WW84: WTF?

NOTICE: This review contains lots of spoilers.

Great Hera! Wonder Woman: 1984 was terrible! I am distraught over this, and must complain to all of you accordingly.

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!

-AMS

79 Comments on “WW84: WTF?”

  1. Completely agreed with your take. I was looking forward to a nice brain-dead super-hero film for the holidays. I liked the earlier Wonder Woman despite some irritations with it, but this was so bad I did not enjoy it at all. The body snatching stuff was creepy and so not consensual, you called that out well. The villain was unbelievable, his motivations were weak, his comeuppance non-existent. Good review. Wish I would have read it BEFORE I watched the movie.

  2. Samantha Bryant – Samantha Bryant is a middle school Spanish teacher by day and a novelist by night. That makes her a superhero all the time. Her secret superpower is finding lost things. She writes because it’s cheaper than therapy and a lot more fun. She’s best known for her Menopausal Superhero series of novels and stories. When she's not writing or teaching, Samantha enjoys time with her family, watching old movies, baking, reading, gaming, walking in the woods with her rescue dog, and going places. Her favorite gift is tickets (to just about anything). You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @samanthabwriter or at her blog/website: http://samanthabryant.com
    Samantha Bryant

    I, too, was disappointed in this offering. Unlike the first film, which took some story telling risks and had a clear understanding of Diana as a character, this one seemed to just rehash moments from the first film. My list of complaints is similar to yours and I’d add that I’m tired of every female superhero’s storyline being shoved over into the heterosexual romance camp, like all that matters about a female hero is her relationship with a man. Barf.

  3. There is literally nothing I disagreed with in your article. I had almost all these thoughts while watching, including the one about how those kids would have been demolished when WW fell so hard. I actually thought that was where they were going with the scene. Somehow though, I still had fun watching. I think I was really happy that they made Kristen Weig’s character go evil. I was really rooting for that decision. Otherwise, it may just be quarantine that let me have fun with this one. I’ll have to examine my own reasons for liking it.

  4. I enjoyed the first film, and I’m not a huge comics fan. That said, I can’t escape the feeling that the whole genre has been pretty well milked dry. How many reboots of Spiderman/Superman/Batman/The Hulk does the world need? How many ‘super villains’ can your write well? Loved ‘Black Panther’ but suspect the sequel will disappoint.

    (John S.’s ‘The state of super-villainy’ skit is worth noting here.)

    Admittedly, I’m an old fart, but gee whiz, maybe time for the comic fans to start reading real books?

  5. I cannot say that I enjoyed it either. For many of the reasons you have said. Also WTH is up with her just being able to FLY?! She should have plummeted. A friend called it a 2 hour Pantene commercial. Also Cheetah’s choices didn’t feel really compelling either. I know the dreamstone takes from the wisher a thing they didn’t mean to give up, but…. I dunno. It just didn’t have anything to hook on to for me.
    I will also say that I am not a huge WW comic reader, so I don’t know the backstory. A friend of mine who does did say “way to hetero-ize a story” re: DIana and Susan, though. That’s too bad. More gay for all would be a good thing. Also-also, it felt like Diana was seriously pining for a guy she knew for a month 70 years ago. “I will never love again?” Seriously?? Are you an Amazon warrior or aren’t you? The version of WW I have in my head… nope, no thank you. Ah well.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, boat friend.

  6. Many superhero movies suffer from having to give a villain an origin story. That was a big part of what was wrong with this one (having two villains makes it twice as hard to sit through). I agreed with many of the things you pointed out. The bit at the end where she meets up with the Trevor host body again felt even more tacked-on and served no real purpose–except now maybe I am thinking it was to show that he was OK, no ill effects? The mid-credit scene was amazing for an old fanboy like me. And since I didn’t have to shell out in a theatre I think I got good value out of seeing it. I hope the next movie is 45 minutes lighter in both time and tone.

  7. Jason Roberts – Albany, Oregon – Being a product/child of the 80′s, I was born in California. Being raised on Saturday morning cartoons, watching the rise of gaming consoles and taking part in the never ending war between Apple and PC. I’ve some how become a mild-mannered blogger, podcaster & super nerd. Fighting a never-ending battle for fandom, cosplayers, & the Ameri-CON way! When I’m not doing podcasts or working on Nerdy Life of Mine. I am a Sous Chef, so I would expect a number of posts about food I like or dishes I have made on here. I’ve also become obsessed with family history and where my origins come from.
    Jason Roberts

    I have to agree with you on this! My biggest problem was the “goody two shoe” hero action. Trying to save everyone or not hurt anyone. The whole movie itself went against everything that was established before. Making some rather large continuity errors. Now having said that… There were a few moments I did like and some of the action was cool. But.. Look I know this is a solo Wonder Woman movie. But the events of this movie were happening on a global scale. I couldn’t help to think, where was Superman? But then again, the time lines were shot the moment the movie stared. In the first WW movie, she wasn’t even allowed to train in the Amazon Olympics/train over all, till she was a teenager. But in this movie, she is like 11. Maybe…. Acting like a brat, because she didn’t get her way. Plus she told Batman that she’d been gone for 100 years…except for that time in 1984 I guess. But I will step off the soap box for now.

  8. I’ve learned not to expect too much from underpants hero movies. In fact, so much so that I declared a personal moratorium on them.

  9. Yup, another vote for WTF?

    I have a real problem with the idea that Diana pines for Steve for 70+ years and then suddenly he’s “back” in someone else’s body and that’s just cool – for everyone involved.

    I liked the first movie but I actually fell asleep during part of WW84 and when I woke up nothing was better. Ugh all the way around.

  10. It was atrocious. After wasting 2.5 hours of my life watching this shit show, I wanted to go bask in some well-deserved schadenfreude for the makers of this movie. I found several reviews of the film, most of which were…reasonably complimentary?! Thankfully, I’ve found more realistic reviews since then, some of which even take the aforementioned positive reviews to task.

    I don’t even know where to begin with how bad this movie was. Had I gone to a theater to see this movie, I would have walked out halfway through. Your take on it summarizes a lot of the problems. Suffice it to say, I was embarrassed for the actors involved. All I could think was, “Geez. I’m not sure how these folks’ careers are going to survive this giant load of crap.”

    DC mostly sucks at bringing its properties to life and WW84 was no exception. Not even sure HOW such a horrifically bad movie never gets someone…ANYONE…at the studio where it was produced saying, “Uh, WTF is going on here? This is a bad film. We need to hit the reset button.”

  11. I hated it less than you did, though the resurrecting Steve into another guy’s body was particularly skeevy.

    Is it just because everything that happened as a result of the Dreamstone wishes got “reset” or “erased”?

    All of the wishes made with the Dreamstone were revoked, resolving the conflict of the movie and setting things back to normal.

