Why Patty Jenkins Was Nervous About Setting Wonder Woman In World War I At First,
Rather than continue from where she left off at the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman is turning the clock back to tell Diana of Themyscira’s origin a century ago, while World War I is still raging. Placing Wonder Woman’s origin in the past isn’t something new, but director Patty Jenkins admits that when she first boarded the superhero movie, she was hesitant about working with the Amazon in World War I because her original origin story was set during World War II. Jenkins said:
At first, I questioned it because it wasn’t her actual origin story, but very quickly I saw the genius behind it.
Since Wonder Woman made her in the comics debut in 1941, it was understandable that her adventures were set in what was then the present rather than put her in the past or future. While the comic re-tellings of her origin are usually set in modern times (i.e. close to the year when she’s being written), the Wonder Woman TV series kept Diana’s first exposure to mankind set in World War II, and the entire first season followed her assisting the Allied Forces both as Wonder Woman and Diana Prince. Despite her initial nervousness about telling a World War I-set origin tale, Patty Jenkins eventually realized that the Great War was a better time period for Diana’s first solo cinematic adventure because of its complexities. Jenkins explained to EW:
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. 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.
While World War II is frequently explored in Hollywood, World War I is rarely visited, so setting Wonder Woman during the Great War not only makes it stand out from other superhero movies, but other action-packed blockbusters. And from a storytelling perspective, Patty Jenkins is right on the money. World War I occurred at the beginning of the 20th century, when civilization was drastically changing both technologically and socially. And then you have Diana, who has lived her entire life among others who share the same moral code. Whereas World War II was a more direct “good vs. evil” conflict, World War I didn’t share that distinction, so dropping Diana into this horrible chapter of history is great material for a compelling story.
We’ll see how Diana’s time in World War I unfolded when Wonder Woman charges into theaters this Friday, June 2.
When director Patty Jenkins first boarded Wonder Woman, she was skeptical about telling Diana of Themyscira’s origin story in World War I for a specific reason.