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Gal Gadot and Chris Pine star in ‘Wonder Woman,’ directed by Patty Jenkins.
Warner Bros.

Why are women crying when they watch Wonder Woman fight?

Director Patty Jenkins has grown accustomed to hearing stories about audience members welling up as Gal Gadot, playing DC Comics heroine Diana Prince, grabs her shield and sword and plunges into battle in the new superhero epic (in theaters Thursday night).

“I didn’t even realize I needed this,”says Jenkins, who makes history as the first woman to helm a superhero movie. “I didn’t realize that I needed to let this out, that’s what I was tasked with. But it opened a door to all the expressions of this superhero, all the dimensions of a woman that maybe we haven’t seen or felt.”

To prepare herself for battle, Gadot, 32, spent six months in superhero training camp. “I had to gain a lot of body mass,” says the Israeli actress, who introduced her character in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. “Gradually, we increased the intensity, the food, the workouts, so I can be my best shape.”

Wonder Woman opens on the island of Themyscira, where its population of female warriors (called Amazons) endure daily military exercises in relative peace. When the island’s security is breached by a fleet of Germans during World War I, the armored women fly into spectacular action, bows and arrows eclipsing the gun-wielding soldiers. 

On the set, Jenkins instructed the Amazons not to appear angry as they battled. “This is them in their element,” Gadot recalls Jenkins would say. “Just to fight in an aggressive, strong way. Own it.”

The resulting fight choreography? “It’s feminine-style super-bada–, super-original,” says Gadot. “I’ve never seen a fight battle by driven by so many women on the big screen….