Gal Gadot & Patty Jenkins on ‘Wonder Woman 1984’, the Villains, and ‘Wonder Woman 3’

     December 20, 2019

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At this year’s CCXP in Brazil, Warner Bros. closed the comic-con down with one of the best panels I’ve ever been lucky enough to attend: Wonder Woman 1984. In the packed hall filled with thousands of fans, director Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot, and the entire world watching on Twitter, viewed the first trailer for the much anticipated sequel at the same time. While I’ve been attending comic-cons around the world for many years, the energy at CCXP was on another level. At times it was louder than a rock concert and the energy in the room was contagious. While Brazil is a long flight from the United States, if you’re looking to attend an amazing con, I’d suggest getting down to CCXP 2020.

Before the con opened that morning, I got to participate in a group interview with Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins. During the interview, Gadot and Jenkins talked about how excited they are to finally talk about the movie, the big action scenes fans can look forward to, how Cirque de Soleil were involved, what the sequel is about, how they already know the idea for Wonder Woman 3, what they learned making the first film which they brought to the sequel, the length of the first cut, and a lot more.

Check out what they had to say below. Wonder Woman 1984 opens June 5, 2020.

QUESTION: You made the movie a little while ago and it comes out in five, six months. You’ve been sitting on waiting to talk about the movie until literally today. So, what do you really want to get across to people in terms of what are you super excited about in terms of being in Brazil and promoting the movie?

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Image via Omaze

PATTY JENKINS: I think I’m super excited to finally get people to have a look at what we’ve been doing because there are two things I really care about. First of all, the message of this movie is something that I deeply believe in and came to us while we were even working on the first movie. So the story was [makes a zipper/sewn-up sound] — I knew exactly what I wanted it to be. But then the thing that excites me the most is we literally set out to do something that I may never get to do again, which is to say, ‘Let’s not make a movie that’s funny “ha ha, the ‘80s”. Let’s make a grand tentpole like they made in the ‘80s.’ So it’s as if you — I want it to feel like you’re seeing a movie in the ‘80s. So, we did almost all of our stunts, our fights practically. We flew to locations all over the world. We have some of the most extensive, incredible wire work that nobody’s ever done before because no one has ever tried. Wire work has come such a long way, but people aren’t doing fights that way anymore. We got Cirque de Soleil to come and work with us. What I loved was instead of shooting in a stage and doing this green screen thing and then you’re hoping for the best in the end, we literally flew all over the world and shot these incredible things which was a nightmare for [Gal].

GAL GADOT: I’m still recovering.

JENKINS: For real, we’re sending her flying through the air and doing these incredible…

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Image via Warner Bros.

GADOT: We shut down Penn Ave. in Washington D.C., which was just for itself.

JENKINS: No one’s ever done it, yeah. To that extent.

GADOT: And then we had wires, rigs for kilometers, for miles, so I can run in the same speed that Usain Bolt ran in the Olympics. So I was like, “Good for Usain Bolt I mean, this is wow, what a great talent.” But it was a lot of work and we’ve tried to make it our own, new, fresh, things that were never done before. That was really, really challenging for us in many different ways. There’s something about our anticipation to share it with the world because it’s been a long, incredible journey for us. Now finally we feel that it’s getting closer and we can start and share some material from the movie with the world.

On that note, how much of the fights and the stunts did you do yourself?

GADOT: I do a lot. I do have two stunt girls working with me because it is very extensive work and it’s extremely physical and it’s like superhero, like we’re doing it for real. If we have to choose, if it’s something that can be done [for real] or it can be CGI, we’ll go for the real version of it. But I do a lot of it. I get injured.

JENKINS: In the incredibly uncomfortable costumes. Like, the golden armor was not super comfy.

GADOT: No, no. It’s not, but I know it looks great, [and] when I see it I’m happy —

JENKINS: When she put it on she was like, “Oh, I don’t know,” and I was like, “Oh no.”

GADOT: We know. You know.

JENKINS: Because you’re wearing it.

GADOT: Yeah, so I do a lot of it, but I do have support from my amazing stunt team.

I’m also curious, where are you in the edit right now?

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Image via Warner Bros.

JENKINS: We’re done. The movie is done. Because it doesn’t come out for a few months, for the first time in my career (which is so great) I was able to say, “Hey guys, can you let me fiddle with this? Can you let me fiddle with that?” So I’m fiddling but the movie is technically done.

So you’re like, picture lock, the whole thing?

JENKINS: Yep. Yeah.

So all your VFX shots are done too?

JENKINS: Oh yeah. 100% done. So, yeah, that’s what I mean. When do you ever —

GADOT: We can share it with the world. It’s ready.

JENKINS: There were even these moments where I remember when we weren’t going to Comic-Con and somebody speculated, “Maybe they don’t have enough action.” I was like, “Ah, just wait. You’re going to see our action. You’re going to see ‘there’s no way we just did that’ as a reaction. That’s a year-long process.” Like just dying to show it.

