Updated: Jan 21
When the first Wonder Woman film came out four years ago, DC Comics gave us a fresh new take of the iconic superhero. She kept her authenticity and strength but introduced a softness and spirit to her personality that created a perfect balance. Diana Prince is very much the classic hero, always focused on doing what’s right. This aspect doesn’t change in the sequel, and Gal Gadot manages to be aspirational and a total badass once again. Having said that, WW1984 doesn’t outshine its predecessor, and it’s slow at times. For some, the lack of action sequences might be a turn-off. For others, the heart, emotion, and character exploration will be what makes this movie great. Whatever your taste may be, the fact is that this movie does take its sweet time in telling a story that feels neither here nor there.
The film takes place 66 years after the events of Wonder Woman. Diana is working at the Smithsonian in Washington DC while she’s missing her long-lost lover, Steve, played by Chris Pine (but don’t fret because he’ll be back from the dead in another man’s body thanks to a stone that grants you your greatest wish). Soon after, Barbara Minerva, otherwise known as “Cheetah,” enters the screen, the classic underdog villain played by Kristen Wiig.
I have to admit that at first, I thought Kristen Wiig was a very odd choice for this role. I’m happy to say that I was proved wrong. Wiig’s humor and comic timing brought a lightness to the character that perfectly fits the overall tone that Patty Jenkins, the director, was going for. Barbara also makes a wish on this Dreamstone (she wishes to be exactly like Wonder Woman and who can blame her), and “the oil guy,” played by Pedro Pascal, is dying to get his hands on it. So a random mysterious stone drives the narrative, and I’m not sure how to feel about that. Yes, the stone represents the ambition, greed, and power that human beings commonly seek and ends up being self-destructive. The moral of the story is very straightforward, but the question remains, is this enough to push the story forward? Especially when we’re supposed to be getting a third installment of the franchise. Somehow it feels that a lot is going on, but at the same time, nothing is going on.
By the middle of the film, the pace starts to speed up. We get more sequences of Diana being the wonderful goddess we all know she is, and we get a glimpse of Steve trying to get used to all the technology in a funny, cutesy, charming way. One of my favorite moments was when we finally get to see Cheetah in action. Even though she is not the main character, her arch is far more engaging and exciting than Diana’s. Her storyline seems to center too much around love, which made it a bit monotonous for an action film.
I have seen so many angry people going off on Twitter talking about how disappointed they were with the outcome of the film, and I think these people are not giving enough credit to what the writers did in terms of symbolism. What about Wonder Woman’s inner strength? What about her growth, her pain, and the sacrifices she had to make? We all know Diana is freakishly strong, but the moment she renounces the love of her life for the greater good is what makes this movie worthwhile. What Jenkins showed us is that Diana is just as strong on the inside as she is on the outside. This lesson is just as important as all the physical fights she has had to battle.
So back to the original question, is Wonder Woman 1984 a hit or miss? My conclusion is that it's a little bit of both. It misses the mark in not raising the stakes high enough, but it succeeds in adding sensitivity to an otherwise basic superhero story. The experience is more escapist than it is transcendent, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. The real enemy of this tale is the hunger for power, and if you ask me, it’s a very appropriate message for the times. WW1984 is not perfect. But what it certainly is, is a retro, nostalgic, classic story with a touch of very much needed hope.
Become a Heart of Hollywood Member