WARNING! This review contains spoilers! Do not read if you have not yet watched Wonder Woman 1984
After the success of 2017’s Wonder Woman audiences were giddy with anticipation for the dynamic duo of Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot’s triumphant return to the big (and small) screen. Unfortunately, Wonder Woman 1984 is a muddy, confusing, and disappointing sequel. While it wasn’t awful, it also wasn’t particularly awesome.
2020, has been a really polarizing year politically and it seems like the latest adventure of the Amazonian warrior princess is equally divisive. Some absolutely love it, while others hate it, and then there are many who are indifferent.
In keeping consistent with the 2017 film, Wonder Woman 1984 begins back at the secluded, all female island paradise, known as Themyscira as we witness a young Diana (Lilly Aspell) competing in some Olympic-type games against women who are much older and twice the size of our young Diana.
It was later explained that the games are in honor of Asteria, a fierce Amazonian and original owner of the winged and golden armor Wonder Woman is seen wearing in the trailers. Young Diana leads the race against her older and larger competitors, gets cocky, and falls off her horse. Her horse runs on and she must make a choice between accepting defeat, or taking a shortcut that puts her again ahead of the rest.
She chooses to take the short cut, much to the disappointment of her mentor Antiope (Robin Wright) who grabs Diana at the last moment and refuses to allow her to win through cheating. It seems to be a very poignant lesson at the time, yet we revisit the theme very vaguely later on.
After the first ten minutes on Themyscira, we fast forward to “the future” as claimed by the first antagonist oil tycoon, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) via his TV commercials, which happens to be 1984 in Washington D.C. where a “mysterious woman,” whom we know to be Wonder Woman, effortlessly thwarts crime, saves innocent bystanders from injury or death, and delivers the criminals to the authorities during an elaborate progression of scenes throughout a mall which should have been more nostalgic than it was.
From there, we are introduced to the second antagonist, the socially awkward Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig). Diana and Barbara enjoy a meet in the Smithsonian in which they both work as Barbara is informed she would be tasked in identifying artifacts discovered at the very store that Wonder Woman had just protected from being pillaged by armed assailants in the shopping mall.
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Diana and Barbara discover the “Dream Stone” is one of those artifacts which apparently grants wishes and in a fleeting moment, Diana wishes for her beloved Steve Trevor. After Diana and Barbara bond over dinner, Barbara returns to the Smithsonian and wishes on the stone that she would be “like Diana,” unaware of her superhuman abilities.
Desperate to obtain access to the stone he has been searching for and researching, Maxwell Lord charms his way into the arms of Barbara and takes the stone so he may use it for himself.
Inexplicably, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) appears to Diana inside the body of “Handsome Man” (Kristoffer Polaha) and once he convinces her of who he is, the audience also only sees Steve Trevor. Meanwhile Maxwell Lord makes his wish and it is to become the “Dream Stone.” When he takes on the powers of the stone, it crumbles to dust, leaving a metal band with both Latin and “the language of the gods”
Diana, Steve, and Barbara all work together to discover the origins of the stone and how to stop it before society collapses in a full blown apocalypse. Once they discover how to stop the stone, Barbara evolves into a superhuman who then fights against Diana and Steve in order to protect Maxwell, who ultimately gives Barbara the ability to evolve into what should have been one of Wonder Woman’s greatest adversaries known as Cheetah.
There is so much going on throughout the movie that it just feels stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey. There are too many storylines and because there is so much going on, there’s no depth to any of it. Cheetah seems like an accidental villain, she’s just collateral damage caused by Maxwell Lord’s wish insanity.
Ultimately, Wonder Woman 1984 creates more questions than answers.
Handsome Man’s Consciousness
Where was “Handsome Man’s” consciousness when Steve Trevor was inhabiting his body? Was he dead? Was it like in Get Out and he was in the sunken place? Was he aware of everything that Steve was doing and he just lost his memory of it all when Steve left?
Why doesn’t “Handsome Man” have a passport or identification? Diana and Steve steal an airplane to go to Egypt because Steve doesn’t have a passport. It’s obvious that this happens so Diana can make the invisible jet, but they didn’t even consider going to “Handsome Man’s” apartment to see if he had a passport.
The Lack of 80’s Music
Aside from some very subtle costumes, it is hard to remember that the film is set in 1984. Even with Warner Brother’s extensive music catalogue, there is no nostalgic 80’s music to be heard. Where Adam Sandler succeeded in The Wedding Singer, Wonder Woman 1984 failed miserably.
Why was there no 80’s music? When Marvel released Captain Marvel, the movie was SATURATED with 90’s references, including makeup, clothes, patterns of speech, and music.
