14 Things We Learned on the Set of WONDER WOMAN 1984

Diana Prince returns to the screen with Wonder Woman 1984. The movie originally slated for a June 2020 release has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s currently slated for October 2, 2020, and we’ll be getting a new trailer at DC FanDome on August 22. Set in the 1980s, the DC Comics film finds Diana (Gal Gadot) working for the Smithsonian and living quietly. She secretly saves the day now and again, but she’s lonely. And she’s lonely in a decade with excess pouring out of its ears. Meanwhile, the President of Black Gold, Max Lord (Pedro Pascal), capitalizes on that excess and people’s desires, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) returns, Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) becomes a friend and then a foe called Cheetah… Diana finds plenty of excitement, even if she isn’t searching for it.

Nerdist joined a group of reporters on the Wonder Woman 1984 set to take a look at the film. We learned about the setting of the ’80s, Amazon “Olympics,” where Diana’s mind is at this moment, and so much more.

Amazon Games

Pillars and platforms stood tall around an exterior Wonder Woman 1984 set. The area recently hosted the Amazon “Olympics.” The games mark a return to Themyscira in the past, with Lilly Aspell returning to play a young Diana. She competes alongside Amazon warriors in these games. The Amazons execute impossible challenges in multiple events. Associate producer Anna Obropta describes the games as “American Ninja Warrior meets extreme sports meets Cirque du Soleil, but kind of like none of that. All of that and none of that.”

Director Patty Jenkins wanted to include the Amazon games in the first movie, but they didn’t fit. “This was this great way to say, ‘Oh, there’s a lesson I really want to learn from the Amazons this time and what did we miss last time? And how can we see something totally different?’ Them in the Olympics, I’m loving it,” Jenkins shared. “It’s so completely different. And the work we’re doing with Cirque du Soleil and stuff, it’s like, ‘How did they get to be those people who could have that battle on the beach?’ Well, this incredible practice. When they go to the games against each other, it’s an entirely different kind of sporting event than we’ve ever seen.”

Why the ’80s
Gal Gadot's Diana Prince surrounded by '80s TV

Warner Bros.

Wonder Woman 1984 occupies a very specific point on the timeline of humanity. Jenkins didn’t want to put Wonder Woman in the current day, because then she’d have to consider all the other superheroes. She wanted to make a solo Wonder Woman movie. And of course, we’ve seen Diana’s origin story. By setting the film in the past, Jenkins can still use another era as a lens to look at the modern day. Jenkins said of the 1980s, “We’re talking about mankind at their worst, most excessive and their greatest, most grand and opulent. And so instead of getting into the nitty gritty of right now and who’s to blame and what’s happening, it’s a way for us to talk about that. Like, this is basically the success of Western civilization. This is the success of modern mankind’s way of living and what is it like to put Wonder Woman at the core of that?”

Wonder Woman 1984 producer Charles Roven added they didn’t want to pick up the story the next day, because they wanted to deal with the evolution of Diana’s character. She helps humanity when she can, and she derives joy when she assists others.

Where Diana Is
Wonder Woman stops men with guns

Warner Bros.

It’s years before Batman v Superman, but Diana’s already fascinated with antiquities, perhaps as a way to connect with her past. In Wonder Woman 1984, she’s working in cultural anthropology and archaeology for the Museum of Natural History, as part of the Smithsonian in Washington DC. Though she leads a conservative life, she saves the world. Her heroic tendencies are illustrated in an early sequence in which she thwarts a robbery. But she’s still in the shadows we see her come out of in Justice League.

Roven said it’s “still challenging for her” to return to Themyscira, so Diana’s on her own. Gadot reflected, “I think she’s very happy to be here and I think she’s quite lonely. She’s not maybe… She’s engaging with people, but she doesn’t have any close relationships because it’s either she’s going to hurt them, at some point she’ll have to disappear, or she’s going to get hurt because they’ll die and she won’t. And I think she accepted [that] as fact. At her core, her calling is to be here and to help mankind to do good. And that’s exactly what she’s doing. But she’s still missing the one who was the love of her life. She never got to really explore the relationship.”

