WARNING: The following article contains potential SPOILERS for Wonder Woman
Well, fears that Wonder Woman was being given a less remarkable marketing campaign than her DCEU allies may have been a bit premature, since the studio saved its very best Diana-centric trailer for last. While casual fans may be able to spot Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth working its magic on Steve Trevor, or even the major changes to Wonder Woman’s origins, breaking down the trailer shot by shot reveals why a hero like Diana is needed now more than ever. Not just in the DCEU, but the superhero genre as a whole.
Fans wishing to keep Wonder Woman‘s surprises under wraps until they see the film for themselves will want to steer clear of our in-depth analysis – but fans eager to discuss what makes Diana a princess among peasant (philosophically speaking) can read on. But be warned: there are bound to be SPOILERS for Wonder Woman ahead, so read at your own risk.
14. “Just a Shield – No Sharp Edges”
The trailer begins with the focus placed on Diana as a child, perhaps even following the scenes from earlier trailers (in which Hippolyta takes Diana on a tour of the Amazon’s weaponry and a history lesson on how they came to live on a hidden island). And if you’re looking for evidence that Patty Jenkins, DC Films, and everyone behind the film committed to getting the point of Wonder Woman across, this is it. Queen Hippolyta imparts upon her daughter the wisdom that will ultimately define her alongside other superheroes who find glory in combat: that “fighting does not make you a hero.” So if Diana is to be a warrior, with armor of her own someday, she argues, then perhaps a shield would be best.
Most comic book fans are likely to overlook the fact that Wonder Woman’s weapons are most famously her shield and lasso, used to subdue or resist, and never harm. She will harm when needed, of course, but take a look through the comic history of Wonder Woman and you won’t find the kind of iconic sword you might expect. The Godkiller Sword will play a role in the story, but when Diana ventures out into the world of man, it is a shield that she reveals as her greatest weapon. She fights violence and rage by disarming, not returning it.
13. Read The Signs
When you’re setting your story within the bounds of World War I, it comes with some colorful players and an oppressive theme of fighting for order and justice against truly senseless carnage. But it affords even more thematic and dramatic parallels and layering when that story stars Wonder Woman, for reasons we’ll get to soon. First, it’s worth spotting the sniper who we’re clearly meant to take as German (it’s hard to say, since the following shot is not the same soldier), taking in the pair of clearly successful fighters below. This looks to be the aftermath of one of the many fights we’ve seen in Wonder Woman marketing – with the human side of the war now stepping into focus.
We’re not referring to the woman rushing to the side of an unmoving civilian on the left hand side of the screen – perhaps what sparked the battle – but the sign in the background. For the unfamiliar, D. Lemmens is almost certainly a reference to the Devos Lemmens, a Belgian condiment company that was founded in 1886 and eventually gained continental fame. Why does it matter here? Because it offers further context for Diana’s mission, since this scene is more than likely set on the Allied French/Belgian front. And in the scheme of World War I, “The Rape of Belgium” is as fitting a backdrop for a Wonder Woman story as any.
It’s a stirring part of the war that embodies the values of Diana and the Amazons perfectly. When approached by the might of the German army and ordered to stand aside as they marched around France’s defenses to deliver a crushing blow against France, the Belgian King and government decided that they could not stand by to spare themselves. The Germans arrived to find the bridges into the country destroyed, leading to Germany’s first foray into cruel occupation.
We don’t know how much Belgium’s own history will be shown in the film, but a little goes a long way in terms of the story told outside of the camera’s frame. Belgium was ravaged for making a hopeless defense. But that hopeless defense, done for a just cause, allowed France and England the time needed to organize their defenses. Had tiny Belgium given in to fear, who knows how the war might have gone.
12. Standing Her Ground
The image of Wonder Woman screaming behind her shield as she deflects machine-gun fire in No Man’s Land is now an unforgettable one in the movie’s marketing, making a moment typically seen as one of defeat or being overwhelmed a victory and show of strength in itself. Again, that’s in keeping with the philosophy of warfare and diplomacy that shaped Diana’s understanding of what being a “hero” means. And while this overhead shot shows it isn’t just Zack Snyder who can create comic book-worthy frames, it’s just as telling about how Wonder Woman is going to get out of this situation. Because as effective as a woman in red and blue armor is at attracting gunfire, it’s really just a first step.
