Wonder Woman 1984 — What went wrong?

Movie poster from Warner Bros. Pictures

Directed by: Patty Jenkins. Produced by: Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder, Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot, Stephen Jones. Screenplay: Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns, Dave Callaham. Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen.

When Wonder Woman was released in 2017, it was an instant success. True, it wasn’t the first female-led superhero movie (1984’s Supergirl, anyone?), but it’s success showed that you can have a successful movie about a female superhero. It had a great story, interesting characters, awesome visuals and a stunning sound track. Overall, it was a movie that didn’t, well, suck (unlike Halle Berry’s Catwoman *shudder*).

With that mindset, I went to see Wonder Woman 1984 (or WW84 from now on) after watching the trailer. I didn’t expect much, as I generally believe movie sequels fail to live up to the original movie’s fame, with the notable exception of the Godfather trilogy, of course. However, and despite my low expectations, WW84 still managed to disappoint me.

The plot (Spoilers)

The movie follows Diana’s (Gal Gadot) journey as she lives through the vibrant and exciting 1980s. She maintains a “low profile” (despite fighting burglars, mask-free, in a mall), by curating ancient artifacts, and this is where she meets the cliched nerdy, overlooked, eye-glass-wearing scientist, Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig). They form a friendship (sort of), which is soon tested as Barbara turns dark and takes Diana’s powers, in exchange for her… soul? The movie wasn’t quite clear on that, to be honest.

Moving on, we then meet Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), the overambitious, desperate businessman and TV personality whose failing business forces him to search for an ancient artifact that grants wishes. He uses this to conquer the world, destroying it in the process, and Diana has to intervene in order to save the world, sacrificing her boyfriend, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), whom she managed to return from the dead, in this process.

Where it went South

So what exactly went wrong with WW84? For starters, the first 10 minutes were completely unnecessary and useless. They didn’t add anything to the story. I think the script writers added those scenes so that Diana would learn the wisdom: “No true hero is born from lies.” The same wisdom she paraphrased in the Third Act to try and convince Barbara to stop what she was doing. Still, that doesn’t sound like a logical justification to me.

Similarly, the mall scenes didn’t sit well with me. So Diana managed to stop a robbery and save a kid, and then what? This doesn’t add much to the story, and it tells us what we already know about Diana: she is a superhero princess with sick fighting skills, who manages to have fun while fighting crime. That’s old news — we know this much about her from the first movie.

The Third Act was decent, but I still can’t get over the fact that it downplayed Diana’s capabilities to the extent that she had to plead to citizens of the world, as well as to Max and Barbara, so that they’d stop being evil. I kid you not — this is how Diana fought and won the battle against everything that’s wrong. It was actually so bad it made me cringe so hard, my eyebrows turned into a mustache. I instantly remembered the notorious “my mother’s name is Martha” scene from Batman v Superman.

To quote Deadpool: “that’s just lazy writing.” Maybe Patty Jenkins ran out of time in her 2 and a half hour-long movie. Or maybe she and her co-writers ran out of ideas. Or maybe (God forbid) they actually thought it was good script writing. I don’t really know.

The acting

Needless to say, Gal Gadot was the perfect choice for playing an Amazonian princess living in the 1980s and fighting to save the world. She is strong, beautiful, confident and a kickass fighter. Her character arc was interesting. She starts as a lonely, reminiscent woman who lives in the past. She then gets her wish fulfilled, and her boyfriend is back. They live happily for a while, but then she has to choose between her love and her duties. She ends up sacrificing her loved one to regain her powers and proceed to save the world. Brilliant.

Pedro Pascal was awesome. I actually sympathized with his character a lot during the movie. He started from scratch, paved his way to the top, and now he was facing his own demise. And to add insult to injury, his son had to watch him as he fell out of grace, with nothing to offer for himself or his family. He started with noble goals, to restore his image in his son’s eyes. He then got lost in his own greed and he lost sight of what’s important. Unfortunately, this interesting character arc was cut-off abruptly when he suddenly decided to turn 180 degrees in the Third Act. We weren’t prepared for that. At least he stopped being evil because he wanted to save his son (from what? No one knows), but we didn’t see much interaction between the two of them to understand why his son was that important to him.

Kristen Wiig did a fine job with her character, especially after the “transformation.” She successfully conveyed two different personalities throughout the movie: the shy introvert nerd, and the confident powerful lady who knows what she’s got. Her acting was heartfelt and convincing, but her character arc was flat, even flatter than her fellow villain’s arc. Her motive for getting Diana’s powers was really shallow, her character lacked depth, her romantic relationship with Max wasn’t fully developed, although it could have added much depth to both their characters, and her character development was cut-off as well in the Third Act. She had no reason at all to forfeit her powers and it just didn’t make sense.

Chris Pine, while being in a supporting role, was a delight. I still don’t know why a WW1 veteran pilot seemed so lost when seeing things like the underground, but he did his part well. He knew he was this movie’s comic relief, and he lived up to it. And he served his purpose by reminding Diana of what’s important. I don’t know where the other guy’s soul went when Chris borrowed his body, but he came back eventually, and that’s good.

My conclusion

So how do I rate WW84? Well, the plot had many holes. The characters weren’t much interesting, but the actors did a fine job bringing them to life. The visual effects were good and the sound track was awesome (it was Hans Zimmer, after all). And the guest appearance of the original Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter, was a nice touch. Overall, it was a decent movie to watch. I’ll give it 6.5/10.

GNU maintainer, Fedora packager, FSF member, and all-around Linux nerd

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