‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Spoiler Discussion
The sequel to one of the most successful DC films, Wonder Woman 1984, is now available to watch worldwide in theaters and to stream on HBO Max in North America as well. While we’ve already reviewed the movie in a non-spoiler fashion, let’s take a look at the movie now in full detail.
Spoilers ahead for Wonder Woman 1984
First of all, this movie is massively different from the last one, probably in every aspect. For that, kudos to the filmmakers and Patty Jenkins in particular for making such a radical departure from their last project. While it does continue to deliver a similar message to the first movie’s, the style and tone were changed to make it feel like an 80s movie. More on the 80s side of this movie later.
But what is the message of this movie? The first one talked about love and the importance of it in the world, while WW84 talks about the truth. To establish this message, Patty Jenkins orchestrated an outstanding opening scene, which almost feels like a short film aimed to be released before the movie, because, besides establishing the underlying message of the movie through a parable, it is not related to what comes after whatsoever. I don’t think this is necessarily bad, and as I said, the opening was excellent, so no complaints here. It just struck me as disconnected. The first three minutes of the scene are now available to watch on YouTube for free.
So what exactly is the message? The parable that is this competition and Diana losing it by cheating (of sorts) delivers the following message, as said by Robin Wright’s Antiope – if you are not ready to win fairly, you are not ready to win. A bit of a jump here, but this is what Diana told the world at the end from that station. While Max Lord is trying to make life easier for everybody by granting wishes, Diana warns them that you should never take the short path. Instead, you must be true to yourself and achieve your goals on your own. That’s how you win in life.
Another major win of this opening scene is Hans Zimmer’s score. While he didn’t score the first one, he did create that iconic Wonder Woman theme that debuted in Batman v Superman, and that was brought back here. But the sound of these first minutes is quite different but absolutely amazing. He brought the wonder and magic of Themyscira to our ears through a score so fitting you can no longer think of the island without it.
We then jump to the present, or rather, 1984, and we see first hand that Wonder Woman is now a heroine living in the shadows, protecting and saving people without receiving any recognition for it, and without looking for it as well. Once again, Zimmer’s score is absolutely breathtaking. I loved the introduction of the in-costume Wonder Woman into the movie – you first get to see a foot here, a hand throwing the lasso there, until you finally see her jump into the screen in one of the most heroic shots of any movie in the past number of years.
I’m completely torn on the mall scene for this very reason. And it is one that will come up again later. While there are some shots where we see Diana in full-body doing the fighting, there are many instances in the mall scene where the fight is presented through very rapid editing, so that we see a close-up of her hand throwing the lasso, or her leg kicking one of the bad guys. The mini comedy bits with the little girl thrown into the giant teddy bear were great, but I just wanted to see the action on camera, and not through edits. And it is weird because it is clear they used a lot of CG in many scenes with Wonder Woman in action, but many other times they just went the “easy route” and did it through quick edits. A very weird dichotomy.
Here’s my guess on this. I have to think that, in many of the creative choices Patty Jenkins made in this movie, she opted for bringing in a full 80s style of filmmaking. Let’s be clear here. In a world where a movie like Avengers: Endgame exists, where you have an in-costume Carol Danvers fighting an 8-foot tall purple alien with a magic gauntlet on his hand, and the fight is 100% done on camera, so that we as an audience are able to see their heads and their feet, you can do any fight like that with the help of CGI. I strongly believe that.
If I’m right, I still don’t know if I liked the way it turned out. Because the 80s references are fine with me, but when it gets in the way of filmmaking so that the experience delivered is a lesser one than what we could have, it stops working for me. However, if I’m not right, then there is no excuse, and the scenes delivered were not as good as they could have been.
This 80s excuse keeps popping into my head many more times, especially when it came to the CGI, which was not that good. Especially in the flying scenes, which we’ll get to. Those scenes where Wonder Woman is learning how to fly did not look good whatsoever. They reminded me of the Christopher Reeves Superman movies. And that’s where my brain says: “oh, what if that was on purpose?” I think that’s a possibility, because if DC put out seven years ago Man of Steel, where Superman flying almost looked photo-realistic in my book (at least in the first two acts), then you have no excuse. I’ll give that a hard pass because while it is possible it is a reference to those movies, it still took me out of it.
Going back to the story, we are shortly afterwards introduced to Kristen Wiig’s Barbara Minerva, as well as the big McGuffin of the movie, the stone that grants wishes. Several notes here. First of all, I have to praise both Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot, because the acting chops that the latter showed in this movie were pretty outstanding for someone who does not come from an acting background. Gadot was pretty good throughout the first Wonder Woman, but she has learned a lot since then, and Jenkins clearly taught her a couple of lessons.
