Wonder Woman is back! Released Christmas Day 2020 on HBO Max, it is the second Wonder Woman movie and the fourth Warner/DC feature film featuring the “Amazing Amazon.”
In the first Wonder Woman (2017) film, set in 1918, Diana (Gal Gadot) saves US pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). They fall in love, defeat the bad guy and then Steve dies. Fast forward to Wonder Woman 1984 and we find our heartbroken superheroin, working as a professor and museum curator at the Smithsonian during the day and saving hapless mallgoers during her lunch break. The 80s woman is a busy woman.
Attention: This article may contain SPOILERS!
A star-studded cast but not so brilliant characters
After four feature films starring Gal Gadot, even the most skeptical audience members will be pleased to see her incarnate the sophisticated demi-goddess again. Pedro Pascal (Mandalorian, GOT) and Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, The Martian) are most welcome additions to the cast. Another surprise is the unexpected return of Chris Pine as Steve Trevor (who, as mentioned earlier, died in the first movie). Unfortunately, despite this pool of talent, the characters fall flat. DC has always struggled with humour (if you compare their films series with Marvel’s) which means that more often than not, what is meant to be funny just ends up feeling awkward instead.
Despite a promising start, the movie doesn’t know where to go
Wonder Woman 1984 gets off to a great start, with a flashback of Diana’s childhood competing in an elite amazon warrior competition. This exhilarating opening scene is all the girl-power inspiration little girls need and deserve. Then jump to 1984 and things start to get weird. Setting Wonder Woman in 1984 was a great idea on paper. The 80s are iconic and fun and everyone enjoys a little nostalgia, right? Problem is, fantastic and science fiction audiences are just fresh out of Season 3 of Stranger Things.
The Netflix show has very much set the bar for what the 80s should look and feel like on screen in 2020. In Wonder Woman 1984, the 80s look somewhat fake, tacky (not the way it is supposed to) and seem to be relegated as an afterthought one third into the movie. If the audience can suspend their disbelief at Diana’s boyfriend coming back from the dead, they’ll draw the line at a half-baked 1984.
The end that never ends
Two thirds into the movie, you can tell Minerva (Kristen Wiig) and Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) are spent. They’re struggling to keep the energy levels up, as the plot sort of melts onto itself. The protagonists are painfully trying to get to the culminating point. Eventually, the movie climaxes as Wonder Woman breaks the fourth wall. Forcing the audience look up from their phones, puzzled: “What’s going on? Why is Wonder Woman talking to me?”. That’s when they stop tweeting ridiculous things like:
Then the viewers remember the film is directed by the incredibly talented Patty Jenkins (Monster, The Killing) and wonder why is this movie missing the mark?
Wonder Woman 1984 is still entertaining
Ultimately, Wonder Woman 1984 is a fun family film. It’s very much in the vein of another the DC film Aquaman. It’s neither excellent, neither terrible. It is entertaining enough and will delight fans of superhero movies. Are we happy studios want to produce superhero movies featuring female superhero? Yes! Do we want to see more of these films in the future? Yes! Do we wish they were a bit better? Yes, yes, yes! But as the moral of the film tells us: “do not wish for what you don’t have but be thankful for what you have instead”, in the end, we are thankful for female superheroes movies and blockbusters directed by women. Because the world needs both empowered women and female directors. So, “Thank you Wonder Woman 1984”.