Aside from the party at the Smithsonian, there was no 80’s music! The movie is called Wonder Woman 1984, but 1984 was grossly neglected. When Barbara was making her transformation, her outfits got increasingly bad ass but were not indicative of the time, at all.
A few 80’s aerobic outfits and Steve Trevor’s tiny dress-up montage does not equal “1984.” When Diana was showing Steve how times have changed, they crossed paths with a group of 80’s punk rockers, but anyone who has ever spent any time in any major city can attest that punk is very much alive and well and those punk rockers would fit in during this time.
There was absolutely no reason why this film took place in 1984 and calling it “1984” is just plain stupid. The title could have just been Wonder Woman 2 and then maybe it wouldn’t have mattered that there just wasn’t enough details to call this a “period piece.”
Cheetah AND Maxwell Lord
Why does DC insist on muddying up their superhero movies with multiple villains in each movie? Does DC think there won’t be another Wonder Woman movie so they just decided to throw them both in? Regardless of whether or not Wonder Woman 1984 lost their rotten tomatoes “fresh” certification, Wonder Woman isn’t going anywhere!
There is absolutely no reason to stack villains in these DC movies when there are countless comic book villains to work with. Cheetah is one of Wonder Woman’s most awesome adversaries and she was reduced down to just a few minutes in a film she had to share with another villain. It was reminiscent of the way Bane was treated in the god-awful Batman and Robin.
It was an absolute waste. Cheetah deserves her own movie and let’s face it, this one was Maxwell Lord’s.
Max Lord’s Son
Why? Just Why? Having his son around was confusing. While the child being in danger was the catalyst that snapped Lord out of his power high, the child’s story line was weird and confusing, and genuinely felt like an afterthought. Perhaps if he wasn’t forced to share the film with Barbara/Cheetah, there could have been more focus on his relationship with his son and the ending might have been a little more believable and made more sense.
As it is, it seemed like Lord was a crappy absent father (he even admits as much at the end) who didn’t care much about his son and only had him around because he had to, not because he wanted to. It’s hard to believe that a child whom he forgot about would have been the catalyst that ended his reign of terror.
Young Diana’s Lesson About Cheating
Why tell the story of how Diana was caught cheating by Antiope? When Antiope refused to allow Diana to win through cheating, it seemed to imply that this lesson would be revisited in Diana’s adult life.
Perhaps the implication of “cheating” was the ability to wish on the “Dream Stone” in general, or maybe the fact that she was able to spend time with deceased Steve Trevor as he “cheated” death, even if it was only briefly. Either way, there appears to have been no reason to have shown that particular event.
Of course, it’s possible that the cheating was inconsequential and the only point of that sequence was to illustrate the games the Amazon women compete in to commemorate Asteria and her bravery.
Diana and Barbara’s Friendship
Why were Diana and Barbara not allowed to grow and develop a friendship beyond one dinner out? Early in the film Diana is seen eating alone in a restaurant which illustrated that while Diana seems to be content in her life, she is also painfully alone. Barbara confides to Diana that she is also very much alone.
There was a HUGE missed opportunity for there to be a development of their friendship. The two of them could have been there for each other and they could have created a much stronger bond. As stated earlier, the character of Cheetah was wasted in this movie and had the story been about only Cheetah or Maxwell Lord, there wouldn’t be so many questions.
If we were allowed to see Barbara and Diana become closer friends and depend on each other, the villain would have more depth and raised the stakes of their very pedestrian climatic fight.
This armor was able to withstand entire armies, yet Cheetah is able to cause severe damage? It’s hundreds of years old, has fought armies, but this one creature is able to damage the wings?
Are we to infer that Cheetah is stronger than entire armies? Inconsistencies like this are frustrating to audiences. It’s incomprehensible that the golden wings that once protected Asteria against the attacks of hundreds, if not thousands, were easily damaged by a newly created super being.
This should have been an awesome superhero film and it fell flat. Gal Gadot gives a beautiful performance of Diana Prince, who has appeared to have acclimated to the times well. She is graceful, confident, and alluring in every scene. As Wonder Woman she looks amazing and Gadot makes hand to hand combat look like an expertly choreographed ballet performance.
Kristen Wiig looked absolutely phenomenal and it’s abhorrent that she was not permitted to have her own film as the only villain to go up against Wonder Woman. It is abundantly clear that she worked very hard to obtain her flawless physique.
The highlight of the entire film was the mid-credit Lynda Carter cameo, which seems to tease her appearance as Asteria in a Wonder Woman film to come.
While Wonder Woman 1984 was disappointing, it is pretty consistent with DC in general. We still hope to see Gadot in at least one more Wonder Woman film and we have high hopes for James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad movie set to premiere this summer.
Unfortunately, Wonder Woman 1984 is a REEL PASS.
Joia DaVida reports on the entertainment industry in both Chicago and Los Angeles.