‘Wonder Woman’ director Patty Jenkins talks diversity, influences and more

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“Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins on set. (Photo by Clay Enos)

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5/30/2017

By Ivan Pereira

Directing the first major studio take on Wonder Woman would be a daunting task for any filmmaker, but for Patty Jenkins the challenge was fun.

A fan of the Amazon warrior since she was a child, Jenkins, 45, was gung-ho to do justice to the iconic superhero but at the same time put her own stamp on the character’s mythology.

“I was already a fan of the superhero and the genre, from there it helped me to let loose and make the film I wanted to make,” Jenkins tells amNewYork.

“Wonder Woman,” hitting theaters on the evening of June 1, follows Diana from childhood princess of the Amazons to adult warrior with enhanced strength, agility and magical weapons. The story should be familiar to anyone who has read the comics, watched the 1970s TV show or checked out any of several animated Wonder women, but Jenkins wanted her version to stand out, particularly by emphasizing strong female characters.

For example, the Amazons in the film are a diverse group, not only ethnically but also in body type.

“The most important thing is to make a great movie and I had a blast … but also … we are telling something bigger, which is becoming a hero — anyone can do it,” Jenkins says. “If it can touch something deeper, [an audience member] can be a hero in their own life.”

Setting the story in Europe during World War I, an era that is rarely highlighted in action films, was also a key element to her vision. Although Wonder Woman’s foes are based in fantasy, Jenkins wanted to ground her in a realistic conflict that would spur her to the rescue.

The director said her team did extensive research to add elements such as trench warfare and chemical weapons into the narrative.

“You are able to add that color … only if it truly adds to the story instead of trying to be about that,” she says.

Jenkins, who graduated from Cooper Union and stayed in New York City for some time after college, says the Big Apple definitely influenced her filmmaking style.

The city’s nonstop action and diversity taught her to find the nuances in everyone and their unsung stories.

“There is a real magic happening between the most unlikely people at any time,” she says.

With “Wonder Woman,” Jenkins hopes that audiences leave the theater hungry for movies driven by diversity and female characters. She adds that filmmakers these days are helped by having a larger and more accessible playing field to show off their stuff.

“I’m excited that the world is changing and the ways of viewing films, like Amazon and Netflix, mean all kinds of new films are getting through,” she says. “More and more films are about characters who are not the same mold.”

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 31st, 2017 at 4:23 pm and is filed under amNewYork, Entertainment, Feature, Print Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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