Sometimes, films are unjustly judged. Other times, popular opinion needs to be challenged. Either way, this content will likely be unpopular.
Wonder Woman’s sophomore solo effort in the DCEU, Wonder Woman 1984, is a strange film in almost every way. Some of this strangeness works in its favor, but some simply does not. However, it does reunite Gal Gadot and Chris Pine’s characters after Wonder Woman, and that actually made a surprising amount of sense.
One of Wonder Woman 1984‘s best virtues is that it dispels the unnecessary grittiness that characterizes the DCEU. There’s no faded, washed-out color palette, no needless angst, no baffling darkness injected into its story. Instead, its plot is one that allows for Chris Pine’s return to make sense, while introducing two new villains into the DCEU’s continuity.
Though the film does seemingly right some of the wider franchise’s wrongs, it also wastes a lot of potential. With an excellent cast that includes Pedro Pascal as Maxwell Lord and Kristen Wiig as Barbara Minerva (AKA Cheetah), Wonder Woman 1984 is a film with genuine potential, but it doesn’t quite play out this way. Wiig’s performance is sound but it wastes her talents by giving her one of the most generic stories imaginable, and Pascal’s Maxwell Lord is an engaing villain who is simply wasted by the film’s ending. Neither of the two villains retain their power, meaning that their return to the franchise is perhaps unlikely, which again feels like a wasted opportunity.
Wonder Woman 1984‘s general design is good, with its characters given comic-accurate aesthetics that are vibrant and colorful to match the film’s ’80s vibe. In relation to its predecessor, it’s an improvement with regard to its writing, particularly where dialogue is concerned. It’s steadily paced, with enough exciting action sequences to make it generally engaging.
Wonder Woman 1984‘s final act is what lets it down the most. It’s something of a magic-infused mess, with multiple plot points coming together in a jumbled climax held together by the most precarious of threads. Saving the world with an entirely forgettable monologue, Wonder Woman renders both of the film’s villains powerless, ultimately ruining their chance of becoming major DCEU characters.
Unfrotunately, despite its promise, Wonder Woman 1984 is disappointing. It doesn’t quite recapture the magic of Gadot and Pine’s chemistry from the first film, and despite having a few new interesting characters and sound innovations, it simply doesn’t achieve its potential. Though it’s a well-conceived and excellently designed film, it reeks of style over substance, and it also does very little to further the already struggling franchise it belongs to.
Summary: Wonder Woman 1984 shores up the shortcomings of the first film, but it doesn’t really surpass it in any conceivable way. It’s a reasonably fun film, but it’s ultimately forgettable and does very little to stand out among other (better) superhero movies.
Highlight: Pedro Pascal and Kristen Wiig are both excellent in their respective roles, making them two of the DCEU’s most exciting villains to date.