Wonder Woman was a fantastic movie, and, a lot of people hoped, a turning point for the DC Expanded Universe, as they’re calling their movie-verse (and really, they couldn’t come up with a better name?). DC has been known for some not-great theatrical releases, arguably since the 70’s Superman and 80’s Batman movies (at least the first few). So I was really looking forward to Wonder Woman 1984, and that anticipation grew during the COVID delay that pushed back the release date.
What we got just wasn’t worth that wait, and it pains me to say it. Gal Gadot has been a great Wonder Woman, and I really expected more from Patty Jenkins’ directing. Instead of something that lived up to the first movie’s excellence, we got something with some deeply flawed writing and some really questionable moral choices and special effects. Once again, DC has seen how well the Marvel Cinematic Universe works, and chosen to run in the opposite direction, given us a movie with no ties to anything else, minimal hints at a larger universe, no connections to things we’ve seen before or hints of things to come. That, while disappointing, is the least of the movie’s failings.
After an opening flashback of Diana as a little girl back on Themyscira, where the idea of how important truth is gets very not subtly raised, we jump ahead to the modern(ish) era. After a few very 80’s scenes and some quick heroic scenes, we see Wonder Woman take on some thieves at a mall. That scene was of particular interest to me, as that mall is literally just up the street from me. Aside from showy stunts, the only really interesting thing here is that Diana is going to great lengths to stay as an “urban legend,” like early in Batman’s career.
Along the way, we meet Maxwell Lord, a tv pitchman who seems to be the avatar of 80’s greed. In the comics, Max has a long history, first as an ally of the Justice League, then a villain who opposed the heroes, eventually killing one of his former friends, before having his neck snapped on live tv… by Wonder Woman herself. That story would have been a better choice than this one. //cur.aa.ufl.edu/iiww84-online-full-123movies
Diana lives in Washington, DC, works at the Smithsonian, and has an apartment at the Watergate (the Smithsonian pays a lot better than I realized). At work, she meets Barbara Minerva, a nerdy, klutzy but brilliant scientist. Diana, of course, is the only one who is nice to her. The two start to become friends, which you just know is going to go badly even if you aren’t familiar with Dr. Minerva from the comics. In one halfway decent piece of storytelling, some loot from the robbery Wonder Woman broke up at the mall ends up in Minerva’s office for expert opinion on what the pieces are worth. Up to this point, it’s actually not a bad movie. Unfortunately, all this is pretty early on.
Naturally, one of the items is what ruthless industrialist Max Lord wants. One of the few references to anything else in DC Comics is Max’s meeting with Simon Stagg, another rich bad guy who was instrumental in the origin of Metamopho. They don’t even manage to work a reference to Rex Mason, Metamorpho’s real name, in during the scene.