The release of Wonder Woman is only days away, and its early reviews are radiating with enthusiasm. Not only does the film have the power to break ground within the superhero genre, but also for effective female representation both in front of and behind the camera. Such a promising motion picture couldn't have been accomplished without director Patty Jenkins — and the strong team of actresses beside her.
The fourth film in the emerging #DCEU franchise, Wonder Woman will begin at the heroine's native land, Themyscira, an all-female utopia of peace, security and expert battle training. In order to become battle-ready, the actresses bringing the Amazons to life attended a grueling (but rewarding) boot camp, which brought out the warriors in each of them.
The women were recruited from all around the world and are equipped with a vast range of skills. From bobsledding to track-and-field, the real-life Amazons brought their diverse talents to set, turning Themyscira into the badass nation it's known to be.
Defying Gender Stereotypes
Supermodel and horsewoman Doutzen Kroes, who is set to play Venelia — the righthand woman of Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) — recalls riding through beaches on horseback in full armor, pretending to slay men with her sword. In other words, a truly memorable experience, as she recounted to Entertainment Weekly:
“The challenge was that I had to ride with one hand and have the sword in the other hand and kill a person at the same time. Which sounds horrible, but it was so fun to do!"
After basic strength training, the actresses spent hours practicing swordplay, horseback riding and stunt choreography. Professional fighter Madeleine Vall Beijner says that the trainers wanted the group to look like the female version of 300 — they even worked with Gym Jones, the fitness team behind that epic war film.
For many of the Wonder Woman athletes, it was a breath of fresh air to train with and be part of an all-female team. Crossfit champion Brooke Ence states:
“It really is cool to see this whole training area, and there’s not one male figure in sight. It’s just women wrestling other women, kickboxing, doing pull-ups and practicing with spears — just a lot of stuff that in the real world is very male-dominated.”
Beijner and Ence have the roles of warriors Egeria and Penthesilea, respectively, who are under the command of General Antiope (Robin Wright).
Becoming True Warriors Inside And Out
Several of the women weren't quite sure what to expect on-set, since for many, it was their first time working on a Hollywood film. But they quickly adapted, bonded with each other along the way and embraced their inner warriors. Beijner's career in fighting made her role in Wonder Woman easy to adjust to, and arguably, made her tougher. She recounts:
"I’ve been training for 12 years not to show anything, even how hard I get hit. They called me RoboCop because when we were training, they were like, ‘You’re supposed to show that it hurts!’ And I was like, ‘No, I don’t get hurt! I’m a fighter!'"
Ence was stunned by how natural it was to tap into her inner warrior after donning battle armor and riding along beaches with her Amazon tribe:
"The first day we were on-set with all of our swords and shields, it felt like a different type of power, and we looked awesome."
Kroes remembers a day on-set when her son came to visit; he was in awe seeing his mother in full Amazon gear:
“If I could just have that face framed as a picture on my wall, I think I melted because he has never looked at me like that ever. He was just in full admiration of his mommy as a warrior.”
These remarkable women are badass on and off Paradise Island. They've gifted us with an example to live by of how all women, regardless of your skills or background, can empower each other. The actresses' unity as a team should make us more confident in the power of Wonder Woman, and how it could be the film that pioneers the future of cinema.
Wonder Woman hits theaters June 2.
What are you most excited to see in the Amazing Amazon's solo journey? Tell us in the comments below!