Wonder Woman 1984 is ambitious and chaotic.
The original in many ways Wonder woman You could say it’s the first real blockbuster of the Trump era, much like The dark knight was the final blockbuster of the Bush era and Star Trek was the first blockbuster of the Obama era. It is not a literal or chronological distinction, but recognizes the place of the film as a cultural marker. The original Wonder woman spoke to the question of what it means to be good in a world that is not, which resonated in the second half of the decade.
As such, it seems appropriate that Wonder Woman 1984 will be the final blockbuster of the Trump era. Some of this is simply due to factors beyond the control of the film – it was originally supposed to be released earlier in the year, and Warner Brothers originally planned to do so dune taking the Christmas release slot that ultimately went to it. Still, it’s hard to see Wonder Woman 1984 without getting a sense that director Patty Jenkins has a lot to say about the current moment. Isolated even by hiring in the mid-eighties, Wonder Woman 1984 is a film that is firmly anchored in the present.
There is a lot of rich thematic material and great ideas here. Indeed, Wonder Woman 1984 could just be the first superhero blockbuster to serve as a metaphor for the idea of an economy. However, the execution is a bit too broad and too clumsy. Wonder Woman 1984 works best when it’s anchored in their characters and gives them room to breathe. It struggles a little when trying to position itself as a brand extension of a recognizable franchise.
There’s a lot to like Wonder Woman 1984. The setting for the film is wonderfully lively and rich. Cinematographer Matthew Jensen pumps up the color and saturation to present a particularly vivid vision of the Decade of Abundance – one that is steeped in bright blues and reds where gold glitters and pops pink. Purposely elevated and at times unreal, it takes on the texture of old photographs or glowing memories, a stunning texture that perfectly complements the appearance of the original Wonder woman.
In addition, Jenkins still allows you to position the position Wonder woman Films continue as the spiritual successor to Richard Donner’s work Superman and Superman iiwho have favourited the films that defined what a budget, mainstream comic book adaptation might look like to a generation of viewers. The Donner films are a touchstone for many superhero directors. Sometimes it works well, like Kenneth Branagh Thor. Sometimes not, as with Bryan Singer Superman returns.
However, Jenkins is ready to have Gal Gadot as Diana presented as a character analogous to Christopher Reeves Superman. Her costume is bright and often seems ready to jump off the screen, even without 3D digital voodoo. All of this has a charm and an innocence that remains on the right side of nostalgia. It captures the memory and the feeling instead of being slavishly devoted to soulless procreation. Unfortunately, the script itself isn’t always that lucky.
Of course, the use of color is in Wonder Woman 1984 is a market for the film. The film is set against the backdrop of the mid-eighties and takes place in the mid-eighties “Greed is good” Generation. This generation is expressed in the person of Maxwell Lord, the owner of the company “Black gold” Who runs a number of infomercials that reassure the audience “Life is good, but it could be better.” Lord is represented in the spirit of Wall street and The Wolf of Wall Street. Like Jordan Belfort, he even climbs out of a helicopter in his advertisement to welcome the audience.
Lord is a fascinating character. It is played with surprising nuance by Pedro Pascal, who treats Lord as a surprisingly nuanced individual. Mr gets motivation and backstory, he gets a number of explanations for his greed and hucksterism. The film shows Lord as a larger than life character, but only because Lord himself chose to play the role he plays. Even before the arrival of a mysterious artifact, Lord seems to believe in the power of magic to manifest success by presenting success – he calls it “Self Realization” and even alludes to it “The Power of Positive Thinking.”
Indeed one of the most interesting aspects of Wonder Woman 1984 is the level of humanism that permeates the film. Indeed, Wonder Woman 1984 often seems to be in direct contrast to the original film. Wonder woman realized that humanity was worth saving because that is what heroes do, even when they don’t “to earn” it. It was a surprisingly bold argument for a superhero film that emphasized the importance of heroism as something inherently selfless – something that should be done not for a reward, but for the correctness of the plot itself.
In contrast, Wonder Woman 1984 believes that people are fundamentally decent. It seems to suggest that even bad guys and monsters deserve empathy and compassion. The movie’s opening set depicts an attempted robbery of a jewelry story that serves as a front for black market antiques. When Diana shows up, one of the robbers panic and takes a child hostage. Even his fellow armed criminals seem appalled by this reflexive and panicked act. “What you are doing?” demands the leader of the gang, apparently shocked that one of his idiots would threaten a child.
