Fuchs got the third position in the ‘Story By’ so it’s Zack Snyder, Allan Heinberg, and Jason Fuchs, but Allan Heinberg got the full screenplay credit. Even though after he wasn’t able to finish working—he had to go back to the TV series that he was working on—Geoff Johns and Patty did a tremendous amount of collaboration. But again based on the rules they weren’t allowed to get any credit, but they did a lot of writing that stuck. So that’s the long-winded version of the answer being that we had a basic arc of a story, but scene to scene it really came together when Patty got involved.”

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Image via Warner Bros.

As for how Jenkins shaped the story, you need look no further than the finished film to see her fingerprints all over this thing. The filmmaker has said before that Richard Donner’s original Superman was a major touchstone for her take on the story, and Roven adds that another key aspect of Wonder Woman through all drafts of the film was her heroism at an early age:

“The thing that I think that [Christopher Reeve’s] Superman had that our Wonder Woman has is the genuine compassion for man. Wanting to see the best in him, and wanting to help mankind, men and women, human beings. But what the character also had in every incarnation was her desire from the time that she was a young girl to be a hero. Her mother was a hero, her aunt was a hero, and she felt it was the destiny of herself and the other Amazons to be heroic, and so she wanted to fulfill that destiny from the very beginning, from the time that she was a little girl. That was always there, how she was gonna go about doing it wasn’t always there.”

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Image via Warner Bros.

One of the main things that Jenkins brought to the material was highlight Diana’s “fish out of water” qualities:

“One of the great things that came with Patty was this great use of Diana’s naiveté from living such a sheltered life on Themyscira. So even though she ends up […] becoming a fighter, she’s still pretty sheltered because she’s never been off the island. So she’s got no life experience really. When she meets a man for the first time that gives you great potential humor, and when she goes off the island there’s great potential humor just in her sense of what life is like and her finding out what life is like in man’s world. So a lot of the humor of the movie, or the circumstances, was pulled out by Patty.”

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