In all honesty, simply standing her ground while the machine-gun nests run out of ammunition isn’t a bad idea, assuming she only needs a few seconds to make her move. However, a later shot shows her casting glances from behind the shield, suggesting that her allies may be taking advantage of the attention being paid only to her. It’s a preferable use of her shield than, say, Captain America’s in The Winter Soldier – taking the worst of the fight herself for other heroes can act is more Wonder Woman’s brand of justice than redirecting the gunfire back at the Germans.
11. The Lasso of Truth Works Its Magic
To this point most Wonder Woman trailers have shown Diana’s lasso exercising a new kind of magic – lashing out to grab onto her enemies, fling them with superhuman agility, and effectively function as an extension of Wonder Woman’s body. It’s an impressive visual effect we’re hoping will bring a new dynamic to superhero action scenes… but it overlooks the Lasso of Truth’s real power. In the comics, Wonder Woman’s lasso was a lie-detector test, using its magic to force whoever was bound by it to speak only the truth. Its appearance here makes sense, with the Amazon warriors (who just fought back the German soldiers following Steve Trevor to their island) looking for answers. Were this another hero or ancient warrior society, they might threaten, harm, or torture the cause of their fate in the name of interrogation.
But this is Wonder Woman’s people, and the Amazons are no normal warriors. They instead bring the man before the, drop him to his knees, and wrap the Lasso of Truth around him. It explains why Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) is so forthcoming with confidential intelligence despite working as an Allied spy. Queen Hippolyta and her daughter aren’t looking to intimidate or play games with an agent of the outside world. It sends a powerful message: when you’re brought before the Amazons, or Wonder Woman herself… your best option is to just tell the truth.
10. The Diversity of The Amazons
It was a hard question to answer when it was first raised, but this trailer confirms that the Amazons are a group of women defined by their divine origins, not their ethnic ones. The question of what the Amazons of the DCEU would look like was a more challenging question than usual, since American audiences expected an American, Caucasian Diana. The Amazons of classical mythology and history hail from a variety of locations, and the DC Comics version tied directly to the classical Greek and Roman. In the end, it appears that the DCEU followed their established tradition of turning a largely blind eye to ethnicity. Diana is played by Gal Gadot, an Israeli actress, her mother by Connie Nielsen, a Dane, and from this single shot, the rest of the Amazons are cast in all colors.
It’s the same practice adopted by DC Comics in recent years, so it will be interesting to see if there is any comment made about their ethnic makeup whatsoever. We hope (and expect) the Amazons will be presented as they are without explanation (they’re the remaining women warriors of Zeus, so any pressure to justify themselves to outside questions is non-existent). But the diversity is even more powerful when considering that these events are set over a century in the past – explaining why Diana and Steve surround themselves with a squad of ethnically diverse soldiers. To Diana, coming from Themyscira… her ignorance of racial prejudice is built into her origin story.
9. No Sympathetic Villains Here
The trailer shifts from Themyscira back to the war, with Steve recounting the events that have immediately preceded his arrival on the island. This scene was showed to us in full while visiting the Wonder Woman editing bay, so fans everywhere can now see the villain-building at work. For starters, the trailer clearly shows General Ludendorff (Danny Huston) meeting with his top chemical weapons expert, Maru (also known as ‘Doctor Poison’). She has a new chemical to show off, as evidenced by the gas chamber before them, filled with gas mask-ed prisoners being used to demonstrate the effects of the drug. The film clearly isn’t shying away from the horror here, and Steve’s shocked face taking it in is likely to be a surrogate for the audience. But it drives home the point that Maru is as twisted a villain as you’re likely to find, pressing up against the glass to get a closer look at her work.
