“Wonder Woman 1984” was released this past December in theaters and HBO Max. As a fan of the 2017 movie, I had high hopes for the film’s sequel. The movie started off on a very comic book-esque note, with Wonder Woman apprehending four bumbling men who are stealing black market valuables in a heavily 1980s-themed mall. This scene introduced the movie on a very stylized and simple note, making it clear that the film would be heavily incorporating ‘80s style and evoking nostalgia.
Set 66 years after the 2017 film, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is now an employee of the Smithsonian Museum. It is here that she meets Barbara Ann Minerva (Kristen Wiig), a shy woman still working to find her confidence as she enters a new job. The main conflict is revealed when Barabara discovers that one of the valuables from the earlier scene grants wishes. Wonder Woman and her lost-love Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) must work to prevent failed oil baron Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) from wishing the world into a state beyond repair.
Although the overall plot seems like it would generate an action movie about an independent woman who fights crime and saves the day without the help of a man, that is sadly not the case. Wonder Woman yearns for and then inadvertently brings back her WWI-era boyfriend at the beginning of the film, showing us very little of how the Amazonian princess adapted to life as an independent woman for the past 66 years. Obviously, Wonder Woman does not need to be single to show her power, but one may note that romantic partners do not take up nearly as much screen time in most male superhero movies.
Other plot points that could have been further developed include the backstory of the villain Cheetah. Although we see her descent into villainy, most of her evil deeds do not seem warranted given her relatively easy life up until this point. Additionally, her devotion to Max Lord feels unwarranted and reduces her overall autonomy. I wish we could have seen more of Cheetah’s journey throughout this story, especially because this is her debut as a villain in the DC films. A final weak plot point is the rules of this valuable artifact in its wish-granting capacity. It seems as though one must give something up for each wish granted, but the limitations of this are unclear and the solution to this issue is equally foggy.
Many of the performances in this film were strong. An especially notable performance is that of Pedro Pascal. Max Lord is written and performed unlike his character in the comics, but Pascal embodies him in such an over-the-top manner and with such cartoonish villainy that this version of Lord could have been taken directly from the pages of a comic. Unfortunately, Gal Gadot’s performance as Wonder Woman cannot compare. Gadot may aesthetically fit the part, she seems to fall flat. At times Wonder Woman seemed more like a model in a commercial than a real person fighting for truth and justice.
At this point, I would not recommend spending money to see the film on-demand unless you are a fan of mediocre superhero movies or just really like Gal Gadot. Otherwise, I’d recommend waiting until the film inevitably ends up on streaming services again.
“Wonder Woman 1984” set high expectations and was unfortunately unable to meet them. With a faltering lead and a generally weak plot, the movie was a disappointment to me and many others who enjoyed the first “Wonder Woman” movie. I really wish that it had been better. We need more strong female heroes in film; this movie just did not deliver. While I enjoyed Pedro Pascal and Kristen Wiig’s performances, they were unable to salvage a lackluster story, a story that made a 2.5- hour movie feel even longer.