I’ve been disappointed with a fair bit of DC superhero movies, like Batman V Superman, Teen Titans Go! To The Movies and Aquaman, but I never thought a C would be my grade for the delayed-five-times and gargantuanly anticipated follow-up to the Wonder Woman movie, a production that was my second favourite film of all of 2017. It was an adrenaline rush of adventure, and I laughed out loud a fair bit, but it shined because it showcased a superhero with empathy, compassion, modesty and respect. Is this grade implying she doesn’t have these things? Heck no. But I guess after that movie was such a hit, it takes more than a great superhero to live up to the last outing. I’m leaving spoilers below about my thoughts of the ending.
So, Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) first came to our world over 65 years ago, or about 105 if measuring current time. Now in the 1980’s she doesn’t look a day older than when she and her gang of war heroes led by pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) took down the German empire. Diana has stayed on Earth and works at a research institute being the leader wherever she is needed. She still hasn’t moved on from when she beat Ares but lost Steve in the battle. In all her years, she just can’t move on from what she had with him and how she so suddenly lost him and has disregarded any guys coming up to her to ask her out.
She takes Dr. Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) under her arm when she sees Barbara is smart and joyful but lacks the self-esteem and courage to prevent people from picking on her. There’s also some sort of party coming up and a big contributor is oil giant (or oil wannabe in real life) Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) who’s giving some generous donations to the institution. And one of the artefacts that comes in is a strange Uncut-Gems-esque stone with Latin inscriptions. We automatically get from the highlight of that luck displayed that this stone makes wishes come true. We then learn a catch is it only grants one wish per person who holds it. And we learn that is not the only catch. It has some cruel, twisted surprises of its own.
This is essentially the sequel to Robert Rodriguez’s Shorts, a movie also about a stone that could grant wishes, and on that note it satisfied me. I liked Shorts better than this movie, but this movie managed to dive more into the twists that can come with getting what you desire. The premise also creates an antagonist down the line that isn’t as fearsome as they think, but a believably cursed one.
As I settled in, to a movie taking place during 1984 of all years, the famous Orwellian year and when the AIDS epidemic really came into play, I realized I was going to miss Wonder Woman being in a great war, but I still settled for the timeline. What kind of buzzkill would I have to be to rant about the year? But as I dived in, some problems popped up that I could not find justification for. First of all, as fun as the opening obstacle course is, there’s no real point to it. It tries to teach a lesson about impulse, but that doesn’t really come up again in the feature. Second, how incompetent are those mall robbers? And even if one of them threatens to drop a little girl off a four-story balcony, you’d think the co-robbers would use that distraction to escape the scene rather than beg him to put her down and risk capture. That kind of public meltdown and affiliation with it could cost you years of your life behind bars.
That’s not all. After being attacked, nearly raped or even worse by a strange man, you’d think, even if it was a celebrity, that Barbara would put her guard up a little bit towards salacious-ish males. I also didn’t buy that Max Lord, a man who has enough influence to be trusted to run ads on popular-enough channels to have those playing on the televisions advertising themselves in stores, and be in the oil business, would be as distrusted or, well, goofy, as he is portrayed here. And one of the biggest ones is, it’d been over 65 years since the first World War in 1984. If Diana was this grief-stricken, you’d think she’d have at least tried out redating. And if her love came back to life miraculously (I mean, how else would it be?) after that long apart, you’d think she’d have embraced him way harder and longer. This isn’t supposed to be a problem because for us it’s only been three years, but when it comes down to it, I see it as a flaw.
I’m not looking for realism in superhero movies, yet a bit of logic always helps. But to properly go to the positives, what I look for always, is being entertained, and I’m entertained if the action is bouncy and fast-paced and I both enjoy watching the protagonists kick butt and care about them. Even if the fight scene in the mall is a little lighter than I was hoping, that one counts. It also doesn’t feel like a two-and-a-half hour movie. Just like the last one, it goes by simply so quickly. Having Trevor be the fish out of water this time was a nice touch. It reminded me of introducing my grandparents to my PlayStation. I enjoyed the action and seeing Diana more vulnerable allowed some action scenes to be more tense. Even with plot armor, I was excited to see how she’d fare against enemies now maybe on the same level as her.
The message of accepting the truth when we see all this fantasy feels faulty, especially when you look at the movie in a certain angle that says women who don’t have a male partner are stronger. Wonder Woman 1984 has its heart in the right place and has smart direction for its messages about how greed is the biggest enemy of all and compassion, understanding, and forgiveness are what heal and unite us. But it can’t live up to the high bar of the first one and its flaws render it particularly inferior compared to its master predecessor.
SPOILERS: If Lord renounced his wish to become the stone itself, then maybe the stone comes back to its regular form. If that were the case and I were Diana, I would’ve done that wish all over again and accepted I’d be just a bit weaker. Still superpowerful but just not 100% invincible. It’d be worth it. There’s already been a confirmed third WW movie and I hope that idea is explored but I somehow sincerely doubt it.