Wonder Woman 1984 Review

I am a huge DC fan, HUGE! I know everyone is on the Marvel (MCU) bandwagon, and I do enjoy the Marvel movies, but I’m firmly in the DC camp because of Superman (greatest superhero ever!) and Batman (what’s your superpower – I’m rich!). I like intense, brooding superhero characters, and that’s why I have been attracted to DC, and not Marvel whose slate of superheroes have come across like some pseudo Original Kings of Comedy rather than an ensemble of superheroes.

Even though I tend to lean towards the darker, intense characters presented by DC, I did fall for Aquaman, Flash and Wonder Woman as presented in Justice League. These three characters lean very strongly towards “campy, light, funny” which is really fine, I can manage.

So I really enjoyed Wonder Woman (the original). It had a lot of heart, but it also had a strong, focused plot and solid action. It was a great blend of romance and action, often rare in superhero movies.

As such, I was really looking forward to WW84. I went through great lengths to watch it on Christmas Day. Nothing was going to prevent me from watching that movie the day it came out. I was that determined.

Unfortunately, I think WW84 was a real let-down for me. If you haven’t seen the movie, STOP, because there are spoilers coming up below. You’ve been duly warned.

This review isn’t a neatly written review, it’s basically a rant pulled from a whatsapp exchange I had after I watched the movie. By the time I was done with my extremely long rant (one recipient of my rant called it a newspaper entry), I figured I might as well post this to Facebook. Take it for exactly what it is, a full-blown rant, which is not in any particular order. Remember that this is from texts, so I was jumping all over the place as I tried to remember all the things that were so distracting for me in the movie.

So here goes.

Max Lord’s motives after a while didn’t make sense to me. Why did he keep going with the wishes? What more was there for him? Why did he want access to millions of people to make wishes? I didn’t quite get why he kept pushing it. He had his money and success and power. Even the Egypt piece – what exactly did Max Lord get out of that whole trip? Some bodyguards and some money? The Egypt guy had already sold his oil, so what benefit did Max really gain? To be honest, you could lose the entire Egypt trip and it wouldn’t impact the movie. That whole trip was unnecessary and not monumental to the movie. Also, nothing happened to the Egyptian prince. I thought he’d be attacked and killed by the people. But nope, he just sat somewhere watching the news the entire movie. When Max Lord left him, Max made it seem like the prince would be lynched or attacked over the wall. That whole wall thing was also very unnecessary. The poor people’s water source was cut off, the Prince had no guards or money, so why wasn’t he attacked?  Ugh, very unnecessary!

Again, why was Max so desperate to reach millions of people? Each time he granted a wish, he got sick. Makes no sense to me. If he’s supposed to be a selfish guy, he would just retreat somewhere with all his money, oil, success, power and good health. I mean, let’s think through it a bit more. Max Lord starts as a sick guy, who’s on the brink of losing everything. Then he gets the stone, hits it big with his oil, and so wants more oil. He got that, so why was he so eager to grant wishes for other people, especially since it made him sicker. Sure, he took health from the people he granted wishes to, but he wouldn’t be sicker in the first place if he didn’t grant wishes! And why couldn’t he just con someone into wishing 100% health for him and leave it at that? Also, there was some random line in the movie that some government requires for Lord’s company to meet with all prospective investors. Really? The CEO himself has to meet with all prospective investors? These investors were coming for investment in the oil, so why was he granting them wishes as well? For real, nothing about Max Lord’s behavior or motives made sense to me. Max was acting like someone with ADHD. It was just too much. Also, what did Max Lord take from his son? The kid made a wish, didn’t he? So what did he lose personally for making that wish? And why did the kid just keep popping up? Where was he sleeping? He was treated more like a prop or piece of furniture than an actual character or human being.

Cheetah was probably the best part of the movie and she was shortchanged. I clearly got her motives. She had nothing and now she was this powerful, sexy woman, so of course she wouldn’t want it to end. I wish she had more scenes, because she was phenomenal. But how come Cheetah got a second wish? Earlier, Max couldn’t use the guy who had already gotten a Ferrari but now Cheetah gets one more because he’s feeling generous? And don’t say she got her first wish from the stone and the second from Max so it’s different. Max is now the stone so it’s the same thing.

Also, the movie gives minimal context to the God behind the stone. I like the Gods flashbacks and context they embed in the movies, particularly the first Wonder Woman but this time, this God behind the stone was just mentioned briefly. There just wasn’t enough context provided on the stone and the God who created it. Why did he create it? Who was he really? We got a lot of context for the God of War in Part One, but this time, we are asked to buy into the whole stone thing without context. I watched the movie about 5 days ago and I can’t remember zip about the God behind the stone!

And Diana’s appeal to people to renounce their wishes. So cheesy! Are we to believe that millions of people just renounced their wishes? Millions of people across the world renounced because of Diana’s totally cheesy speech? Cheetah also renounced? Like everyone renounced because of some heart felt speech? Yeah right! I don’t think that speech was particularly moving! Imagine people in complete abject poverty, with terminal illnesses, dying family members, absolutely nothing to live for and they get a wish and they wish for health and success. Will those types of people give that up and return to abject poverty and terminal health because some woman on a microphone tells them that they will lose their souls? Nah man. They will keep their wishes, and renounce only when they’re certain that the impacts are too great. That’s the thing though. Diana had days to regret her wish. These people who were listening literally just got their wishes granted. They haven’t gone through enough to regret it. Would Diana even renounce on the same day that she got Steve? She wouldn’t and she didn’t. It took her time, but we are expected to believe that millions of people immediately gave up their wishes?