She was truly great. Except for this one moment, that completely took me out of the movie. And to be fair, I don’t think it was 100% Gadot’s fault, because the line wasn’t very good either. It was the moment where we cut to Diana and Barbara in the bar, and we are in an establishing shot of the table, and we hear Gadot laugh while saying “oh my God, Barbara, you are so funny! I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time.” This felt to me like a line written by a seven-year-old preparing a play for the school. I know that’s harsh, but that’s how much it took me out of the movie. And Gadot’s laugh wasn’t that convincing, but I have to say, it is very hard to start acting a scene laughing; it’s going to come across as fake no matter what.
Kristen Wiig is very good in the movie, and it shows that she (and the entire cast as well, by the way) had so much fun making it. Especially Pedro Pascal.
Let’s move to the stone for a moment, because I really want to talk about this. I am very curious to see what people are going to think of this movie, and I’m also very curious to see how it ages with time. And I say that because I strongly believe that many people that liked or even loved the first one are not going to be fans of this movie. And here’s why. This movie is extremely cheesy. Everything is extremely exaggerated, and most of the movie comes across as cartoonish. And I fully believe that is another 80s reference. Patty Jenkins probably pitched this movie as an 80s movie made today, and she did it. With that in mind, I still don’t know if I like it or not.
I believe that the reason all of this movie had to be so cheesy and so cartoonish was so that having a magical stone that grants wishes is not out of place and could even be one of the most normal things in the movie. That’s how I interpreted it at least. And Pedro Pascal’s evil laugh agrees with me.
Pedro Pascal was so aware of the movie he was in that he could have easily been taken out of a movie made 35 years ago. He exaggerated everything he did and said to the limit, and while that helped to bring the rest of the fantastical stuff happening on-screen down, there were also moments in which it took me out of the movie. In fact, I can’t remember a single moment in which Max Lord just stayed still.
We still haven’t talked about Steve Trevor, so I think it’s time to get there now. After the introduction of Pedro Pascal’s Max Lord and Kristen Wiig’s Barbara Minerva, Chris Pine was the next main character to be introduced. I honestly was a bit dubious when they first announced he’d be back for the sequel, but they did it to serve the story, and not the actor or the plot, so I quite liked it for that reason. After watching the many trailers for the movie, you could really put two and two together and guess how he was coming back, but hey, I think they pulled it off besides that.
If you want to deliver the message that this movie does, you need your main character to suffer that arc as well, and there is nothing or no one that Diana is as attached to as Steve Trevor, at least in the DCEU (if that’s still a thing). However, my main complaint with the character of Steve Trevor and his relationship with Diana is that I cannot stop myself from screaming at the screen: “They’ve known each other for five days!”
I’m not talking about the comics, where their history is clearly much deeper. But in the movies, Diana met Steve at most a week before he sacrificed himself. Yes, that was a very intense week, and their experiences together were some that would leave a mark on her after World War I, but I mean, after almost 70 years, she still refuses to think about anyone else or just “go out” (in the words of Barbara)? And also, to think that after a week of knowing each other, she is still in love with him all those years later? I just didn’t buy that.
If I ignore that and believe that she sees Steve in somebody else’s body because that person inherits Steve’s personality, her arc works a lot, and the moment she has to let him go in the streets of Washington is excellent. Another great moment for Gadot as an actress that showed me how far she’s come.
Also, this was largely discussed before the movie even came out, but it was nice to see the fish-out-of-water trope of the first movie come back, but this time being a fish-out-of-time thing. Steve also suffered that arc in the first half of the first film, true, but that movie was mainly about Diana getting to know the world of men.
This trope was realized to its full potential in the scene of the invisible jet (which WOW, I never thought we’d see that in live-action). By the way, who goes around leaving his jet behind open for anyone who can fly it? Anyway… Besides that, the scene was beautiful.
Let’s move to one of my other favorite setpieces of the movie, other than the opening and the mall scene (which I ultimately liked, but I just wished it was a bit better). It is the fight on the open road in Egypt. After coming across Max Lord (what a coincidence, huh?) in an open road, Diana dresses up and jumps out of the car in order to bring us this movie’s version of the no man’s land scene from Wonder Woman.
That scene from the first movie is probably one of my favorite action setpieces in any comic-book movie, ever. It was gorgeous, wonderfully executed, and very poignant. I was expecting a great scene the first time I watched it, but I remember sitting in that theater and my jaw hitting the floor.
