DC superhero sequel misses aspect of being “wonderful”


Mae Skaja

Patty Jenkins’s “Wonder Woman 1984” hit HBO Max last month with a disappointing bang.

The highly-anticipated “Wonder Woman” sequel has finally been released only to disappoint many. 

DC’s “Wonder Woman 1984” came to movie theaters and HBO Max on December 25, 2020,  two-and-a-half years after the impressive and unexpected first movie from 2017. The first “Wonder Woman” and “Aquaman” (2018) broke the DC stereotype of putting out only bad movies, and both “Shazam!” (2019) and “Birds of Prey” (2020) have their fair share of fans too, but this latest offering has fallen back into the discouraging pattern. Honestly, its unique release strategy (the film will be available on HBOMax only until January 25, at which point it will stay in theaters and run its course before making its way back to DVD and streaming) is one of the only interesting things about it. “Wonder Woman 1984” takes place 70 years after the first movie. Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) is working at the Smithsonian Museum as an archaeologist. She meets fellow archeologist Barbra Minerva (Kristin Wiig), who has been assigned to investigate a stone artifact but may have ulterior motives. The stone disappears and, of course, chaos ensues.  

Credit where credit’s due, though: the villains (Pedro Pascal of “The Mandalorian” joins Wiig as one of the big bads) have layers to them and are empathetic. One, in particular, is very relatable by being jealous of Diana Prince’s beauty, power and elegance, while the other is entertainingly thirsty for power. Both of the villains have a clear purpose and depth.

Unfortunately, though, there were just so many disappointments in “Wonder Woman 1984”. Oddly enough, it was both very predictable and hard to follow at the same time. You could watch a scene and almost immediately know what would happen next, but certain parts of the movie were also confusing and left unexplained. For example, as shown in the trailer, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) reappears, and although it was told how he came back, it honestly doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Additionally, the filmmakers could have leaned more into the movie being set in 1984 and including more of the culture and iconography of the 80s. The second half of the movie seemed to forget altogether that it was set in the 1980s. The screenwriters, Geoff Johns (“Arrow”) and David Callaham (“Zombieland: Double Tap”), along with returning writer/director Patty Jenkins (“Monster”), could have added come culture into the movie by possibly referencing books or movies of the time period, and the music supervisors could have made an entire 80s soundtrack to accompany the movie, but instead, an uninspired, overly traditional Hans Zimmer score fills nearly every scene. Compared to other superhero films that have taken place in the past, like Marvel’s “Captain Marvel”, this movie just isn’t as sharp in most aspects. It is just missing a few key elements that other films delivered. 

Some parts of the Reagan era came through, though. The wardrobe and set departments successfully created the majority of the costumes and sets to look like distant images and memories of the decade. Many characters wore colorful costumes too, but Diana looked very modern. Other than that, every extra looked set in the 80s, especially in the beginning. The special effects were well-done too. Wonder Woman looked very powerful and even the subtle effects were noticeably well done. 

 There were also many plots that felt like they were unnecessary in the already bloated storyline. If these were edited out, it could have been a lean action-packed addition to the DC universe, but instead, it is yet another overly long superhero flick clocking in at over two-and-a-half hours. For example, the entire opening sequence, of Diana as a child competing in a race, was entertaining but was never referenced again in the entire movie. Plus, any thematic connections shown in that scene are also left in the dust by the film’s end. 

And yet, this is still the character so many fell in love with in 2017. Gal Gadot, once again, delivers a stunning and believable performance as Wonder Woman, fully emanating confidence and strength. Newcomers Kristin Wiig and Pedro Pascal also depict their characters spectacularly and allow the audience to see the complexity of the villains. Wiig’s transition in her character from being clumsy and awkward to being fierce and bitter is particularly impressive coming from an actor more typically known for one-note comedy. 

If you have HBO Max, or if you really want to see how Diana Prince’s story evolves, this can be an enjoyable movie. You shouldn’t go into this movie with very high expectations, or else you’d risk finishing it displeased.  In general, though, this movie was similar to many other DC universe movies like “Justice League” and “Suicide Squad”. Overall, this movie was simply fine. It was a basic superhero movie that did not step out of its comfort zone. By no means will “Wonder Woman 1984” change your life, but who knows? It may have just left room for a truly fantastic sequel.