    Am I the only one who noticed that Cheetah did not revoke her wish to “be like Diana?” She lost the “apex predator” aspect that Max endowed her with in the last act, but she was still the overclocked badass selfish bitch at the end, it looked like.

  12. You’re really coming into your own as a writer. Another year of Whatever and you may not need college anymore.

    It would be interesting for you and your dad to see a movie, not talk about it on the ride home, then each write a review.

  13. markdrewterry – Mark Terry is a freelance writer and editor specializing in biopharma, clinical diagnostics, medical practice management and other life science topics. He holds a degree in microbiology and public health, spent 18 years in clinical genetics, and writes regularly for BioSpace.com and BioPharma Dive. His work has been published by FierceBiotech, G2 Intelligence, Dark Daily, Medical Economics, Podiatry Management and numerous others.
    markdrewterry

    2 things. Okay, maybe more. I completely agree with you on all of it. 1. I totally missed the connection with the jewelry store. I just thought it was an unsuccessful, overly campy fight sequence by a couple dumbasses trying to knock off a mall jewelry store that escalated really, really quickly to kidnapping, hostage-taking and attempted murder. 2. One of the most frustrating things about this (by the way, was it just my TV or was the color palate really washed out?), was they originally planned to release this thing in December 2019. Then they had A FULL YEAR before release. Did they not run one single focus group? Did nobody watch it and say, “Hey, guys, this thing kind of sucks. Maybe you should at the very least go back into the editing room, since nothing’s going on this year. Or maybe, since everyone’s sitting around with their thumbs up their asses, reshoot parts of it to make it better.”

  14. Actually, Diana did explain where she got her new armor from. She went out looking for Asterith – the legendary warrior – and all she found was her armor which had been created by the Amazons before they left for their mystical, magical island.

    If you were a fan of the Wonder Woman series from the 1980’s, you probably would have remembered Asterith from the movie.

  15. nerdycellist – About me: amateur musician (voice and cello), dog lover, fat girl, avid traveler, semi-pro ranter, cheese enthusiast, Bibliophibian and sci-fi/fantasy nerd. I'm an introvert anywhere but on my own turf.
    nerdycellist

    Dang, you hit every piece of criticism that I missed while being annoyed by other irritating things.

    This movie really did as much as possible to remind us that Wonder WOMAN was a WOMAN, an extremely HETEROSEXUAL and NURTURING woman who is extremely unthreatening to men. Look how nice she is, saving all those children! Not that male heroes wouldn’t save children, but the movie made sure that a certain percentage of the imperiled were little kids, which makes me wonder if WW is actually more dangerous to children. Why are so many of them being dangled off mall balconies or playing in the streets when she’s around? I don’t even have time for the facile “Bitchez be jealous!” motivation in the Barbara/Cheetah subplot.

    And the non-consensual not-Steve Trevor storyline… Look, I really liked the romance that was built up in the first movie. I think you can do great stuff in the Superhero genre when you concentrate on non-heroic, low-stakes, everyday relationships. But this movie didn’t do that. It just poofed Steve into someone else’s body, and had Diana completely forget her background so she could have a boyfriend. Now the story’s about Steve Trevor, not Wonder Woman. Being set in the 80’s, they could have made a point about that “you can have it all” stuff that had so saturated culture at that time, but nope. Just “Oh, Diana’s been mooning over this guy for decades, and now it’s going to be so hard for her to decide if she wants to save the world, or have a boyfriend.

    The amount of screen-time spent on a grifter who is a shitty dad and has terrible hair – I’m sorry, haven’t we had enough of that in the last four years? Who cares?! I’m tired of Superhero Movies telling me I’m supposed to sympathize with the bad guy, who is (almost always) a horrible white dude with a sad past. I’m tired of their infinite redemption arcs. I watch Superhero movies because, unlike real life, there are actual Good Guys for me to root for. I don’t GAF that Hitler was an unsuccesful artist, and I similarly don’t want to see one more flashback of a child being yelled at as an excuse for why he wants to blow up the moon/bring down the government/enslave the human race.

    Finally, as someone around your Dad’s age, I’m going to throw my lot in with the rest of my generation, and say that other than wardrobe, the 80’s content in this was severely lacking. Where the hell was the 80’s music on the soundtrack? Why did Zimmer keep using a Gladiator cue in the score? Where was the political satire? How did you have Fake!Reagan on and NOT make a satirical point about senility/jellybeans/propaganda? No cold war takes or references to the Olympics? I can only assume this script started as an AU fanfic because someone really wanted to see Chris Pine in parachute pants and a series of fanny packs, because that’s about as far as the 80’s content went here.

  16. Thanks for enumerating & identifying so many of my peeves, even some I wasn’t aware of. Yes, the tacit acceptance of using Steve’s host body with barely a nod to the ethics of the situation was dismal. How did they address question of STDs with no medical history? Putting that aside, I did quite enjoy seeing Mando take off the mask and strut about playing the young megalomaniac. But the worst part of the whole thing was the “It was all a dream” ending.

    Admittedly, DC Comics are known for using magic to defeat their heroes, who are too powerful to be defeated or even checked by normal means, and magic is part of WW’s heritage, but criminy! At the end I felt like I had stumbled in the horribly disappointing last chapter of *Twilight.

    And let’s not forget that after going to some lengths to introduce WW’s fabulous invisible airplane, the film ends with a sequence giving her the power of flight, rendering said invisible plane painfully obsolete. WTF? They might as well swap her golden lasso for light saber.

    *[Disclaimer: My tween-ager and I only watched the Twilight movies for purposes of sociological research, to help said tween-ager better understand their peers. At no time were we ‘fans’ or watching them for purposes of entertainment.]

  17. I didn’t like the particle beam tv take-over touchy macguffin. And the lasso can take over the tv take-over and convince 100% everyone to renounce their wish. It didn’t convince me. But I didn’t have a lasso of truth touching me with accelerated particles beam. Maybe renounce or die horribly of radiation exposure?

  18. I agree with everything you said. I was quite disappointed. I loved the first one, even though I’ll never understand why they set it in WWI rather than WWII like in the original comics. I’m wondering how much influence the studio had in the storyline. I saw an interview with Patty Jenkins where she complained about the studio forced her to have the big SFX battle at the end of the first one, where she preferred to have a much smaller ending (for the record, she was wrong I think. People expect the big SFX fight at the end of superhero movies). So did the studio interfere with this one all the way through? Or was this exactly what Jenkins wanted? If so, I know I’ll take heat for this, but it’s time to bring in another director.

