Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) lives quietly among mortals in the vibrant, sleek 1980s — an era of excess driven by the pursuit of having it all. Though she’s come into her full powers, she maintains a low profile by curating ancient artifacts and only performing heroic acts incognito. But soon, Diana will have to muster all of her strength, wisdom, and courage as she finds herself squaring off against Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) and the Cheetah (Kristen Wiig), a villainess who possesses superhuman strength and agility.
Say what you want to about the DC Extended Universe, but I think that nearly everybody is in agreement that Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman film was an absolute revelation. It was jam-packed with some of the most exhilarating action in the franchise and came complete with an immense sense of warmth and comfort and had a huge heart. This all makes sense seeing as how Wonder Woman is supposed to be a character that embodies warmth and comfort. She is supposed to be a beacon of hope for everybody out there. She isn’t just a character for girls to look up to. Boys can look up to her too. Anybody can.
So I was genuinely beyond excited to see what Jenkins and company were cooking up with their sequel Wonder Woman 1984 because the first film was terrific. It was essentially a war drama disguised as a superhero movie and it worked in so many different ways. Wonder Woman 1984 is already perhaps the most divisive movie of the entire year, even though it’s just been out for a few days. Some fans of the original think this was a colossal disappointment, whereas others think it’s a great movie. I definitely think this was a great movie and a great sequel even if there were some missed opportunities. But overall, Diana Prince’s second outing on the big screen is absolutely worth the wait.
The first thing you need to know about Wonder Woman 1984 is that it fully embraces the corniness and cheesiness of the 80s. Some filmmakers would have made this film unintentionally silly, but not Jenkins. This movie is silly and zany practically the entire way, but Jenkins did this on purpose. The 80s were a wild time and she knows it. She wanted to encapsulate the feel of the 80s and she did so beautifully. My mother, who watched this movie with me, said in the first five minutes “Yep, that’s the eighties alright”. Right down to the clothing, the hairstyles, and even some of the characters, this feels almost like if John Hughes were to direct a superhero movie.
And while I did appreciate how this film fully embraces its cheesiness, there is some part of me that wishes Wonder Woman 1984 was as gritty and dark as the first entry. As I mentioned earlier, that first film felt like a war movie. It was set during World War I and you could absolutely tell. The action sequences were brutal and intense and all of the fight choreography was masterfully helmed.
In this sequel, there really aren’t any action scenes. The only time we ever see Wonder Woman in action, she uses her lasso. So if you were excited to see Diana break out her sword and shield one more time, you’re going to be massively disappointed because neither item makes an appearance in this movie. It was kind of disappointing to me, even. Gratefully though, these action sequences that we did get are still a ton of fun to watch and reminded me of the old Christopher Reeve Superman films. Yes, the sequels to those films were over-the-top corny but it’s hard to deny how much fun they were to watch, and the same thing goes for Wonder Woman 1984.
The greatest element to this film without a doubt is Gal Gadot and Chris Pine. They were also the strongest aspect to the original. Their chemistry is unlike anything I have ever seen. As soon as these two share a scene together, it is instantly magic. They seem like they are great friends in real life and it really shows in every scene they are in together in this movie. Their chemistry is electric and you really buy their relationship.
It was also just a ton of fun to see how they brought back Chris Pine’s character Steve Trevor, because (spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the first one) he died at the end of the first movie. I was really hoping that they wouldn’t bring him back in a ridiculous manner that felt shoe-horned in, and gratefully, it didn’t. The way they brought him back made sense and even tied in with the overall plotline of the movie which worked excellently.
But the actor that perhaps had the most fun with their character was Pedro Pascal as Maxwell “Max” Lord, who serves as the film’s main antagonist. He delivers a truly bonkers performance that is over-the-top in so many ways, but I loved every single second of it. You can tell that he cherished playing this character, and I was also surprised to see the arc his character gets. It actually managed to bring tears to my eyes.
Another standout here is Kristen Wiig who portrays Barbara Minerva, also known as the villain Cheetah. I felt extreme sympathy for her character throughout the story as she is basically treated like garbage by a lot of people. At the beginning of the movie, we see her drop her papers on the ground while arriving at her new job, and instead of helping her, everybody just sort of shakes their head and moves along with their day.
Her character arc was also incredibly well-realized and I appreciated how much effort went into making all of these characters’ motivations understandable. I understood what every character in this script wanted to do.
There are definitely some problems with Wonder Woman 1984 and sadly, no, it isn’t as wonderful as I was hoping it was going to be, but it nevertheless works in a plethora of ways. I didn’t watch the film two times in one day for no reason. Just like the first movie, I’m confident that this film will inspire people all around the world and Gal Gadot’s lead performance further boosts this. Wonder Woman 1984 is a movie that provides some much-needed joy for many people in this wild year.
Overall Grade: B+
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of action and violence
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: December 25, 2020
Running Time: 151 minutes