WARNING: This article contains potential SPOILERS for Wonder Woman
Batman and Superman may tease their audience with secrecy, but Wonder Woman more than delivers when a brand new trailer is expected to drop. Not long after Warner Bros. and director Patty Jenkins took press behind the scenes to see for themselves how Wonder Woman compares to the DCEU so far, those excited for the movie now have a new preview to enjoy. And enjoy it they will, since it dives into the DC history of Themyscira, Diana's Amazon training, the villainous Ares she'll be fighting, her mythical weaponry, her superpowers, and yes, more enemy soldiers being punched than you could ever demand.
Of course, the new Wonder Woman 'Origin' trailer only reveals significant insights into those facets of the film if you're looking closely. Thankfully, we make a habit of doing just that. The new trailer reveals far more about the story, the action, the larger mythology, and how Patty Jenkins is making her mark than you might think. It demands a bit of analysis and reading between the lines, but we're breaking it all down so fans won't miss out on a single detail.
Needless to say, there will be SPOILERS in our look at the Wonder Woman Origin Trailer: Breakdown & Analysis.
20. Behold The Gods' Gift
The trailer opens with more insanely picturesque shots of Themyscira, Diana's hidden home, but focuses in on an image torn right out of a Disney tale of mothers and daughters: Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) standing, arms outstretched, presenting the world itself to her young daughter as a "gift from the gods." The landscape lives up to that claim, but it's a literal statement in this case, since the mythology of the DCEU's Themyscira states that the island truly was a gift from Zeus himself - but more on that later.
The architecture no longer surprises, since its mix of Greek and Roman stonework embedded and scattered across the rocky terrain has been glimpsed before. The context or significance behind these select busts can't yet be known, but we would point out the wildlife as evidence of how deep the idea of a world 'without men' goes. Those birds look to be leucistic or albino peacocks: male members of the peahen species with longer tails, typically using their extravagant coloring to attract a mate.
It appears that on Themyscira men are still relevant to reproduction, in the animal world at least. But the idea that males 'court' women may be completely done away with, judging by these regal, but guileless fowl.
19. The Art Tells a Story
Getting back to that idea of Themyscira being just one of several literal gifts from the gods, the trailer immediately shifts to Hippolyta and Diana making their way along a decorated stone wall, with the Queen explaining that the other gifts will one day be known to Diana... and this is where they keep them. If the structure beside them is the holding place for those gifts - which seems to be the case - then it's likely the building is the massive Armory, visible as the thick, stout tower dominating the Themysciran landscape. But what's outside may be just as relevant to fans.
During our visit to the Wonder Woman editing bay, we were told of the Themysciran origins, as they are explained to Diana in the film. In an animated sequence Queen Hippolyta informs her daughter of the betrayal of Ares, who turned man into angry, war-hungry armies eager to tear Zeus and his creation apart. Zeus created the Amazons to protect the world from Ares's treachery, kicking off a war among the gods. Ares won, but before Zeus died he created Themyscira for his Amazons, and left them the weapons we'll soon see introduced.
Take a closer look at those reliefs the pair is riding past, and they look to be (from left to right): a man pressing a raised forearm to someone possessing a not-quite-human profile (helmeted, perhaps?), the face of Zeus surrounded by what could be lightning bolts, and what looks like a crowd of women raising their interlocked arms towards... something. Are we seeing that origin story told in three pictures? We'll have to wait until the film for a final word, but we're open to other theories.
18. Young Diana Learns Her History
As we learned during said visit to the editing bay, the film fills in the audience on the pertinent plot information alongside Diana, being welcomed into the larger Amazon culture at the age of eight. Here we see the form that takes, with the origin of their people explained, and the most powerful tool bequeathed to them by Zeus... a tool so powerful, Diana will never be the one to wield it. After all, she is not destined for ferocity, but finery, as the daughter and future Queen of the Amazons. It's unclear just how long ago this scene takes place (Amazons being immortal and all), but the image of a young Diana is significant to the overall DCEU.
The Justice League debuted in Batman V Superman with the spotlight placed on Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. And with this trailer, it seems that all of DC's 'Big Three' will be introduced as children, in the context of scenes encapsulating their adult journeys and conflicts. In Man of Steel, it was Clark's struggle to control his alien powers, but his human mother somehow able to help him anyway (a microcosm of the character's dual identity as empowering, not limiting). In BvS, Bruce saw his father fight back against crime, and get everyone he loved killed (his total blindness to the fact that he walked the same line defining his obliviousness).
