Although Patty Jenkins probably didn’t have much choice when it came to palettes, let’s look at her use of different colors in Wonder Woman.
Wonder Woman’s costume in the DC Extended Universe has three colors at its core: red, blue, and gold. Even in the trailers, yours truly was picking up on director Patty Jenkins’ choices when it came to using those three very distinct colors. Having now seen the film, it’s time to break down how and why those colors come to evoke different themes and ideas.
As you may expect, this will spoil the entire movie. No ifs, ands, or buts. This is your only warning.
Red is the most obvious part of Wonder Woman’s armor. It covers her entire torso. Since the DCEU costume also goes for a deeper, richer tone, the red often draws the eye in even before the gold accents do.
And red is the kind of color we associate with blood and with battle. Even in the TV spot, linked above, I noted that red and orange dominates the final battle with Ares. She’s in the domain of a god who literally thrives on things the color represents!
That final battle also sees Diana in the throes of conflict with herself. With Steve Trevor having sacrificed himself, she is at her lowest point, most susceptible to Ares’ lure that mankind doesn’t “deserve her” efforts to help and save them.
But even as red can represent fighting, it also represents love and passion. Not for nothing is Diana wearing a deep red during the present-day scenes as she talks about how she believes in love first and foremost. Her red armor helps cover her heart — her most important attribute, one might say.
Gold often follows in the roots of red in that it has some conflict associated with it. Diana’s bronzed-gold headpiece originally belonged to Antiope, who taught the young princess how to fight despite orders not to. Gold also appears as the hilt of the sword Diana uses throughout the film, which we come to learn is not actually the God-Killer.
But gold also ties back to Themyscira and to even the Lasso of Truth, particularly in that scene where it’s used on Steve Trevor to force him to reveal himself as a spy. It’s perhaps the least important of the three colors, and it accents the other two.
Now we get to blue, which is the dominant color of Themyscira. The deep, rich blues there carry a sense of peace and serenity. Steve Trevor calls it “Paradise Island” later, and that’s exactly what it is. But blue also comes to reflect Diana in her element as well.
Pay close attention to the trench scene when she and Steve arrive at the front. Once she goes up the ladder in her full Amazonian regalia, the sky suddenly begins to clear up, and it’s suddenly much brighter blue than it has been before. The warrior of Themyscira arrives, and it’s time for a fight. Indeed, some of the other fight scenes have bluer washes to them as well.
In the gala scene, it’s not on accident that Diana steals a blue gown. The bright color sharply contrasts to the darker, dimmer room that she walks into, marking her immediately as other and, again, as a representative of Themyscira.
Pointedly, there’s actually a touch of bright blue on Ludendorff as well. Look closely at the medal near his collar. It’s actually Themysciran blue. No wonder Diana seems to think he’s Ares. Ares himself doesn’t have any blue at all in his disguise as Sir Patrick Morgan. Who would look twice at him?
Red, blue, and gold might end up playing roles in the future Wonder Woman film as well. Will they have different meanings then? Only time will tell.