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Backstage - Lauren Montgomery Interview

Did you lobby to get on the Wonder Woman movie?

No. I've worked with Bruce on Superman/Doomsday and I guess he was just nice enough to ask me back to do Wonder Woman and I was more than happy to do that.

Did you know a lot about Wonder Woman before you started?

I can't say I'm the foremost Wonder Woman expert, but I know enough. I knew she was an Amazon. I know there's a lot of people out there who are like "What, she's made of clay?" "An island full of woman?" and they just don't know. I did know her origin. I knew two of her villains, but I don't know the whole mythos since there is so much to cover. I feel like I knew a fair amount to be able to handle her and I've learned a lot more about her through the whole process.

Did you find any challenges in working with one of the most popular female comic book characters in the world?

The biggest challenge is hoping you can meet all the fans expectations because there are so many versions of Wonder Woman and different people all love different versions. No matter what you do you you're probably going the have a large fan group that's like "I hate it! Thatís not the one I like!" So we just tried to make her a strong, loveable, appealable character to as many people as we can get to love her. I guess that was the biggest hurdle to get over. Making sure we do everything we can to make this a good story, to make the fans like her in her first, full-length animated feature.

What do you think the biggest thing is that fans should be looking forward to about this film?

I think what a lot of the comic book fans will like is that we really didn't pull any punches. She's out there kicking as much butt, if not more than Superman and Batman have done. Of the big three of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, she's the only one not afraid to kill. She's an Amazon warrior, she's been trained to kill, she won't do it unnecessarily, but if there's a bad guy out there and she has to do him in, she'll do it. You'll see some of that in this movie. You won't see her taking prisoners because the higher powers tell her not to kill this guy. If she's going to stop him, she's going to stop him.

What is the difference between your work on Superman/Doomsday and this?

They're two completely different things as far as the drama and the relationships are concerned. You really want to get into the mindset of the character and see who they are, and how they act in certain situations. What are their personal quirks? What makes them who they are? As far as action is concerned, you don't have to worry about that too much. You definitely want to make sure their fighting style belongs to them. You don't want her punching some guy through the head and the next guy be like "Oh I'll let you live." She's taking no prisoners. As action I'd say, they're two completely different beats, both action and acting. All you can really do is study and look at the good action and good acting thats been done before and you try like hell to make everything in your movie good. And that's what I've done.

Are we going to see some of the Wonder Woman basics? The tiara, the lasso, the invisible plane? On the island will she be riding a kangaroo?

(Laughs) well, we haven't put any kangaroos on the island, sorry to say that. Her arsenal is there. She has her bulletproof bracelets, she'll be deflecting bullets. She has her tiara, which she makes use of and she has her lasso and invisible jet. I think the one thing we've done without is the spinning in place transformation.


I'm sorry for anyone who loves that. We've given her a slightly more practical transformation. Everything else is there...except the kangaroo. (Laughs)

What will be in this film for the female fans? As much as an icon she is, her book doesn't sell more to the female market that buys manga.

We do have relationship aspects between her and Steve and her and the other Amazons. A strong female presence may be more applicable to the female audiences, but of course there's a lot of violence which kind of comes with the territory of being a superhero. I'm a girl and I like it, but I can't say every girl likes it. I know there's a fair share out there who are like "Oh there's blood and it's upsetting" so I don't know if every girl will like it, but I hope they'll appreciate that we've taken her as a strong female character and we've created her that way and we've given her own formidable opponents to go against and really prove what she's worth instead of having her second fiddle to Superman or Batman and being backup.

Will we be seeing the Diana Prince alter ego in this movie, or will it strictly be Wonder Woman/Diana, Princess?

Her alter ego will make an appearance, but it's going to be very short. This movie is mostly Wonder Woman. I mean it's mostly Diana on the island and then Diana as Wonder Woman. We don't spend a lot of time with her getting into shenanigans in the US afterwards. She comes here and does what she does, but we'll see here, she's there.

Gail Simone, the current writer of Wonder Wonder thinks she's for everybody, not just men to look at. As the director of this film, how do you feel about that? Is she for everybody?