Now with Wonder Woman, Diana will be presented with the very heights of Amazonian tradition and exceptionalism, and told it is not the destiny chosen for her. It lights a fire of defiance and self-realization, but based in service to her people and excellence, not a rebellious impulse.
17. The Godkiller
Finally, the trailer offers the best look yet at the Godkiller, the sword left behind as a gift from Zeus. Since the father of the Greek gods could not know that his chosen Amazons would be safe from Ares forever, he left them a weapon capable of killing him. Unfortunately, it sounds as though the weapon itself is beyond the character of any but the fiercest Amazon (we're putting out money on Antiope). Not to mention that it should only be used to kill Ares, so if you have to use it, things have already gotten worse than most Amazons would want to consider.
Unfortunately, it's hard to offer any lengthy insight into the Godkiller, since it seems a wholly original creation for the film and plot. In DC Comics, Wonder Woman's sword isn't usually given a unique or mythical history, and while a sword called Godkiller does exist in the DCU, it's certainly not this one. But Hippolyta's explicit claim that "only the fiercest among us even could" wield the sword begs a bit more investigation. How does she mean it? Is it a weapon similar to Thor's Mjolnir, able to be wielded only by the one deemed worthy? Or does its god-killing ability demand power from the wielder directly?
Keep in mind the idea that Zeus may have left his chosen people - led by his chosen woman - a sword that most could never wield, but is the weapon needed to defend them, inevitably, from his cruel son. It may all make sense in the end.
16. Diana Has An Audience
The fight scenes that follow fly past in an instant, especially considering they're all headed to the most memorable use of Diana's powers we've yet seen teased for the film. But going piece by piece, there are elements of the plot, and character work on Diana and her fellow Amazons to be absorbed. For starters, the image of a teenage Diana being trained by General Antiope (Robin Wright) might seem to stand at odds with Queen Hippolyta's idea for Diana's future. And it should, since Diana seeks out her weapons training specifically against her mother's wishes. Antiope agrees to train her until she is discovered at age 15, when she first exhibits her soon-to-be-seen powers... at which point Hippolyta requests formal training.
It's that formal training that follows, with Diana well into adulthood and taking on all challengers. Amazons practicing combat may seem commonplace, but the gallery of woman standing and spectating as Diana goes through her routine speaks volumes. In the comics, just like the film, Diana is exceptional - and her sisters know it. They're good, but she's better. They're loving, but she embodies compassion. They're beautiful, but she's... well, popular. And when she unsheaths her sword, looses her arrows, and evades attacks from all sides, the people gather to witness it. Thankfully, she has Antiope to keep her grounded.
15. Diana's Magic Vambraces... Not So Magic?
If you asked the average DC Comics fan about the significance or power of Wonder Woman's bulletproof bracers (or vambraces), they'll probably give a simple answer: they're strong enough to deflect bullets. Amazons are tough and strong, but bullets can be tricky. But Zack Snyder seems to have introduced a new bit of mythology surrounding those vambraces that Patty Jenkins is either continuing, or evolving into her own story. In Batman V Superman, they could be crossed to protect her and Batman from Kryptonian heat vision. And when smashed together, created a powerful energy blast of her own.
At the time, it was taken as a classic case of enchanted armor, courtesy of the gods. Stronger than anything, and able to channel that energy into offense. But take a close look at Diana's vambraces right before the moment that Antiope brings down her sword. They're actually glowing in anticipation of the coming attack... which calls into question both of those previous assumptions. For one, their mystical powers aren't tied to actually even being struck by an attack. And they're not transferring that energy out at all... but they're doing something new, at least as far as comic fans are concerned. And we've got a theory.
14. Diana Discovers Her Power
As we mentioned before, Diana's secret combat training only came to an end when something, someone, or some event triggered her ability to generate energy blasts. At that point, Hippolyta realized she was gifted in a way her sisters were not... and she entered into combat training, with those signature vambraces strapped to her forearms. Now when pushed to the breaking point by Antiope in a moment of instructive rage, Diana is bested, driven back, and forced to emit a strong enough blast of energy to take her opponent - and everyone around them - off of their feet. And nobody seems more surprised than her.