But also as Wonder Woman 1984 It is almost impossible not to see him as an extension of the archetype embodied by President Donald Trump. Mr. is a failed businessman, a “Loser” Who managed to turn some television appearances into a minor celebrity when he scammed all of his investors. Through a series of events, Lord succeeds in making his way into the White House and Oval Office, and eventually taking full power of the Presidency of the United States.
He is bigger than living, vulgar and tasteless. Even the smaller details of the film indicate an obvious source of inspiration. At one point, Lord helps build a wall that turns out to be monumentally stupid and unnecessarily divisive. At another point, it is revealed that Lord is not even the character’s real last name and that he changed it because the original sounded too strange. Of course, so many of the Lord’s problems – including his neglect of his own child – stem from a deeply troubled relationship with his own father. It’s not subtle at all.
Wonder Woman 1984 positions itself as a meditation on the idea of what happens if a hustler and conman can cheat their way to power. The plot of Wonder Woman 1984 is powered by a mysterious artifact that can grant wishes. Steve Trevor, resuscitated by this stone, correctly identifies the artifact as “A monkey’s paw.” It grants wishes, but those wishes come at a terrible price. Often times the individual does not even know what they are dealing with when they close the deal. A character wants a coffee just to burn his mouth.
The story of Wonder Woman 1984 works according to a fairly simple but abstract logic. The story of the film is driven by magic rather than anything more rational. This is interesting because most superhero films tend to coat mysticism and magic with pseudo-rationalistic traps – Doctor strange is mainly interested in magic as a means of transport, while the Thor Franchise treats its deities as sufficiently advanced aliens rather than literal gods. In contrast, Wonder Woman 1984 is much simpler: the stone is magic.
This is an ambitious approach to storytelling as it requires a great deal of dedication and trust in the audience’s willingness to follow an admittedly elevated premise. The wishes in Wonder Woman 1984 depends on everything, on the ability to separate traffic “Like the Red Sea” Let nuclear weapons materialize spontaneously. The costs are similarly vague whether the arrival of an examination unit at just the right moment to a more abstract loss of a character’s empathy.
Still, the central metaphor is Wonder Woman 1984 is very clear: nobody gets anything for free. Indeed, it is tempting to look at Wonder Woman 1984 as a parable of the importance of the economy and trade standards; Everything has a value and a price, even if these values and prices are not monetary in nature and must be respected. Any attempt to disrupt this fundamental law of the universe will have ever worse consequences.
Jenkins hammers this point repeatedly and deftly. Indeed, the action is in Wonder Woman 1984 is often structured to emphasize the thematic point. Many of the action beats in the film are based on the idea of action and consistency, both morally and physically. In the opening scene of the film, Diana uses the swing of a swiveling pendulum to propel herself forward. She later does the same with the axle of an upturned truck. Actions and reactions are certainties in the world of Wonder Woman 1984.
In fact, the sequence where Diana is introduced in the 1984 context plays with that idea repeatedly, following the meaning of physics – kicking a car in the right place to get it off course, for example. Similarly, a minor act of shoplifting results in chasing down the street, resulting in a pedestrian being clumsily knocked off a bridge, an example of the doctrine of unintended consequences. It’s a very impressive visual storytelling.
Lord’s attempt to stay one step ahead of his creditors at the beginning of the film turns into a race to stay one step ahead of the mystical consequences later. Indeed, Lord becomes a master of the “Art of the Deal”and try to manipulate the people around him so that they give him what he wants and at the same time take from them what he needs. Again, it’s hard not to see an echo in this character of Donald Trump, a man desperately trying to escape his crippling obligations.
However, Wonder Woman 1984 extrapolates outward from Lord and makes this a broader point about contemporary culture. The film is based on the idea that everything comes with a cost and that trying to cheat those costs will only result in disaster. The film even begins with a look back at Diana’s childhood, underscoring that point where Diana tries to win a contest by cheating just to be called for take away “The short way” to victory instead of deserving it.
The philosophy advocated by Lord is one of “More.” He promises his followers “You don’t even have to work hard for it. All you have to do is want it.” When asked President Ronald Reagan what the leader of the free world could possibly want, Reagan replies: “What is there to wish for, but more?” Later, when Lord shares a helicopter ride with Barbara, he offers something that comes close to a philosophical summary of his character. “There is always more.”
