Greater values make a hero: ‘WW 1984’ director

Greater values make a hero, not strength: 'Wonder Woman 1984' director Patty Jenkins

'Wonder Woman 1984' is slated to hit the screens on December 24

A still from 'Wonder Woman 1984'. Credit: Twitter/@GalGadot

"What does it mean to be a true hero?" That's the question Gal Gadot-fronted Wonder Woman 1984 aims to explore, says director Patty Jenkins, who believes being a superhero is more about values than physical prowess.

Diana Prince, the Amazonian warrior whose superhero identity is Wonder Woman, represents "kindness and intelligence" which makes her a contemporary hero for women and men, alike, the filmmaker said.

"What these superheroes stand for is how to be brave. We need love, bravery, kindness and intelligence now more than ever. We don't just need someone who can kick the a** of the bad guy. That's why I feel Wonder Woman is the hero for today and for everybody," Jenkins told PTI in an exclusive telephonic interview from Los Angeles.

"Wonder Woman 1984" is the highly-anticipated follow-up to Wonder Woman, the 2017 DC blockbuster which critics and audience hailed as a much-needed presence in the male-dominated superhero space of Hollywood movies.

While the first film was the origin story of Wonder Woman (Gadot) and her discovery of humanity towards the end of World War I, the sequel explores how she lives with humanity after having lost all her friends.

"(We made sure) that she wasn't the same person. She is on her own journey for what it is that she can do in this world to help people," the 49-year-old director added.

Wonder Woman 1984 is slated to be released in Indian theatres by Warner Bros on December 24 in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

Jenkins, who also directed the original, said the film constantly poses the question about making choices for the greater good.

"What does it mean to be a true hero? Anybody can be selfish. The question is: is that what a hero is? Is it a person who chooses themselves above others even at the cost of others? That's why I ask that question so often in the film. A hero is not what you think. It's not strength or physical prowess, it's greater values."

The director said she set the sequel in the 1980s as she wanted to make a "radically different movie" from the original.

"It is the opposite of the context of the first movie (set in 1917-18). And that it took on a completely new life of its own. I loved taking her to the height of opulence and excess.

"I also grew up watching the 'Wonder Woman' show that made Lynda Carter so famous. I loved the idea of making the movie to celebrate the Wonder Woman I grew up watching."

The follow-up will see Diana battle it out with two formidable foes: Max Lord, played by "Narcos" star Pedro Pascal, and The Cheetah aka Barbara Minerva, essayed by "Bridesmaids" star Kristen Wiig.

Initially an awkward gemologist, Barbara transforms into an apex predator The Cheetah courtesy Max Lord, a charismatic businessman with a hidden agenda.

Asked why she decided to have two antagonists, Jenkins said she knew she wanted The Cheetah as a villain, but the way the story unfolds she needed Max Lord too.

"Cheetah is physically more powerful than her but Diana's mind is what makes her win. She understands it's not just about prowess. As a result, she is able to wear Cheetah out until she wins the fight. Diana tricks her into letting her believe that she has the upper hand but she doesn't.

"Max Lord is someone who seizes ultimate power, no one can stop him. It really comes down to who you are and what you believe in. At the end of the day, the conversation is about changing minds and inspiring someone."

The director, also known for films like Charlize Theron-starrer Monster and series like "I Am the Night", said working on the film franchise has been a "wonderful education" for her.

"I was able to employ a much more sophisticated ambition in the second one because I was able to do the first one. I am learning.

"That's the great thing about (making films), you're learning so much everyday because you're trying to do things that have never been done before and figuring out how to do them. It's been my incredible boot camp of technical things. I hope that continues."

About Gadot, Jenkins said, the actor was at "the top of her game" in Wonder Woman 1984.

"She has tremendously grown as an actor and that's not to say that she wasn't a great actress before. Some of the performances she does here are one of the best I've ever seen."

The film is also a timely commentary on how greed eventually leads to chaos and Jenkins said it is kind of "spooky" how the world is facing the coronavirus pandemic today.

"I'm not a psychic. I didn't know the pandemic was going to come but you could feel a collision of our old way of life with the price of what it's costing, coming. That's what I was feeling compelled to talk about."

Presented by Warner Bros Pictures, Wonder Woman 1984 is an Atlas Entertainment/Stone Quarry Production