- Directed by Patty Jenkins
- December 16, 2020 (United Kingdom) / December 25, 2020 (United States)
Wonder Woman has been existing quietly in the world of men with the occasional superhero escapade since the events of the first film but now a mysterious conman with the ability to grant wishes threatens the world.
I absolutely loved the first film. For me it was a fantastic movie filled with emotion and great action. There were strong themes and great music and great character arcs. It was a sophisticated superhero film that also embraced what it was and where it came from.
Wonder Woman 1984 on the other hand was okay but not great. I enjoyed it enough that I felt I did not waste my time, but it felt like a serious downturn from its predecessor. And I think that issue can be placed squarely at the feet of how the main villain of Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) was portrayed. He either should have not been the focus or been better crafted.
I admit my knowledge of DC is much less than my knowledge of Marvel. In my youth I disliked how almost every DC character because almost every DC character was a legacy character. Marvel characters were not like that then. Now not so much and I have been slowly moving towards DC. It is my understanding that Maxwell Lord is a recurring villain for Wonder Woman. I have seen the character appear in stuff and thus I am a little familiar with him. It is my understanding he has the telepathic ability to influence people. When I have seen him he was nothing to be laughed at.
Not so much here. In this film Lord is a barely competent conman behind a pyramid scheme involving oil wells. Unfortunately these oil wells are utterly useless. In his desperation he somehow came across knowledge of an ancient artifact called the Dreamstone that grants wishes. And that is how all the problems begin. He uses wish after wish via getting other people to do it for him (apparently you only get one) to fix the problems that his initial wish caused but each wish creates bigger problems.
Lord is also a sucky father who wants to make his son Alistair (Lucian Perez) proud of him. He is not bad. He is just misguided in the story. In the last film Ares was purely evil. Somehow an egotistical misguided dude squaring off against a demigod like Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) makes it confusing how they stretched this story into two hours. I do not see the character having the will to keep going. This Maxwell Lord would have crumpled under the pressure quickly.
We have a better villain (a B Villain) in the form of Barbara Minerva / Cheetah (Kristen Wiig). I remember Cheetah mostly from the Super Friends animated series as part of the Legion of Doom, but in the comics she is actually a recurring Wonder Woman villain. The character has had various versions throughout the years. Here they go for one that is very feline in appearance. As someone who was watching the movie with me said “It’s Cats! all over again!” It was a funny comment, but the appearance does look like it derives a lot from that film. And in this case that is not bad. This looks to be all CGI here and I personally think they should have gone with some kind of bodysuit.
Wiig does a very good job going from a shy and introverted gemologist in the beginning sick of being seemingly ignored by the world around her to a strong and angry super powered individual filled with rage and lashing out. She was a great villain in this movie. She should have been the focus as she was a genuine threat to Wonder Woman.
Much has been made about Wonder Woman’s accidental wish that resurrected Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). Steve Trevor is brought back to life but in the body of a stranger. Her having sex with not Steve Trevor as Steve Trevor never really gets addressed other than when Steve walks before a mirror. It is a huge thing that never got well addressed.
Both Cheetah and Wonder Woman are emotionally lost and seeking something. Wonder Woman is seeking love. Minerva is looking to be noticed and her own self-worth. I think they should have focused more on that. Instead the focus was on this almost comical depiction of Maxwell Lord and his scheming.
As the wishing progresses the world falls further and further apart. In the context of the story the Dreamstone has been popping up throughout history and destroying people and civilizations before disappearing again. Interesting concept and it would have worked better with another DC villain than Maxwell Lord. There are a few magical villains in DC canon that would create something like this and are from Wonder Woman’s core opponents.
While the first film was serious, this was much lighter in overall tone and in that sense it does not mesh well with the original. Jenkins did not change things up. She went in a whole new direction. The finale was just too cheesy. Even in the logic of the film what Maxwell Lord was doing with the satellite so he could touch everybody was questionable which puts using the Lasso of Truth to make everyone on Earth see the truth in the same zone of questionability. It did not have a logic based on what had been presented. It was just too touchy-feely and reeked of lazy writing as if script writers Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns, and Dave Callaham got stuck. I like creative endings, but this felt like they wrote themselves into a corner.
In the film it is mentioned Diana has in her possession the armor of legendary Amazon warrior Asteria which is from the comics and gets used in the climax. In a mid-credits scene we get to see the legendary Asteria who is living among man and she is played by none other than Lynda Carter herself. It is a cute moment that acknowledges the 70s series.
I enjoyed the movie but Wonder Woman 1984 was so much less than it could have been. Patty Jenkins followed up a very strong first film with a mediocre second film. I will give this a tepid if you want. It is not necessary but if you saw the first film you might want to see where things went from there.