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Why Was Wonder Woman 1984 so Disappointing?

*This article will contain spoilers for both Wonder Woman and Wonder Woman 1984*

“Wonder Woman 1984” is the much anticipated sequel to the 2017 film “Wonder Woman”. The film was set to release in the summer of 2020, but was pushed back due to COVID restrictions on movie theaters. Instead the film was released digitally on HBO Max on Christmas Day, where it will be free to stream (with an HBO Max subscription) until January 24. The film stars Gal Gadot in the titular role, with Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, and Pedro Pascal as the central characters. 

A common critique of the film was that the characters felt overwhelmingly underdeveloped. It’s been approximately forty years since the events of the first film, and Diana seems to have done nothing but work in museums and mourn Steve. While Diana’s grief is valid and understandable, it’s hard to imagine that Diana wouldn’t have so much as a hobby. At the very least Diana could have an interest in her job, or an obsession with ice cream to call back to the first film, anything to make Diana feel like a real person. Instead the film makes a point to show how alone Diana is, even including a scene of a waiter awkwardly removing a place setting when she’s out to dinner alone. And even after Diana finally lets Steve go, she’s shown talking to a new guy at the very end of the film, as if the only way for her to be happy is to get back into dating. As a viewer, I would’ve preferred the final scene to be of Diana and Barbara reconnecting as friends as opposed to introducing a random man for ninety seconds of flirting. 

Barbara’s character also lacked any sort of depth. All we get is that she’s supposedly a very intelligent woman who’s also socially awkward, and her big thing is that she can’t walk in heels. She befriends Diana (though it definitely seemed like she was crushing on her) and wishes to be just like her after a man tries to assault Barbara in the park. This wish makes it so Barbara can magically walk in heels, people notice her and she starts wearing more fashionable clothes. It also gives her Diana’s strength, which allows her to become the secondary antagonist of the film. 

Even the villain of this film seems to be completely one dimensional. Max Lord has big plans to make it in the oil industry, and uses the wishing stone to do it. His goal is to give everyone what they want so they’ll give him what he wants, regardless of the consequences. He’s kind of your standard big business villain, with the film trying (and failing) to give him depth by adding a loose plotline with his kid. 

In addition to the underdeveloped characters, the film’s plot was less than intriguing. The wishing stone had confusing and plot-convienant rules, especially when Max Lord turns himself into the wishing stone (did that scene remind anyone else of Aladdin when Jafar asked to be the genie?). The rules get even more unclear when Max can apparently pass along whatever the wish takes from people, and the wishes are undone with a simple phrase. Both villains were explained away as being ‘corrupted’ by the stone, which has apparently destroyed dozens of past civilizations (which doesn’t make a ton of sense if it’s so easy to reverse the damage by revoking the wish/destroying the stone). 

While there are other little things that make the film fall flat in comparison to its predecessor, the lack of character depth makes it hard for the audience to care. Sequels typically should go deeper into a character’s life, and after watching this film I didn’t feel like I learned anything new about Diana besides that she competed in a version of the olympics as a kid. And that’s really unfortunate, because Wonder Woman is such an interesting character with really cool villains, and this film did a poor job of highlighting that. 

 

Taelor Daugherty

Agnes Scott '22

Taelor Daugherty is an English Literature-Creative Writing major at Agnes Scott College. She plans either go into media-related journalism or into the film and television industry as a screenwriter.
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