It isn’t shown in the trailer, but this visit will also see Ludendorff receive a treatment of his own from Maru in the form of an inhaled drug. It’s not a bit of a kickback from the rigors of the front, though. It’s a drug that causes Ludendorff’s skin to glow orange, before he crushed a handgun in the palm of his hand. We’re willing to bet that Steve is just a shocked by that reveal, but it explains how Ludendorff can take a beating from Diana in the later fight scenes without being completely destroyed. Somehow, a villain whose lust for power does him in rings more true than usual when set against a World War…
8. Diana’s Departure is Her Own, Not Her People’s
If you’ve kept up to date on the world of Wonder Woman comics, you know that Diana’s departure from Themyscira isn’t entirely under her control, depending on which version of the origin story you read. Originally, the arrival of a man on the island caused need for a tournament – to determine the greatest warrior among the Amazons who would get to escort the man home and see the world beyond Themyscira. Queen Hippolyta forbade Diana from competing, so she did so in disguise (and won, obviously). In the modern comic version, the need for a protector to take Steve Trevor home is a somber occasion, not as glamorous as the Golden Age version. For all on Themyscira know that the woman chosen as the best among them will be forced to leave their home for good… and everybody knows that the winner will, and must be Diana. In both cases, Diana is given a hero’s sendoff… but not so in the movie.
We have gone into greater detail about the origin changes in the Wonder Woman movie already, but Diana and Steve escaping in the dead of night, on an isolated dock sends a very different, and original message. Diana’s departure is now as somber as it should read on film, with only her mother, Queen Hippolyta, to say a heartbreaking farewell. Because just as in the comics, any woman who leaves Themyscira… will never again return. But as Diana says, she wouldn’t be her mother’s daughter if she didn’t go.
7. Diana Uses Her Full Strength
The most unexpected sequence of the trailer would likely go to the one pictured above, as Diana leaps towards a sheer-faced tower, barely grabbing hold of an exposed stone. The landscape visible in the background confirms that the building she is scaling is the massive citadel visible in all images of Themyscira – which apparently gets a lot harder to access after sundown. If there’s usually a bridge connecting the nearby cliffs to this tower, they’re nowhere to be seen (but there ledges may be visible). No matter – Diana will just rely on her superhuman strength to punch handholds into the stones themselves.
It’s an interested bundle of shots, since audiences don’t yet know just how powerful Wonder Woman believes she is. Slamming her fingers directly into the stone to climb up doesn’t seem to have been her initial plan. so there’s a good chance it’s actually the first steps on Diana’s journey to uncovering the true source of her godly superpowers. Whatever the source, her powers allow her access to the Amazon armory, taking shield, sword, armor, and lasso as she heads for the dock.
6. New Meaning Behind The Famous ‘Tiara’?
It’s probably a compliment in itself that Wonder Woman’s favorite tiara (maybe a “circlet” would now be more accurate) hasn’t stirred up too much conversation since its debut in Batman V Superman. That’s a sign that it first her overall costume without calling too much attention to itself – but judging by the trailer, that won’t be the case in the film itself. As Diana snatches up her weapons and armor, she takes a moment to consider the circlet in greater detail… but why? Well, keeping an eye on the other warriors in the Amazon army – and the variations on the single star circlet they all sport – an answer begins to emerge.
If Diana is as sheltered from combat as her mother suggests earlier in the trailer, then it seems Queen Hippolyta’s order that Diana be trained harder than any Amazon before her applies only to training for its own sake. Whether it’s out of fear for her daughter’s safety, or fear that a fight could reveal Diana’s true powers (and lineage), Hippolyta has kept her out of the formal Amazon military. Which would explain why she takes a circlet of that very force as part of her mission into the world. An attempt to live up to her mother’s legacy and example, even if she’s not there to witness it.
5. Even More Swinging Amazons
From the very first trailer for the film, the moment when a single Amazon leaped from the cliffs over the beach, fired an arrow into a perpendicular cliff, and swung downward towards the sand while firing arrows was the kind of moment you never forget. Even if it masages the laws of physics and angular momentum, and even if the slow descent isn’t exactly wise when facing soldiers armed with rifles (the Amazons probably don’t know what guns are, so we’ll give them a pass). It seems the passing of months has allowed the full extent of that shot to be finished in post-production, now revealing an entire squad of Amazons pulling off the move, descending at full speed to protect their princess from the invading forces landing on the beach.
It’s another sign that the function and division of the Amazons between the standard warrior citizens and the military may be deeper than usual. Thanks to the rest of the marketing, we know that Antiope (Robin Wright) was training Diana on the cliffs above shortly before Steve’s arrival, and comes charging onto the beach with her cavalry not long after. So who are the woman leaping from the cliffs, and who are the ones armoring up and taking to horseback? We don’t know yet, but even the impression that this society has rules they follow outside of the film’s lens is a welcome thing.
