I was really excited about Wonder Woman 1984. I was a huge fan of the first Wonder Woman movie directed by Patty Jenkins, despite its shortcomings in the third act. I had hoped that by hiring Jenkins again for the sequel, we would be set for another great superhero movie. I was wrong. Now, that is not to say that WW84 was bad per se. It was not. But it was not great. In the grand scheme of sequels, it sits way above Thor: The Dark World, but it is definitely no Winter Solider.
WW84 sees Diana (Gal Gadot) take on two of the comic book universe’s villains in Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) and Cheetah (A.K.A. Barbara Minerva, played by Kristen Wiig) as she battles against the age-old adage—‘be careful what you wish for’. Having discovered an ancient relic that grants you one wish—with a price—chaos ensues as Diana tries to track down Lord and destroy the relic while still holding onto her own wish of having her boyfriend, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), back.
Gadot is perfect once again as Wonder Woman, and I have absolutely no negative comments about her performance. Her sweet, kind, and open nature are reminiscent of the first film but with maturity, you would expect from Diana after so many years. Even when the plot was becoming obvious and predictable, Gadot was always able to get me on her side. What I loved about the first film was the sense of unadulterated hope, which is all that Wonder Woman stands for, and I was able to get a few brief glimpses of that from Gadot’s performance. Her sincerity then seems a little odd when compared with Pine’s reprisal of Steve. I understand that the whole gag was that in the first film, Diana is the fish out of the water as Steve shows her the world as it was in the 1940s and that the roles are reversed in this film. However, Steve’s character was essentially stripped back to be a comedic plot device. His personality was diluted, all he seemed to do was hold Diana back, and it really made it seem as if his revival was just fan service. I was also unsure about Wiig’s casting as Barbara. Wiig is mostly known for her comedic work, and whether they meant to or not, this made it hard to take the character seriously or to see her as a threat at all, when that time came.
Plot-wise, it could have been better. As stated, the plot is centred around the wish-granting ancient artifact and the chaos that ensues from the wishes made. Though I would say this is a superhero trope, I did not object to its use—tropes are there, after all, because they work and are easily recognised by the audience. However, I disliked Barbara’s origin. She enters the film as a new scientist hired to work for the same museum that Diana works at; however, she is the opposite of Diana in almost every way, and the film hits you in the face with it over and over again. Her hair is blonde and frizzy, while Diana’s is dark and beautifully curled. Barbara is shy and unnoticeable, while everyone stares at Diana wherever she goes. Diana is even better in heels than Barbara. So Barbara wishes to be like Diana, not knowing the full extent of what that means. And so the two burgeoning friends become enemies. While Max Lord’s progression as a villain was not clear as day, it was at least more entertaining and less predictable than Barbara’s progression into Cheetah.
Speaking of Max Lord; the best part of this movie was Pedro Pascal’s performance. A lowlife, charismatic conman, Max is the kind of guy constantly looking for get-rich-quick schemes. After he finds the artifact, his search for more wishes intensifies and Pascal really begins to shine. Despite how almost cartoonish the character seems at times, with a neglected son in tow, Pascal milks every second of it and makes them count. His performance was even enough for me to wave off some very big plot holes that again seem to arise in the third act. Almost.
In the end, WW84 left me wanting for something that could have been.