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Two months ago Patty Jenkins signed a landmark deal to direct the sequel to one of the year’s most acclaimed and popular films. “Wonder Woman” felt like a breath of fresh air amid an ongoing DC cinematic universe that has struggled, whether with critics or, as with the troubled “Justice League,” in actual production. But despite becoming the highest-paid female filmmaker ever, Jenkins never really saw herself as a barricade stormer.

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“I think because my mother was, I thought that was really behind us,” Jenkins, who likes to consider herself a “last wave feminist,” says. “I wasn’t thinking about, ‘And then I could be the first woman who…’ Nothing I’ve done I was aware of anything like that. I knew when I briefly signed on to do ‘Thor 2’ that I would have been [the highest paid female director], and that made big news and I was like, ‘Oh, OK, there we are.’ But that had nothing to do with my objective.”

With “Wonder Woman,” Jenkins first and foremost wanted to drill down into and pay proper respect to the original William Moulton Marston run. Visually, she and her cinematographer Matt Jensen were inspired by artist Alex Ross’ work. She wanted, ultimately, to tell a superhero story built on themes that would resonate in the modern climate.

“I did very much want to get to love — because that’s what she stands for — and the complexity of what we’re facing,” Jenkins says. “It’s the journey of a character who believes in good and evil, facing a world that shows you how unbelievably complicated it is to tackle that in any black and white terms, and therefore how much love it requires to make this world a better place.”

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Patty Jenkins photographed exclusively for the Variety Playback Podcast
Michael Buckner for Variety