4. Diana Faces The Lightning From… Who?
Spliced into the action montages putting Diana up against machine-gun fire and countless German soldiers, a single shot stands apart. It shows Diana on her knee, arms braced before her, as she is driven back along a cement pad by what appears to be a focused stream of lightning directed straight at her. For some, this is all the confirmation needed to place Ares the God of War at the other end of that energy beam, since only he could drive her back with such ferocity. It’s possible, and even likely… but it raises an interesting question about how the power of the gods – specifically Zeus – will be manifested on film. Especially since white lightning isn’t the kind of attack that Ares is known for.
That being said… he did kill Zeus, according to the movie’s own version of mythology. And if Ares conquered Zeus, it’s possible that he stole the ability to manipulate lighting from him, as well. If that’s the case, then fans are in for a treat – assuming our own theory about Wonder Woman inheriting Zeus’s power proves to be true. Other TV spots seem to show Diana crossing her arms in the air and absorbing these kinds of lightning blasts, so we have to ask: will the daughter of Zeus reclaim his power over the lightning and use it against the god who killed him?
3. Chief Hatchets a Plan
The marketing hasn’t shown too much of the team that both Diana (Gal Gadot) and Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) assemble, but audiences know who to expect. There’s Chief (Eugene Brave Rock), Sameer (Said Taghmaoui), and Charlie (Ewen Bremner), all expected to showcase their own unique abilities on the battlefield. In this case, it’s Chief who gets to punctuate the trailer’s action with the tossing of a bundle of German grenades. We don’t have any profound reading to place into the moment, other than to mention that the decision to attach a handful of German grenades to a tomahawk was a stroke of genius on Chief’s part.
We don’t know if that’s a tomahawk of particularly personal significance (we hope not), but it’s a clever way of planting explosives against the doors of an enemy camp without overthinking it. The moments of Steve shooting the grenades seems like overkill (they’re grenades), so it’s possible that shot originates from somewhere else in the movie. But at this point, it’s not easy deciphering which actions scenes are set where along the front of the war. Every war scene being cast in greys will certainly do that.
2. Diana Runs Towards The Danger
There is fire aplenty in this trailer, ranging from the ‘gun’ variety to old fashioned explosions and fiery factories. We can’t yet decipher the cause of the carnage, but it’s possible, given the shots of German soldier in gas masks and carrying cargo that Diana’s team have tracked Maru’s poison production to its source. So as her teammates make sure to reduce the manufacturing facility to ash, Diana heads after the film’s villain(s). We don’t know which one we’re looking at in this shot, but as Diana races across the cement expanse towards the black silhouette against the fire, we can’t help but notice that this looks a lot like the spot where she fights back against a beam of electricity…
We would expect a bigger shadow from Ares in his final form, but it’s possible that the blazing silhouette belongs to Ludendorff (sapping the last of his artificial superpowers). If we voiced our own hopes, that fire is all that’s needed to force Ares into all his glory – even if it means hitting Diana with a brutal, sustained lightning attack before she reaches him.
1. Diana Takes To The Sky?
Finally, the shot that has left us scratching our heads. Yes, other moments in other trailers and TV spots have shown Diana hovering in the air – or appearing to – or leaping incredible distances. But there’s no way around it: Diana is floating gently up into the air. Unless we’re being deceived into reading this shot as more than it truly is, Wonder Woman will conclude withe Diana mastering her powers of flight. We say “conclude,” because the shots of Diana standing alone on a wooded highway certainly felt like the end of her oddly-unsatisfying journey. The sunset here is a match, suggesting Diana might agree… and simply take to the sky to leave this entire ugliness of war behind her.
It raises the questions concerning the ending of the film that we had pushed aside. Does Steve Trevor survive? And if so, what does it say about their relationship at the film’s end that she chooses not to stay close to him? If he doesn’t survive, is it actually a factor in Diana’s decision to turn away from the world? If not love, then will the horror of Ares do the trick? Come to think of it, we can’t really blame her for deciding to just fly away from it all.
That’s it DC fans: every bit of speculation, theory, question raised, or key movie moment and theme of Wonder Woman that we could spot in the film’s final trailer. If you have a different read, noticed something we didn’t, or have a theory on that final flying shot, be sure to let us know in the comments.
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