It's 2018. Just a couple of days after jetting across the pond on Saturday to go home from the set of Spider-Man: Far From Home, it's right back on a plane to London again to visit the set of one DC's most hotly anticipated movies on the same lot. At the time, Wonder Woman 1984 is slated to arrive in theaters in late 2019. Due to circumstances, many beyond its control, the film is delayed multiple times and is now slated to be release in early October 2020. Despite walking through the sets of the upcoming adventures of Diana Prince nearly two years ago to the day, some elements stand out vividly in memory as Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins set out to match their originally impressive effort with this sequel.
The sets of Wonder Woman 1984 in size but not in detail. Diana's apartment, for example, came complete with references to her lost love Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and real cassette tapes to drive home the 80's vibes. Meanwhile, not far from this sound stage is a massive set of pillars, looking like a massive dinosaur's rib cage emerging from sand and wrapped on its border with blue screen. These massive stakes standing what I guess is about up to stories high are part of an opening sequence for the film which will showcase Diana in her youth as the Amazon warriors participate in their version of the Olympic games. Surely, this Olympic competition would put our real world mortal approach to such games to shame.
Then, on another stage, the action is going down. We're inside of a Washington D.C.'s White House (not really, A. because we're in London and B). because we were observing the production from outside the set's actual walls on a monitor) and Diana Prince is serving sweet justice. Some men dressed as they should be defending the President of the United States are being taken down one by one as Diana punches, kicks, and whips them to the ground or tosses them high against the walls, where at the bottom they land on each other. It's convincing, too, as the stuntmen lay on the ground defeated in agony, until "Cut!" is called out and they pop back to life as if they didn't just get whooped. All the while, a jumpsuited Steve Trevor is looking on in awe.
Between takes, Gadot emerges from the live set, still dressed in her Wonder Woman costume. "She's very happy," Gadot promises of her Diana, to the group of about eight reporters all giddy to sit across from her in this amazing costume. There is a caveat in Diana's happiness, though: "She's quite lonely."
"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," Gadot explains. "And I think she accepted [that] as fact. She, you know, 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, you know, the one who was the love of her life. She never got to really explore the relationship. And that's it. But she's happy. She's very happy."
Since we last saw Diana at the end of the first Wonder Woman movie, she has kept busy by quietly saving the world several times over. This time around, she may be burdened with repeating those efforts, but it sounds like it will be much more personal. Enter: Pedro Pascal's Max Lord. This villain is clearly inspired by Donald Trump, though Patty Jenkins promises that this is not aimed to make any political statements.
"[Trump is] one of [the inspirations]," Jenkins explains. "The funny thing is like, he is [an influence], but I'm not trying to make [a point]. Even we have the president in this movie and I've gone out of my way not to make it look like Ronald Reagan. I don't want to get political, it's not about political. Actually, a huge influence of this movie was also Madoff. And so what I was looking at was, those young Madoff story [sic] fascinates me, because I'm like, 'How do you end up being Bernie Madoff?' And when you really start tracking that story, it's like, it all started out in a way that made sense and he was paying it off and then doing this and then paying it off again. And then, it's just like you just become an evil dude when you don't even realize that it's happening. So, yes, Trump's definitely one of the people that we looked at, but it's any of those kind of mavericks of business success that was big in the '80s [whp] went on to be major players in our world in potentially questionable in other ways."
Max, whose apparel and design called for older photos of Trump to be commonly posted in the costume area, borrows the power suit look of it al, as well (not to mention the combed over dyed hair). His story will start in Egypt, unleashing his business (or supernatural power, as no one on set would call it) for the first time. As this business starts to grow, it will offer people that which they most desire, and then the greed will continue to kick in.
Now, with the information that has come out since my time on set, I've grown pretty confident in a theory which would be a major twist in the movie -- so I'm going to go as far as saying spoiler warning -- for this next bit.
On set, everyone referred to Pedro Pascal's character as the President of Black Gold. They wouldn't really go into many details about his powers or abilities and only a couple of times even slipped and called him Max. But pairing what they did say with footage from the trailers which have come out, it seems like Max Lord is responsible for bringing Steve Trevor back. Diana's desire must be Steve Trevor, right? So the return of the character, if via Max Lord, will be more of a projection of her memory and her own conscious in some way. This has been evidenced in trailers where Steve tells Diana, "You know what you need to do!" It sure sounds like Diana might be talking to herself via imaginary Steve and ultimately may have to decide between doing what's right for the world and losing the illusion of Steve Trevor in the process.
"You can decide whether it's the right way or not," a tightlipped Pine, still wearing his jumpsuit from the set, said of Steve Trevor's return. "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. So, right? I have no idea, but I know that anytime Patty pitches something with me, she can pitch me anything. She's the single best pitcher of ideas I've ever come across in the history of pitching."
Of course, Max Lord won't be coming alone. In a be-careful-what-you-wish-for role, Kristen Wiig's Barbara Ann Minerva will wholly transform into Cheetah. The costume area and war room which would loaded with concept art and photos offered no insight as to the shape she will officially take after she becomes the iconic Wonder Woman villain but the transformation is coming, nonetheless.
"I'll leave that for seeing the movie, how it happens in this movie," Jenkins says. "But really the same way I kind of 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 version of it or any one person's version of it, I really looked at all of the different incarnations of Cheetah and said, so what's the core of Cheetah? Who is Cheetah in the world and what does she stand for and how do we [tell that]."
For better or for worse - for heroes or for villains - Jenkins does at least confirm, "There is magical stuff going on in our movie."
There seems to be no doubt about that. More information about all of these magical details will surface during Wonder Woman 1984's panel at DC FanDome on Saturday. The film is currently slated to hit theaters on October 2.0comments