Updated: Jul 28, 2021
Gal Gadot once again reprises her role as Wonder Woman in the DC Extended Universe’s latest instalment; Wonder Woman 1984. Set decades after the events of the first film, WW84 sees Diana maintaining a “low” profile living among humans. But her quiet and somewhat lonely life is put on pause as once again, the world of man is in trouble and it is up to everyone’s favourite Themysciran to save the day… only this time she must sacrifice so much in order to do so. Wonder Woman 1984 sees Diana needing to save humanity from its own greed and desires, but how does it compare to the first film? Does it redeem the franchise after what has been said to be a slow and rocky start from the DCEU?
SPOILERS AHEAD SO READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRESSION
The film revolves around the dream stone; an ancient object forged by the gods that allows for whatever a person wishes for to come true. In true “be careful what you wish for“ fashion, every wish granted comes with consequences in the form of the person losing something once the wish is granted. It is the wishes of Diana, Barbara Minerva & Maxwell Lord that are the true focus of the film and how each of their wishes affects not only themselves but the world around them. Diana has had to watch as she has outlived everyone that she has called friend whilst still dealing with the loss of Steve. So, when the chance opportunity arose for her to have her beloved returned to her, she takes it. Steve returns in someone else’s body but we see him from Diana’s perspective, and she sees him as his old self (explaining Chris Pine’s return to the DECU lol) but, in return for this, she slowly begins to lose her powers. As you can imagine, this becomes a problem in battles cos really, what is Wonder Woman without her godly strength? When the realisation comes to her that she must ‘rescind her wish’ and have Steve leave her so she can be at full strength to do what needs to be done, she struggles with in herself as to why she must give up the one thing in this world she genuinely wants? Gal Gadot does a phenomenal job conveying the deep emotion and desire in the lead up to this. You can see that giving up the man she loves is not an easy thing to consider as she does so much for humanity already; why can’t she just have this one thing? Gal’s performance throughout the film very much meets the standard she set in the first film, once again giving us a powerful portrayal of Wonder Woman as a hero who does all she can to keep the world of man safe.
Kristen Wiig, who is normally known for comedy roles, essentially played 3 characters in this film as the different versions of her character that we meet during the film are such contrasts that it is sometimes hard to believe it’s all the same actress. Barbara is slowly befriended by Diana and sees in Diana everything she is not; beautiful, confident and strong. So, when she gets her chance to wish upon the dream stone, she wishes to be just like Diana. Little does she know this also includes her god-like strength too. What we witness is Barbara go from this very timid and unsure woman with a poor sense of fashion, to a confident woman who can hold a man’s gaze and dresses like an 80’s cover girl, with her finally arriving at her new being as a dominating, powerful and somewhat selfish antagonist who is desperate to not return to her former self. Now, Barbara’s rise to becoming Cheetah is vastly different to her origins in the comic books but having said that, the character of Cheetah does have one of the most confusing and rebooted origins in DC history. Instead of a magic stone granting her abilities, in the DC Rebirth retcon, she was wed to ancient plant-god Urzkartaga, and was transformed into Cheetah, baring a strong hatred toward Diana for it. Whether the movie retelling of her origins will cause issue among diehard DC fans is to be seen, but regardless, Wiig’s performance should overshadow any doubts and concerns anyone may have.
But the true breakout star of the film is Pedro Pascal as Maxwell Lord. He delivers are riveting and powerful performance as the failing oil tycoon who wants it all. Maxwell uses the power of the dream to fuel his personal desires to chaotic effect, putting the entire world at risk and it is something to behold on screen. Lord as the main villain is a significant contrast to Ares from the first WW film but offers a real threat that was lacking. It is Max’s development from a desperate man to a near tyrant drunk on power that adds so much depth to the film, especially in the third act. The third act confrontation between Lord & Diana is an emotive and tear-jerking moment that rivals the impactful No Man’s Land scene from the previous film. While this review is not shying away from spoilers, Pedro’s DCEU debut is to be seen and witnessed first-hand with minimal knowledge.
Overall, Wonder Woman 1984 is a sequel that fans of the first film will love and those who disliked its predecessor will enjoy a lot and appreciate it as a breath of fresh air. While there could have been more fight scenes and is a bit of a slow burner in the first act, the film did provide a lot of action and entertainment. The Lasso of Truth is seen a lot throughout the film…like, A LOT A LOT! But the unique ways Diana uses it keeps the repeated use of it engaging and fun, like when she uses it to catch a damn bullet! There are so many memorable and iconic scenes that will keep people talking about WW84 for a long while, but the real question is ‘how does the film rank up against the rest of the DCEU’? The film offers a lot more regarding cinematography and story when compared to other films in the franchise, so critics and casual viewers alike should rate this film quite highly. One thing is for sure; however you may feel about the Wonder Woman or the DCEU, you will leave this film thoroughly impressed with the direction and outcome.
Wonder Woman 1984 is out in cinemas on 16th December 2020 and available in cinemas in the US and to stream exclusively on HBO Max On 25th December 2020.