NOTICE: This review contains lots of spoilers.
It didn’t have to be this way. Wonder Woman (2017), for all its flaws, was still an enjoyable, fun movie for me, in part because of my love for Diana (and Steve Trevor). They’re both (yes, both) back for this one, and yet Wonder Woman: 1984 was is so awful that I found it completely unenjoyable to watch.
Why? Let me count the ways!
1. Let’s start with the first fight scene, in the mall. It’s clear that it’s supposed to be the introductory scene where the hero swoops in and saves the day, and is established to the audience as the awesome main character. But the “fight” itself can hardly be called that. It’s basically just Diana swinging around and tripping bad guys. It seemed lackluster; the choreography seemed erratic and didn’t really flow well.
I was talking with my dad about the mall scene and how it didn’t seem to really do anything for the movie. He reminded me it actually did play a part: the jewelry store the thieves robbed was a front for stolen artifacts, one of which was the Dreamstone, which would become a major element of the story. I had completely forgotten about this plot point entirely! Here was a scene that was supposed to be important and practically set up the rest of the movie, but the way it was executed made it completely forgettable. The scene was disposable, and the important information it was trying to give us felt glazed over as a result.
2. Another issue I had with this movie is a problem I had with the first one, as well: DISAPPOINTING VILLAINS. In WWI, General Ludendorff was the most boring, unmotivated villain I had ever seen. He was literally just a dude who liked war and killing people. There was room to improve!
WW84 does better, but not by much. Maxwell Lord is the second most boring, unmotivated villain I have ever seen. His motives make no sense to me. He wanted to be the Dreamstone, so he could take whatever he wanted from people, so he could… what? Be more powerful? Be more successful? Power, success, fame, fortune. All classic things that villains want. And Max Lord kept saying he wanted “more”. Okay, but… why? Like Ludendorff, Lord was completely two-dimensional, an uninspiring villain who you can’t even bring yourself to sympathize with when the movie shows flashbacks to his traumatic youth and abusive father.
3. Also, nothing happened to Max Lord after his egregious deeds. He reunites with his son and gets a hug and his son tells him he loves him and whatnot. It’s a nice ending for a bad man. But where is the justice regarding Max Lord? At least Ludendorff died! Lord wasn’t even arrested! Why does he get a good ending, with forgiveness from his son, and no consequences for his dastardly acts? Is it just because everything that happened as a result of the Dreamstone wishes got “reset” or “erased”? He’s not really responsible for anything bad that happened if technically nothing actually happened, right?
4. Speaking of things that didn’t technically happen but still totally did happen and are fucked-up things, here’s one with WW84 that I have seen widely discussed: Steve Trevor having sex with Diana after she wished him back to life in someone else’s body. And aside from the obviously enormous problem of using someone else’s body nonconsensually for sex, Steve could’ve gotten that guy killed — Constantly fighting baddies and being in harm’s way is fine if it’s your body that you’re harming, but Steve was literally piloting (no pun intended) a normal guy who did not deserve any of this to happen to him.
Diana and Steve’s reaction to him being in a random body is rather odd. Sure they’re shocked that Steve is back, and they’re in awe that he’s alive again, but neither of them seem that concerned he’s in someone else’s body. Of course they say they want to get to the bottom of it, like how it happened and why, but they don’t actually seem to care about the person involved. They don’t even know his name. We don’t even know his name. If you go to IMDb, his character is literally listed as “handsome man”.
Is that all he is? Is he not worthy of even being given a name? They go to his apartment, rifle through his closet, use his body in multiple ways, and he can’t even have a name? Did he not have any family or friends who were concerned where he disappeared for a few days? Was a missing persons report filed? Did he have plans for those days he wasn’t in his body? Maybe he was supposed to go see his dying mother in the hospital, but didn’t get to because Steve was busy flying an invisible jet through fireworks.
All of the wishes made with the Dreamstone were revoked, resolving the conflict of the movie and setting things back to normal. None of it technically happened. But how does that make sense when there is a man out there with no memory of the days when someone else inhabited his body? He doesn’t get those days back. Yes, Steve disappeared when Diana revoked her wish, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t in the guy’s body at all. He was. It happened.
I know it’s not fair to, like, a hundred percent blame Steve for what happened. Diana is the one who made the wish, and Steve didn’t ask to be put in a stranger’s body. It’s not his fault he possessed someone, and it’s not like he could leave the body unless Diana revoked her wish, which he had to eventually convince her to do. Some of Steve and Diana’s actions were selfish and morally questionable if not just outright terrible, but Steve isn’t necessarily at fault for everything. Diana has some things to answer for, however.
5. Aside from the morality and logistics of Steve coming back to “life”, can we talk about how the filmmakers nerfed him a SECOND TIME? Killing him once wasn’t enough, huh? Our self-sacrificing pilot blew himself up in the first movie. He truly went out with a bang. Seeing him die gave Diana that essential burst of anger, that rage that gave her the strength to defeat Ares. It was inspiring!
And then… they just did that again?
Of course it was sad that Diana had to lose Steve a second time, but why did they do it like that? It seems to me like they wanted Steve to die again so Diana could get that classic “grief empowerment”, but didn’t want to actually kill him again. So they put him in someone else’s body specifically so later on in the movie they could have a reason for him to disappear. It would have been unoriginal to make him die again, but making his soul that’s possessing someone else’s body vanish back into the void? Ugh.
6. Okay, so, this next issue is more random and not as essential to structure or plot or anything, but I got so tired of seeing Diana save children. I know that sounds weird, but: how many times did she have to swoop in with her lasso and grab children who were in danger? The first time in the mall was fine; she saved the kid from being dropped off the ledge and put her down safely. Nice, cool, whatever.
But then there were those kids in Egypt playing in the street despite the very obvious onslaught of vehicles speeding towards them? It made no sense they’d be playing carefree in the road while there were literal tanks exploding down the road from them. If Diana was close enough to the kids to swing in and save them, the tanks were close enough that the kids would’ve seen them a long time before.
It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Not to mention Diana fell so fucking hard when she lost her grip on the lasso that even if she had been shielding the children with her body they for sure would’ve gotten hurt anyways.
7. One more seemingly random yet actually not thing: WW84 has one of the most eye-capturing posters I’ve ever seen (see above). It’s bright, it’s colorful, it’s intriguing. The gold armor is the new iconic look, one I’m personally not a big fan of, but it was still enough to make an ad campaign around it.
In the movie, the gold armor is revealed to be Asteria’s, a legendary Amazon warrior. And somehow Diana just… has this incredible armor leaning against the wall in her apartment. Just chilling there. It’s not entirely implausible that Diana would be in possession of the armor, sure, but the movie doesn’t even bother to tell us how she got it. You can speculate that perhaps she acquired it while working at the museum, but that doesn’t explain how she got it from the museum if that’s the case. There’s no mention of anyone from her homeland bestowing it upon her. She just… has it. And then destroys most of it in her fight with Cheetah. Seems like just a meaningless thing they threw in to make people look at the poster and think, “ooh, shiny”.
The thing that bothers me the most about this movie is that it didn’t have to be this way. All the problems above were fixable! Some simple redrafting would’ve done the job. These are good filmmakers, so why did they fall short here?
So, yeah, Wonder Woman: 1984 was kind of a bust. My disappointment is immeasurable. A third one is in the works and I totally plan on seeing it. But this one certainly wasn’t good.
However, if you liked it, I would love to hear why! What worked for you? Tell me your thoughts in the comments. And have a great day!