DC's recent films have garnered a lot of attention, especially in the wake of Marvel's immensely successful Infinity Saga conclusion. The box-office smash Endgame funneled attention back into the superhero and comic industry that had been lost for quite a while.
*Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD*
On Christmas night, the highly anticipated sequel to the 2017 DC femme-fatale action film Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, hit HBO Max in the states and smashed in the box office, one of the largest grossing films in theaters during the pandemic period.
The sequel has been highly anticipated, and front-runner Gal Gadot is a charming lead heroine. But the film doesn't do her or Wonder Woman justice at all.
The Super Villains Don't Really Feel Like Super Villains
There are inconsistencies and discrepancies in the plot of WW84 that don't work to make the viewer invested in the storyline, surrounding the reappearance of Chris Pine's Steve, and the two main villains don't feel like they have a backstory until near the very end of the film.
Even then, Kristen Wiig's Cheetah felt eerily reminiscent of Jamie Foxx's Electro in the Amazing Spider-Man 2: a pretty lame origin story for arguably one of the comics' biggest villains. Wiig's character effectively decides to abandon the world and side with Pedro Pascale's Max Lord because she wanted to be like Diana, and liked having power.
At a two hour-long runtime, Barbara Minerva's iteration of Cheetah in the comics definitely had much better storylines to flesh out, and her official appearance in a battle scene near the end of the movie feels forced and doesn't really make much sense.
Considering that Cheetah is to Wonder Woman as Batman is to Joker, her appearance in the film was brief and underwhelming.
Also, the cheetah CGI gave a lot of audiences Cats flashbacks, and not in a good way.
Then again, the whole idea of Lord's “villainous plan” falls short in the film. Maxwell Lord's super villain doesn't really feel too super villain-y. Lord's character is effectively just a washed-up television personality whose Ponzi scheme started to burst at the seams, making the character feel more petty than most of the other Wonder Woman options. He's nothing memorable, except for annoying.
This isn't the case in the original comics, either: Lord presents as a steely anti-Superhero businessman who works to destroy the Justice League (and constituents) for the safety of the world. At least that's something to hold onto.
On Feminism and Plot
Don't get me wrong, the 80s aesthetic and fashion is impeccably done. But the aesthetics and escapism of the movie come at the cost of plot, character development, and a lot of other things. WW84, while it brings our spunky Diana Prince forward in time, leaves the character stagnant.
Her big defining moment? Abandoning Chris Pine...again.
Considering the fact that Wonder Woman was praised for being a feminist call-to-arms, those principles are entirely lacking in WW84. Barbara is nerdy and wants to be hot, so she refuses to help Diana go after Lord.
Diana's still hung up over a guy, and she really needs the guy, because she's still waiting for him even after he's dead.
If they're looking to make Diana the next “strong female heroine” that audiences dote over, was the best idea really to make her still be moping over her ex-boyfriend some 40 years after the fact?
On that, too: wasn't Chris Pine in another person's body? That raised some red flags with me, especially because Diana and Steve pretty much picked up where they left off.
The Film's General Premise
Next, there was an issue the moral of the story in general, or rather, what it was supposed to be: WW84 uses the monkey's paw motif to reiterate to audiences to be careful what they wish for. The stone that somehow magically brings back Steve and gives Barbara Minerva Athenian powers, is used by Lord to effectively hijack the White House and almost cause Nuclear Armageddon. Everything comes with a cost.
For Diana, it's her powers. For Barbara, it's her humanity. For Lord? Nobody really knows, because Pascale's rendition of the character is kind of crazy and apparently what he sacrifices is his sanity, or maybe his health, or his eye (which is shown bleeding for most of the movie).
While the moral's interesting, it's also a cliché, and the storyline is convoluted to the point where I didn't really understand the villain's motive or actions for about 3/4 of the movie.
That's around two hours during which I had no idea what was going on, why it was going on, and was watching random fight scenes where Gal Gadot was swinging the Lasso of Truth around and Barbara was becoming increasingly annoying. All the while, characters were mumbling everything comes with a cost.
Diana's super inspirational speech at the end of the movie felt really forced, and in all honesty, Max Lord's son seemed to be the hero of the story. I affectionately deemed the film “Baby Saves Christmas,” due to the only plot-point I actually understood being Max Lord's son making him stop trying to kill the world and, three seconds later, seeing Diana Prince strut through a snowy, decked out Washington D.C.
Again, big aesthetic focus. Important, but it can't be everything.
The film does well in terms of escapism, and the action sequence that starts off the movie made the film itself seem promising. The first scene in the film takes audiences back to Themyscira and Diana's youth, and in terms of effects and acting, it's well done. The whole movie is “well done” on those fronts. It's something you can watch to take you away from the pandemic-ridden reality of 2020, and it gives you some hope that good wins in the end.
But, otherwise, the film falls short on more fronts than one.