One of the things with marketing is, usually you’re not finished with the movie until like a month before it comes out. So your final trailer is the one that finally has the VFX shots. You can have a completely different marketing campaign because your movie’s done.

GADOT: Yeah we’re very lucky that way.

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Image via Warner Bros.

JENKINS: Yeah, totally. I’m actually sitting around in movies where you say, “Oh, you always just end and you’re done.” This time I’m actually sitting around and saying “What if we…maybe… I can do a different version of that shot. Can I try a different…? Wow, it’s incredible.” I’m sitting in an editing room right now playing and seeing if I can pitch back something that I like better. That’s incredible. I’ve never gotten to do that in my life. And if we don’t change anything, we don’t change anything. But if we find something we like then we’ll do that. You know? It’s pretty incredible. Yeah, we’re psyched.

So, the film [is] one of the first female-led superhero films in this era that we’re living in and it was a major win for representation and inclusion. But how do you think this sequel will now even move the needle even further when it comes to representation on screen and inclusivity from this female point of view that we hardly see?

JENKINS: The last time we did it, it was a very clear vocal version of it. “Look, we’re doing this, this is Wonder Woman,” and it was super clear what it was. I think that the real power is when we’re not — we’re sort of talking about it, but when you’re not even talking about it and so many of the characters are women. When Gal and Kristen are major characters and it’s not a phenomenon. Now the message that Wonder Woman is sending out into the world being about love and belief in characters and trying to make people better and she will fight if she has to fight, but she’s actually about something else. I think if we can whole-hog stay behind that message and make those movies and those movies are a success… even the impact I see on my son who […] he’s my son so he’s rebellious; he’s not that interested in pleasing me, so I catch him. But he plays with the dolls just totally normally like when he’s playing a fight scene, he’s playing with the Wonder Woman and Hippolyta and Antiope dolls. That blows my mind because that’s where it’s super important to me that everybody is accessible to this movie. And then when that becomes an easy thing to do and you’re watching people of all genders and races up on the screen doing this and you’re not thinking about it. It’s not like a pat on the back.

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Image via Warner Bros.

GADOT: This is how you can view the DNA of this movie. We think about it, but we don’t struggle with it because for us it’s very clear. So it’s there already.

You mentioned the message that the theme of this movie came to you in the first movie and you just talked about Wonder Woman as a redemptive figure, as someone who loves people and is here to bring peace. Is that the theme of Wonder Woman 1984?

JENKINS: It is. The easiest way for me to sum it up — without giving away too much — is this movie is about colliding Wonder Woman with the evil of our times, which is the excess and opulence that we have found ourselves in a position of indulging. We’re running Wonder Woman right into mankind at their best and their worst and the villains that are born from that. It’s talking about now as much as it is the ‘80s and it’s using 80s as a great metaphor to do it because the ‘80s really were us at our most extreme before we understood any cost. So, that’s what came to me, I was like, “What does Wonder Woman — if Wonder Woman is half god and is wise and kind and loving and generous in this way — what would she say about our world right now? How would she encounter that?” Except for she has a very interesting different journey in this movie than you would expect as well. She has her own struggles.

Is that how Maxwell Lord plays into it as well as Barbara, that you have two very different forms of opposing theories?

wonder-woman-1984-pedro-pascal-posterJENKINS: Yeah. Of want. Two very strong forms of want and what happens when you want so much.

This is obviously going to be a huge film for Warner Bros. and there’s going to be demand to do more Wonder Woman movies. How much are you guys thinking, “Oh, let’s start thinking about ideas because we have a little free time right now.”?

JENKINS: We actually already know the whole story, and some because it was an Amazon movie as well, so we already have it all mapped out. It’s just a matter of will we change our minds and when. I think what we don’t want to do is do it back-to-back. It’s been great doing these two movies back-to-back, but I think it’s important to give it a little rest in between and I like doing other things in between and Gal has other things to do. I never want to make decisions too far in advance. We have to see if we both feel like making the movie we think we want to make when the moment comes.

So three years from now, three, four years?

JENKINS: It would not be two, I’ll tell you that. I’m not doing that again.

What did you learn in the first one that you used in the sequel?

wonder-woman-1984-kristen-wiig-posterJENKINS: I learned all kinds of stuff. Oh my God. I think even just coming into the size and the scale of the operation. I think even the latitude of what [CGI] can do and how you run all of those departments. I had a really good time doing it last time, but this time I went in understanding. “No, I understand everyone’s telling me that I can do this, but I’m not, I’m doing it for real.” So I understood a lot of those things, yet I understood how to get the best out of [CGI]. I ran departments differently. I also just think the comfort of all of us having worked together. I mean the shocking thing to me, truly shocking, was we’re all friends and they are my peers as well. So we had such a good time. Directing has always been something that I embraced how hard it is and I’m into it and I’m fine with it. But this was hard, but it was also super fun. And I know my crew. I’ve worked with them now for five years straight. Sometimes I felt like we were getting away with something being on set and we’re laughing and Gal and Chris are like, “Let’s try this.” And then I’m laughing so hard I’m crying. And everybody who’s standing around on set, who’s new and visiting or something is like, “What’s happening?” It felt like you’re messing around with your friends in high school and with all this, and that was pretty amazing. So, you learn how to streamline things and then you learn how to get the best out of your friends. So it was fun.