The simplest conclusion is that Diana's vambraces aren't doing anything but possibly helping her control the energy coming from her directly. Since this example is actually a combination of defense and offense, Batman V Superman fans can debate just how she manipulated her gift to both separately opposite Doomsday. There is some comic book source material exploring the idea that Diana's bracers are actually designed to control her demigod powers, which may be more relevant here than some expected. Especially if Hippolyta only enrolled her in training once she learned what Diana may have inherited from, say, her father?
13. A Queendom of Isolation
Aside from a stunning ocean horizon, this shot drives home the idea of just how isolated Themyscira is intended to look, seem, and feel to both inhabitants and the audience. It could be more difficult to convince young audience members that Diana and the Amazons could truly exist completely unseen, or completely oblivious to the outside world. But when you're surrounded by waters like these in every direction - and whether you're aware there's an enchantment at work or not - it's a bit more believable.
That enchantment is a literal one, and has been used to keep outsiders from laying their eyes on Themyscira in just about every version of the island. When Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and Diana eventually leave to return him to Europe, they do so in a boat that actually crosses through the barrier concealing the island. It's an effect we'll try to keep unspoiled for fans, but if nothing else, seeing this landscape every day makes the sudden arrival of a World War I pilot feel as shocking as it should.
12. Updates To Themyscira's Throne Room
With the finished effects on this location, it's abundantly clear that this is the throne room of Themyscira. Previous shots used in trailers had been unfinished, leaving the foreground empty and the background filler landscape. Now, with the rocky outcroppings of the island's heart visible on the right side, and the rows upon rows of chairs filling the foreground, the room's function as a gathering place for the Amazons. Hopefully these chairs will be filled in the film to get a sense of the actual scale of the Amazon society, but we'll just keep our fingers crossed.
As an extra hat tip to the production team under Patty Jenkins, applause is due to their ability to craft a royal throne that is as un-phallic as possible. Instead, Hippolyta sits in her seat of power flanked by two perfect circles (the anti-phallus). We would assume one is reserved for Diana, since she stands at her mother's side in most of the Queen's appearances, but the other is unknown (Antiope, perhaps?). The Queen's throne? Another circle, but spiraling inward to emphasize her unending rule. Needless to say, Steve Trevor's stunned reactions are justified.
11. Role Reversal
As thrilling as it is to see that Chris Pine remains in anachronistically-fit shape as Steve Trevor, the lack of dialogue in this scene is both disappointing and exciting. After all, given Diana's dress, it would seem that she is only now getting the chance to address the strange man who washed up on the shores of her home. She has yet to even have her wounds dressed, so the healing factor and medicine of Themyscira remains hard to pin down (unless - gasp - she's already been healed?). But for every fan of Diana Prince, this first exchange is the one to watch out for.
It seems to fall to Diana to give Steve what little information he is allowed to absorb about this strange place, and her own role of authority within it. It's the kind of subversion of power dynamics that Pine proved particularly good at in the Star Trek series, so we doubt he'll let fans of Steve Trevor down. The version of Steve and Diana's first meeting was given a further inversion of the traditional story - Steve an emotional wreck, Diana the rock of support - but it looks like some humor may be more likely in the film version.
10. Setting The Board For The Battle
There's nothing exceptionally groundbreaking here, just one more shot of the epic cavalry charge of the Amazons, led by Antiope, preparing to stun some German soldiers out of their boots. Previous trailers showed the ensuing scene, and the moments of German assault that precede it (in which Diana and Steve are defended by descending Amazons, and Diana gets her first look at the tiny, fast-moving projectiles we regular folk call "bullets." Diana and Steve are presumed to be taking cover on the right side of this image, as the army arrives to distract and destroy.
It's a moment for military buffs and historical warfare enthusiasts to discuss, as Antiope has clearly divided her forces to make the most concise victory attainable. Select soldiers rappel down the cliffs to personally act as a shield for their princess, while the brunt of the cavalry makes their assault in a straight line along the beach. For the newcomers, this would be called a 'flying wedge' formation: an attack intended to maximize the power of the impact as opposed to approaching in a straight line. Fortunately, the Germans might not have to take the hit at full force.
9. General Antiope's Triple (Yes, Triple) Arrow
Now seems as fitting a time as any to call out Robin Wright's appearance in the trailer, charged with playing the fiercest of the Amazon's military structure, General Antiope (we're still not sure how that one's going to be pronounced on film). In a typical comic book story, there may be reason to suspect that the most trusted, and deadliest lieutenant is actually the most likely to turn against the ruler, but we doubt that twist will play out here. After all, Queen Hippolyta is a traditionally smart, shrewd, and powerful ruler. And Antiope is her closest sister.