Lord promises his followers and allies their best dreams and wishes, and they believe in Him. They make their wishes and expect to get something for nothing. It’s not a subtle metaphor for the culture of abundance that defined so much of the 1980s, but it also serves as a broad commentary on much of the Trump era, the enablers and the supporters who made its victory possible by being Chose to believe his blatantly wrong promises to give them what they wanted – build that wall, bring back jobs, give everyone drugs, hurt the right people.
This is one of the slight frustrations inside Wonder Woman 1984where so many of these dire consequences are portrayed as the result of ignorance or indifference. The people who make these desires rarely intend to hurt other people directly – the desires just work that way. There are a few small counterexamples, but it is noteworthy that President Ronald Reagan wants more nuclear weapons to force the Russians to resign just so that it has the opposite effect.
However, this suggests a blind spot in Wonder Woman 1984 that was not present in the original Wonder woman. The original Wonder woman accepted that peoples and governments were capable of malice and violence and that at times cruelty was the point. In contrast, Wonder Woman 1984 It seems hard to believe that people could be motivated by malice or anything other than the best of intentions. All in Wonder Woman 1984 is portrayed as a comedic misunderstanding rather than an intent.
In the context of a film positioning itself at the end of the Trump era, this seems almost painfully naive. It is reminiscent of debates that the people who voted for Trump didn’t know what they were doing or that they just wanted to improve their lives instead of hurting others. It suggests that despite the damage caused by government policies, Trump is a character who deserves pity and empathy because of his own tragic backstory. It is the only element of the central metaphor of Wonder Woman 1984 that doesn’t sound right.
In a broader sense, Wonder Woman 1984 seems to comment on the nostalgia that drives so much of contemporary politics and pop culture. At the beginning of the film, Diana accidentally gets her own wish from the stone. She can resurrect Steve Trevor, the love of her life that sacrificed itself at the height of Wonder woman. Trevor is resuscitated in a stranger’s body, another example of the idea that everything comes with a price. However, Trevor’s presence and resurrection also make Diana weaker.
The resurrection of Steve Trevor is one of the most compelling and powerful aspects of Wonder Woman 1984. At the most basic level, Chris Pine and Gal Gadot are great screen partners. Pine, in particular, is a remarkably generous performer, as demonstrated by his work in films such as A fold in time. The two clash remarkably well and the film is never more lively than when the two just enjoy each other’s company and display a tenderness that is rare in this genre. Jenkins keeps things fresh by reversing the fish-out-of-water dynamics from the first film.
However, Trevor is returning also works because it makes the point of the movie very well. Audiences understand the lure and allure of nostalgia for reviving a lost past because the audience want Trevor is supposed to be there just like Diana. This drama has a surprising amount of emotional weight as Diana feels the pull of that nostalgic comfort. While this weakens Diana, she clearly wants to retreat to a happier past rather than facing the present. Wonder Woman 1984 Skillfully transports the audience into their emotional space and Trever wants back just as much.
Unfortunately, Wonder Woman 1984 suffers from a lack of focus and clarity. Especially as the film approaches its third act, the film confuses its central themes in favor of fan service. This is perhaps most evident in the character of Barbara Minerva. Barbara is presented as a fascinating figure and familiar archetype. Alluding to the setting of the 80s film, Barbara is portrayed as the stereotypical nerdy and grumpy girl who could only be a little hotter if she takes off her glasses, puts her hair up and wears a tighter dress.
It’s a very clever use of a familiar trop from Jenkins, and Kirsten Wiig does a good job in the role. Barbara is an academic and apparently a good one. However, it is constantly being ignored and overlooked by the people around her because it conforms to the stereotype “Hollywood homely” Archetype: She wears baggy clothes, has thick glasses and is not confident. Barbara wants to be noticed. She wants to be “strong”, be “sexy”, be “cool.” She transforms instantly and becomes the center of attention.
There are a lot of interesting things here, especially the positioning of Barbara as a foil or mirror for Diana. Diana’s mythical origins suggest a child made out of clay. Instead, Barbara forms. However, Barbara is not trying to be herself. She tries to copy Diana. In addition, it is very clear that Barbara adapts to the male gaze. She becomes a reflection of what men want to see in her, and not the best version of herself. It’s an interesting approach to the character, and makes it a sharp contrast to Diana’s own independence.