  19. Well said, Athena! A few additional thoughts along the same lines:

    Goodness, this movie was LONG. 2 and a half hours felt like 4. The first part of the movie really dragged.
    Whatever happened to the “no one knows who this Wonder Woman is” thing that they played up in B v. S? Does anyone really believe that she could get into a knock down, drag out fight with Cheetah and Max Lord IN THE WHITE HOUSE and neither Batman nor Superman would have any idea who she is when she shows up to help them fight Doomsday? They made a nod to it in the beginning when WW knocked out the cameras at the mall, but she never really made any attempt to hide herself or her costume.
    It seems unlikely that everyone renounced their wishes, which I understood was the requirement to prevent the collapse of civilization. Dr. Minerva didn’t appear to. And what about the woman that wished all the Irish would be hauled off, only to be wished dead by the guy she was arguing with? It seems unlikely she could renounce her wish while they were doing CPR on her, or that she’d even be aware of the necessity.
    One other note: as has been pointed out elsewhere, Gal Gadot achieved some notoriety (and not in a good way) for vocally supporting a missile strike some years ago that killed 4 young Arab boys on a beach. Having Diana USE A MISSILE to save the Arab kids playing in the road was a bit on the nose.

    Finally, apropos of nothing, Athena, but when I see you sign off as AMS, my brain says “ArteMiS”. ;)

  20. Since I haven’t seen it mentioned I will add that one of the things that’s so irritating about the Steve-in-someone-else’s-body thing is that it’s so unnecessary! You’re granting wishes. Reconstitute him out of old hotdogs from the staff cafeteria or thin air! It doesn’t matter! If that was done at a point in the draft when they wanted there to be limits or a need for the stone to work within a structure, well, they discarded it by the time they had a giant stone anti-heathen wall zoom into existence. Did they just need there to be a problematic issue that they’d ignore like they did their kinda racist cartoon arab oil magnate?

    The point of a limit/constraint is to create tension, move the plot along, or allow you to explore a concept. Steve being a body snatcher instead of snapped out of thin air accomplished none of those things, and it makes me think someone came along after and made a ridiculous complaint about it being implausible. Because when they’re getting ready to steal their magic jet they make some mention about Steve not having a passport. Why doesn’t he have a passport? To drive them in this direction. Who else doesn’t have passports? People who have been dead for forty years!

    I like my comic movies fun-ridiculous, not annoying-ridiculous.

  21. In addition to your reasons above, I’ll add the following (including what some others have commented on):

    Where is the 80s music? Really?! You’re going to set the movie in the 80s, and not take advantage of some of the amazing music of the era? Even the bad music of the 80s was amazingly bad. Not one single note of a classic 80s tune. If this happens again, Hollywood should adopt a rule where Adam Sandler gets to pick the music to use in any movie set in the 80s.

    The CGI was inconsistent. Or maybe the CGI was bad, and some of the actual stunts just looked like CGI. Either way, the visuals were mostly stunning, but occasionally not. The inconsistency was distracting.

    More of the movie should have wound up on the cutting room floor. The opening scene was too long. It even made you (and others) forget its purpose. Other scenes were too long, or completely unnecessary as well. I’d mention one or two of them, but, well, they were not only unnecessary, but also so forgettable that I can’t recall any specifics.

    Despite all of this, I wanted to like the film. I hope I like the next one.

  22. Also, I lookup, a Washington DC to Cairo flight is more than 10 hours. In a two-place fighter jet. There are so many wrong things here.
    -Fighter jets don’t have this range. They need refueling.
    -The most plausible jet would be the F-111 with a side-by-side cockpit. It has a 6000km range. DC to Cairo is about 9000km. So.
    -Also, during a lapse of 10 hours sitting in a cramped seat, I’d need to pee at some point.

  23. timeliebe – Central NY – Dreaded Spouse-Creature to bestselling fantasy author Tamora Pierce (SONG OF THE LIONESS, THE CIRCLE OPENS, BEKA COOPER: A TORTALL LEGEND series), a co-author of TORTALL: A SPY'S GUIDE, Co-author with Tamora Pierce of Marvel's WHITE TIGER: A HERO'S OBSESSION for Marvel Comics. Contributing Editor for VIDEO Magazine during the 1990s, Columnist for C/Net 1999 - 2002.
    timeliebe

    Jess said:

    Also WTH is up with her just being able to FLY?!

    To quote BBC5 film critic Mark Kermode, “That’s not flying — it’s falling with style!”

  24. I think there’s an analogy here to junk food. NOBODY expects nutrition from junk food. It’s all self-indulgence, crunchy sugary salty fatty whatever. We enjoy it while we’re eating it, then afterwards we live with the “meh” taste in our mouths, the insulin spike, the guilt or (when you get to Father Scalzi’s age) the impact on waistline and cholesterol.

    That’s the bargain we make with junk food. And with junk media, like superhero films. With respect to your analysis, it doesn’t really seem as though issues of consent, identity, or criminal ethics are really suitable in a comic-book environment. That’s like complaining that ice cream has no nutritional value, or that potato chips are low in green vegetables. We knew that going in.

    But we can certainly expect the junk food to be tasty while we’re earing it. Ice cream should be sweet and creamy. Chips should be crunchy and salty and (probably) tangy.

    We expect superhero films to be exciting and fun, and a little bit sexy. We expect visual spectacle. We also expect internal consistency. And we expect a resolution that makes us feel vicerally good (bad guys die, good guys avenged, the world restored to order). That’s part of the bargain we make with junk media. Sounds like this film didn’t do that at all. Rightfully condemned.

    But for that. Not for failing to address nuanced social or philosophical issues. I say, let’s not move toward a world where ice cream has to include green vegetables.

  25. Hank Roberts – California – I'm Nobody! Who are you? Are you --Nobody --Too? Then there's a pair of us? Don't tell! they'd advertise --you know! How dreary --to be --Somebody! How public --like a Frog -- To tell one's name --the livelong June -- To an admiring B[l]og! [Parody, with apology to] -- Emily Dickinson____ http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/711.html ____ Avatar stolen from illustration by James Donnelly of THE BASIC LAWS OF HUMAN STUPIDITY by Carlo M. Cipolla, www.cantrip.org/stupidity.html or http://harmful.cat-v.org/people/basic-laws-of-human-stupidity/ or 'oogle it. _________________________ DISAMBIGUATION: not Hank Roberts the Internet Guy/Vlogger; not the cellist [hankrobertsmusic]; not the camping stove maker; not the angler; not British [hankroberts.org.uk]; not a corporate nor a union officer; not from Chicago; not at Southern Pacific; not the award-winning educator at peacemakersinc. You see the pattern. => If you may know me, ask; likely I owe you a long-borrowed book, an apology, thanks, and applause.
    Hank Roberts

    Every time I hear the description of a superhero love affair, I am reminded of the usually unmentionable problems that could and likely would arise in moments of, er, unbridled passion.

    http://www.rawbw.com/~svw/superman.html
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man_of_Steel,_Woman_of_Kleenex

  26. I saw a couple comments while wondering if I wanted to shell out for a subscription to Yet Another Service, and the “meh-ness” in them was enough to decide NOT to bother watching. Reading your critique as well as those of your commenters makes it clear I made the right decision! You saved me hours of watching and days of grumbling about paying up front for a subscription I probably would not continue using. Thank you all for saving my sanity!

