Superheroes: ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Review

Screenshot of Gal Gadot as Diana Prince in ‘Wonder Woman 1984’. Copyright goes to DC Films, Atlas Entertainment, The Stone Quarry, and Warner Bros. Pictures.

Hey! Hallie here!

This review comes several months after this movie hit streaming services. In my defense, I didn’t have HBO Max and didn’t initially have the time to purchase and watch the film. But I FINALLY bought it and sat down to watch it a couple nights ago. I had heard a mix of mostly negative reviews, and reviews that were a little more positive, but were quick to point out that this movie pales in comparison to the first Wonder Woman. As someone who considers the first film my favorite superhero film, I was very excited when this one was first announced. After reading reviews, I decided to lower my expectations a bit. Having watched the movie I can say that I’m very glad I lowered my expectations. I enjoyed the movie more as a result. Overall I liked the movie. It was fun and it kept me entertained. I didn’t feel that there was anything particularly offensive about it. But it does pale in comparison to the first movie. I’m going to go into more detail about my thoughts, so SPOILERS ahead if you’re like me and you still haven’t seen ‘Wonder Woman 1984’.

What I Liked:

Diana: Diana is always a joy to watch, regardless of what movie she’s in. This movie does her character justice. The first time we see Gal Gadot’s Diana is a fight scene in a mall where she stops a robbery. This scene was so much fun. I’d argue it’s the only scene that gave me the fun 80s feel I was hoping to see for the majority of the film, but more on that later. Seeing her kick ass and interact with the only sensible people in that situation, little girls, was so much fun. There were even some snarky remarks about guns that completely endeared you to her character. In this movie you can see how Diana’s grown over the amount of time she’s lived on earth, but she isn’t completely hardened. She’s kind to most people, and even becomes fast friends with Barbara, but she also prioritizes professionalism. Which leads her to be instantly suspicious of Maxwell Lord’s overly friendly personality. Despite her sternness, her optimism and determination to see the good in people is very much intact. She refuses to kill anyone she comes up against and she, somewhat successfully, attempts to remind Barbara and Lord that they are good people rather than trying to destroy them. A major argument some seem to have is that Diana’s wish for Steve Trevor to come back is out of character or focuses too much on their relationship, but I didn’t think this was an issue at all. She clearly missed Steve, but she wasn’t mentioning him every two seconds like she did in ‘Justice League’. It’s nice to have a plot that shows her definitively moving on, especially because most fans hadn’t moved on from Steve Trevor’s death after the first film, either.

Steve Trevor: I love Steve, but I was skeptical about his return. His death in Wonder Woman was heartbreaking, but was also very final. I didn’t know how they would manage to bring him back and still make it satisfying. But they did. He comes back in the body of another guy, which doesn’t make sense but, once again, I’ll get back to that later. He has a lot of fun seeing how the world is decades after he died. His excitement parallels Diana’s in the first film, which gives us several sequences of Diana showing him around that match up well with what we saw in the first film. This includes a makeover scene where we get to see how much Steve likes fanny packs, a scene where Steve becomes frightened by breakdancing, and an adorable sequence where Steve reacts to the National Air and Space Museum. Despite how adorable he is, Steve is still capable. He lets Diana do most of the work in action sequences, but he isn’t afraid to pick up a serving tray to help defend her and bash in a few heads. At one point he even takes control of a tank. It’s nice to see Steve in action again, but as always, he’s a smart guy. He knows he doesn’t belong in 1984, and when it’s discovered that Diana’s powers will deplete if she doesn’t renounce her wish, he is the first person to encourage her to do so. He convinces her to move on and tells her he will always love her when she finally renounces her wish. A noble end for a noble man.

The Villains: Both Maxwell Lord and Barbara Minerva are pretty solid villains. Lord is definitely the weakest of the two. His devotion to his son is set as his motivation, and while his insecurities can make him infuriatingly egotistical, there’s never something he does that feels like it’s being done for the sake of being evil. His final scene, a talk with his son where he confesses that he isn’t a good person and wants to make his son proud of him, is where the character shines. He knows what he’s doing is wrong, but he’s so determined to make himself a worthy father that he feels the power he’s receiving is more important. Still, we spend much more of the movie with Barbara. She falls into a very stereotypical villain trope at the beginning of the movie. The ignored nerd who is only treated kindly by the hero. But there are several other aspects of the character that make her great. When we first see her wish that she was like Diana, she’s still a very obviously kind and awkward character. But slowly she becomes more insecure about who she was before. Then she has a run in with a man who attempted to sexually assault her and nearly kills him. She loves the control Diana’s powers give her, and it’s hard to blame her. But she’s never truly evil. She doesn’t even hate Diana. She’s simply been through too much in her life to want to go back to who she was before her wish.

The music: Hans Zimmer. Enough said. The piece that goes specifically through the opening sequence, which is a gorgeous sequence of a tournament in Themyscira, is one of the best pieces we’ve heard in any DC film.

Linda Carter: Late in the movie Diana dons the armor of Asteria, an Amazon warrior who fought back thousands for the safety of her sisters. In the sequence where this is explained, we only see her eyes. But in an end credits scene we get to see her in person. At first it looks like Gal Gadot once more, but when she turns around we get to see Lynda Carter. I cried.

What I Didn’t Like:

The Final Solution: We learn earlier in the movie that, in order to stop all the bad effects that come with making a wish on the stone, now Maxwell Lord, the stone either has to be destroyed or everyone has to renounce their wish. Since Wonder Woman has a no-kill policy, the movie goes for the latter. Which is very unrealistic. The fact that everyone, from the cold hearted to those that made selfless wishes, successfully renounced their wish at the end of the movie is ridiculous.

The Lack of 80s: I was excited to see what this movie would do with the time period. The answer was almost nothing. The opening fight scene had some good 80s imagery, but aside from that all we got was an abundance of fanny packs. It was kind of disappointing.

Steve Trevor’s Body Double: There is nothing in the wish system in the movie that implies that Steve Trevor couldn’t just come back the way he was. People were creating nuclear bombs or cows out of thin air, so why should Steve Trevor be any different? I couldn’t help but feel a bit guilty that Steve basically hijacked a random man’s life. Yet no one in the movie seemed to notice that this was a problem.

Cheating/Lying=Wishes?: In the opening sequence of the film we see young Diana compete in a tournament. In the tournament she finds a shortcut that puts her ahead of the other contestants, but Antiope catches her before she can win the tournament and reprimands her for cheating. This sequence is supposed to connect to Diana’s wish for Steve Trevor to return. Diana even makes a large speech at the end of the film to attempt to convince everyone that those who make wishes are taking the easy path, or cheating, and all the wishes are lies. It’s quite a bit of a reach, though. I don’t think wishing can be so easily linked to cheating, especially in the act of wishing for a loved one back which doesn’t seem to have any sort of goal or motive tied to it. And the wishes aren’t lies so much as they are curses. The better lesson would be, as all tales like this are, “be careful what you wish for”. It was simply an odd connection.

Those were my thoughts! I did enjoy the film, and I really loved seeing Wonder Woman back in action, but I wish this film had been a bit cleaner. Overall I would recommend it! Just lower your expectations a bit.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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