Invisible Jet?

Fans of Wonder Woman comics know the hero flies an Invisible Jet, and they really want to see it on screen. Jenkins wouldn’t say yes or no in response to whether the transparent vehicle appears in Wonder Woman 1984.

“I think that the Invisible Jet is one of those things that is so funny because every single thing that any of these superheroes have is so silly in theory. Then when we talk about it, we talk about it as if nothing is going to be done to update it. So the only thing I’ll say is I’ll do it when I can do it in a way that’s super cool. It’s got to be something different than her flying through the sky in an Invisible Jet, which is fine on page. Not great in modern [film],” Jenkins shared.

Sweet ’80s Fashion
Chris Pine returns as Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman 1984

Warner Bros.

Puffy sleeves, punk, wild prints—all of those trends ran their course the 1980s. An early still for Wonder Woman 1984 showcases the memorable fashion in all its glory. The looks connect to the story. Costume designer Lindy Hemming told us they couldn’t use any t-shirts with logos or copyrighted prints, so they made their own patterns. Swatches stapled to boards in the costume department were like an ’80s fashion Bingo card. Hemming got to step outside of casual wear as well in order to design attire for a ball that takes place at the Smithsonian Museum. She said nearly every item of clothing features metallic threads and plenty of nylon.

While Barbara begins the story as someone who’s not terribly fashionable, she starts to evolve as she turns into Cheetah. Look out for animal prints and punk influences. Diana, however, keeps her own elegance. “People might think she was going to wear massive, puffy sleeves, but she’s not. They wouldn’t suit her. It’s much better to be taking details from the ’80s than having her in an outfit,” Hemming said.

And Diana will have another iconic dress a la the blue sword-concealing number in Wonder Woman.

You Get What You Wish For

Max Lord is in the business of helping everyone get what they want. How he does so isn’t clear, but what is clear is that his methods are effective. Whatever he’s selling appeals to most of humanity, including Barbara. Everyone’s dreams start coming true. People are getting what they want. But what happens if everyone gets what they think they deserve?

Meet Cheetah
Kristen Wiig as Barbara Minerva in Wonder Woman 1984

Warner Bros.

Barbara Minerva, also known as Cheetah, has roots in the pages of comics. Kristen Wiig plays the brilliant, somewhat awkward scientist. She works at the Museum of Natural History as a gemologist.

“There are so many different versions of Cheetah and I like them all,” Jenkins said, referencing the history of Cheetah in the comic books. “[I approached it in] the same way I approached the first movie where I was like, ‘What’s the core of Wonder Woman that we’re all fans of and how do I honor that?’ That’s what I feel like I cared about with Cheetah. So instead of saying I’m going to take Liam’s [Sharp] version of it or any one person’s version of it, I really looked at all of the different incarnations of Cheetah and said, ‘What’s the core of Cheetah?'”

Jenkins did mention her favorite versions of Cheetah are when Barbara starts out as friends with Diana. She thinks Kristen Wiig is perfect in the role, and that she includes some lightheartedness and delivers the character’s emotional journey. Gadot gushed about working with Wiig, too, saying the actor plays a villain you love. Barbara’s transformation begins when she buys into Max Lord’s Black Gold International scheme. Jenkins mentioned there “is definitely magical stuff” going on in the film, so it’s not unreasonable to consider that supernatural forces are at work.

Diana and Barbara’s Relationship

As mentioned, Diana and Barbara are friends. They have a kinship. “I think they’re both lonely, and Diana sees Barbara’s insecurity and it touches her,” Gadot mused. “And also Diana sees things that she misses in her life, in Barbara—her humor, her light, these type of things. And Barbara sees other things in Diana that she doesn’t have necessarily. They can be amazing best friends. But then life happens and I can’t tell you what, but she [Barbara] turns 180 degrees and she’s incredible.”

