On a bright, surprisingly mild Saturday morning in early September 2018, I found myself on the London set of Wonder Woman 1984, watching Chris Pine ride a vintage motorcycle. Is this part of the movie? I still have no idea. Apparently, there was one lying around, and Pine felt compelled to try it out.
That playful attitude is on display in first teaser for the highly anticipated sequel, which shows Steve Trevor (Pine) magically appearing in 1984 Washington DC, surprising Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), who watched him die in a plane explosion in 1918. And just like Wonder Woman, he appears not to have aged a day since. Add in a cool ‘80s soundtrack, fantastic, colourful costumes, and brand-new characters played by Kristin Wiig and Pedro Pascal, and you can expect a sequel that’s very different in tone and texture from the first film. If Wonder Woman was Diana’s origin story. Wonder Woman 1984 is where we finally get to see her thrive.
If you’re here for answers regarding the mystery of Steve Trevor’s comeback, I regret to say I can’t help you. But ahead of the highly-anticipated trailer release during the Wonder Woman panel at the DC FanDome on 22nd August, we’ve got the lowdown on some of the most exciting things to look forward to in Wonder Woman 1984. More Amazons! Trips around the world! Stylish new villains! And if we’re really lucky, another glimpse of Pine on that motorcycle.
Is Wonder Woman 1984 a sequel?
Technically, this is the second Wonder Woman movie, with Gadot reprising her role as Diana Prince, and director Patty Jenkins at the helm. But in terms of plot, Jenkins emphasised that she was striving for Wonder Woman: 1984 to be a standalone film.
“The whole time I was making the last movie I was thinking about what I would want the second movie to be,” the director said. “The first movie had the weight of telling somebody’s origin story, and designing that person’s world. This has been a different experience of being like, ‘We have this character that we love so much, and using her to tell a story that we really believe in. What is that story, and who is in that story?’ I don’t want to make more of anything. I want to make the greatest movie of all time.”
Her driving question throughout the process was: “How do I make a brand-new movie that could survive with or without that first one?”
About that Wonder Woman 1984 time jump...
The first Wonder Woman film took place in 1918, towards the end of World War I. The time period was important in shaping Diana’s journey. As a woman unused to societal constraints, she chafed against early 20th century gender conventions, exposing them as ridiculous and illogical. “How do women fight in this?” she incredulously asked Etta (Lucy Davis), struggling to move in a corset and wide-hooped skirt during a shopping expedition. “We use our principles,” the latter quipped back.
But the war also provided a glimpse into humanity’s worst impulses: violence, greed, and a lust for power that threatens to annihilate the world as we know it. Only Steve Trevor’s (Chris Pine) act of self-sacrifice, giving his own life to save millions from a deadly gas attack, proves to Diana that mankind might be worth saving.
According to associate producer Anna Obropta, Washington DC circa 1984 provides a social canvas of similar contradictions for Diana. “America is at the height of its power and pride in 1984,” she said. “Commercialism, wealth, glamour, art, technology, violence — everything is in excess. It’s the decade of greed and desire, the time of me and more. It’s humanity at its best and at its worst.”
“The ‘80s is a great setup,” Gadot added. “Everything is so pop-y and fun and colourful. It blows my mind how gorgeous and alive everything is. And it’s a great way to go after 1918 where everything was grimy and grey with the trenches. In the first movie, [Diana] wasn’t allowed to get into the parliament building. The place where women are in the ‘80s is much better — there’s so much more freedom and opportunity.”
The first teaser already hinted at an explosion of neon colour and graphic design, complete with a slow instrumental cover of New Order’s “Blue Monday” that I fully expect to play on repeat all summer. Still, don’t expect a cliche version of the era. “[Patty Jenkins] is not going for the funny version of the ‘80s, she’s really trying to celebrate the best in terms of the fashion and the design and the colour and the lighting of the time,” Obropta said. “We’re celebrating the decade rather than mocking it.”
What is Wonder Woman 1984 about?
The last time we saw Diana Prince in 1918, she had pledged to go on saving the world in secret. In 1984, she’s doing just that. We catch up with Wonder Woman in Washington D.C., where she works in cultural anthropology and archeology at the Museum of Natural history. But this Diana is slightly different than the one we got to know in the first film.
“Now she really does understand the complexities of life and what it means to be human in this world,” Gadot said. “She’s very lonely; she’s super sweet and nice and has goodwill towards anyone she comes across, but she doesn’t want to get hurt, and she doesn’t want to hurt anyone. Steve was her heart, and it’s a very hard feeling to live life like everything is good, and the years pass by but you don’t really get to live your life and experience those feelings.”
Diana has one friend however: Barbra Minerva, her colleague at the Museum of National History. But as she and others start to fall prey to a scheme selling a too-good-to-true version of the American Dream, it’s up to Diana to once again save the world.
How have Diana Prince and Steve Trevor changed since the last movie?
We already know that Steve Trevor — who died at the end of the first film — will return for this sequel, although how and why are still anyone’s guess. What’s interesting however is that the dynamic between Diana and him will certainly be different. While Diana has been living her immortal best life over the last six decades, Steve is now the one who is unused to social conventions.