The movie has yet to be released, and audiences have already gotten to see multiple reasons why Wright's Antiope could be the fan-favorite Amazon of the lot. First came her leaping arrow fire, then stabbing an opponent soldier with a bundle of arrows. In this trailer she proves just as deadly with a sword, and in this slow motion shot, it's revealed she's actually firing three arrows back at her target. Let's just say that if the unthinkable happens an Antiope does decide to follow her own mission... we feel sorry for the Amazons who oppose her.
8. Ludendorff's Private War
We've extensively covered the villain of Wonder Woman played by actor Danny Huston, which wasn't easy considering how closely the secret of his identity was held by the filmmakers. We now know that this direct antagonist of Wonder Woman will be Erich Ludendorff, a very real, historical member of the German high command, controlling all German war operations alongside Hindenburg. We speculated that Ludendorff being a real person, whose military career extended (less than glamorously) after the war meant he likely isn't Ares in this story... but that doesn't mean he's not evil.
We're referring to this fictional Ludendorff, not the real one. His connection with 'Doctor Poison,' the masked woman concocting his chemical weapons seems a simple one, but this shot demonstrates just how determined he is to keep the war going forward. At this point in the story, the Germans and Allies are actually trying to reach an armistice. But judging by the level of activity Ludendorff has arrived to confirm, he's a long way away from giving up the fight. This could be the location Steve Trevor infiltrates personally, before being shot down over Themyscira.
7. Diana Answering The Call
The dialogue leading up to Diana's decision to leave home seems to be comprised of a few different scenes or contexts, which may be for the best. The final exchange between Queen Hippolyta and her daughter should be a heartbreaking and meaningful one, so the less revealed in trailers the better. Since Diana makes it clear to her mother that she's not going to pass up the chance to return Steve to the war, track down Ares driving the events in secret, and kill him, we can only assume she has a blessing to retrieve the Godkiller (and the armor and golden lassoo).
In literary terms, Diana seems to be sticking quite close to the Hero's Journey. Steve Trevor's surprise entry into Themyscira telling tales of a global war beyond their doorstep shatters her notion of the mundane world she inhabits. By teasing a villain who may be the one her people were always destined to vanquish, Diana hears her call to adventure, and being the Queen's daughter, can't resist the call. Hippolyta is apparently an English literature major, since she seems to realize that refusing the call is simply not an option (not when Diana has a Justice League to help build).
6. Reading The Godkiller
As Diana takes the Godkiller, the audience is given its best look at the hilt and blade of the divine weapon. There's plenty to talk about, too - unfortunately, the inscription on the blade is a mystery, since those symbols haven't been matched to any language or alphabet we can recognize. The sword wielded by Diana in Batman V Superman - referred to as the Sword of Athena - had an inscription pulled from a Joseph Campbell quote, but it neither looks nor reads like this solo film weapon.
What may be the most curious detail is the hilt constructed out of two dragons sharing a neck and sinking their teeth into the blade. As even casual fans may know, dragons don't play a massive role in Greek mythology, with those present presumed to have been adopted as part of a Near East cultural tradition. Still, if these dragons are of any particular significance, be it historic or fictional, there are a few choices. They could represent Cadmus and his wife, the hero who slew Ares's son, the great Ismenian dragon or serpent. Or they could be the heads of the Lernaean Hydra, hinting that a beast or creature's poison could be what defines this blade as a "god killer." Your guess is as good as ours!
5. Diana Arrives in London
As we mentioned before, we know that Steve and Diana leave the island of Themyscira in a boat, and the style and decoration of this vessel matches what most would expect. The earlier shot of London's smoke-filled skies actually reveals this boat being pulled up the Thames by a smoke-spewing tugboat, which may explain why Diana seems more than a little uneasy. That, and she finds this city absolutely hideous (at that time in history, she wasn't wrong, either).
For those curious to see how the comic book mythology of Themyscira is being adopted or changed for film, we can confirm that when the boat leaves Diana's home, she and Steve witness their piercing of the veil surrounding the island. The mystical barrier that keeps the island hidden is pushed through, surrounding them, than snapping back into place. That adds some context before Diana heads to a city that's never even thought to look for her... but also hints that getting home may not be a possibility.
