Entertainment

'Wonder Woman' Director Patty Jenkins: How to Make a Female Heroine "Vulnerable," But Not "Lesser in Any Way"

The first feature about the invisible-jet-flying heroine, out next summer, also is the first studio superhero film helmed by a woman. Jenkins talks pressure — and why heroes should be nice.

I met with Warner Bros. right after I made Monster [her only previous feature, the indie hit] more than 10 years ago, and I said, “I want to make Wonder Woman.” I’ve always been moved by the idea of movies that are personal but still have a huge reach. Superman had that effect on me when I was a kid — it rocked my world. That kind of movie was always the brass ring of what I wanted to do with my career.

Because of my love of Wonder Woman and the genre, I felt this project was absolutely the right thing for me to do, though I definitely knew what I was taking on — that there’s a huge amount of responsibility that comes with it. I knew just making a movie about Wonder Woman for the first time was going to matter to people and what I was stepping into with that.

When I’m asked if I feel additional pressure because I’m a filmmaker who is female, I say that I think it’s important but there’s really nothing you can do about it. Every step of my career has been that way — every project is something no one has done before, male or female, the pressure is always high, and I’m always doing it as a woman, so I think you just have to learn to mute it out and just be a great director and give everything you can.


Our film really draws from the original [1940s] Wonder Woman comic book by William Moulton Marston. The goal was to tap into what always spoke to me about her — to honor who she was, her legacy, and to make her as universal as she was to all of us little girls who ran around pretending to be Lynda Carter when we were kids. Wonder Woman is the grand universal female hero who didn’t have to be lesser in any way. She wasn’t less powerful, she wasn’t less of a woman. She’s as beautiful as any woman and as strong as any man. That, to me, is so enduring. There have been so few female characters like that — who weren’t small, niche characters or sidekicks. She’s a full-blown superhero who lives up to all of your dreams in every way.

It also was important to me to make sure she was as vulnerable, loving and warm as she should be. It’s important for her to be multidimensional.

It’s been incredible to make something about a superhero that stands for a message of fighting for a loving, thoughtful government, especially in this current climate. It’s been a special process to make something with the beautiful message that it’s difficult to be a hero and stay kind and thoughtful in everything that you do. There’s going to be a lot of conversation about her being a woman in these times, but I think the greatest part about the character is that she’s so much bigger than all of that.

This story first appeared in the 2016 Women in Entertainment Power 100 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Women in Entertainment
Women in Entertainment

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