  27. Add me to the list of haters. Your review is pretty much spot on. The most superist woman in superherodom just can’t make it without her man. And when she does, it’s someone else’s man.

    The entire Cairo sequence had deeper problems than just being completely unnecessary. I mean, yeah, lets toss in some not completely stereotyped Arab bad guy. And lets make his wish “to commit genocide on whatever other not completely stereotyped Arab people that offended my ancestors.” And then lets have that manifest as a giant wall surrounding those folks, cutting them off from their water and homes. And lets pretend for a moment that this isn’t exactly what the Israelis are doing on the West Bank right now. And lets put it in a movie that takes place two years after Israel invaded Lebanon. So lets send in an Israeli actress to save those innocent Arab kids from all of that.

    Tone deaf? I don’t even think that begins to cover it.

    WW84 wasn’t just bad, it was embarrassing.

  28. I agree with all your points, and there are some I hadn’t articulated yet. My conclusion: Patty Jenkins is a fine director. But she’s a crap screenwriter.

  29. nerdycellist – About me: amateur musician (voice and cello), dog lover, fat girl, avid traveler, semi-pro ranter, cheese enthusiast, Bibliophibian and sci-fi/fantasy nerd. I'm an introvert anywhere but on my own turf.
    nerdycellist

    @Troyce – I am 99.99% certain the first WW was changed from WWII to WWI to differentiate it from Captain America. Those are both two of my favorite Superhero movies, and their dramatic beats are almost identical. Captain America was the better of the two films, but I think you’re right that studio interference was responsible for many of the flaws in the first WW movie. After all, they were convinced that the scene of WW striding purposefully across the battlefield, deflecting bullets, and generally behaving heroically should be cut, and Jenkins had to fight hard to keep it.

  30. @kevin, Jenkins said she considered Snyder’s use of WW as non-canonical, as he did things with the character she said she never wanted to do (I personally consider everything Synder does as non-canonical smirk). So that explains why in the 1980’s no know knew who she was, and same in BVS and Justice League.

    @Nerdycellist, good points. And if Jenkins fought to keep the battlefield walk in the film, the best part of the movie as far as I’m concerned (my fav part of movies like this is what I call the “hero reveal”), then she was right to do so and good for her.

  31. Reminded me of a Mighty Mouse cartoon. Pretty much the same plot and action sequences (sans the Steve stuff).

    Sigh…. I’m old…

    oh, yeah – go watch an MM cartoon to see if I’m nuts or not.

  32. I had no idea of the plot when it started. As I watched, I couldn’t believe this massive superhero movie was basically a Monkey’s Paw plot. Just very uninspired.
    Plus, the whole Steve Trevor story felt like such a cheat. Diana didn’t recognize him and then said that all she could see was him. I just didn’t buy it.

  33. About the (lack of) 80s music, during the80s D.C. had one of the great alternative music stations, WHFS! NewWave, reggae, local funk! Hardcore punk was huge in D.C. in 84! I was in Georgetown darn near every weekend that year!

    Ah well, at least they brought back Commander Salamander for a cameo.

  34. timeliebe – Central NY – Dreaded Spouse-Creature to bestselling fantasy author Tamora Pierce (SONG OF THE LIONESS, THE CIRCLE OPENS, BEKA COOPER: A TORTALL LEGEND series), a co-author of TORTALL: A SPY'S GUIDE, Co-author with Tamora Pierce of Marvel's WHITE TIGER: A HERO'S OBSESSION for Marvel Comics. Contributing Editor for VIDEO Magazine during the 1990s, Columnist for C/Net 1999 - 2002.
    timeliebe

    I think I liked it a lot more than you did, but I agree with many of your problems — especially the consent issue regarding that poor dude whose body Steve Trevor got popped into. It would have been narratively clumsy as Hell, but better, if Steve periodically said “Hold on, the owner of this body wants to talk to you for a minute,” and the guy turned out to be the hunkier form of a Comic Book Nerd who was just thrilled to be living a more exciting life than his normal one as…some kind of engineer, I think they said? Or even funnier, if having a goddess like Diana fall in love with him was his wish, and this was how it was fulfilled!

    But yeah, if I have to twist my Headcanon into a pretzel to make it work? It wasn’t such a hot premise in the first place.

    I’m good with Diana being selfish about Steve because that’s the theme of the movie — that your selfishness hurts others, and even Wonder Woman isn’t immune to it. That she has to sacrifice her life with him shows how she can rise above her own desires, and that Steve has to urge her to do it makes him a better and stronger character. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature — something Patty Jenkins has discussed in interviews as how she wanted this movie to end, rather than with another Punchy-Fighty Diana Destroys the Bad Thing climax.

    That said, I did hate that once Barbara became Cheetah there was no moment where Diana grabbed her and yelled, “Stop it! I want my friend back!” Given the limited amount of time they devoted to it, it was great how easily Gal Gadot and Kristen Wiig slipped into playing BFFs — it reminded me how two women can have an intense loving friendship without it turning all lesbian (although fluid sexuality has been baked into Wonder Woman since her creation). I would have far rather seen Barbara renounce her wish because of her love for Diana than Max Lord doing it to Save His Son! (Though give the writers credit — they did clearly establish Max Lord’s love for his kid as his only redeeming feature.)

    I’d have ended it with Diana and Barbara reconciling, and in Diana trying to stop Max Lord The Very Bad God Whose Name I Can’t Remember emerges from Max and they have…a big old punch-up where Diana and he fight while Barbara continues to convince people to renounce their wishes. As that happens, Very Bad God gets weaker and weaker until Max can get rid of him, and is just the humbled Maxwell Lord that we saw in the (rather more redemptive than he deserved!) climax.

    And in conclusion — yeah, turning Wonder Woman into almost-Superman when she discovers she can fly without her invisible airplane? Reminds me of another Mark Kermode comment about Justice League, “They all have different super-powers…except they don’t, because all of them are invincible, and they can fly.” (That’s what led the the “That’s ‘falling with style'” joke.)

  35. I haven’t seen it yet but am going to, if only because my older daughter worked as a production assistant on it in D.C. for a few days (when she was just turning 22).

    Having once long ago been somewhat familiar with DC comics, I’ve concluded that WW84 should be placed in the same category as the “imaginary stories” or “What if?” comics they used to produce occasionally.

    I would note that Jenkins was not a credited writer on the first movie, but she is on this one, along with Geoff Johns, whose past work I’ve seen maligned (justifiably? I don’t know any of it) in some reviews of WW84.