Max Lord’s Deal

Max Lord, the president of Black Gold International, symbolizes corporations, Wall Street, and politics. He’s the embodiment of a successful businessperson in the 1980s. If you see similarities between Max and 1980s Trump, you’re not incorrect. Jenkins said they weren’t trying to make it a point or trying to make it political, but they definitely looked at Trump, as they did at any successful business mavericks in that area. Though, Hemming points out Lord has quite a lot of money but not so much taste in clothing or tailoring. Hmm.

“He doesn’t have the polish,” Pedro Pascal said. “I was looking at Gordon Gecko, you know? And I understood that wasn’t—he’s [Max] not slick like that. He’d love to be. He wishes he was.”

He’s trying to be. Self-obsessed and entrepreneurial, Lord airs infomercials selling the American dream. He’s persuasive, enough to capture a wide audience. Charles Roven painted a sly portrait of Lord, remarking, “Black Gold is synonymous with oil, so he’s a guy who, in particular, is trying to get people who normally think they can’t afford to invest in something that could give them riches, because they don’t have enough money—he’ll take any amount of money.”

In Which Pedro Pascal Is a Nerd

Even TV and movie stars have their moments of geeking out. Pascal experienced that when he saw in Gal Gadot in her Wonder Woman costume for the first time. He said, “It is a pretty nerdy feeling that you get. Even just meeting her for the first time. And the feeling that you have—you don’t ever really get used to it. She comes in and she greets you with this really warm smile and is like ‘Let’s get a burger on Saturday. I want a f**king burger. Let’s get one.’ And she’s in a Wonder Woman outfit. And you’re just like ‘This is cool. This is really cool.'”

What About Diana and Steve?
Steve Trevor and Diana Prince dance

Warner Bros.

“It’s fantastic and it’s great and it’s very romantic,” Gadot said about Diana and Steve’s reunion. She continued, “Steve was her first love and the first man she ever fell in love with. And she was very young when she met him. He opened her eyes and discovered the world for her. In a way, literally with romance and with the world itself. Now their relationship is much more mature and there’s been so many longings. It’s true that you know what you had only after you lose it.”

And their enemy isn’t as apparent this time either. Instead of confronting an army or a god of war influencing humanity, Steve and Diana face unchecked greed and desire.

And Steve Is Back How, Exactly?

Everyone we spoke with on set remained tight-lipped about how Steve Trevor returns from the dead. But connecting the dots, we can surmise it’s to do with Max Lord. Regardless of the whens and whys, Jenkins wanted to bring Steve back to make the story cohesive. She loved Diana and Steve together, as well as Gadot and Pine, but it was more about bringing him back because of the narrative.

And Pine expressed his pleasure at returning as Steve. He said, “I love Patty and I love Gal and that I’m working on this film. I think it’s romantic and old-fashioned in the best way, and simple in the best way, and doesn’t reinvent the wheel in the best way. It’s just a great, good old fashioned storytelling.”

The Sequel Was Meant to Be

Jenkins had another story in mind for Diana—one that didn’t fit into the story of the first film. She knew she wanted to continue and so did the film’s stars. “It’s funny, we shot Wonder Woman, and we were already fantasizing [about] the next one. The three of us work really well together and truly love each other,” Gadot said of herself, Jenkins, and Pine. “And even on this one, we’re already talking about our next journey together because we really, we have great chemistry.”

More Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman in golden armor

Warner Bros.

It’s fortunate they all want to keep the band together, because Jenkins has a third Wonder Woman film in mind. The director jokes she was going to retire after this movie, but she can’t. Jenkins explained, “I think where the second movie came from was me as a fan of her and as a fan of superhero films, craving what I haven’t gotten, which is, I wanted to see Wonder Woman out in the f**king world, not finding herself. Like, f**king Wonder Woman! And so there’s one more thing I’m craving, which is true to her theme, which is true to everything that she stands for, that I’m like, ‘Ooh, there’s one more chapter of Wonder Woman that we don’t quite get.’ It doesn’t quite make sense for this movie. It didn’t for the last either.”

Wonder Woman 1984‘s current release date is October 2, 2020.

Featured Image: Warner Bros.

Amy Ratcliffe is the Managing Editor for Nerdist and the author of The Jedi Mind, available for pre-order now. Follow her on  Twitter and Instagram.

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