This one is very good, and Zimmer’s score lives up to it, with that electric sound that takes over your entire body. By the way, I really hope you’ve seen this movie on a big screen, because I’m honestly so glad that I did, both because of the image and the sound as well. I’ve seen this movie twice now, and the second time I did it on an even larger screen, and it was all the better for it.
While the scene was very good, it still needed a bit more on-camera action in my opinion, although it featured a lot more than the mall scene. And it was not as good as the no man’s land scene. But hey, that was a very high bar. They shouldn’t be disappointed. Ultimately, I feel like that’s the reason why this one didn’t work as much as the first one for me – the first one had that awesome scene that just elevated the entire movie, while this one (besides being so cheesy that at times it took me out of it) had several good setpieces that didn’t really elevate the movie.
This is running longer than I anticipated, so let’s move quickly to some of my points about this movie that I’m dying to talk about, starting with the Kingdom Come Wonder Woman costume (see picture above). I was very disappointed with this costume because it didn’t come across to me as anything else than a reference to the comic.
At this point in the movie, Diana had already got back her powers, so she was bullet-proof once again and had all of her strength back. She’d already learned how to fly as well, so even though that initial shot of her coming down from the clouds was one of the coolest ones in the movie, it was unnecessary because the wings were. One could argue that she needed the costume to fight Cheetah, but how could she have possibly predicted that? And also, I would argue that she could have handled herself without the wings protecting her. And the movie agrees with me because she drops the wings and defeats her anyway.
I have to admit that I was very upset about this because I was in love with the costume in this movie. It was a joy to see those colors vibrate through the screen, and to see them go was sad for me, especially for a pointless reason. Even when she had to stop that giant bullet, she only had to use her wristbands and not the Kingdom Come costume.
Speaking of Cheetah, that was another disappointment. What in the world was that? Well, I’ll tell you, that was just another pointless reference to the comics. I guess that if they are going to have Barbara Minerva there, she better put on that predator look, right? That was never justified, and if Barbara Minerva never looked like that in the comics, they wouldn’t have done it, which means, the story didn’t call for it. Nerds like me will get the reference, but someone who knows nothing about the DC comics will just say, “okay, so why is Catwoman in this movie now?” Laugh all you want, but I’ve heard that for real.
Also, let’s talk about the flying thing. This was something I was wondering if they’d bring to live-action. I was very surprised when they didn’t include it in the first Wonder Woman, and in Batman v Superman and Justice League she just performed Jedi-like jumps. I would have been fine if they hadn’t included that aspect of the character in this iteration and just let it be for the comics and the cartoons. But I’m glad to see it realized, even if it was for a couple of poor-CGI scenes.
One final point, and this is something that nearly made my brain explode the first time I watched the movie: when Diana defeats Cheetah and enters the room to confront Max Lord, she sits on the ground, almost defeated. First of all, Patty Jenkins clearly established that the lasso couldn’t reach Max Lord, so how she managed to do it while not moving a muscle is something that I didn’t understand.
And here’s another thing I don’t understand: I’ve been saying how great Hans Zimmer’s score was. But here, he just went nuts. During this scene, Zimmer chose not to include an original piece of music, but rather a piece that he’d created for another movie already. A song from Batman v Superman. He decided to play the score that plays while Thomas and Martha Wayne are being killed. And I just have to ask myself, why? What does that piece of music have to do with this scene, now? I honestly have no answer, and I just feel like he played it because they inserted it during a test of the movie and thought it played well. I don’t know that, but it really drove me nuts when I saw it for the first time.
To conclude this discussion, I’ll just say that Wonder Woman 1984 was a mixed bag for me. It did great on several aspects, but it was so cheesy and over-the-top on so many others that, for me, it didn’t work as well as the first one. The CGI could have been much better, especially in the flying scenes, but I think it’s possible that Patty Jenkins did that on purpose. However, if she didn’t, I have to say that this worries me in relation to Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, because the first Wonder Woman also had some questionable CGI in the third act. I’ll just trust John Knoll and the folks at ILM when it comes to that.
Miguel Fernández is a Spanish student that has movies as his second passion in life. His favorite movie of all time is The Lord of the Rings, but he is also a huge Star Wars fan. However, fantasy movies are not his only cup of tea, as authors like Scorsese, Fincher, Kubrick or Hitchcock have been an obsession for him since he started to understand the language of filmmaking. He is that guy who will watch a black and white movie, just because it is in black and white.