By Owen Quinn author of the Time Warriors and Zombie Blues
I have to open by saying right up front I loved the first Wonder woman movie. For me Gal Gadot will never fill the shoes of Lynda Carter but she runs a very close second. She is every fibre Wonder Woman bringing a gentleness to the role that balances the super hero side of her. She can rescue me any time to be fair.
Now we have the release of WW84 whose trailer has the classic Blue Monday tune from my youth. This automatically upped the ante for me. Such a classic tune gave me good vibes right there and then. This movie is going to be great. Aaah, if only they had been more Blue Monday the pain would not be so great. So what went wrong?
Well, the script and some bad choices in logic mostly.
There’s nothing wrong with the cast. They all do a bang up job but they are struggling in a sea that eventually swallows them. Like the debut of the Cheetah, it promised so much yet delivered so little.
Pedro Pascal plays a great Maxwell Lord, a crap businessman who is flailing in mud thinking it’s water trying to obtain greatness while ignoring his son. Kristen Wiig is the downtrodden Barbara desperate to be as amazing as Diana Prince. Gal Gadot and Chris Pine are their usual selves as Diana/Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor, a man suddenly out of time.
A lot of criticism has been laid at the plot point of Diana still being heartbroken over Steve’s death decades earlier. I disagree. I like to see our heroes flawed. It adds a beautiful layer to the character of Wonder Woman as a lonely god destined to right wrongs but never being happy in her life. It’s a timeless theme of the thankless hero whom the world never ever acknowledges beyond their super hero exterior. Even a God can have their heart broken. Life mostly gives us one true love and to lose that but continue living is a hard road to walk without breaking down. This gives Diana the humanity she needs for the audience to identify with her; we’ve all had a broken heart at some time. Barbara, Lord and Diana all share a common pain and the arrival of a wish stone from Amazonian legend turns the world on a coin. Wishes are granted at an accelerated rate and when Lord becomes the wish stone, the world begins to fall into ash and fire.
As Wishmaster 2, 3 and 4 proved, a movie about wishes can be a cracked path if not done right. To be fair Aladdin did the whole wish thing much better.
At two and a half hours long WW84 is way too long. Too much time seems to be focused on set up and the characters various breakdowns leading to a rushed conclusion that robs us of a proper Wonder Woman and Cheetah showdown. It feels like the Darth Maul syndrome; Cheetah was hyped to be the big bad but gets woefully too little screen time. It feels she was shoved on screen because they were running out of time.
Another point is the morality of Diana when she gets Steve back in the form of Sam Beckett. This is the first big misstep for the script. Having wished for her lost love to comeback to her Diana does indeed get Steve back but the problem is he lives in someone else’s body. Every other wish has come physically true so why not this one? Steve wears someone else’s face yet Diana has no problem jumping into bed with him. There is something not right with this thread; it just seems dumb and a bit crass. There’s no question in Diana’s head that sleeping with a stranger is in the least bit wrong. To be fair though this is part of her arc in getting over her grief and moving forward; simply adding the line that all she sees is Steve when she looks at this new man doesn’t quite cut it. It just doesn’t feel comfortable. Diana is quite happy this stranger loses who he was and his entire life so she can keep Steve with her even if he does wear another face and body. So while this thread is debatable it does again add into her broken heart story arc. She gives him up to not only save the stranger but the entire world as Lord floods it with destructive wishes.
Be careful what you wish for is also a running theme here but the actual logic of it crumbles leaving us confused. Are we really expected to believe that everyone actually renounced their wishes? While Wonder Woman gives a great speech, not all of humanity would be so noble to give up their wish. Or does Lord renouncing his wish to be the wish stone negate and cancel all the other wishes? It is a world left in tatters, clearly shattered by the wish flood but at least it scared our leaders into taking another look at nuclear weapons. Did Barbara renounce her wish and Cheetah no longer exists and is she back being downtrodden? Everyone has full memories of what happened to them so what does that mean for the world now?
Gadot is great all through a muddle of a story. One of the most obvious chasms in logic is when Steve and Diana must travel abroad to track Lord. They have to go by plane but Diana says they cannot do that as he has no passport. The problem is the body Steve is occupying probably has one and it’s washed over. This logic gap only happens to allow a romantic flight through a fireworks display and introduce the invisible plane ala Superman taking Lois flying at the first meeting. This may be a character moment that is a prelude to Diana getting her heart broken again but it only adds to the already overlong movie.
I really wanted to love this movie but it’s been hit by the curse of the sequels. It needed to be much sharper and find a better balance between character arc and moving a story along. The ending is a mess and leaves the viewer confused and disappointed.
All through the first movie and this one I was mentally projecting a Lynda Carter/ Gal Gadot meeting. It’s criminal if it doesn’t happen, I was thinking. Lo and behold the spectacular golden suit of armour used in the final battle turns out to belong to Asteria, the original hero that sacrificed everything for the Amazonians. And guess what she looks like? there’s Lynda in all her glory still saving people and saying she’s been doing this for a very long time. I nearly fell off my chair with excitement. She and Gal Gadot’s version of Wonder Woman better meet in the third one so get writing quick DC movies. Learn your lessons from this one and deliver the movie we deserve third time round.