Diana (Gal Gadot) is a senior anthropologist at the Smithsonian Museum while also fighting crime on the side. She’s approached by new employee Barbara Minerva (Kristin Wiig) and bankrupt oil tycoon Max Lord (The Mandalorian’s Pedro Pascal). They discover a dream stone that grants you any wish. The only catch, it takes away what you treasure the most. Diana wishes for Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) to return from the grave, Barbara wishes to be like Diana, and Max wishes to become the human embodiment of the stone, granting everyone wishes for his personal gain.
DC and Marvel have been bitter rivals since the inception of comics, and this rivalry has carried over into other media: television, video games, and most recently, movies. When the Marvel Cinematic Universe cemented itself in pop culture, DC spent years playing catch up with the likes of Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. It didn’t work. Critics and fans were disappointed that these movies were more sequel bait than stand alone epics, despite a generous box-office reception. Until Wonder Woman came along, said “Hold my ice-cream” and singlehandedly proved that DC can make quality movies without copying the competition. People were singing in the streets about how DC broke away from the Zack Snyder formula and cinematography in favor of something more colorful, down to earth, and character driven without the Christopher Nolan monologues. So where you go after such a monumental step forward? Naturally, to a sequel. Enter Wonder Woman 1984, directed and co-written by Patty Jenkins, one of the most highly anticipated sequels since Avengers Endgame. However, with the Corona Virus eliminating the movie theater experience, Warner Brothers announced that all their upcoming movies would be made available on HBO Max for no extra cost, unlike the Mulan remake. For that reason, Wonder Woman 1984 is a Christmas present to loyal subscribers, but it might not be the yuletide gift everyone was hoping for.
On paper, the story makes sense in context of the characters, but in execution it’s a complete mess. In its favor, the tone opts for a light-hearted approach in line with Richard Donner’s Superman: A fitting direction seeing as people are tired of the emo vibes from Man of Steel. The acting is still dedicated with the likes of Gal Gadot, Chris Pines, Kristin Wiig, and Pedro Pascal bringing everything to their roles. The best moments are between Gadot and Pine, who still share incredible chemistry as they enter a new world. And that’s ignoring the problem everyone’s brought up with having Steve Trevor embody a complete stranger rather than his own flesh and blood. However, when the stone starts to take its toll on her powers, it leads to many emotional moments including a romantic jet flight and a difficult conclusion that Diana must accept.
Other than that, there are too many storylines going on in this era. Once again, this a superhero film that can’t stick to one villain when this should’ve been split into two movies. Didn’t Batman v Superman come out only four years ago? At first, it looks like Kristin Wiig’s Cheetah will be the focus seeing as her and Diana get a lot of bonding time. But instead its just a shoe-horned final battle that makes Cats look like the new Planet of the Apes. Still, it’s more thrilling than the real climax against the main villain: Pedro Pascal’s Max. His confrontation is slow, drawn-out and bouncing back and forth between two rules of logic. While the story has a good message centering around wishes, it goes completely off the rails of comic-book logic after the original was more down to earth. This new direction also contains less action, showing up after an hour and a half from the opening sequence. Fitting for character progression, but when there’s too many subplots stealing the spotlight, it becomes a chore. Also, this has some of the worst handled fan service in context of its source, which could sum up everything else this has to offer.
Wonder Woman 1984 is incredibly flawed after the original single-handedly saved the DC universe. It’s only through the committed acting, strong chemistry, tender moments, light hearted tone, and decent message that it doesn’t completely fall apart, and to be fair, it’s hard to top such a monumental leap forward in the DC Universe. But after Batman v Superman, one would think that DC would be smart enough to not over bloat the story with multiple villains, supply more action, and have more focus on what’s important. At the very least, this is free after subscribing to HBO Max rather than paying a premium fee. While you’re better off watching the first movie, this is still one of the stronger DC universe films compared to the grimy, color bleached films that started in 2013. And at the end of the day…