Wow, is this a bad film.
After the success of the DCEU’s most critically lauded franchise entry, Wonder Woman, director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot return for another adventure featuring the Amazonian Princess. After she successfully aided the end of World War I in the first film, Diana now resides in the year 1984, because what sells more than the 80s these days?
After a lengthy introduction revives the Amazonian warriors of the first film and sets the pursuit of truth as the film’s theme, the story opens to Diana living in Washington, D.C. and working at the Smithsonian. Her days are filled with anthropology and glorified mall security. She is quickly acquainted with coworker Barbara Minerva, and the two investigate a seemingly worthless stone. Both wish upon the stone for things they seek, and they both mysteriously come true. For Barbara, its empowerment and strength akin to that of Diana and for the Princess its the return of her beloved Steve (Chris Pine).
Meanwhile, charismatic, though failing businessman Maxwell Lord has dreams of his own involving the booming Oil industry. He visits the Smithsonian one day, only to seduce Barbara to obtain the stone and possess its power.
What results are three superficial storylines seeing the titular hero on a romantic holiday with her beau while dual antagonists develop their villainy. The film seemed to take the throwback setting too seriously, effectively regressing the storyline to nothing stronger than Lynda Carter’s series in the 70s.
What’s most surprising with this film is its focus on all of the wrong things. Rather than simply replicate the successful structure of the first film, the sequel seeks to amplify by doing all of the same things and more. Jenkins succumbs to the superhero pitfall of attempting the most and inadequately doing any of it.
The strongest aspect of the bloated Wonder Woman sequel is the message of favoring a collective community over individualism. In Diana’s pursuit of truth and the good of humanity, she combats two antagonists who simply favor their own power and futures over all else. A powerful message within a consistently divisive political landscape in which people favor their freedoms over the health of themselves and those around them, WW1984 succeeds in getting this message across.
Too little too late, this idea is buried under painfully lengthy 80s nostalgia, romance drama, and megalomania. Should 1984 have been trimmed down 30 minutes, one villain and added a few more action sequences, the film would vastly improve. Further, in eliminating Diana’s romantic sufferings, the film would have been far more compelling in cultivating her complex relationship with franchise favorite Cheetah.
In focusing too heavily on bringing back the magnetism between actors Gadot and Chris Pine, the filmmakers sacrifice the exploration of new interactions Princess Diana would come to experience in the later timeline.
Finally, Wonder Woman 1984 beckons the continued need for the superhero genre at this age, and more importantly, using 80s nostalgia as a marketing tactic.