I waited, mostly patiently, for years for the second Wonder Woman movie to be released. It got pushed back repeatedly due to COVID-19 and finally was released on Christmas simultaneously through HBO Max and in theaters. The triumphant previews promised that it was the perfect movie to end a dreadful year, full of hope and fun. If only it were that good. Wonder Woman 1984 is sometimes fun, but on the whole it is a flawed movie that does not use its best elements to their fullest potential.
In Wonder Woman 1984, Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) is working at The Smithsonian, missing Steve Trevor, and stopping crime around Washington, D.C. Her colleague Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) takes possession of some antiquities uncovered during a failed robbery at a black market dealer. Among these items is a Dreamstone that grants wishes, but not without a cost. The Dreamstone ends up in the hands of troubled businessman Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) who uses its powers for nefarious ends.
I was so excited to see this movie. It started off so well, with a flashback to Diana’s youth in Themyscira, participating in a competition that looks like if the Olympics were run by boardgame designers. When Diana meets Barbara, the chemistry between Gadot and Wiig is silly and charming. The fun elements of the movie quickly fade, especially after Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) makes his much-hyped return. I think this movie has too much going on with too many characters—one hero, two villains, and a resurrected love interest—and it overuses Steve Trevor at the cost of not giving us enough of Barbara Minerva/Cheetah. Really, this movie criminally underuses Kristen Wiig. Pedro Pascal gets enough screen time to give a funny, over-the-top performance, but even his plotline has an anticlimactic ending.
Bringing Steve back contributed to the main conflict for Wonder Woman in the story, but I could have done without him entirely in favor of getting more of the Diana/Barbara dynamic. So much of the history of Wonder Woman is built on her relationships with other women and that is something we’ve yet to see developed in this iteration of the character. I really am a fan of Gal Gadot and Chris Pine together, but I think that focusing so much on their romantic relationship weakens the character and the plot. How exactly Steve comes back is messy and rushed, as are the scenes in which Diana makes them an invisible jet and learns to fly herself. These should be fun moments, providing great fanservice, but they have so many plot holes that they do not land the way they should (no pun intended). It plays out like they made the story up as they went along and didn’t edit.
The other major problem is a lack of attention to setting and editing. When I heard that there was only one deleted scene from this movie, I was not surprised at all. It’s a clunky, bloated movie. 1980s setting is played with sometimes, but fleetingly and without much impact. What got to me the most was the lack of music. One of my favorite aspects of the first movie was the score. I actually enjoyed it so much that I use it as running music. Despite the awesome remix of “Blue Monday’’ in the trailer, this movie underutilizes music to its detriment. A better score could have made the lackluster fight scenes feel more exciting.
Ultimately, Wonder Woman 1984 is a Wonder Woman movie, so it has its fun spots and a hopeful message about human nature, but it could have benefited from trying to do less and doing it really well.
Wonder Woman 1984 was directed by Patty Jenkins, who wrote it with Geoff Johns and Dave Callaham. It runs 2 hours 31 minutes and is rated PG-13.