Films based on DC comics have been very hit or miss, to say the least, especially when looking at the catalogue of films over the last decade. MAN OF STEEL (2013) has its fans, JOKER (2019) was very good, and SHAZAM! (2019) was a lot of fun, but nothing has even come close to 2016’s WONDER WOMAN. I enjoyed that film so much that I was looking forward to this one no matter how good or bad any of the marketing material was. Although there are some great moments to be had here, WONDER WOMAN 1984 (2020) disappointed me overall. There are solid moments of drama that carry over from the first instalment, but here’s why I believe this film is a misstep.
Taking place in 1984, it was very obvious that this sequel would feel different than its predecessor. What made the first film set itself apart from other superheroic fare was that it was set in the past during World War I. Choosing an 80s setting can always make for a very nostalgic and fun adventure when given the right story, but everything about this sequel felt off. The first movie was very grounded in reality, while this film felt like a cheesy version of the same film. At times this film even feels like a soft reboot of the Wonder Woman character, due to the fact that she’s written in a different light.
On top of not feeling in continuity with the first, this film also suffers from a problem that many superhero films face, which is introducing more than one villain in the same movie. Pedro Pascal and Kristen Wiig are both very likable performers, but both felt out of their comfort zone. Kristen Wiig felt like she was bringing a dramatic character too much levity and Pedro Pascal felt like he was hamming it up a little too much. I would defend Pedro Pascal in the fact that his character’s storyline was far too cheesy for a film like this and I would also defend Kristen Wiig for not being given many great lines of dialogue. A lot of this film felt overstuffed and overwritten.
The lukewarm area of this film lies with the character of Max Lord (Pedro Pascal), because of the extremely political accent. I honestly felt like I was watching a corrupted president trying to please everyone in his country. His character is given the ability to grant all wishes, making him a nightmare for people in the real world, but his character felt more of a reflection on the current political status than anything else. For all intents and purposes, I truly felt like the villains in this film were there to make statements rather than provide life lessons.
Overall, WONDER WOMAN 1984 is a far inferior film in comparison to its predecessor. It tries to make bold statements but ultimately fails at most of them. The action throughout most scenes is well done, but again, even that is far and few between. On top of being emotionally investing, the first film had an emotional core that worked so well with the character of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). This character, along with Diana/Wonder Woman easily makes for some of the best scenes in the film, but ultimately just serve as a catalyst for the story, which also bothered me. In the end, this film has great direction by Patty Jenkins, a wonderful score by Hans Zimmer, and solid performances by all involved, but I just felt the overall story and execution to be lackluster in comparison with the first. WONDER WOMAN 1984 is now streaming on many platforms, but I’m really not sure if it’s worth the money. It’s a pretty messy sequel.