Wonder Woman 1984 director Patty Jenkins says she was heavily inspired by Richard Donner's 1978 Superman film starring Christopher Reeve.
Richard Donner's Superman served as an inspiration for Wonder Woman 1984. The sequel to the 2017 blockbuster Wonder Woman was released this past Christmas in theaters and on HBO Max. Wonder Woman 1984's box office opening weekend was the biggest since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, according to a report.
Wonder Woman 1984 continues the story of Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), taking place more than 60 years after the events of the first film. Gadot's portrayal of the character was met with much praise in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, as well as her own movie in 2017. Christopher Reeve's performance as Clark Kent in Donner's 1978 Superman was similarly acclaimed and, though the actors' warm reception isn't something the filmmakers could guarantee, there are other, more intentional ways Wonder Woman 1984 mirrors Superman.
During the Wonder Woman 1984 watch party on Twitter, one user asked director Patty Jenkins if the film was a love letter to Donner's Superman and Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy. Jenkins has high praise for both film runs, saying she was heavily inspired by Superman and 2002's Spider-Man. Jenkins said:
"...Those are my two favorite runs in the superhero world. I LOVED Superman one, and Spiderman one, in particular. Perfection. And inspired me so much."
This isn't the first time Jenkins has praised Donner's first Superman. The Wonder Woman director said Diana's flight sequence in the sequel drew inspiration from the iconic Superman scene where the Man of Steel takes Lois for a ride. It's not hard to see the inspirations in Wonder Woman 1984. Superman has a certain wholesomeness to it. The overall lighthearted atmosphere worked for that film, making it a perfect cinematic debut for the character. That tone is also prevalent in Wonder Woman 1984, whose overall message is about hope and embracing the truth, even in the face of overwhelming difficulty.
Wonder Woman 1984's bluntness in spelling out its themes might have been to its detriment, though. 2017's Wonder Woman was arguably executed perfectly in terms of balance. It had more of a serious tone, but never forgot its uplifting message. In contrast, Wonder Woman 1984 leaned more on the message and less on the plot. Still, the sequel has resonated with many viewers, and could be what people need as 2020 comes to a close. It will be interesting seeing if the recently announced Wonder Woman 3 can achieve the first film's reception.