    I have seen rumors that the movie was in fact audience-tested in 2019 but that no changes were made.

  36. Just a minor nit. Diana tells Steve she went looking for Asteria, but only found the armor. Didn’t go into any detail, but it was mentioned why she has it.

    So this is the 4th movie Princess Diana is in and still, to my knowledge, nobody has ever called her Wonder Woman. This bothers me more than anything else.

    Her flying is a reference to how she originally flew in the golden age by “gliding on air currents”. Part of her conversations with Steve about how he thinks of flying.

  37. Yup. Really needed you to preview this in November and tell us about the suck. Would have saved me 2 hours of going WTF Patty Jenkins? Reminded me of MIB International. I thought the cameo was over done also. Take a page from Stan Lee there Patty.
    Dave

  38. Can we talk about how bad all the web-slinging, I mean lasso flinging looked? Something about the posing of her body and the way they shot every fling in slow-motion just looked… wrong. It didn’t have any gravity, her body no weight. It didn’t feel like here is this incredibly strong woman jerking her body forward into the air, it looked like here is this woman that weighs about 6 ounces being pulled along by the air currents.

    So many of the choices seemed made to define her as less than the male A-listers (who aren’t even in the movie). She holds her own against Supes in Justice League but they keep making the mistake of putting her against some rather weak bad-guys and then adjusting her power level to match the bad guys. Max Lord doesn’t have super powers? No problem, we’ll just make her weak and continue making her weaker- all because of her girly girly love for a man.

    And maybe I’m misremembering the fight scene with her and Cheetah, but it seems super dated to have two women fight each other by literally scratching and kicking at each other (while slow-motion, no gravity flinging around a sound stage). I never once felt in any of the fight scenes that here is a woman that is also a warrior.

    When she turned the jet invisible with her secret power of… turning one thing ever invisible and then never doing it again, my eyes rolled back into my head and fell out of my skull.

  39. Agree with all. And on the comments regarding the lack of 80s music, how about the lack of anything 80s. Why was it even set in the 80s? And when there was an opportunity to bring actually recognizable 80s people into it, they didn’t even have Ronald Reagan??? They made up a president? Why even bother? No Gorbachev either? If you need to make up world leaders, just make it take place in an alternative present. There was literally no reason that this movie had to take place in 1984.

  40. @PI, yes, Superhero movies are fluff, but the Steve-takes-over-some-dudes-body-and-WW-is-just-fine-with-it was a WTF moment for a lot of people, including me. And the stupid thing is that it was so unnecessary. The wish-stone power is literally given by a god, and it does all sorts of impossible things like thrust up a huge wall in the middle of the desert. Why not just reappear Steve out of thin air? You get the same drama, and it would neatly deal with the plot issue of Steve not having a passport and requiring hijacking a jet–in the movie they never stopped to consider that Handsome Dude might have his own passport (but of course that would have meant acknowledging that he had a life outside of being Steve’s sock puppet).

  41. @David Huss the cameo was definitely one of the most cringeworthy moments in the film, especially when Asteria is asked where her name comes from and she says “it’s from my culture.” Even in superhero flicks people don’t say crap that stupid.

  42. I’ve not seen it yet. I will at some point, but there are some serious issues regarding her saving Arab children in regards to GG’s opinions/involvement in the bombing of Gaza (and children). Creepy non-consensual crap (which I hadn’t heard about) does not improve my chances of watching it any time soon. Ick.

    @Samantha Bryant: “I’d add that I’m tired of every female superhero’s storyline being shoved over into the heterosexual romance camp, like all that matters about a female hero is her relationship with a man. Barf.”

    Worse, it’s the same man. At least men get different women each (most) films. Bond is a prime example. Women have to be true to their men, not only in the film, but between them. That said, I deeply loved Agent Carter, and forgave that with Cap because I loved Agent Carter.

  43. I agree completely. Also sad that you can look at metro and realized it hasn’t changed much in 35 years, and the 80s in DC were a lot cleaner than I remember. The greed is good could have been played up way more than it was. And the music! Where were the 80s? (The Smithsonian staff assure me that they would cash the check first before ever doing a party like that too).

  44. Where did you get that Diana wished for Steve to come back in someone else’s body when she didn’t even say anything when she made her wish? She just touched the stone as she looked at it without saying a damn thing.

  45. I didn’t hate it, but I wasn’t expecting a bunch to begin with. And it probably had the added advantage of being the first new movie I’d seen in forever. But I would like to point out that a lot of the problems you had with how they handled Steve are things they do all the time with women. At least he had a speaking role before they refrigerated him.

  46. I was also disappointed in the movie, and Athena, you’ve stated the issues with it more clearly than I would have. Sad that it wasn’t a better follow up to the original WW.

    But this gives me an excuse to mention something else that bothered me about the movie. I know there are plenty of writers here, so maybe someone has thoughts on this. I’m not a professional writer, but in 2007 I wrote a novel for NaNoWriMo that had an oil company executive as the protagonist and an antagonist who is a “wisher” with the same power as the stone in the movie. Also, there were characters named Emerson and Raquel, both names of minor characters in WW84.

    Yeah, yeah, I know how this sounds. I’m aware that if you ever submit an unsolicited manuscript to a publisher and you wonder if they might “steal your ideas” the answer is always “no, you idiot, professional editors have enough to work with without stealing your dumb ideas”.

    But still… I did submit it to a couple of places (in 2014 and 2019). Is it just silly to think that the items I mentioned above are strangely coincidental?

    I mean, I’m not saying my story is better than WW84, but…

  47. Agreed. I also had an issue with Cheetah/Barbara and the relationship between her and Diana. How badly do you want to throw away not only a comedian but a decent actress like Kristen Wiig…it felt very woman non-positive. Calling the McGuffin the Dreamstone was just…dumb. And yes yes yes on all the consent issues with Steve.

  48. I think she was a bit too nice to this piece of unrecyclable refuse.

    There is no doubt an element of “DC Universe Fidelity Demands,” which really ignores that the DC superhero comics were, with very rare exceptions not including non-white-male characters, just not very well written. When the higher-ups demand fidelity to bad writing, what one gets is — I see you shiver with anticip- — wait for it — ation — bad writing. Perhaps writing that’s not quite as bad, but it’s still bad writing. And it’s bad writing being enforced by higher-ups not involved in the fandom, in the story, in the film-making process (beyond taking meetings and screaming at marketing interns later when the product doesn’t either get serious Academy Award consideration or high nine figures at the box office).

  49. Personally I am going to pretend that my head cannon version based on the trailer was the actually movie. That trailer was awesome.

  50. The swinging the lasso then flying thing pulled me right out. I even had your dad’s “flying snowman” observation go through my head. Even before that, she flew too much — her jumps and swings were very “floaty” and it kept pulling me out of the action scenes.