Before filming begins, when you’re looking at the script and you’re looking at everything you have to do, what are you most excited to do and what are you looking at like, “Oh shit, this is going to be a horrible day.”

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Image via WB

GADOT: I think that, for actors, there’s always between one to three scenes where they know, “Okay, this is the goal. This is where the money is. This is the most important moments for my character.” So those were the moments that I was really looking forward to shoot. And the, “Oh my God, I can’t believe I have to do that” [moments] would probably be the physical things because [Jenkins is] one of my very best, closest friends and it’s hard for me to say “No” to her. Also, she has a great will, so I’ll find myself trying to negotiate my stance with Patty and she’d be like, “Yeah, yeah yeah, I see what you’re saying, I know. But don’t you think it’s going to be it’s so much better if…” Those were the moments where I was like, “Ah, the physical moments” because it is hard and I have found myself with many different spine injuries because shooting this movie — for real. But, at the same time it’s worth it. And watching the movie now a few times, I’m so happy with the way we did it.

So you think she was right?

wonder-woman-1984-gal-gadotGADOT: Look, we only tested her way! But it’s totally, totally worth it. And there’s always this fear of: You always go to set and you give your best and you do your best and you hope for the best and you never know how it’s going to turn out. [With] this movie, I physically prepped for six months, then we shoot for eight whole months and it’s a lot of work. There’s always this fear of like, “Oh, I really hope it’s going to be what we want this to be.” Watching the movie now, I’m just so happy and so grateful that it was all worth it and that we used this amazing opportunity that we got to tell the Wonder Woman story once again and we’ve done it in a whole new way on its own. It’s a different chapter. It’s, like, we celebrate this character and for me […] being here now with you, I was just telling Patty yesterday, “Oh my God, I can’t, this is so great.” We’re at this stage now. We finished the movie, the movie is done, we love the movie and now we get to sit down with you and talk about what we’re so proud of. So, I’m so I’m great. Yeah, I’m happy. So yeah, it’s great. Last question.

I love talking about the editing process, because it’s the final rewrite. If you could talk a little bit about what you learned when you got into the editing room and how long your first cut was compared to the finished film?

JENKINS: When I got in the editing room, it was hilariously parallel to the film. We knew it at the time, but it was too much of a good thing. I mean it was very hard. The first cut was 2 hours and 45 so it wasn’t like 3 hours and a half, it was, I’m not that kind of filmmaker.

Can I ask where it is now?

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Image via Warner Bros.

JENKINS: No. [laughs] No, because one of the things I’m tinkering with would make it shorter — which would make everybody excited — but it’s not bad. It’s not so bad. But everybody’s —

It’s 2:20? 2:25?

JENKINS: Everybody always wants you to make it shorter. So I have an idea and I’m like, “Maybe it would make it shorter.” So anyway, we’re not going to officially say yet. However, it’s in a good territory. But it was interesting that so many scenes that we set out to shoot, then something great would happen and then we would expand upon it. Some things that were written to be very small, little moments turned into, “But that’s so awesome!” So it’s hard when you end up with that situation. So the movie is exactly the same movie. Almost nothing has changed since the first cut except for trying to tighten and music and changing those things.

I think a lot of fans would be happy with a two-and-a-half hour version of Wonder Woman 2. But I also understand that it’s hard to release. It’s better when it’s a two hour movie. I get it.

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Image via Warner Bros.

JENKINS: Yeah. And in the modern day, I wish more people understood that — and it’s not going to be true in our case — but sometimes they talk about these movies and often the credits are 12, 15 minutes long. So they’re giving a running time to the movie that’s not even true. But that’s not going to be the case in our credits. But still, you end up talking about something that’s not even your film when they talk about running time. But anyway, nice to see you guys.

I’ve had this conversation with other filmmakers.

JENKINS: But then they want you not to thank people or credit people. This is a weird dilemma. We have to do something about this. These movies need so many people. Then to give them credit takes 15 minutes and now they’re saying that your movie’s that long when it’s not at all.

I completely understand the studio and filmmaker side. But I hope it’s a very long film.

For more on Wonder Woman 1984, here’s the description of the extended trailer that was only shown at CCXP, Jenkins promising Chris Pine’s return is not a gimmick, and why the film is set in the 80s.

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