4. Diana Doesn't Need a Sword
There's no way to get past it: the hours, days, weeks, and months following Gal Gadot's casting as Wonder Woman were filled with criticism and doubt that those responsible may wish left in the past. Much of the controversy surrounded Gadot's body - with accusations she was "too skinny" taken with a laugh by Gadot herself - and as keen as we are on not restarting that conversation, it's clear that Gadot has risen to the same bar of dedication and physical performance of her co-stars, heaving a tank in a display of her Teres Majors alone that would leave grown men green with envy.
Jokes aside, this scene reveals that Diana's physical strength isn't just tied to her invulnerability or weapon skills. If her sword and shield are lost, or a massive metal vehicle is simply the best tool for the job, then she's not above grabbing hold and sending it flying through the air towards an enemy encampment. Or, in this case, into the side of a building in a German-controlled French village. We just hope that she's able to test her limits on more than inanimate objects before the end of the film.
3. Ludendorff Learns Who He's Fighting
If we're sticking to our theory that it's actually a peace-seeking military man who is playing Ares in disguise, and not the obvious choice of Ludendorff, then the footage of him being kicked by Diana, or flung through the air with her lasso need some explanation. At least, we think they do, since Wonder woman doesn't seem like the kind of person to brutalize an aging officer. We caught a glimpse of Ludendorff inhaling a strange, life-restoring chemical during our 16-minute preview of Wonder Woman, which could explain the enhanced, window-shattering strength and durability (while still fitting our theory, if those chemicals originated with Ares to help keep Diana distracted).
It's assumed that Diana is delivering her explanation of her name, her origins, and her lineage to Ludendorff, still under the assumption that he is Ares. We can't say for certain, but thankfully, we now know how the DCEU will be pronouncing "Hippolyta." So say it with us, DCEU fans: "Hih-PAUL-ittuh."
2. Patty Jenkins is Pushing The Envelope
It's tempting to look past the moments of stylized action or shot compositions to glean plot-specific details, or clues as to what's coming next in DC's movie universe. But doing that risks missing the incredibly promising, energetic, and Snyder-esque beats being constructed by Patty Jenkins. His name may be a trigger for trolls or passionate fans, but WB had a good reason to entrust the Justice League, Superman, and Batman to Zack Snyder: in short, for reinventing the way that action look in modern blockbusters. That's a hard act to follow - and one that the Suicide Squad never attempted, nor succeeded in topping.
Jenkins, on the other hand, has offered up close to a dozen memorable, gif-worthy shots from these trailers alone. With Diana sliding across rooms on her shield, smashing through panes of glass, leaping over fences from horseback, and now, following a German soldier out a window in a slow-mo, side-on panning shot... who knows how much we have to look forward to? Either way, repeat viewings could be a must if the 300 energy is this strong throughout all of Jenkins and Gadot's action scenes.
1. The Truth of Diana's Superpower?
Finally, we arrive at what could be the most telling image of the trailer, in terms of its impact on theories concerning Diana's powers, the origin of the Amazons, and her true parentage. In the previous trailer, the moment in which Diana's crossed vambraces seem to be absorbing electrical energy was used to punctuate its action crescendo. This time around, the entire shot is shown, beginning with Diana hovering in the air, arms spread, and slowly drawing her forearms together in front of her. But before she does, her armor takes on a life of its own.
Her vambraces glowing as energy is discharged is one thing. But her entire armor glowing as she seems to prepare for a larger, more powerful attack - potentially fuelled by 'lightning' - speaks to something more than just enchanted weaponry, or a means to control energy. If the theory that this version of Wonder Woman is actually the daughter of Hippolyta and Zeus proves true, then this all makes sense. Hippolyta set Diana on a path to becoming the Amazons' champion once she learned she had inherited godlike powers from Zeus, kept it a secret, and kept Diana from pursuing the role so she could do it herself.
If true, then coming face to face with Ares or his underling could raise questions of just what Wonder Woman is. And if revealed to her, then Diana could accept that fact, becoming more powerful and willing to channel all her power through her body (and armor) into a new direction. Before, you know... failing to actually stop World War I or the century of warfare that followed. But even the daughter of Zeus can't win 'em all.
That's every meaningful plot beat, possible reveal or missing link we managed to spot in the 'Origin' trailer for Wonder Woman, but there are plenty more twists or potential reveals to discuss among the fans. We invite every reader to share your favorite moments, your best theories, or the lingering questions in the comments.
- Wonder Woman (2017) release date: Jun 02, 2017