“It was fun playing the fish out of water in the first [movie], but in this one it’s fun to see the world through Steve’s eyes,” Gadot said. “She got used to this world and everything is fresh and new all over again. He’s so excited and he’s so fascinated by all the new things now. She’s experiencing it all over again.”
“In the first [movie] you see a character who by virtue of being in the world had to build a shell to stand the traumas of being alive during a time of war,” Pine said. “And now he’s in this blissful state of having shed all of that, and is a wondrous boy who’s looking and receiving everything with love and appreciation. It’s a time of revelation and awe.”
According to Pine, the Steve we see this time around will be more sensitive, more open to the world around him. “The greatest weapon can be vulnerability and emotionality and tenderness and compassion and heart. Whereas Steve has shown that in the first one via his relationship with Wonder Woman, in this one he’s already in a place of extreme openness. He can still punch and kick — he doesn’t have superpowers like Diana, but he still has violence and aggression at his beck and call — but the more difficult thing is to go into a world and be open.”
But don’t worry, they are still in love. “It’s even more romantic and more sexy,” Gadot said. “She’s been waiting for him — it’s been  years since they last met!”
Who is Pedro Pascal’s character Max Lord?
Wonder Woman’s first villain was a literal god. Wonder Woman: 1984’s big bad is a man trying to play god. Pedro Pascal plays Max Lord, the CEO of a company called Black Gold International, which blasts the public with infomercials selling the American Dream.
The details of his characters are still pretty much under wraps. According to Obropta, he’s a “desperate, self-obsessed entrepreneur who runs a fraudulent business selling this idea of fame and of power and wealth — the idea that you can have it all. He is pervasive, and he’s persuasive, and so people start to buy in.”
“At first it’s great,” added producer Charles Roven. “All of humanity starts to get what they want. But what happens if you get everything you think you deserve? What happens if everyone in the world’s dreams come true at the same time? What are the consequences?”
On set, Pascal, wearing a classic ‘80s power suit and suspenders, was just as cagey.
“Would I be friends with this guy in real life? Probably not. He’d want different things than me I think, and has different ideas of what success means. I would try harder for other things, like friendship.”
Still, he did concede that Lord is not a supernatural being. “He’s a human, and to say that in the DC universe is pretty telling,” Pascal said.
Who is the villain, Cheetah?
Lord may be entirely human, but he’s not the only antagonist Diana Prince faces this time around. Kristin Wiig plays Barbra Minerva, a gemologist working alongside Diana at the National History museum in D.C. Funny and brilliant, she’s also cripplingly shy, and envious of her more polished and sophisticated friend.
“Barbra falls prey to this Black Gold International scheme and this idea that she can have it all,” Obropta said. “Her dream is to be more powerful, and as she undergoes this transformation, at first it’s amazing. She feels more seen, more respected, physically stronger. But very quickly, her power takes a dark turn and turns kind of savage and vicious.”
Enter Cheetah, a classic villain from the comic books with super-speed abilities and a feline-like appearance, and one that Jenkins was excited to bring to the screen.
“Cheetah is one of [Wonder Woman]’s greatest villains who comes back again and again,” she said. “She’s a character who wants Diana’s powers but cannot be trusted. It’s almost like seeing a human being getting to dabble with being a superhero themselves, and what choices do they make with it? There’s a jealousy and a vanity that’s driving her.”
Will we see Themyscira again?
Short answer? Yes! The trailer already gave us a brief glimpse of Wonder Woman’s Amazon homeland, showing what looks to be some sort of organised competition.
“It’s what we’re calling the Amazon Olympics, like American Ninja Warrior meets Cirque du Soleil, meets extreme sports,” Obopta said.
Lilly Aspell, who played young Diana in the first film, is back once more as the 10-year-old warrior-in-training, the youngest participant in these feats of strength that will include swimming, acrobatics, horseback riding, and archery.
“It’s a celebration of their athleticism,” Obropta added. “And while Diana is this determined warrior, there are lessons still for her to learn.”
Does Wonder Woman have a new costume?
Another surprise element from the trailer was Wonder Woman’s new golden armour. But that’s not the only wardrobe change we’ll be seeing this time around. Shoulder pads, high-waisted pants, bold glasses — Diana Prince is going full ‘80s! Gadot said she looked to Brooke Shields for inspiration, and with the help of costume designer Lindy Hemmings, put together a look that puts a feminine spin on masculine pieces.
“Diana’s clothing is very Annie Hall,” Jenkins said.
During filming, photos from set were leaked online, prompting a fan to point out a strange coincidence: Gadot’s look was almost identical to one worn by Lynda Carter in the Wonder Woman live action show, which was airing at the time the movie takes place. (Perhaps it’s a sign that the long-awaited Carter cameo might actually happen!)
Hemmings says it wasn’t at all intentional, but she’s happy with the parallel. “Right down to the Ralph Lauren pinstripe waist-coat! It’s an homage now, even if it wasn’t before.”
As for Steve Trevor, he’s living that tracksuit life, complete with a fanny pack — a request Hemmings said came from Pine himself. The actors reportedly had a lot of input on their looks for the movie. But the choice to include Wonder Woman’s gold armour was all Jenkins.
“It’s an epic suit of armour from the comic books,” she said, teasing that it serves a special purpose. “There are reasons why she needs different armours at different times.”
Wonder Woman 1984 is currently scheduled to hit cinemas on 2nd October.