I think she can be for everybody, but not everything is for everyone. No matter what, there's going to be some people out there who don't even care for superheroes. She's a strong female character. She's strong, that can apply to everyone. Sheís female, which I guess that can apply to everyone (laughs). We haven't created her specifically as a pinup or a feminist. We've treated her as a real character, which I think anyone can grasp on to. And I hope that this movie would apply to a lot of people, but you can never know. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Are these movies being set up as a franchise? Will we be seeing a Wonder Woman 2?

As far as I'm concerned, I have absolutely no control over what they do next. I guess that's more of a question for Paul Levitz or Bruce (Timm). They're the ones coming up with the storyline and what will come next. With Superman and Batman, we've seen their origin stories and they've had their series. Wonder Woman never had her own series. She had Justice League where she had a starring role, but of course she wasn't the star. Nobody in that series really was the star. So this is her first time being front and center so might as well start it off right and just give them where she came from and who she is. I don't know if they will spin it off into more Wonder Woman movies. I can assume maybe if it does well. They probably like to keep the main three occurring in video. I doubt we've seen the last Batman animated movie (laughs). So why not another Wonder Woman down the line?

Is the movie set in modern times or an earlier setting?

We've set this one in more contemporary times. She's not coming into World War 2 with the Nazis. She's coming into the United States with more modern weapons, more modern everything. I guess it's just a new, more fresh version of Wonder Woman where even little kids can get into it. Whereas kids might be "I don't know what a Nazi is. I don't know what all this stuff is." This way we hope everyone can enjoy it. We hope we don't make any of the hardcore fans angry that it's not exact, but it's definitely inspired from the comics and I think our origin story remains true.

What sort of animation were you into growing up or what got you into animation? What influenced you on this project?

Growing up I watched a copious amounts of Disney movies. Thatís what I loved. I was watching Sleeping Beauty and Little Mermaid and all those girly movies. I didn't really start liking action unlike Batman: The Animated Series came out and that was my first view of action and I loved it, I watched it every day. I'd say both of those have a strong influence on my directing style now. I've also watched a fair amount of anime, which has a lot of really good action in it, which is helpful when you're doing big superhero battles. I didn't read a whole lot of comics though I knew the main characters. I knew Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman and who they were. I've learned a lot more about them from working with superheroes so often. But I'd say you know, Disney movies, Batman, like all the superhero cartoons as well as other anime influences are probably the biggest influences I've had as far as my storytelling.

Any particular anime?

Cowboy Bebop I love and I watch all the time (laughs) and I just adore the directing style that they use. So I try and draw a lot from that when I'm directing.

Will we be seeing Diana in the role of emissary to the world of man. The person showing the way of peace to man. Or perhaps a Wonder Woman who has been banished from the island?

We're not going to get that far into either of them yet. What we're going to see is Wonder Woman coming off the island in the role of emissary. She's going to go off the island specifically with her mission in mind. She leaves to accomplish a certain mission. After that when she decides to stay, it's as emissary, she's an ambassador. So we're not really going to banish her (laughs) in this movie. We've opinioned more for a happy ending.

Will we be seeing any of her Earth-based rogues? Cheetah or anyone?

We might have a little cameo here or there, but her main focus is going to be her one villain, who is Ares. Outside of that, little cameos might be in store towards the end.

What has been your favorite part of working on this project?

I think it was watching the animatic, when it was all assembled and we had the voices and we saw the first glimpse of what it would be. The amazing voice acting really adds so much to all of it. The most beautiful drawings in the world can't do anything if your acting is horrible. I guess just seeing it in its raw form, not yet animated but everything is there, the drawings are there, the voices are there. It was so nice to see what the hard work had finally accomplished.

I heard you'd be interested in doing Black Canary. What would be your take on it?

I have no idea (laughs). I'd probably have to look more into it. I mean I'm just more interested in bringing more female characters out to the forefront since there's so few of them. I'm not even 100% sure what Black Canary's origin story is. I just know she looks cool and I like her (laughs)

Would you like to see an animated Bird of Prey then?

I wouldn't mind it. As long as it was done right. I wasn't too fond of the show. I didn't watch it a whole lot. As long as the characters were well done and doing what they did right, I wouldn't mind seeing it. I would be kind of cool to see a girl team.

The World's Finest would like to thank Lauren Montgomery for her participation in this interview.
Interview conducted by Matt Hazuda @ SDCC '08.

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