Unfortunately, in the third act, the film fiddles with this topic when Barbara inexplicably wants to be “An Apex Predator” and transforms into a computer generated cheetah person. To be clear, nothing in the film up to this point had predicted this development, except for Diana’s cheetah print heels. It doesn’t make sense that Barbara should have a cultural or personal interest in cheetahs. It doesn’t make sense that the magical wishing stone can turn people into strange animal or human hybrids. It doesn’t make sense that Barbara even owns or likes a cat Doctor Who episode to survive.
To put it simply, Selina Kyle’s transformation into Catwoman in Batman returns is portrayed more clearly than Barbara’s transformation into a cheetah person, and even that was a very surreal and strange change in the world of film. There is absolutely no reason why Barbara wants it (“I don’t want to be like everyone else.”) should be realized as it is, and absolutely no reason why the climax of Wonder Woman 1984 should insist that Diana take on a computer generated cat person who is shrouded in shadows – except for nostalgia and fan service.
There’s no internal reason Barbara needs to become a cheetah person. The only reason Barbara has to become a cheetah person is because the cartoon character Wonder Woman counts the villain Cheetah as one of the most prominent members of her villain’s gallery. It is stubbornly present throughout Wonder Woman’s publication history, which is so scattered and unpredictable that consistency is sufficient to elevate an absurd opponent to arguably the status of arch enmity.
This does not mean discarding the cheetah’s character, although it seems fair to admit that Diana pulled a short straw when comic fate assigned great enemies. Cheetah is neither the Joker nor Lex Luther, nor Doctor Doom or the Green Goblin. Cheetah is not even the Riddler, nor the Bizarro, nor the Red Skull, nor the Vulture. There have been interesting interpretations of the character in the past, most recently Greg Rucka’s interpretation during his run Wonder woman, but these require a lot of preparatory work. You don’t toss Cheetah into act three and expect her to work.
This is perhaps a problem in the modern era of comic book films, which value loyalty and nostalgia for coherence and subject matter. In the old days Superman ii could easily acknowledge that Superman was not blessed by a particularly deep bank of enemies by simply making the then D-Lister like General Zod the main enemy. These days, Tony Stark has to keep fighting groups of generic antagonists wearing armor and seemingly even dumping some of them at Spider-Man Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far from home.
The decision to include the villain Cheetah like this Wonder Woman 1984 throws the entire film off balance. because Wonder Wonder 1984 is a film that depends on magic that works through a clear narrative logic – where things happen because they make sense as things that happen in this type of story and are not motivated by rational cause and effect – the clutter harms the movie. Once the internal logic is damaged by adding a fan service, it begins to untangle.
The cheetah’s character is the most obvious example, but there are many minor elements of the film that seem to exist for no greater reason than because they are an integral part of and belong to the character’s myth Wonder woman Film even where it doesn’t make sense. To give another obvious example, Jenkins puts its own accent on the classic “Invisible Jet”, but the “invisible” Part of that scene is the least convincing part – in fact, it serves as a distraction from the more interesting character work (and even the spectacle) that the sequence plays through.
This is also a problem in the third act of the film. Jenkins listened clearly to the criticism of the third act of the original Wonder womanwho complained about the gratuitous climate protection scene that anchored the film’s central thematic debate between Diana and Ares. In theory, there’s a lot to be said for Jenkins’s efforts to structure the film’s third act in a way that eschews the traditional “Actors hit each other through computer-generated landscapes” Play.
However, it doesn’t quite work. The third is still aimed at an impressive and global dimension, even if a large part of it comes from turning on a wind machine on a fairly conventional set. Jenkins’ desire to tackle violence as a means of resolution in such a story is wise, but it’s hard to sell when the film insists on apocalyptic stakes too. In addition, the resolution of the film doesn’t feel like it Completely earned. Wonder woman spent two hours building his cynical view of the horrors men commit, however Wonder Woman 1984 doesn’t do so much to set up its own ending.
This is all a shame as it prevents Wonder Woman 1984 from the ranks of the best superhero blockbusters. The film has the ambition to burn and to say a lot of clever and purposeful things about the current moment. However, it is also too clumsy and awkward to execute, too eager to indulge in the empty nostalgia it scolds against. Wonder Woman 1984 keeps tripping over himself which is really frustrating. When the movie really gets going, it’s fantastic. On the other hand, landing an invisible jet is likely to be difficult.