Everything we learned from the Wonder Woman WonderCon panel

“Wonder Woman” took center stage at Anaheim’s WonderCon on Saturday. The comic book convention packed the arena for the Warner Bros. panel with a crowd thirsty for new footage of Diana Prince in action. The studio was happy to oblige, with just a taste of what’s to come with the movie’s June premiere. But would the comic book aficionados be pleased?

Unfortunately, the titular character (played by Gal Gadot) was absent from the festivities, but director Patty Jenkins and executive producer Geoff Johns (who is also the Chief Creative Officer at DC Comics) were on hand to answer (a few) questions from the fans. First, they discussed at length what they believed was the essence of Wonder Woman.

Here’s everything we gleaned from the event:

Wonder Woman’s warrior origin story is a major part of the film

Jenkins was adamant that the audience see Diana’s transformation into a champion, so the movie will be loaded with training scenes. She’s going to be pushed beyond her super-strength, so learning the rules of fighting would set up Wonder Woman beyond the superpowers she was already blessed with.

“[Wonder Woman] is the best fighter in the DC universe,” Johns added.

What makes the Amazonian warrior different from the rest of the superheroes? Love.

Jenkins and Johns spent a lot of time discussing the character and, despite her formidable fighting skills, Diana is and always will be about love. It’s what makes her unique in the DC universe.

“She’s not the only character who has a strong moral compass and a belief system, of course, but what I like about her is that that is her mission,” said Jenkins. “Her mission is a belief of mankind and what they can be. I feel like there are a lot of superheroes who are chosen or find themselves in these positions. She’s one of the very few who believes in goodness and kindness and justice and love, who comes to our world hoping to instill that in other people, but is willing to use force if that’s what she must do, to keep mankind safe.”

This superhero craze isn’t a fad — it’s classic storytelling with a cape on

Jenkins lighted up when discussing the current fervor.

“It’s so much bigger than that,” she said. “It’s not about superheroes. This is the method of universal storytelling that all people have.… To me they’re the same as the Greek myths, or the Roman myths or religious figures of every religion. These are common characters that we use to express stories about being a better person or what you would do when faced with various things. To me, that’s an incredibly powerful thing. There are a million movies to be told with comic characters.”

Don’t call Chris Pine a sidekick

Chris Pine, who is playing Diana Prince’s love interest, Steve Trevor, doesn’t get title billing in this film, but Jenkins doesn’t want people to think of him only as a secondary character. “He brings the comic relief, [the] love story and symbolizes the depth of man,” Jenkins said.

‘Wonder Woman’ pays homage to Richard Donner’s ‘Superman’

One clip screened at the presentation showed Prince and Trevor ambushed by a group of nattily attired bad guys on the streets of London, and it is absolutely loaded with hat tips to the 1978 film starring Christopher Reeve.

The duo duck into an alley to ditch their pursuers and accidentally wind up with the barrel of a gun pointed at their heads in a scene very similar to one in which Clark Kent (Reeve) and Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) are mugged leaving the Daily Planet in the Donner classic. The homages don’t stop there.

The scene continued with Trevor standing in front of Prince, ready to take a bullet for her, which almost perfectly mimics the poses from Lane and Kent. But as the villain shoots it’s Diana (and her Wonder Woman bracelets) who deflects the shot. Quite the gender role reversal.

Jenkins admitted that she was very influenced by the live-action “Superman.” “I was 7 years old” when the movie premiered, she said. “I was Superman. I was that character who ripped his shirt open.”

The lasso of truth will get a little action

Also making an appearance in the above scene, the golden lasso of truth. Fans have waited a long time to see this iconic Wonder Woman accessory in play. Even though the footage didn’t show the lasso’s influence over its hostage, it did glow a lovely golden hue, which made the crowd go absolutely bonkers.

Jenkins will throw down over her love of Wonder Woman

Taking a question from the audience, Jenkins was asked if she felt pressure to go against the grain or take risks. The director took the question as a jumping-off point to address her commitment to the project.

“Being the person who gets to make a movie about Wonder Woman, of course, I take that incredibly seriously,” she said. “I am a huge Wonder Woman fan, and the aspiration comes totally naturally to me. Nothing about DC or nothing about the world or nothing about anything could change that pressure. I want to make great films in my lifetime, and I really want to make a great film about Wonder Woman.… Who should make a great movie about Wonder Woman? It should be somebody who loves Wonder Woman. And I know that I’m that. So let’s go and try.”

Classic Wonder Woman canon reigns

For fans worried that the new iteration of Wonder Woman could abandon all back story and source material, Johns reassured the crowd that there are some things in the ethos of this character that will remain unchanged.

He listed Themyscira [Wonder Woman’s homeland], the magic lasso, the Amazons and Steve Trevor as unchangeable story points. It would be like removing Krypton from Superman's back story.

However, it’s still a movie, so it can’t possibly be a literal translation of the original comic, which was only a few pages long.

Overall, the audience seemed cautiously optimistic and definitely perked up when the classic comic elements were brought to life. Johns has high hopes and sees the Wonder Woman arm-cross pose as the next Superman hands-on-hips iconic superhero moment.

Arms crossed for Wonder Woman.

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meredith.woerner@latimes.com

Twitter: @MdellW

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