The trailers and footage we've seen from director Patty Jenkins' upcoming Wonder Woman movie to this point have been great, but they've also been lacking details in a certain area. While they've done a great job establishing the world of Themyscira, introducing the heroes, and setting up the period story, one thing they haven't done is really talk about the central villains in the conflict. Sure, we've seen some of them in quick flashes, but no substantial information about them has really been released. Today we are putting an end to that.
Early last year I joined a small group of journalists to visit the set of Wonder Woman while it was still in production, and some of the key material that we learned during the experience was about the antagonistic forces in the upcoming blockbuster. And to help you all get a grip on exactly what's happening, we've put together this handy guide to help introduce you to the film's main villains. Read on, and learn something!
Dr. Maru a.k.a. Dr. Poison
Dr. Maru, who is best known in the comics as Dr. Poison, is one of Wonder Woman's oldest adversaries, having been first introduced all the way back in the early 1940s as the head of a Nazi spy ring. In her first appearance, she attempted to use a special kind of poison that caused enemy soldiers to turn against their orders and do the exact opposite. The villainess' plan won't be quite as silly in the Wonder Woman movie, but there is the threat of her being just as deadly.
As we learned on the set of the upcoming blockbuster, the audience is introduced to Chris Pine's Steve Trevor actually just shortly after he's had his very own encounter with Dr. Maru. With peace plans in motion to end World War I, Steve learns of an evil plot involving the use of toxins to kill millions and perpetuate the war to continue, and he uses his spy skills to steal Dr. Maru's notebook for proof. It's on his way back from his mission that Steve winds up being pursued, and ultimately crash lands on the beaches of Themyscira.
Portrayed for the first time in live action, Dr. Maru is played by Elena Anaya in the Wonder Woman movie. As you can probably tell from the image above, she's had a couple of lab accidents in the past that have resulted in some facial deformities (which she covers up with a mask), but that only has the effect of making her seem all the more dangerous. Certainly not helping things for the good guys is the fact that she has a powerful friend...
General Erich Ludendorff
Actor Danny Huston already has some experience bringing comic book bad guys to life, as it was only a few years back that he wound up portraying William Stryker in 2010's X-Men Origins: Wolverine. After that film, Wonder Woman will have Huston playing another military figure in a period piece... but the part of General Erich Ludendorff should prove to be very different from the last time we saw the actor in the genre.
Rather than being just a simple comic book villain, General Erich Ludendorff was actually a real person who lived during World War I, serving with the Germans. In fact, he was famously a prominent figure after the war and the German loss, perpetuating that the defeat was a result of poor German nationalism rather than an underperforming military effort (an ideology that kept the nation in serious trouble for decades to come). We can't really say at this point how much this true life material will ultimately influence the character and his portrayal in the Wonder Woman movie, but one thing is for certain: he is very anti-peace.
From what we learned on set, General Ludendorff is a close associate of the aforementioned Dr. Maru in Wonder Woman, and the two are working together on the mission to release a cloud of poison on innocent European populations. In addition to helping with strategy, we also learned that Ludendorff will have the opportunity to act as a heavy for at least a portion of the movie, as Maru designs special drugs that wind up giving Ludendorff enhanced abilities (for example, as seen in a clip from the movie, he has the strength to crush a pistol in his hand like it were made of chalk). We can definitely expect a serious showdown between him and the titular heroine.
Evil scientists and military figures obviously pose a serious threat to Wonder Woman, and she will have to work hard to stop their evil plot in the upcoming film, but it just wouldn't be a Wonder Woman movie without a more mystical threat. After all, you need something to tie back to her origins as a demi-god, right? Well, while details about the character were definitely kept to a minimum while we were on set, we can definitely confirm that the God of War, Ares, will have a key role to play in Patty Jenkins' blockbuster.
Audiences will first learn about the backstory of Ares in the first act of the movie, as a flashback sequence will see young Wonder Woman learning all about the origins of the Amazons. Prior to the creation of Themysciara, the women were slaves to Ares, who had influenced the world of man to be in perpetual battle and managed to kill just about all of the gods. The only god he couldn't kill was Zeus, who was ultimately able to injure Ares and create the island of Themysciara so that the Amazons could be safe separated from the rest of the world. This action definitely took Ares down a few pegs, but it doesn't knock him out for the count. In fact, Wonder Woman grew up her entire life believing that the God of War would eventually be back, and trained to prepare to stop him.
This winds up being a pretty significant thing when she first learns from Steve Trevor about the horrors of World War I. She is completely convinced that Ares is the one pulling the strings behind the entire conflict, and while Steve thinks she's crazy, it's enough to convince her to leave her home behind and venture out to the world of man. On set, none of the actors or filmmakers would tell us if the eponymous heroine actually gets the chance to go toe-to-toe with the God of War, but it certainly seems like it's in the cards. Or as producer Charles Roven told me in an interview,
The legacy of the Themysciarans, why they were created, why they were ultimately enslaved and then got their freedom, which is why they wear their bracelets, and then ultimately moved to the island of Themysciara... all of that will come to play over the course of the movie.
Obviously there are still a good number of mysteries in play here, but we're still excited to learn all of the answers. They will surely come when Wonder Woman is released in theaters on June 2nd -- and be sure to stick around here on CinemaBlend for more information about the movie from our time on set!