Patty Jenkins Discusses 'Wonder Woman 1984's HBO Max Debut and a Third Movie (Exclusive)

The director also breaks down the sequel's new decade, new villain and new superpowers.

Imagine explaining this sentence to someone living in the '80s: Wonder Woman 1984 will simultaneously debut in movie theaters and stream on HBO Max on Christmas due to the coronavirus.

Pandemic aside, Gen X only knew Lynda Carter as the small screen's Diana Prince and would have had no inclination of the streaming wars to come. But even WW84 -- which, of course, stars Gal Gadot as the titular Amazonian -- is venturing into uncharted grounds with its duel release strategy, something never attempted with a studio tentpole this massive.

ET's Rachel Smith sat down with director Patty Jenkins to discuss pivoting to an at-home premiere, plus she talks the sequel's new decade, new villain and new superpowers and reveals why she scrapped previous plans she'd made for a third film in the franchise. 

ET: This [release] has probably been a difficult journey for you. How much time did it take for you to reach the decision to simultaneously release the film in theaters and HBO Max for this big blockbuster of a film?

Patty Jenkins: It's the kind of thing that if you told me before this pandemic that we would ever talk about releasing it on streaming, it would have been the worst thing that ever happened. It would have been terrible. This year is just so odd and of course, terrible, so there are no good options, really, for so many things in our lives. So, you have to look at your priorities and, in my case, as a filmmaker, my number one priority is having a shared experience with the world and making something where you are engaging with your audience. This year, suddenly, it felt like, listen, if you're not going to have the proper release and you don't know when that would ever even happen, why not give it away in a holiday season and at least just try to bring some joy to people's lives this year?

Were you onboard immediately?

No, it took some thought. It took some thought about what all of the options were. But I got excited too at the mere idea of it, I will say, from the first conversation.

Well, I know so many people who will be happy you decided to release it. And they have got to get ready, because this is all sorts of fabulousness coming to us from the '80s. The parachute pants, the shoulder pads, the big hair-- You all nailed it. How did you decide on 1984 specifically for this film? 

I think of every era there's a year that becomes the quintessential year of that time, so 1984, not only is it the [George Orwell] book and the Van Halen album and all the great movies we remember, but I felt like it really was the pinnacle of the '80s. It was quintessential top of Western civilization. I was really craving having Wonder Woman come to our modern world and facing enemies born of our modern times but actually, the easiest thing to do was to demonstrate that in a different era, which was the '80s. That's kind of where we were setting the stage for everything that we went on to become, but it is so fun to collide her with that period.

Warner Bros.

We don't want to spoil anything, but you pull some new elements from the Wonder Woman comics for this film. But how did you decide the new powers and classic elements that Diana would embrace in this film? 

It was so fun, because you get to say, like, "What if she's been around doing this for a while? What would she have figured out how to do?" Well, she would have figured out how to do everything so much better. So, we really set out to say, "This is Wonder Woman at the very top of her game. She has learned how to utilize every single thing," and god, was that fun. Coming up with new things to do with the lasso and the tiara and all of these different things, it was so much fun! 

And Cheetah is such a great villainess to have in this mix for this film. What makes Kristen Wiig the perfect villainess, the perfect Cheetah?

Kristen is such an amazing artist and actress. I've always thought she was an incredible actress, because all of the humor that we know her for is so character-based and amazing. I just wanted somebody who could start playing a character that I knew she could nail and then evolve into this much stronger, serious performance. I believed in her, and I believed that she could do it. And, honestly, Gal and I were super fans of her. We would follow her around awards events trying to hang out with her. The idea that all of those things came together into this one place was just a dream.

You have a producing credit on this film. Did it make you feel an even bigger connection to this project? Did you feel like you had more ownership in comparison to the first film?  

Yeah, I did, because it was my story and my idea and I was super supported by the studio, so I had a lot of ownership of this one. I ended up having that same kind of ownership on the first film, as well, it was just a longer road. But being a producer, honestly, I was sort of doing the job anyway by the end of the last film, so might as well get the credit for it. But it's certainly great. [Laughs]

Have you and Gal talked about, have you floated the idea of a third Wonder Woman film yet? If so, where do you see Wonder Woman going next?

You know, I don't know. I actually have an entire story that I broke and was planning on doing before the pandemic. Now, I want to wait and see where we are and see what I'm feeling [like] what Wonder Woman would want to talk about next. So, I'm waiting and things are shifting. Also, things are shifting with filmmaking and the studio. I know Gal and I would love to make another film together and we'd love to make another Wonder Woman, but we'll have to see. All kinds of things are really changing, so we hope it will come back again, but nothing is set in stone.


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