So after the constant delays in the arrival of Wonder Woman 1984, I was basically foaming at the mouth with anticipation for this film. For many reasons but obviously because the decline in movies this year due to the pandemic left me in a constant TV show binging state but also because the first Wonder Woman was not actually bad and I was excited to see what they were going to do for the sequel. When Maxwell Lord and Barbara Minerva (aka Cheetah) were announced as the antagonists for the movie again I found myself super excited to see it and not only because I love Pedro Pascal but because I was wondering what they could do as a villain for Diana who is almost unstoppable.
Okay, I understand that Steve Trevor is her first love but really? Are we supposed to just get over the fact that it has been almost 70 years since she has seen Steve? I know she doesn’t age normally but does she also not experience time normally? Is 70 years like 2 years to her? If the idea was to say that Diana has never really gotten over the death of Steve there should be more of an indication in the way she conducts herself and I don’t mean her turning down the countless men who offer her a date, I just mean in terms of everything. In Batman vs Superman (BvS) it was almost implied that she sort of shut herself off from the world before that film, so why not make it seem like that here? Why have her engage with anyone? Why not make her a mysterious loner by choice? Also, Steve is not the only one she has lost. Why didn’t she wish for her friends from the war back? Why didn’t she wish for her aunt back? Remember her aunt, General Antiope? She died in the first movie. Wouldn’t it have made more sense if they showed us Diana struggling with constantly outliving her loved ones, in like a timelapse of sorts, so when she made a wish she wished for them back? Why just wish for the one guy? Also sidenote Diana never actually made her wish out loud like everyone else. The movie made it clear that Maxwell needed to hear the preface “I wish…” before he could grant anyone anything so what’s up with that?
So Diana makes her wish and gets Steve Trevor back but not really because it’s just Steve’s soul or consciousness in the body of another man. Which by the way was UNNECESSARY. You could have just brought back Steve and no one would have questioned it, why did you have to do this? Especially when you deal with the fact that they slept together their first night together and therefore she had sex with the body of a man who did not consent. It was just so wrong and where did this man’s consciousness go while Steve was occupying it? Not cool man. Another thing I want to take note of is how quickly Diana was suspicious of Maxwell Lord but jumps right into bed with Steve in a different man’s body. How does that make sense? Wouldn’t you be cautious or worried about what his presence could mean? Also, even if Steve survived back in World War I, he still would have probably have been dead by now or as old as a hill so she still would be in the same position Captain America style.
So at the beginning of the movie we see the young Diana compete in this sort of Amazonian gladiators kind of game where she is initially in the lead but needs to take a shortcut to get back in front. She is scolded by her aunt Antiope, who warns her against taking shortcuts. She basically says that she cannot be a hero if she takes a shortcut. This scene was setting up what was supposed to be the theme of the movie about Diana not taking shortcuts to win. Uhm that is not at all the theme I got from this movie unless this was more to do with Maxwell Lord and not Diana. If this had more to do with how getting success using a shortcut never ends well and is of no real value, then I understand. That being said this lesson doesn’t apply to Diana specifically. Diana was dealing with the inability to let go, particularly of Steve. She has become so focused on getting what she wanted, what was already lost to her, she ignored all the harm it was causing her. In a way, the theme of the movie has to deal with the theme of the 1980s in general, this very Wolf of Wall Street like time, when enough was never enough. The common theme here really is all about greed and excess. Cause even when you think of Barbara Minerva, she also was not fine with just one wish, she wanted more even though Diana was nice to her she became mean and then she didn’t really want to be human at all and I was just like, I can’t relate but it fits with the theme.
If this movie was supposed to be a Cheetah origin story well then they did a TERRIBLE job. She was merely a footnote in this movie. Sure Barbara gave Diana a hard time at the White House and when she turned into Cheetah, which was actually a pretty good fight scene, but all in all she wasn’t really a factor. I think if the idea was to turn Barbara into an anti-hero villain to Diana they should have gone the Smallville Lex Luthor route, where they made her obsessed with Diana for a long time, trying to befriend her, trying to learn her secrets and then intent on destroying her. I think that would have been cool because it would have made more sense to us the audience of why she would do such a thing. Just wanting to be like a woman you just met is not a reason enough to be causing a brawl in the middle of the White House but years of obsession would be. That would have made more sense or if she and Diana had been friends for a long time and she was tired of being in her spotlight, in the same vein always trying to sabotage her behind the scenes at work and then working that up to making a wish. Either way, I think maybe they should have saved the Cheetah transformation until the end as a sort of prelude to future movies or something because it makes no sense we lose two villains with the satisfaction of one in this film. They did my girl all kinds of wrong in this.
Look at the end of the day I am not going to rag on the acting of Gal Gadot. She is not the best actress but the film is carried a lot by the performances of everyone else and that is fine. The movie for me was a huge miss, everything that the movie wanted to hit in terms of emotion, fun, intrigue and action, only hit with one thing: action even though the visuals were quite bad which is a stark difference from the first film. The emotion for me was rarely there, I for one would have liked a better goodbye to Steve Trevor, I also would have like to have him give her more guidance/advice. The fun was not there because I was constantly concerned about the plot holes. The clothes and art scene, with Steve, was fun but these were things we saw in the trailer. The intrigue was kind of there if you think about Maxwell Lord but everybody’s desires were so surface level there was no questioning about what the result has to be. I was never like ooh what’s going to happen next because I knew. The decisions everybody was going to make were so predictable and I was extremely disappointed in that.
Listen, the first Wonder Woman had a plot twist with the whole Godkiller and Ares thing but this didn’t have any of those things and even though people disliked the third act, it was still a solid movie as a whole. I was also disappointed to never get a scene where we could see Diana confront her mother over the lies she told her growing up about where she came from. Another thing, there technically isn’t an invisible aeroplane? Cause she can make any plane or object invisible? Interesting although not as fulfilling as the Aquaman riding a seahorse comparison from the cartoons. I hope they learn from their mistakes and try to stay in the same tone of the first film, I understand getting it wrong this time because of it being the 1980’s and everything is supposed to be bright and light but it did not work. That being said I am not surprised with the change in tone considering the screenplay and story was not made by the same people who did the first movie. Geoff Johns cue eye roll until you see the whites of my eyes seemed to have a hand in this which makes sense when you think about the tone of Aquaman, which he wrote, and the tone of this film are similar. Although Gal Gadot is no Jason Momoa and James Wan did a fantastic and mesmerizing thing with the visuals.
This isn’t the worst movie ever. I just think it is another example of the DCEU missing an opportunity. The opportunity to have a female superhero and a female supervillain. This was more of a female superhero with a male villain and his female villain sidekick. Honestly, you can watch it but everything has to be taken on surface-level alone and thinking about anything too deeply will only disappoint you.
Revisiting Note: Upon revisiting the aftermath and interviews after this film I though it only fair to give some adjusted thoughts on Patty Jenkins. I do want to be nicer to Patty upon looking back at my review. It is clear that she struggled heavily the first time she directed Wonder Woman and this film is merely a result of her getting the freedom from the lack of trust and oversight. This film is a direct result of her being silenced, mistrust, used as a prop and disrespected during the duration of the first film and I understand how that could result in a movie like Wonder Woman 1984. One would hope that both sides come together again and Patty is respected more as she has a seat at the table for the third film but I, now, honestly place the blame for the result of this movie squarely on Warner Brothers and DC Films.