Now you shouldn't mistake this video as the trailer for an official DC/Warner Bros film, but it wouldn't be surprising if you did. Directed by Jesse V Johnson, this unofficial and lovingly made fan film has caught the eyes of hundreds of thousands of Wonder Woman worshippers in the day since it debuted online. Starring Nina Bergman as the Amazon warrior, we find our heroine battling Nazis played by some familiar faces who have been known to play a baddie from time to time, including prolific character actors Peter Stormare (Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Prison Break) and Timothy V Murphy (Sons of Anarchy, Appaloosa, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Criminal Minds).
If you haven’t yet seen this trailer for a movie that unfortunately doesn’t exist, take a second to click PLAY. We’ll be waiting just below when you’re done, with answers to the questions most Wonder Woman fans are already asking themselves.
Mr Johnson is known around Hollywood for his work as a stuntman and stunt coordinator on a slew of major films, from the original Total Recall to the Amazing Spider-Man, Thor, Avatar, Mission Impossible III, and even Steven Spielberg’s Oscar nominated Lincoln. But he’s also been recognized for his writing talents. He won the Best Screenplay award for Charlie Valentine at the Monaco International Film Festival in 2009, which he also directed. And while his current directorial project is the action thriller The Package, starring Dolph Lundgren and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, he found time to create a little trailer about a super woman stomping Nazi ass. We talked to the man behind the camera to find out why he made a Wonder Woman movie trailer and what it took to bring the Amazon Warrior to life, if only for two minutes and eleven seconds.What was it about Nina Bergman that made her your Wonder Woman?
I had known Nina some time and we had tried to develop an original super hero character. We kept saying, “let’s make her like Wonder Woman”, but neither of us wanted to articulate our desire to make a film based on her. The track record for filmed versions of Wonder Woman is not very good. It’s been tried and messed with so many times and neither of us much cared for the TV show. I simply decided that perhaps that was what made it the very best choice, but Nina took a little convincing. We knew there may very well be a backlash. Comic book fans are rightly protective of their heroes. So we researched the material as thoroughly as possible and decided to make our take on it, based on the original stories. Plus, Nina is awesome. The Amazons were warriors first: Their armor and flesh would be marked by conflict. I wanted that feral look – all business. She is not for your amusement. She’s here to go to war. Nina can personify that, and she has fought in real life. She was a great partner on the shoot.
As you said, you’ve got some pretty brutal fighting going on in the trailer. What did Nina have to go through to make it look real?
Fight choreography involved elements of real combat martial arts. Plus, it didn’t hurt that Nina was a real boxer before she started singing and modeling. Nina trained very, very hard to get in fighting shape, so that she would look like a lean fighter. Our aim was, as was the aim of the original character, to empower women, especially young women, with the depiction of a woman who didn’t acquiesce in any way to her male counterparts. Nina and I felt that somewhere along the line, since the character was created, she had been sexualized in such a way that lost sight of the origins of the warrior woman.
Why did you choose the World War II era when it came to finding bad guys to fight?
Wonder Woman comes to us when we need her most. Otherwise she waits in that paradise, training, honing her craft. Many of Wonder Woman’s greatest stories had a wartime setting. The Second world war felt like a mythically wonderful, terrifying place to set up our story. The bad guys are reprehensible and interesting. We felt we could do it and convey a sense of production value, better than say a modern conflict. When we see her at the end of the trailer, it is present day and she has come, once again to our aid.
How did you go about selecting the look of Wonder Woman and her costume?
We studied the mythology beforehand and decided to be extremely loyal to the source material. Where Diana is described as being of a warrior race, we figured she’d be scarred and her armor might be tarnished and worn like a real fighter’s armor, not immaculate and feminine. I really wanted her to look like she’d been through a few fights, that the armor was chipped and dented and the head band and wristers had been used, and abused, like a real medieval knight’s armor might look. The boots were 1940′s vintage, but dyed to her colors, everything a little worn, as a GI’s uniform might look after a campaign. It was a BIG risk, this character is a holy icon to many, but I felt there was room for a fresh take. I wanted a practical looking Warrior, not superhuman, but just a little stronger, with wonderful accessories. It makes her more sympathetic to me and there’s a sense of jeopardy. I wanted the costume out of the way. Modern fighters wear nothing for their opponent to grab hold of, so our costume is designed to be practical in that sense. We felt this variation was more faithful to the source material than the 1970′s TV show had been. We knew this would upset a few fans, but felt it was the root of what has been wrong with subsequent versions of the character. Our version is sexy and she is beautiful, but she is also a lean and hardened warrior, a believable crime fighter, a bad ass, chiseled from the annals of Greek mythology.
At one point in the trailer, we hear a woman say “You will never do anything in this world without courage, Diana”. Obviously, that was Hippolyta speaking, but was that voice Star Trek: the Next Generation‘s Counselor Troi, Marina Sirtis?
Wow – of course! I wondered why everyone was so interested in the voiceover. Yes, it was my friend Marina Sirtis. She is awesome, and was the only choice for Diana’s mother.
All photos: Andreas Raffel.
Concept poster art by Robert Sebree.