Also, after renouncing, is Max Lord still the stone or not? The renouncing should have killed Max since he was taking healing from people. If he renounced, and the people he took the healing from also renounced, shouldn’t that reverse the healing? I have to come back to this again – are we to believe millions of people, everyone who had Diana’s message renounced? Or we just needed Max to renounce and then everything became normal? That whole renouncing seemed incomplete and total bollocks.

And Diana! How could she be okay with Steve occupying another body? That person had a life, he was human! What happened to him and his soul while Steve was in it? Didn’t Diana care? She cared more about getting her powers back than the guy whose body had been usurped. It was like this weird element of the movie that just wasn’t properly addressed. Diana and Steve had no conversation about it, no guilt was expressed. I mean, Steve could have said something like – “even though I am here, I have taken a life and a body that isn’t mine, we need to do right by him.” Would that hurt if they simply and properly acknowledged that Steve having that body is the same as killing someone? Seriously, they acted like Steve got an empty body from the morgue. They even made jokes about the guy’s looks and clothing tastes! And it would have been good at the end, when the guy was standing next to Diana, for him to make a quip about sleeping through the last few days or say something like she looks familiar or say he feels like he’s the only one who didn’t get in on this wish thing. But it’s as if he actually stopped existing and then suddenly he’s back? And he seems fine? That body usurping thing was just poorly executed.

And flying that jet? Steve lived 60 years ago! Come on. It’s not just air and wind like he said. Pilots must be offended by that comment! And Diana seemed so unprepared. She thought of taking the jet but didn’t think that tower control would see? And how did Steve read the controls and maps and all that enough to get them to Egypt? Like I can’t drive from Accra to Bolga without relying on directions, either verbal directions or some form of navigation. But Steve manages to fly a jet from the US to Egypt when he’s never flown a jet before. Yeah right.

Also, come on, 60 years since Steve died and Diana hasn’t dated anyone? She’s an Amazon! 60 years grieving one guy? I know it’s supposed to be an epic love story but still.

And seriously, why did the intro scenes make Diana seem like the neighborhood spider-man? I was waiting for her to rescue a cat! This movie made it seem as if Diana herself had been frozen in time for 60 years. 60 whole years, and no one had actually spotted Wonder Woman, and she hadn’t really explored her powers. It took Steve returning to get her to fly? She was badass in the original movie and then she simply shuts down for 60 years? Okay, sure.

And oh, Asteria’s entire armor was found intact? Even after the world of men attacked her? No part of the armor was damaged as Asteria held the men back? But Diana gets into one fight with Cheetah and the armor is significantly destroyed?  

Overall, my main problem is that the movie was all over the place. WW84 could have benefitted from keeping the premise really tight. The entire premise actually felt too surreal, too campy, too distracting. People getting wishes with side effects? That’s the best they could come up with? That’s it? The movie became cluttered, congested, crowded, very fast. The movie sort of started well, until Max became the stone and then nothing after that made sense. The action was great, really cool but the plot was a real challenge for me.

The first movie had a real, coherent plot. Overall, the intent of the first movie was to stop a crazed German from unleashing a bio weapon and for Diana, she was going to destroy the God of War. The first movie was sequenced properly, it fit right. The first movie moved along at an appropriate pace. You were given time to know the characters, to like them, to root for them. The first movie showed Diana’s first squad, which culminated in that picture. That picture that Diana has held onto says a lot about the first movie. It was about Diana and her band of “brothers” on a mission. The first movie was character driven. The first one worked primarily because of its simplicity and focus.

I am not trying to overthink a superhero movie, but this sequel was chock-full of distracting stuff. I understand the whole premise – be careful what you wish for, but it was the execution of the premise that was faulty. Be careful what you wish for is too broad and nuanced to package into a movie like this. It shouldn’t have been global. It would have been better if the movie focused on a couple of people who made wishes that had disastrous effects. Millions of people wishing just made it less focused and tangible. I did not care at all for any of those people because I did not know them. Am I supposed to care about the guy who wished that woman dead in the restaurant? And the President seemed like a douche even before he made the wish, not someone you’d like or root for. The movie should have given us more Max Lord and Cheetah but in a focused, nuanced way that shows the proper evolution of the characters.

The movie was aiming for global, feel good themes but those themes can be depicted well with just a handful of characters. For instance, give time to show Max’s deterioration, first show him actually enjoying his wishes and then thinking hmmm maybe I can have more. Show him go from contentment to craving more. But he zips along without a pause. Cheetah at least started from enjoying her popularity and sexiness. She didn’t go from frumpy to a killer cheetah. There was some evolution. Max Lord should have been the same. We never get to see him, and also Cheetah, actually relish and thrive in the wishes and then see the impacts. Instead, they’re jetting from DC to Egypt to DC / White House and here and there.

Fewer characters, more character building and development, tighter scale, just more focused. That helps you deal with plot holes. I prefer the earlier parts of movies that focus on characters and their motivations and their growth and their powers.

WW84 tried too hard to be everything, instead of focusing on plot and characters. Everyone raved about how the emotionality of the first Wonder Woman was fantastic so the sequel tried its best to beat that, to give us all the feels. WW84 aimed for my heart and my emotions but it missed. That’s just a shame.