‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Review

On Christmas day, Wonder Woman 1984 came out in select theaters (due to Covid-19) and HBO Max and I watched it as soon as I could. However, I’m also well aware that the film’s faced a lot of criticism, mainly because of the story. And I couldn’t agree more. By the way, major spoilers ahead.

The Cast

(from left) Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, Kristen Wiig as Barbara Minerva (AKA Cheetah), Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, and Pedro Pascal as Max Lord

Story aside, the cast of Wonder Woman 1984 was spectacular. Gal Gadot’s played Diana Prince, AKA Wonder Woman since Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and I, for one, have loved her ever since. Then, there’s Chris Pine who was in the first Wonder Woman film and is back again as Steve Trevor, despite the fact that he died at the end of the first movie. The two newbies for this new iteration are Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal, who play the villains in Wonder Woman 1984.

The Plot

Wonder Woman (played by Gal Gadot)

This film takes place 66 years after the first one so Diana’s been alone for a long time. Barbara (Kristen Wiig) comes in to work at the same museum Diana works at. The museum gets an unknown artifact and they find out it’s a stone that grants people one wish. Diana wishes for Steve Trevor to still be alive or to come back to her (or something along those lines) while Barbara wishes to be just like Diana. However, she doesn’t know Diana’s got powers.

Then, Max Lord comes in and has been looking for the Dreamstone all along. How he even knows about it is unknown, but when he finally gets his hands on it, he wishes to become the stone. After that, he’s able to make anyone’s wish come true. Later, everyone finds out that the God of lies, treachery, deception, and mischief, Dolos, created it. So, Diana’s convinced (and rightly so) that these wishes come with some kind of trick. While Diana gets Steve back, her powers start to waver and even though Barbara’s got some newfound powers, her warm personality disappears. For Max, he’s slowly but surely dying.

Steve and Diana

Steve (played by Chris Pine) and Diana (played by Gal Gadot) holding each other close

While the main idea of the story is solid, the way it plays out is, unfortunately, void of common sense. For starters, Diana’s powers start to weaken, but it’s not all that obvious. There are a few scenes where she’s clearly weaker but not enough to remember that fact later on in the film. Plus, Wonder Woman is still plenty strong, she just isn’t as strong as she was before. She never even seemed all that concerned about her powers weakening or disappearing, so it didn’t feel like there was much of a trick there. Then, there’s the Steve Trevor of it all.

In the first Wonder Woman film, part of what made it such a great movie is the fact that Diana’s a strong, independent woman. It was great to see her fall for Steve, but part of what makes Wonder Woman’s character so great in the comics is the fact that she doesn’t need a man to feel powerful and/or complete. But in Wonder Woman 1984, Diana seems to need Steve to feel whole. It’s been 66 years of being alone so of course, she’s missed having Steve around. But Diana’s refusal to give up her wish at first is a debatable choice because of how heroic, independent, and determined she is in the books. But considering she’s been alone for so long, I’ll let that slide.

Max Lord’s Arc

Max (played by Pedro Pascal) wrapped in Wonder Woman's lasso with two guards on each side of him

Furthermore, it’s unclear what Max’s motive is throughout the entire movie. Sure, we can chalk it up to just being power-hungry, but I wanted there to be a more concrete rationale. Also, I don’t know why Max wanted to keep granting everyone a wish when it was clearly killing him. Again, it might be because he loves the power, but is it really worth it if it’s killing you?

Then at the end, Max gives it all up to save his son, which is admirable, but he didn’t seem like all that devoted of a parent earlier in the movie. It’s clear he cares about his son, but it was strange seeing him go from being a pretty dismissive father to a devoted one in the end. Especially since we never saw that gradually change throughout the film.

Barbara’s Story

Barbara (played by Kristen Wiig) wearing a black and white print jacket holding a piece of yellow paper

Then, there’s Barbara’s story. It makes sense that she wanted to be more like Diana because who wouldn’t? She’s beautiful, smart, and a good person. But more than that, Diana gets the attention that Barbara seems to crave. Then, after she gets her wish and the powers, Barbara’s warm and somewhat awkward personality goes out the window, which I guess is the trick that comes with her wish. But later, Barbara weirdly sides with Max. And there’s no explanation as to why. She finds out, with Diana and Steve, that to keep their wishes, they have to destroy the Dreamstone. But now, Max is the Dreamstone. So, they basically have three options:

  1. Keep their wish and the trick that comes with it. For Diana, she gets to keep Steve but her powers weaken (or disappear completely, it’s not entirely clear which). For Max, he has the power to grant people one wish, only to die at some point down the line. And for Barbara, she gets to keep the powers and attention only to become an asshole.
  2. Give up their wish, which is what everyone ends up doing.
  3. Destroy the Dreamstone, which is now Max.
Barbara (played by Kristen Wiig) and Max (played by Pedro Pascal)

But instead of wanting to kill Max (which is what Diana wants because she wants to keep Steve), Barbara protects him instead. And she never explains why. I mean, they did hook up earlier in the movie but Max clearly used her to get the Dreamstone. And with the whole realization that Max is now the Dreamstone, Barbara should’ve figured that out as well. So, why is she protecting him? No one knows. Plus, Barbara eventually gives up her wish so I guess that means there won’t be any more Cheetah after this movie. With Cheetah being a major villain in the Wonder Woman lore, it’s disappointing that this is all we’ll (potentially) get to see of her.

Final Thoughts

Wonder Woman (played by Gal Gadot) wearing Goddess Asteria's gold armor

While watching this movie, I really wanted to love it, but it just didn’t happen. The idea of the Dreamstone and the trick concept was solid, but the execution fell short. I wanted to know more about Max’s plans and motivation, rather than just seeing him go around granting people’s wishes and dying in the process. If Barbara was in love with Max, I want them to make it more obvious.

I almost wanted to see the opposite where Diana and Barbara work together to destroy Max, only for Diana to change her mind later. And that would then better set up the rivalry between the two women. Because Max gave it all up for his son, I want to see Max as a devoted and loving father, despite his other flaws. Instead, we saw him as dismissive and desperate for money and power. So, while the idea of a villain giving up the power for his son, it just didn’t make sense here. Overall, I am and will always be a big Wonder Woman fan. However, Wonder Woman 1984 isn’t the best example of everything that’s great about the franchise. I will say that I did love the Lynda Carter cameo in the post-credit scene, though.

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