Wonder. Confidence. Power. Courage. Grace. Wisdom. Those are the opening words of the foreword by Patty Jenkins and those themes echo throughout this beautifully rendered tome which details the painstaking design and effects that went into 2017’s Wonder Woman film. Wonder Woman: The Art and Making of the Film is more than a companion, it is a love letter to the film and gives beautiful insight into the work of Patty Jenkins and her team, production designer Aline Bonetto (Amelie, The City of Lost Children), costume designer Lindy Hemming (The Dark Knight, Casino Royale), set director Anna Lynch Robinson (Les Miserables, Alice Through the Looking Glass), VFX supervisor Bill Westenhofer (Life of Pi) and director of photography Matt Jensen (Game of Thrones, Chronicle).
Coming on the heels of the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman’s comic debut, the Wonder Woman film had the hard task of bringing Diana’s story to the big screen for the first time. After combing through this book, it’s obvious Jenkins and her team were more than up to the task. Using the original Wonder Woman comic book by William Moulton Marston as their starting point, Jenkins sought to bring those iconic qualities of the character to the forefront with the modern visual sensibilities and incarnations Diana Prince has gone through over her 75-year evolution.
About half of the book is devoted to how the Wonder Woman team brought the Amazons and Themyscira to the big screen for the first time. The thoughtful nature of the designers shows through every choice. The locations and influences were chosen to show the Amazons integration with the nature around them; natural coves integrated with their housing, open spaces because of their ability to be free and open with each other, influences of nature such as the shell motif of Queen Hippolyta’s throne room and armor as well as the leathers and fish skins used to craft their costumes. There’s also nods to art deco patterns as a nod to iconic DC comic imagery. While so much was made by hand to create the individuality and authenticity of the pieces, technology was also seamlessly used to create impossible shots of Diana’s superhuman strength or even creating anatomically correct body molds of the actors so costumers could spend the months needed to create form-hugging looks without having to call on the actors for fittings.
There are lots of hidden gems in this book, some of which moved me to tears because they show how determined Jenkins and her team were to get things right. For the shot where Diana sees the soldiers heading off to and returning from the front lines, the props department created packs for the soldiers which contained pictures and letters from their “loved ones”. It’s a detail that the camera will never see, but it allows the actors to flesh out their characters even for a small moment in the film.
The book is filled with many such details, from lighting and color influences (John Singer Sargent was a major influence for the London scenes) to detailed pictures of the weapons used by the Amazons and how they mirror their armor or represent their character. I won’t spoil some of the other surprises that await you, but believe me, you won’t be disappointed. Like the Arrow art book, this book has some lovely touches for the hardcore fans.
Wonder Woman’s power as a cultural icon is unparalleled. As the first major female superhero and an enduring figure in the comic world, bringing her to film in a way that honored her legacy was no small feat. Wonder Woman: The Art and Making of the Film illustrates just how Jenkins and her team executed that task with wondrous results.
You can purchase Wonder Woman: The Art and Making of the Film on Amazon or wherever books are sold.