To coincide with the big screen live action debut of Wonder Woman, Warner Bros has re-released the 2009 animated film starring the character for the first time on Blu-ray.
Like the new film, this is an origin story. When Air Force pilot Steve Trevor crashes on the island of Themyscira, the rebellious and headstrong Diana defies Amazonian law by accompanying him back to civilization. Meanwhile, Ares (the God of War) has escaped his imprisonment at the hands of the Amazons and has decided to exact revenge by starting a world war that will destroy them all. It is up to Princess Diana to save her people and the world by becoming Wonder Woman.
As producer Bruce Timm explains, “Wonder Woman is in the top tier of DC Comics characters that we haven’t over-explored yet in animation. Obviously she was a big part in our Justice League series, and she’s one of the top three major DC characters along with Batman and Superman. So there was a lot of interest in doing a long form theatrical experience in home video. This was the opportunity and we took it.”
He points out that the story of the film came from a number of sources. “We cherry-picked from lots of different versions of Wonder Woman, including the Lynda Carter series,” says Timm. “It’s kind of an amalgamation of the different things we liked about Wonder Woman. It is the origin story and as long-time fans know, we did a severely truncated version of her origin on Justice League and, boy, we sure took a lot of crap from the fans for that. But this film is her origin story, and her first mission in the man’s world with lots and lots of fighting.”
For casting director Andrea Romano, Romano, the casting of both Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor became something of a “no-brainer” when she caught the film Waitress, which stars Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion.
“I remember thinking, ‘That’s some nice chemistry they’ve got there,’” she laughs. “My next thought was, ‘Hey, I need a Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor.’ They’re terrific, sweet, nice people, who did a really nice job.”
For her part, Russell (currently starring on the series The Americans) shares that she was thrilled to take on the role. “I personally adore origin stories,” she enthuses. “They’re so intriguing, learning what shaped and formed a character. And this story is funny and action-packed and adult in a nice way. Then they said Nathan Fillion was playing opposite me, and that made it that much better. I adore Nathan and, after spending so much time with him making Waitress, I could hear exactly how he’d read every line while I was reading the Wonder Woman script.
Then you’ve got his great cast with Virginia Madsen and Alfred Molina and Oliver Platt—so I kind of wanted to do it to be in the cool kids’ group.”
In “finding” Wonder Woman’s voice, Russell says, “I was trying to focus on her differences—she’s a true, strong warrior, but she’s also right at the break of being a young woman standing on her own and fighting out in the world. So it was a question of playing the innocence in her voice against the strength of a warrior, and then balancing that against Virginia Madsen playing her mother with such warmth and wisdom already in her voice. So finding Diana’s voice was trying to figure out how to walk that line.”
Director Lauren Montgomery was excited for the opportunity Wonder Woman offered to present a female lead. “I’ve always preferred working with female characters, just because they have a much wider range of emotion that you can address,” she admits. “If you have Batman crying in a corner, people are going to look at that a little odd. Wonder Woman can cry and people are going to forgive it. She can go the emotional route and it’s okay, and she can also go the opposite and kick ass left and right, and that’s okay, too. Any female character for me is better from a directing standpoint to really address all the needs as far as emotion, action and everything else. You’re a little more limited with a male character, which makes it a little more challenging. It’s nice to see a strong female character.”
Beyond that, she adds, “We’re trying to show her coming into her own as a superhero and learning that she can be a superhero; that she can be an influence to people in the U.S. versus a princess on an island. I think that’s powerful in itself, showing someone’s discovery of themselves; what they are, what they’re capable of and also discovering a new world outside of the only world she’s known, which is on the island. It’s her learning about herself, realizing this is what I was, this is what I can be and this is what I’m going to rise up to be.”