    Floaty wirework aside though, most of the movie was quite well shot. Like a lot of movies, very high budget and sleek in the craftsmanship and visuals, etc. So why do so many movies with huge budgets fall down on things that could have been fixed very cheaply at the script stage?

  51. Dh and I discussed the movie, and in addition to all the other WTF moments, does anyone else feel like they really really wanted Nathan Fillion to play Max Lord, but for some reason couldn’t get him? I had to rub my eyes a couple of times to be sure it was only Pedro Pascal channeling him.

  52. Nathan Hevenstone – Dix Hills, NY – I'm an SJW, Socialist, Jewish Agnostic Atheist, Foodie, and Guitarist. Hi! https://allmylinks.com/jimmyrrpage
    NateHevens

    @Kates

    A quick note about Gal Gadot and Israel… she has been suspiciously silent since 2014 on anything Israel does (to the point that she’s lost Israeli fans who believe that she’s “betrayed Israel” because she won’t show support anymore), and she’s also struck up friendships with people who have a history of being pretty critical of Israel… like Natalie Portman, for example. Of course, given her silence, she could still be the IDF-supporting Zionist she was and has just decided that the current cultural zeitgeist necessitates her silence. But her burgeoning friendships with people who are quite critical of Israel coupled with her silence has… like I said… made at least some of her Israel fans suspicious of her.

    Of course, if she really has changed her thoughts on Israel, why not speak up on it? It’s a good question, and one I don’t have an answer to. I love Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman… she clearly is Wonder Woman, IMO. But… she’s problematic regardless because of the whole Israel thing. It’s only a tiny bit understandable given the fact that she is Israeli and grew up there and was in the IDF and all of that… I did Birthright some years ago, and that culture is… pretty brainwashed into a form of nationalism, unfortunately.

    As for WW84… I could not agree more with the post. I’m just so baffled at how bad the movie was. I hated how and why Steve Trevor was brought back, I hated how Cheetah was treated, I hated Maxwell Lord (what an absolute waste of Pedro Pascal!… although it does show his acting range… look at the Mandalorian vs Max… two polar opposites played by the same person), I hated how Diana was treated, I hated the blatant anti-Arab racism, I found the shallow 80’s aesthetic to be cringey as hell… like after the first movie which I loved despite the 3rd act, this was just… so abysmal. I hated the lack of time, and I’m only glad we didn’t waste money on tickets to see it in a theater.

    I will say this… in the Golden Age, Wonder Woman could fly by riding on air currents (like an eagle). She basically used the invisible jet to fly people who couldn’t fly by themselves around, because unlike Superman, she couldn’t carry them. In other words, if she was by herself, she would just lift herself into the sky with the lasso and then ride air currents. If she was on a mission with a mortal, they took the jet.

  53. I’ll agree that WW84 was quite a disappointment, but that same streaming service is hosting Doom Patrol – a superhero series about a bunch of angsty damaged head cases. There’s not much action and mostly they spend time kvetching about their problems and failing at heroing and it’s amazing. It’s based on the Grant Morrison run of DP and it’s surreal and funny and touching. Give it a try.

  54. I haven’t seen the movie (saw #1 on an airplane, liked it), and I’d seen negative comments online, but I couldn’t tell from the sources whether they were fair reviews of a bad movie or just SJW-haters hating on a movie that has girl cooties on it and they couldn’t see in the theater because hoax-viruses, the way some of the recent Star Wars reviews have been, so I really appreciate seeing a review from you where I know that’s not a problem. (Too bad, I’d hoped to see it in a theater eventually.)

  55. Agreed, Athena! A big steaming time-suck. I’m going to vote WW84 as the movie you most hoped you were able to watch on your friend’s HBO account. That’s how I did it, and I STILL regret it. Happy New Year!

  56. It was a lot like a third rate episode of a tv series that had passed its sell-by date. I was invested in the characters because of the previous movie, but by the end I was only watching because I’d already finished Bridgerton and Repair Shop, so I figured I might was well get closure. The post-credit scene was nice, though.

  57. I was horrified that they had Diana emotionally crippled by pining for Steve for more than six decades. Yeah, he was great and her first love and their interaction was crazy intense during a major formative period of her life and then he died heroically– obviously she’s going to always have a huge soft spot for those memories. Lots of folks do, for their first big romance.

    But it was a two week romance, and the movie directly states that she spent the next SIXTY-SIX YEARS not even letting herself have FRIENDS, because she was still too Steve-sad. That’s a thoroughly toxic interpretation of “love”, and I don’t think I’m reaching excessively to suspect that there’s at least a subconscious undercurrent of “saving herself” for Steve– you know, like good girls should. It’s super gross either way, and an insult to the character.

  58. The whole idea that the Fine Kick-Ass Hero is expected to spend decades moping after the One True Lost Love is enough to make me nope out of seeing the movie, full stop. Give me a break. One-itis is a cultural disease, not a heroic quality to be lauded.

    The first movie was a wonderful step forward. This travesty is three giant leaps back.

    Captain Awkward did a very good alternate-history fix of the thing. That’s the movie I’d be willing to watch.

  59. I liked the movie,and have been surprised by the level of vitriol leveled against it.

    Yes, there were things that bothered me. Some of them bothered me a lot. But overall I liked it.

    There was a whole lot going on in WW84. Maybe they tried cramming in too many themes and arcs.

    You had the Being A Grownup Arc, starting when Diana cheated to win the race and ending with her realization that wishes have consequences and doing the right thing can often break your heart. I liked that arc quite a lot.

    You had the Sympathetic Villain thing going on, with Max Lord clearly established as someone who was failing at his dreams and then losing sight of his end goal (giving his kid the best life ever) in favor of something easier and more self-aggrandizing.

    You had the Fish Out of Water sub-arc, with Steve as the fish, and this one I thought was adorable. I think it could have been more “profound” if advances in culture had been highlighted as much as the advances in technology and art, but I think that sub-arc was meant to be comedy relief.

    The one thing I did dislike even while watching the movie was how Barbara’s arc was handled. That bothered me A LOT, from her first fumbling entry onward. FFS, give women villains other motivations besides “I’m mousy and no one notices me.” Give her a motivation that drives the thematic arc: maybe she’s brilliant in her field but had important research stolen, maybe she focuses on an area of antiquity the museum decides is no longer worth supporting, SOMETHING besides “I want to be NOTICED,” FFS!

    On another issue: Yes, it’s problematic that Diana still pines for Steve (SWIDT?). But I put that in her cultural context: she is from a unisex culture where relationships with any man are entirely, merely theoretical. It was a miracle that she met one man worthy of love, and you have to admit Steve Trevor set a pretty high bar. I think it would have been worse if Diana had decided, post-Steve, that any old guy would do and had spent the intervening decades going through a large swath of them (large because SHE DOESN’T AGE, incidentally, and all the complications behind that tiny little fact).

