PEOPLE investigates Wonder Woman's burning questions
With Wonder Woman sailing swiftly into the history books as the best-reviewed superhero movie ever with a $100.5 million opening weekend box office haul, the film has struck a chord with audiences and is currently looking to reign supreme for its second weekend in release.
There are a few things we now know for certain: The film’s leading lady Gal Gadot is a superstar in the making, Chris Pine‘s Steve Trevor is the perfect romantic foil for Diana Prince, and growing up among the Amazons would be awesome. However, the film did leave us with some unanswered questions: Who are real-life women behind those badass Amazons? What and where is Themyscira? How in the world did Gadot film any scenes while she was five months pregnant? When can we expect a sequel?
Here’s an inside look at the answers to all those burning questions — and more:
What and where is Themyscira?
Technically, it’s the fictional home of the Amazons and has roots in Greek mythology. Practically, in talking about where they filmed the fictional island and epic beach battle sequence, it’s Italy’s Amalfi Coast.
“Italy had beautiful weather, a beautiful blue-green sea, not too much tide, not too much wave,” says production designer Aline Bonetto. “Our effects team added some cliffs in post, and it was the perfect way to go.”
Who were all those Amazons?
The Amazons were played by actresses from all over the world and world-class athletes: Norwegian actress Lisa Loven Kongsli, Uganda’s Florence Kasumba, champion boxer Ann J. Wolfe, Wushu expert Samantha Jo, CrossFit champion Brooke Ence, pentathlete Jenny Pacey, track and field star Moe Sasegbon and eight-year-old champion horse rider and jumper Lilly Aspell, who played young Diana.
“We set out to find all the best most incredible athletes in the world,” Jenkins told Conan O’Brien of assembling her Amazonian army.
And how did they train for their roles?
Short answer: Fiercely, and for many months.
While most of the women trained separately before coming to set, the bond of sisterhood was formed during their daily six hours of skill work during pre-production.
“It was two hours in the morning of weight training, you then ate – you ate every two hours,” Connie Nielsen, who played Wonder Woman’s mother Hippolyta, tells PEOPLE. “And then it was two hours of sword fighting and stunt work and then it was two hours of horseback riding and then you basically try to drag yourself towards your bed in the hotel room and try not to move until the next morning, then you’re doing it again.”
Nielsen calls the experience of galloping down the beach alongside her fellow warriors “incredible” and adds that they enjoyed each other on set and off. “We all hung out together and had wine and good food and enjoyed that incredible sisterhood,” she says. “It was a great time.”
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How in the heck did Gal Gadot film her scenes while five months pregnant?
While Gadot was not pregnant during principal photography, she was five months along when it came time to film some reshoots. And because Gadot’s skimpy costume did not have room for her growing baby bump, the crew had to get creative with a combination of modern technology and a small triangle-shaped piece of green-screen cloth, which they placed over Gadot’s bump.
“On close-up I looked very much like Wonder Woman,” Gadot tells Entertainment Weekly. “On wide shots I looked very funny, like Wonder Woman pregnant with Kermit the Frog.”
Who are the guys who join Steve Trevor’s seemingly futile mission?
That would be Sameer, Charlie and The Chief, played by French-American actor Saïd Taghmaoui (American Hustle), Ewen Bremner (Trainspotting) and Eugene Brave Rock (The Revenant), respectively.
“[Sameer] never wanted to be a soldier, so he approaches his military service as if it were one big acting job,” says Taghmaoui. “He’s very quick, he can make up stories, and he’s a master of many languages.”
Adds Bremner: “Charlie was sent home as unfit for battle, due to what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). At that time, it was known as shell shock. Contrary to Charlie’s boasting and his chutzpa, he goes to pieces on the battlefield at a critical moment.”
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Brave Rock says his Chief is “the go-to guy who can get you anything you need. And he’s a free man there, whereas back in America, he would not be.”
The character is based on real men who fought overseas in WWI, by choice. “It was so profound to me to learn that Native Americans, who had lost everything to violence and unfairness in the U.S., were volunteering for a war to escape the horrors at home,” adds Jenkins.
How did they get Wonder Woman’s shield to deflect bullets in the “No Man’s Land” sequence?
Short answer: Carefully. And with a unique blend of electrical engineering.
According to Warner Brothers, the shield Gadot carries into that battle sequence was built of carbon fiber Kevlar, which was then rigged with a vibrating mechanism and a firing system of 48 sparks, designed to mimick the deflections off Wonder Woman’s shield when she comes under fire in that scene.
“We controlled it remotely,” says special effects supervisor Mark Holt. “Each spark was fired individually, so we could discharge a sequence of continuous fire or pulse it for sporadic fire.”
Who is Trevor’s secretary Etta?
She’s Wonder Woman’s trusty sidekick Etta Candy, played by English actress Lucy Davis (The Office, Shaun of the Dead) and has a long history in the comics. “Etta Candy is a great character who has been around throughout the history of Wonder Woman, in various capacities, including as Diana’s best friend,” Jenkins says. “A great version of Etta, and one that suited our needs, is that of Steve’s secretary, a go-to, reliable character in his uncertain world, who is also an example of a modern woman—in 1918, that is.”
Who would win in a fight: Wonder Woman or Thor?
Wonder Woman would, says Thor (Chris Hemsworth):
When will we see a sequel and who will be in it?
“We’re working on it.” Jenkins recently admitted to Conan O’Brien. “I hope to [direct it], I love it, I love the world, and we’re all really excited about it.”
Despite that current ambiguity, Nielsen tells PEOPLE we can 100% expect to see a few Wonder Woman stars in The Justice League, which opens in November.
“Well, me and Robin [Wright] and Gal are all in Justice League coming up,” she says. “So you get more of the Amazons there as well.”
When will narrow-minded folks stop complaining about women-only screenings?