WARNING: SPOILERS !!!
Wonder Woman 1984 debuted on December 25th on HBO Max. Directed by Patty Jenkins with Gal Gadot returning for the starring role, many people have relatively mixed feelings on the film. In this post, I will be breaking down the movie based on themes, storyline, and character portrayal, all in a review based on my opinion.
To start, Wonder Woman 1984, as many films and television shows of this century do, takes place in the 80s, thus the title. However, the film’s title brings up a different point as well. 1984 is a year that is commonly brought up in pop culture, as it is the title of George Orwell’s iconic 1949 political dystopian novel. Despite the implication of a possible dystopian setting, Wonder Woman 1984 seemingly just used the title as a simple play on words, well, play on numbers in this case. As stated, the film takes place in the 1980s, which is commonly described by fashion and flare and, while not entirely accurate, neon. By way of fashion, I thought that Wonder Woman 1984 did a good job with the characters’ wardrobes, especially Diana’s and many of the passing civilians (ex: the random groups of punk kids seen in various part of the city). On a different note, I am not entirely sure why the movie was based in the 80s when the time in which it took place played no significant role. In a sense, it felt as if it was a cheap grab at people’s attention in an attempt to profit off of 80s nostalgia. For example, the 2017 Wonder Woman film took place in 1918, as the plot essentially revolved around World War 1. This makes sense, however, the 80s had no greater significance in Wonder Woman 1984. This factor of the movie bothered me because I felt as though the movie could have depicted Wonder Woman being apart of another historically significant event.
Moving on to the actual plot of the movie, I was not entirely sure what to expect, as the trailers did not reveal much about the story itself, but now that I have seen the movie, it is safe to say that I was not very impressed. This is attributed to the lack-luster plot that was pretty much a superhero retelling of the Monkey’s Paw, which is actually mentioned in the movie, ironically enough. I say this because the movie revolves around an ancient artifact called the “Dream Stone,” which will grant each person who touches it one wish. . . a wish that comes with a major cost. In my opinion, this type of story has been overused, but if written correctly, can still be very engaging. However, despite there being a stable category and structure for this “wish that comes with a cost” plot, Wonder Woman 1984 still manages to poorly execute it. This overused and poorly executed plot set the stage for a very predictable movie. As one can expect, each main character wishes for something that ends up taking a serious toll on them in the end. For Barbara Minerva, who wished to be like Diana Prince (Wonder Woman), had superhuman strength gifted to her, ultimately turning her into the villain Cheetah, using the “With great power comes great responsibility,” prompt for the umpteenth time. On the other hand, Diana wished for Steve Trevor to come back to life, which is just about the last thing you are supposed to do, and ends up having to lose him all over again. Finally, Maxwell Lord, the main antagonist of the film, wishes to become the Dream Stone itself, so that when he coaxes people into wishing for things, they’ll come true, ultimately making hundreds of things come true in his favor, instead of just one. These conflicts carry throughout the entire film, considering the fact that even when Diana and Barbara learn that the Dream Stone was made by the fictitious god of lies and chaos, Dechalafrea Ero, and was the cause of the collapse of many ancient civilizations, they both refuse to retract their wishes, furthering the dilemma and pretty much summing up the personalities of the characters in this film.
Regarding a more in-depth analysis of the way the movie portrayed each character is disappointing to say the least, which is not exactly the fault of the actors, rather a result of poor work from the writers. For instance, Barbara Minerva ends up being the film’s secondary antagonist, but her evolution from regular civilian to villain is all to quick and honestly just does not make much sense, as the first (possibly only) person she killed technically was an act of self-defense. In the case of Diana, she appears to be trapped in an infinite sadness due to the loss of Steve Trevor and is plunged into a further depression when he technically dies again. This would not have been an issue, only the entire movie revolved around Steve Trevor’s death and portrayed Wonder Woman as someone who was completely reliant on one person to be able to live her life. As the New York Times put it, “The sequel to the 2017 hit finds Diana Prince, a.k.a. Wonder Woman, pining for love and saddled with a movie unworthy of her.” In general, I did not find this version of Maxwell Lord to be terribly boring, but his redemption at the end of the film was extremely anticlimactic. Now, Steve Trevor, of course, did not change much because he, well, did not have time to change, but there is a specific plot hole regarding his character in this film: when Steve Trevor was brought back to life due to Diana’s wish, he did not come back in his physical body, meaning that he technically manifested into the physical form of another and appeared as that person to everyone. This, however, does not make much sense to me considering the fact that no one questioned the sudden withdrawal of this man from work, social gatherings, etc., in addition to the question of where did he, himself go? We know that his physical form was being somehow used by another, but where did everything else about him go? What further confuses me is that at the end of the movie, he appears again, this time as himself, meaning that everything just went back to normal. Perhaps this is one of those movie moments that simply is not meant to be questioned, but I dislike large plot holes such as this, as it takes dimension away from the film at hand.
Overall, I believe that entertainment is entirely subjective and my opinion could be the exact opposite of another’s, but I find Wonder Woman 1984 to be one of the most disappointing movies that I have seen in a while, and my expectations were very low. If you are reading this to determine whether or not to watch the film, which I doubt you are, I suggest watching it and seeing how you feel about it, but I did warn you (haha).