    Oh, and her single status is also a subtle testament to how one doesn’t need to have love in order to have a life of joy and fulfillment. Yeah, Diana misses Steve. But she hasn’t missed a step because of it: she has a mission that means something to her, a damned good life and career, and SFAIK has not spent the last 60-odd years crying herself to sleep over Steve. She sure hasn’t made it her life’s work to find Someone, Anyone, Who Can Make Me Feel That Way Again.

    When a popular movie gets slammed, I often get the feeling that people watch it looking for things to be upset at. Clearly, people found those things in WW84. That’s a shame.

    I liked WW84.YMMV.

  60. I agree with everything! The mall fight looked like a cartoon! A WWI pilot would not be able to fly a jet!

    But especially all the saving of children. It was like whenever the filmmakers needed an extra beat — let’s have her save children! Even on a deserted road in the middle of the desert that literally has nothing else on it! Random children appear! Argh!

  61. There were so many, “What?? That doesn’t make any sense!!!” moments in this movie that I ended up feeling completely insulted. I was really hoping this could be one good thing that came out of 2020, but NOPE.

  62. Overall, we though WW84 was decent. Definitely not as good overall as the first one, but still okay.

    Maybe this only made sense to people who grew up in the 80s, but Maxwell Lord seemed like a great personification of corporate greed and malfeasance of the 80s. (Not that there isn’t plenty of that now, but it had a particular flavor in the 80s?)

    Despite that, our biggest complaint was the lack of an 80s vibe because there was pretty much no 80s music. (Despite heavy use of it in the trailers.)

    I thought the opening mall scene was fine. I caught the reference to the jewelry store which lead to the dreamstone getting sent to the Smithsonian. (I also had the impression that those thieves had been hired by Max Lord, though i can’t remember what evidence led to that conclusion.)

    Diana learning to fly was… odd. Not bad exactly, but it was barely set up at all ahead of time and the execution was confusing. Based on the visual evidence we weren’t 100% sure if she was actually flying, or just propelling herself at high speeds and then kind of gliding. Based on what we’ve seen since then i guess it was actually flying? Still weird though.

    The whole Steve thing is indeed F’d up, especially since we see later that the dreamstone has no issue with creating new physical things out of whole cloth. It’s not clear if Diana’s loss of power was the cost, or if the host person getting their original personality erased/displaced was the actual cost and Diana’s loss of power was a divine consequence of setting aside her morality to embrace Steve’s return despite that cost. Or maybe a little of both?

    One thing we thought good was the gradual revelation of the consequences of the wishes. It was obvious early on that there was some price being paid for at least some of the wishes, and we made some wrong guesses before we were guided along to the right answer. (We originally thought Barbara was stealing Diana’s powers. And as above, we’re still not 100% sure of all the details about why Diana was losing her powers.)

    One thing that was very good is that unlike many Marvel movies and some of the other DC movies, the bad guy wasn’t just “has the same powers as the good guy but is bad instead”, and the climax of the movie didn’t come down to a punch-fest between the bad guy and the good guy.

    That was one of the biggest weaknesses of the first movie (Diana with vaguely defined god powers duking it out with Ares with vaguely defined god powers.)

    Diana still had to punch through Cheetah in the wind-up, but after that instead of using vaguely defined god/magic powers to punch Max Lord she used vaguely defined god/magic powers to solve the problem through a plea based on logic, morality, and emotion.

    I agree that it’s unlikely that Diana convinced 100% of the people who made a wish to revoke it. However i believe that wasn’t actually necessary. Whether she knew it or not, all she needed to do was to convince Max Lord to revoke his wish. Because that undoes everything you gained from the wish that also undid every wish he granted to anyone else.

    So Barbara lost the “apex predator” powers that Max Lord gifted her with, but kept the “Diana-like” powers, and the associated price, she got from the original dreamstone. Steve would have stuck around if Diana hadn’t already revoked him. And coffee guy got to keep his coffee. (Hopefully the nature of his price was in line with the triviality of his wish?)

    What confuses me is that sure, all the new nuclear missiles the US wished for poofed when the wishes were all revoked, but shouldn’t the Soviet missiles that were launched in retaliation have continued on their way? You could claim that the revocation also reversed the consequences, but everyone still seemed to remember what had happened? When we got the brief scenes of the rest of the world as things were poofing people weren’t suddenly rewinding to their old positions or anything like that, and everyone seemed to remember that the wishes had happened and be glad that they’d gone away?

    As far as Max Lord facing consequences for his actions… I’m glad Diana was able to resolve the situation peacefully, so i don’t feel like she should have then beaten him to death or something. I don’t think our legal system is really equipped to bring charges for “wanton wish misuse” or something like that. On the other hand, even though he’s reunited with his kid again, presumably his company is once again bankrupt and about to be seized, so it’s not like he’s in a good place outside of his father-son relationship.

    So yeah, overall we enjoyed it, though not as much as the original, although if you looked only at the third act WW84 was actually superior in a number of ways.

  63. @CaseyL ” I often get the feeling that people watch it looking for things to be upset at. Clearly, people found those things in WW84.”

    Hey, c’mon. It’s a bummer when you like something and other people emphatically do not, and you have my sympathies. But please accept that we might be unhappy with the film for sincere reasons that have nothing to do with “looking for things to be upset at”.

  64. As you say, this movie is an absolute and complete mess. It doesn’t work structurally, it’s confusing, and the action sequences look like they’re a grudging concession to the studio that nobody actually wanted to bother with.

    And yet… I think it’s a far more fascinating failure than it is getting credit for. But to understand why you have to be familiar simultaneously with the actual Wonder Woman comics from the 80s AND with a very specific event story from 2005. If you don’t know those things and just come at this movie fresh, then you just see the mess.

    Spoilers ahoy for ancient comics.

    I’ve seen people baffled by this movie’s pacing and by the fact that it basically does nothing with the 80s iconography that everybody expected it to be playing with. But it’s not interested in the 80s writ large, it’s interested in Wonder Woman comics from the 80s. Very specifically, with George Perez’s reboot of the character after Crisis on Infinite Earths. Perez’s run is spectacular, and also very strange. He can go for months without any action sequences, focusing instead on Diana’s humanity, her warmth, and her relationships with others (particularly Barbara Minerva). Perez’s run was utterly unlike its contemporaries and, if my occasional dips back into Wonder Woman comics over the years are any guide, utterly unique in terms of the character. I love them, and I kinda love this movie for trying to capture Perez’s energy, although I think his storytelling rhythms are probably a bad choice for a movie.

