Wonder Woman in comics is associated with World War II not World War I, but in 2017's film Wonder Woman, it's set during World War I. What was the reason for this drastic change? Is it to avoid similarity from Captain America: The First Avenger or is there any other reason for it?
6Probably realised that having a ton of superheroes in WWII and still have WWII mean they are not so super. Not to mention holocaust.– SZCZERZO KŁYJun 6, 2017 at 8:24
45If they wanted it to not look like Captain America: The First Avenger, why was it about a super-soldier with a bulletproof shield who ends up a member of a superhero team in the modern age, infiltrating a German facility to take down an evil scientist backed by (supposedly) the power of the Gods? And why in the world did the climax feature an American soldier named Steve who sacrifices himself aboard a German bomber plane in order to prevent a horrible new bomb from being deployed?!? Nope. Doesn't sound the least bit like Captain America: The First Avenger. No sir.– Mason WheelerJun 6, 2017 at 11:40
16Well if it were in WWII there would be an obvious person for Diana to target as Ares, and I don't think anyone was going to say "No, you can't just go and kill Hitler!"– David KJun 6, 2017 at 11:58
4Added bonus - since WWII is covered in the comics, you'll have fans complaining about any deviation from what happened in the comics. This gives movie makers much more freedom to do what they want without as much backlash.– PoloHoleSetJun 6, 2017 at 14:49
14It's worth noting that WWII was originally chosen as the settings for both Wonder Woman and Captain America because it was currently going on when both of those characters were created.– Ben Miller - Remember MonicaJun 6, 2017 at 18:15
Producer Charles Roven felt that WW I held special meaning for Diana. Amazons are skilled in hand to hand combats. They are also used to the fact that fight is an honorable thing. But all of this was changed in World War I when automated arms were introduced and the armies were fighting with guns, bombs, rifles etc. It was no longer what would he call honorable.
Therefore, he wanted that culture shock. Which is why, he chose World War I.
Here is an excerpt of his interview given to IGN(emphasis mine),
IGN: The decision to set Wonder Woman’s solo film in World War I is very interesting. It's not a time period we've seen a heck of a lot of in movies these days. Can you talk a bit about that decision?
Charles Roven: One of the reasons that we picked World War I was we felt that it [worked] in terms of that war and what it meant to Diana. Diana was raised on Themyscira with the lore, the history of the Amazons, and the Amazons, you know from the canon and the New 52, were created to be inspirations towards mankind. And [they] helped promote peace and goodwill amongst men and mankind. But at some point, they were enslaved by mankind and they had to break their shackles, which is why they wear the bracelets, as symbols of that. And they were given Themyscira by Zeus.
But they're always training and they're warriors, and there's great pride to their abilities, their fighting abilities, etc. And even though they haven't had any war on Themyscira, they're used to fighting being an honorable thing. They're used to one on one combat, or even if it's armies fighting each other, ultimately that great legacy of fighting hand to hand. The best warrior wins. There's a lot of contact, and World War I was the first war where that changed, where it became more remote. You were killing people -- whether it was through guns, through rifles, through mortars, through bombs, through gas attacks -- that you didn't even know, that you never looked into their eyes. And it ceased to be what I would call an “honorable war.” And so we wanted that culture shock. And those images of no man's land and the trenches and fighting for years against an enemy that you really don't see, who's a hundred, two hundred yards next to you, but you never see their face, we just wanted those images in the movie because we thought that it would be very, very symbolic to her.
9Did Charles Roven skip his history lessons? Jun 6, 2017 at 9:36
11@SupremeGrandRuler WW1 was "cultural" shock for many generals as well. As such, WW1 embodies that transition from personal to impersonal combat much better than WW2. Moreover, the rate of combat killing at the start of WW1 was higher than in WW2 - see Dan Carlin's podcast.– EdheldilJun 6, 2017 at 12:56
12As silly as it is to say that guns started in WWI, the point is still valid; World War One was a turning point in the world's attitude to war. It was, after all, the "war to end all wars", so both Wonder Woman and the world as a whole would have seen this loss of "nobility" in combat.– monoRedJun 6, 2017 at 13:38
11@OlivierGrégoire WWI was actually the first modern war of that scale. One of the main problems was precisely that people hadn't realized that the game had completely changed and that, for example, trench warfare doesn't make much sense if you are going to be charging the enemy trench in the face of machine gun fire. To quote Wikipedia: "World War I began as a clash of 20th-century technology and 19th-century tactics, with the inevitably large ensuing casualties."– terdonJun 6, 2017 at 14:42
8Many new components were introduced on the battlefields - chemical warfare, tanks, even limited use of air power - all revolutionized warfare, and all helped to make the trench warfare of WWI such a horrific carnage that it shocked the sensibilities of human civilization, worldwide. The idea that views of what war was drastically changed because of WWI is entirely accurate. Jun 6, 2017 at 14:52
Entertainment Weekly asked this of the director and producers.
In short they saw it as a new era of warfare, making for a more interesting setting where everything is new to everyone. Add in the fuzzy morality of right and wrong, and who is evil or not that applies to both the setting and the story (in the eyes of the writers/producers), and it just made for a more interesting setting to them.
Screenwriter Allan Heinberg says the decision was a prescient one considering some of the similarities between that time and today.
“We are in a very WWI world today with nationalism and how it would take very little to start a global conflict,” he says.
When Heinberg and producer Zack Snyder were first breaking down the story structure for the film, WWI was appealing for a few reasons. “It’s the first time we had an automated war,” Heinberg says. “The machine gun was a new invention. Gas was used for the first time. New horrors were unleashed every day.”
Director Patty Jenkins wasn't sold at first, but changed her mind.
“At first, I questioned it because it wasn’t her actual origin story, but very quickly I saw the genius behind it,” she says.
“World War I is the first time that civilization as we know it was finding its roots, but it’s not something that we really know the history of,” she adds. “Even the way that it was unclear who was in the right of WWI is a really interesting parallel to this time. Then you take a god with a moral compass and a moral belief system, and you drop them into this world, there are questions about women’s rights, about a mechanized war where you don’t see who you are killing. It’s such a cool time.”
As supplemental information, one thing to consider is that Wonder Woman, especially in this film, has a WW1 counter-part: Columbia.
"Lady Columbia," the embodiment of America and American liberty was a popular icon in the 19th century, especially between the American Civil War and The Great War. Columbia was featured prominently in American propaganda such as advertisements for Liberty loan drives to fund American involvement in the war.
Columbia as a symbol kind of fell off by the 40s.
I am not saying that this was the only consideration, but I suspect the filmmakers were aware of this. And "yeah," probably the primary reason was to not be Captain America.
Two images from WW1. The bottom image is from a painting donated to an 1864 sale to benefit the US Sanitary Commission (think: Red Cross).