A Warner Bros Picture, Written by Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns, Dave Callaham, Directed by Patty Jenkins.
Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) is the follow up to Wonder Woman (2017) and the newest instalment in the DC Extended Universe. Set almost 70 years after her first solo adventure, we now find Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in 1980s Washington, where she quickly becomes entangled in a series of events that leads to the shock return of her long dead boyfriend Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). As Diana tries to figure out the mystery of his return, she runs up against the villainous Barbara Minerva/Cheetah (Kristen Wiig) and corrupt businessman Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal). This film had been delayed for over a year when it was finally released, so many people were just anxious to finally see it (and see any major blockbuster after the last year we have had) and when it was finally seen by the masses, there has certainly been a huge and loud split in opinion.
We are essentially treated to two opening sequences, one an impressive visual spectacle as Young Diana (Lilly Aspell) competes in a competition on Themyscira, and the second a 1980s nostalgia drenched sequence set in a shopping mall as current Diana saves the day. Both sequences are interesting in their own ways, and are arguably two of the best sequences in the film, which is likely more of a reflection on what was to come than on the scenes themselves.
There are so many decisions made in the film that just feel like instantly the wrong one, and one of the main examples of that is bringing back Steve Trevor in the body of another man. When you are a superhero movie, with a particular focus on the ancient gods, you can quite literally come up with anyway for a character to return, and this is absolutely the worst they could have gone for. It feels instantly creepy, and rids the reunion and rekindling of a relationship between Diana and Steve of any of its emotion, romance, or stakes. This is such a shame, because Steve Trevor is an incredible character and Chris Pine is an absolute triumph in the role, and even here, Gadot and Pine have some superb chemistry, that all just feels slightly wasted and like they have missed a golden opportunity.
The same sentiment is echoed for the entire story around Kristen Wiig’s Cheetah, one of Wonder Woman’s most iconic villains, who spends most of this film bouncing between Diana and Max, and then gets one scene actually as Cheetah before the end of the film, and even then, it is almost a side quest for Diana, therefore fully relegating Cheetah to a secondary villain in the film. From the start of the film, the character never really worked as an awkward outcast who never got attention, because Kristen Wiig is a naturally funny and beautiful person, and the film’s idea that all she had to do was take off her glasses and put-on tighter clothes to suddenly be attention grabbing and confident was so cliched.
A major moment for Barbara is when she sees a man, who earlier in the film tried to assault her in the park, and she attacks this man in the street. The scene is treated as a dark moment for Barbara, with ominous music and a feeling that this is the moment she really descends into villainy, and it leaves the viewer feeling uneasy about the choice for this specific scene to be used as the moment for that character progression. To me, Barbara confronting and dealing with this man who had tried to harm her felt satisfying and right, and yet treating it as her descent into villainy was just another strange narrative decision.
The only person who seems to truly know what film he is in is Pedro Pascal, as he makes his Max Lord an incredibly over the top villain, and feels like a perfect amalgamation of many 80s tropes. The whole tone of the film feels like that is what they are reaching for, and yet only Pascal seems to be giving a performance in line with this, which allows him to steal the show.
As for Wonder Woman herself, there is surprisingly little to say, because most of the plot just happens to her and she spends most of her time reacting, instead of being proactive. Her costume and make-up/hairstyling are absolutely perfect in every shot, with Gal Gadot looking exactly like an ancient goddess and leaping off the screen. Gadot’s acting in this has been the topic of much debate, and I think Wonder Woman 1984 is the best proof yet that Gal Gadot is absolutely perfect in this role and yet is in general a very poor and limited actor, and I think both points can be true.
There are many scenes that leave you questioning why it was included, but the ones that stand out the most are the incredibly offensive stereotypes of the middle east that are inserted into the film for really absolutely no reason and just leave a real sour taste in your mouth. The scene in particular where Wonder Woman leaps to the rescue of two middle eastern children (who apparently couldn’t hear the tanks charging towards them as they played football) feels incredibly on the nose and unnecessary, particularly when you factor in the recurring controversy around Gal Gadot’s military history. This whole aspect of the story just is a perfect example of how misguided the screenplay is, and how whole segments could have been taken out and nothing is lost.
For a film that is over 150 minutes long, there is simply not enough stand out character moments or memorable action scenes to justify that length. There is some good stuff here, mainly the costumes, the scale of the film, and some of the performances, but after the fantastic foundations that were laid in the almost universally loved first film, its incredibly disappointing how they have wasted all that goodwill by making the wrong creative decisions at almost every stage of the film.
Rating = 2.5/5