Wonder Woman 1984 begins with a prologue involving a child version of Diana (Lilly Aspell) competing in the Amazonian equivalent of Ultimate Ninja Warrior, cheating, and getting scolded by her stern aunt Antiope (Robin Wright). We then jump to 1984 where a grown Diana Prince – aka Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) – has been mourning the death of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) for the last 50+ years following the events of the original film. She now works for the Smithsonian Institution in DC, and moonlights in her colorful Wonder Woman gear stopping bad guys.
Which is strange as she does all this while still keeping her adventures secret enough that Batman has to do some serious research decades later in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice find out she even exists.
At the museum, Diana meets her co-worker Barbara (Kristen Wiig) – a brilliant and charitable, but painfully awkward and clumsy woman who instantly wishes she could be as cool and gorgeous and badass as Diana… and lucky for her the museum just got their hands on a gem that grants wishes! Diana also gets a crack at the wish-granting gemstone and wishes Steve Trevor would come back to life.
And wannabe oil tycoon / tv personality Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) also gets his hands on the wish stone and wishes to BE the wish stone, which basically makes him a “careful what you wish for” type of genie, ala infamous Monkey’s Paw incarnate.
Wishes granted all around – Max Lord becomes a power-hungry demigod who grants wishes, the kind that take something valuable in return; Barbara becomes stronger and faster and a knockout who no longer needs her dorky glasses, and Steve Trevor returns in the body of some random schmuck ala Heaven Can Wait or Quantum Leap.
Diana suits up as Wonder Woman and goes after Lord with Steve at her side, but finds her plan intercepted by a newly empowered Barbara who wants to ensure her wish stays granted.
Wonder Woman 1984 was released straight to HBO Max after several delays because who wants to go to theaters with Covid in the air? Of course, many are also taking to social media with the claims it just wasn’t good enough to have been a theatrical release anyway. The truth, as always, is somewhere in the middle.
Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman, Monster) takes the helm again as director, as well as assisting on the script along with writers Dave Callaham (Zombieland: Double Tap, Godzilla , and The Expendables) and Geoff Johns (the dude is comic book royalty).
Like most people, I enjoyed the original 2017 Wonder Woman movie and had high expectations for this superpowered sequel. Unlike most people, I even liked both Batman v Superman and Justice League movies. Sadly, like most people, I felt let down with this one.
Let me first say that, overall, Wonder Woman 1984 was enjoyable. There was some great action, fantastic chemistry between Gal Gadot and Chris Pine, and a great performance by Pedro Pascal – yes, The Mandalorian himself! Kristen Wiig also had some great moments, although I wish her character hadn’t used the overused trope of a nerdy glasses-wearing adult geek who gains powers, loses the glasses, and goes crazy with power. We’ve seen this done so many times it’s become known as “Evil She’s All That”!
There’s even some great superhero fan service scattered throughout, including Wonder Woman’s invisible jet and a very enjoyable mid-credits cameo. Definitely don’t miss that one.
So where did this film misstep? For starters, its two-and-a-half hours runtime was painful to sit through. I’m not sure why Hollywood feels the need to make every blockbuster a sweeping epic these days, but not every movie needs that. This movie would have been more enjoyable if the producers had cut about 40 min from the runtime. The first half the movie is dreadfully slow-paced and bloated, like the useless flashback opening scene. Luckily, the back half was exciting and fun to watch.
Next up is all the craziness of the rules of how the magic stone works, which are never explained properly before Max Lord assumes its wish-granting power. This is especially problematic once we realize that granted wishes take something from wishers in return, like how Diana’s negative happens way more slowly than Barbara’s and Max’s, making for story and visual inconsistencies that warrant explanations we never get.
Also, why does it grant the wish of bringing Steve back by putting him in someone else’s body? With all the other crazy stuff that happens due to wayward wishing (like making a thirty-story wall appear in Egypt and having hundreds of nukes pop into existence), surely the wish stone could have just made Steve POOF! into existence again? Also, why do some people get multiple wishes granted, but most only get one?
There are also story inconsistencies between this and other movies in the DCEU, especially with the Batman v Superman and Justice League. Where is all the cool gear and new powers Wonder Woman gains in this movie? Does she lose them again? Does she forget how to use them? And how did she do all these big missions saving so many people in very public places (malls, downtown DC, etc.) and nobody seems to remember her decades later? Are these things that will be explored and discussed in the upcoming Wonder Woman 3 that was just announced?
Plot holes within the movie itself, and major inconsistencies across the DC Cinematic Universe and beyond, all help make Wonder Woman 1984 lackluster and confusing. While there are still plenty of enjoyable moments that will please fans, awkward pacing and extended length just bog it down with the previously mentioned continuity issues. I didn’t hate this movie nearly as much as some of the Twitterverse seems to have, but it certainly could have used a little more polish to make it truly wonderful.