    Now let’s talk about Max Lord. In a 2005 event story called “The OMAC Project,” Lord obtains the ability to mind control people (I have no idea how, nor do I particularly care). He takes control of a satellite system that will enable him to enhance his powers (I think, honestly all these big event comics are garbage and barely worth the brainpower to remember). He uses this enhanced power to mind-control Superman and sets him to killing people. Lord is using the satellite to broadcast his image to the entire world when Wonder Woman finds him. Sound familiar? She asks him to stop what he’s doing and he basically tells her that to stop him she’ll have to kill him. So she does. She snaps his neck while being broadcasted to the entire world. It’s one of the more “iconic” Wonder Woman scenes from the comics, and it’s a pile of 90s/early 2000’s grimdark junk.

    So what this movie is actually trying to do is to take the 2005 story, mimic its plot beats, and then subvert it right at the end in the way that Perez might have done — by having Diana appeal to Max’s humanity and his soul, and to have that actually work. No big fight scene, no violent solution, just empathy and humanity.

    There’s no doubt that the movie fails in many spectacular ways, not least of which is that this is all incomprehensible if you aren’t familiar with comics that are 15 and 40 years old, respectively. But I still kind of love it for trying.

  65. “Patti!! PattiPattiPatti, come in, come in! I hafta say, we were pleasantly surprised with the job you did on Wonder Woman, and we are THRILLED that you are back for WW84. I know you are gonna knock this on out of the park as well. Yes, here’s the script. Yes. Yes, Steve comes back. Yes, Maxwell Lord AND Cheetah in the same movie. I know, we’re so thrilled. What? Uh, no, we never considered just ONE villain. I mean, Maxwell Lord is a pretty bad dude, but I don’t think he could carry the WHOLE movie alone. Cheetah? Yeah, that’s why Cheetah is in the movie. Cheetah solo as the one villain? Uh, no. No, we never considered that. I mean, no one would come out to see a movie with a singular female villain. It just wouldn’t happen. i mean, that’s why we brought Steve back – someone for the guys to relate to. Well, sure, the original Wonder Woman did pretty well, but there were all those guys helping her. We couldn’t bring ALL of them back. So, STEVE!! And Maxwell Lord vs Steve Trevor is a great matchup. And sure, Wonder Woman and Cheetah are great, too! What? Uh, no. Patti. Patti, come on. yes, everyone saw the returns from the first one, but that was ONE MOVIE. Everyone knows chicks don’t go out to superhero movies – we have to get the GUYS! What? No, no one will ask questions or wonder about the rest of it – it’s a SUPERHERO movie, Patti. The Green Screen and the Effects are all those people care about. No, I don’t think the script needs work!! The script is great the way it is. Yes, I am POSITIVE. Okay? Okay. Now go out there and get ’em, slugger.”

    - the one-sided meeting I imagine Patti Jenkins had to suffer thru for this movie, from your standard stupid misogynistic studio executive.

  66. Athena, first time ever commenting on your post (and not your Dad’s) but you couldn’t be more correct. Took me three times to
    Get through this movie, and it was such a letdown. Gal is great but this was a train wreck. Your title WTF sums it up pretty well. So, I am glad I am not alone in this feeing and really liked your breakdown of it. More new movie reviews.

  67. I enjoyed the movie, though not as much as the first. I don’t disagree with the points that bothered you, but they didn’t affect me as much. About 80% of movies I’ve seen have similar problems and more. After six decades, I’ve seen so much of it that 1) I stop watching a lot of movies before I get far in, 2) if I otherwise like a movie, I put up with the flaws.

    Wonder Women 84 went in with a lot against it. The first WW was iconic, both the movie and the step forward it represented for women in the business. So WW84 had much to live up to. Its release and some of its completion happened during covid, which is bound to have a negative effect. People are also more forgiving of sequel stumbles by male directors than female. Given that it’s had the biggest box office of any movie released during covid, though, I suspect Jenkins will be okay on that front.

    I found WW84 a good adventure movie with a strong heroine who never apologized for being powerful and who remained sympathetic as a person. She did her thing, did it well, and when the problems started, she dealt with them. That description doesn’t apply to many movies, even nowadays when it is more common to see strong female heroines.

    Ironically, what troubled me most also provided one of WW84’s greatest strengths. I agree with you, they mishandled the thing with Steve in some else’s body. They glossed over the ramifications, which were huge. They should have used the technique like in a tv series (I don’t remember the name) where the person could only jump into another person’s body in the moment they died. I wish they had done it better, because it weakened one of the movie’s greatest strengths.

    And that is…the one point I disagree with in your review. I found Steve’s loss even more moving in this movie than the first. His act of heroism in the first was powerful, no doubt about that. And plotwise, it worked well. In this movie, it was dramatically different, yes. But …

    What happened? WW made a wish, never realizing it would be granted. Then she found Steve alive, the love of her life, the man she had mourned for decades. Is it possible to understand the power of that moment without having experienced it in real life? I don’t know. I can only say that my husband passed two years ago, and my daughter and I still mourn him, in some ways as much today as the day he passed. She lost her beloved father and I lost the love of my life and my best friend.

    What would I do if unexpectedly he came back in someone else’s body? In some ways, the thought horrifies me. He would be someone else, yet inside still be himself. I don’t know how anyone could live with it. The movie fell down on dealing with that.

    I do know this, however: if my husband came back, I would be willing to go through heaven and hell so he could live. The movie did a better job there. Diana agonized when she realized the decision she faced: lose Steve after miraculously getting him back or stop the destruction wreaked on humanity. The situation forced her into an agonizing moral judgement.

    The movie also dealt well with the loss of her powers, the best I’ve seen in any of these repetitive shows where a superhero loses what makes them super. It didn’t suddenly slam her, leaving her to deal with life as a normal person. It crept up on her gradually, bringing home bit by inexorable bit the price she would pay to have her wish.

    Of course she tried to find a way to fix the situation without losing him. When she couldn’t find an alternative, she made a decision that would tear a person apart; she chose to lose the love of her life.

    To me, that was more powerful than his death in the first movie, especially from the view of Diana’s character, because she had to make the choice. In the first movie, Steve chose to give his life. In this movie, he knew what she had to do, but she was the one who had to do it. How many people would give up their heart’s greatest desire because it benefitted others rather than themselves? That was, in my opinion, one of her greatest acts of heroism.

    The way she lost Steve also worked for me. We didn’t have a big explosion, a big thriller scene, anything like that. I’ve seen so many of those in so many movies that it’s reached the point where I fast forward through them (though I didn’t in the first WW because damn, they did that well) This time was subtle, like an exhale as he vanished. It’s like having one of those dreams about someone you’ve lost where they are still alive and you’re both happy. Then you wake and as the dream fades, you realize they are gone. I remember one time not long after my husband passed that I woke up, and for just a few moments I could have sworn he was lying next to me, still alive. The movie captured that sense, and the pain that follows, which is far harder to do IMO than a more explosive scene.

    Anyway, those are some of my thoughts.

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