| Backstage - Michael Jelenic Interview
MICHAEL JELENIC DISCUSSES “WONDER WOMAN,” THE NEXT DC
UNIVERSE ANIMATED ORIGINAL MOVIE COMING TO DVD MARCH 3,
Writer Michael Jelenic makes the leap from animated
television to feature-length films with his script for
“Wonder Woman,” the next entry in the popular series of
DC Universe animated original PG-13 films. Warner
Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation are set
to release the all-new film on March 3, 2009,
distributed by Warner Home Video. The film will also be
available OnDemand and Pay-Per-View as well as available
for download day and date, March 3, 2009.
Jelenic has crafted a script that offers complementary
balances of action and comedy, contemporary society and
Greek mythology, and the social pratfalls of both men
and women. It is an origin story and a stand-alone
adventure, resulting in an entertaining approach to the
first-ever “Wonder Woman” full-length film. Jelenic and
renowned comics writer Gail Simone have “story by”
credits on the movie.
Jelenic is well-known for his work at Warner Bros.
Animation, providing the clever words to series like
“The Batman,” “Legion of Super Heroes” and the newest
Dark Knight animated series, “Batman: The Brave and the
Jelenic stepped away from his laptop to be both brave
and bold in answering a few questions about the thoughts
behind the words and story of “Wonder Woman,” the
challenges of pleasing every fan, and the un-coolness of
working in the comics realm.
Before you make your New Year’s resolutions, check out
this Q&A with “Wonder Woman” screenwriter Michael
QUESTION: As this is Wonder Woman’s origin story,
what did you know you needed to include and on what did
you want to focus?
MICHAEL JELENIC: We had to hit certain elements that are
part of Wonder Woman’s myth, and my job was to answer
what sort of ramifications her origins would have on her
character during her journey to becoming a hero. It’s
basically trying to boil down essential Wonder Woman
elements into one story. We looked at the stuff that the
fans had to see – the iconic things about Wonder Woman –
and then tried to put a twist on them. We’ve seen the
lasso and the invisible jet before, so what’s another
way we could use them? I wanted to incorporate all these
iconic Wonder Woman moments into the larger overall
QUESTION: What’s your writing process?
MICHAEL JELENIC: First, I figure out what's the story
that's worth telling, and that usually entails a long
time of just staring at the blank page. Once I know that
story, I start focusing on the moments. I think when you
remember great films, it's not necessarily the plot that
you remember, it's the moments. So I start trying to
accumulate a list of moments. In “Wonder Woman,” there
are a lot of them – the bar scene between Diana and
Steve, the interrogation of Steve, the truth lasso. It’s
taking all the elements and moments and, while working
within the theme of the story, creating something that
serves those ideas.
I also researched a lot Greek mythology to help form the
screenplay. I definitely wanted to hit some of the
hallmarks of Greek tragedies, so I had to brush up on
Ares and Hades, Hera and Zeus, and tons of characters I
can't even pronounce.
QUESTION: What went into the character development of
this Diana/Wonder Woman?
MICHAEL JELENIC: Diana had to represent all the
feminine ideals and virtues, the things that make women
great. At the same time, she’s a very strong female
character in terms of both her physical prowess and her
personality. So we tried to find a balance to create a
character that doesn't lose her femininity by being a
strong action hero.
Ultimately, we wanted to explore her journey of
discovery. She’s been raised to believe that women don’t
need men, that women are morally better. If there is a
message to the film, it’s basically that men and women
are not perfect. Men have their problems. Women have
their problems. And when they interact, these problems
often grow. But at the end of the day, men and women are
actually stronger and better when they work together to
overcome these problems.
QUESTION: How did you balance Wonder Woman’s personality
with those of your two primary male characters, Ares and
MICHAEL JELENIC: The stronger you make your villain, the
stronger it makes your hero, so we wanted Ares to be
intelligent, ruthless, powerful, and also represent all
the misgivings the Amazon women have about men. When
Hippolyta says men are bad, she points to Ares.
Steve Trevor was a difficult character to crack in that,
as a love interest to Wonder Woman, it's important that
you make him somebody who is worthy of Diana's
affection. So he had to be strong and competent, but at
the same time in order to create the romantic comedy, he
can't be perfect. And he is flawed. He has his own sort
of misogynistic ideas that he has to resolve. But he
proves himself worthy.
QUESTION: What made “Wonder Woman” entertaining for you
MICHAEL JELENIC: I really enjoyed an opportunity to tell
a story that is sort of a romantic comedy mixed with
“300.” That’s what Wonder Woman really is – a very
simple sort of love story that's frequently comedic,
primarily in the pairing of these two key characters,
set against a backdrop of so much violence and action.
QUESTION: Did you have a favorite character?
MICHAEL JELENIC: Steve Trevor's probably my most
favorite character to write because he's the comedy
relief throughout the film. He doesn't take himself too
seriously. You have all this pretentious Greek god stuff
happening, and then you give him a line where he sort of
disarms that or diffuses it with a joke.
QUESTION: Did the cast add anything to your words?
MICHAEL JELENIC: I think we were incredibly fortunate to
get this amazing cast. I thought the lines I’d written
were pretty good, but these actors really make them
their own. Steve Trevor’s lines looked funny on the
page, but they are hilarious coming out of Nathan
Fillion’s mouth. And Keri Russell brings a sense of
compassion and depth to her character that goes beyond
what was even intended in the script.
QUESTION: Did Lauren Montgomery’s direction translate
your visions of the script?
MICHAEL JELENIC: Better. Lauren's direction is amazing.
I wrote some battle scenes in the script, but the way
she fleshed them out is so much better than I could have
ever conceived. At the same time, her approach to
directing the characters is very strong. I enjoy
watching the scenes between Steve and Diana just as much
as the battle scenes.
QUESTION: Do you enjoy working in the comics realm?
MICHAEL JELENIC: I enjoy working in the world of comics,
but there are definitely some challenges. It’s hard to
keep every single fan happy with what you do – that's
probably the biggest and most daunting challenge. You
want to bring your own take to the character, but at the
same time, you don't want to betray what people feel are
the core ideas of the character. Regardless of what you
do, there's going to be someone who says you suck. But
if you do a decent enough job, a lot of people will tend
to appreciate you putting a different spin on the
subject. It’s actually a great time to work with comics
– but it's like the opposite of cool to work in comics.
It’s fun to be able to spend your day coming up with
stories for men in tights. So it's not cool, but it's
fun. (he laughs).
Please visit the film’s official website at
“Wonder Woman” screenwriter takes questions during a
panel at Comic-Con 2008. (Photo courtesy of Gary
Alexa hides from an intimidating opponent during a
battle scene in “Wonder Wonder” the all-new DC Universe
animated original movie slated for distribution March 3,
2009 by Warner Home Video.
Steve Trevor is interrogated by Queen Hippolyta and
Artemis in a funny moment from “Wonder Woman.” Steve
Trevor is voiced by Nathan Fillion, while Virginia
Madsen and Rosario Dawson provide the voices of
Hippolyta and Artemis, respectively. “Wonder Woman,” an
all-new DC Universe animated original movie, will be
distributed March 3, 2009 by Warner Home Video.
White House aflame.jpg
Ares brings his battle with Wonder Woman to Washington
D.C., and President Elect Obama might just need to
consider some renovations before he moves in this
January. “Wonder Woman,” an all-new DC Universe animated
original movie, will be distributed by Warner Home Video
March 3, 2009.
"Wonder Woman" (c) Warner Bros. Ent Inc. "Wonder Woman"
and all related characters and elements are trademarks
of and (c) DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.
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