Weak Plot and Characters Spoil Wonder Woman: 1984

Vy Nguyen, Staff Writer

     The truth must be set free. And it will be set free. 

     Although Wonder Woman 1984 was given a more-than-worthy predecessor and plot, its truth crept behind shocking 80s hues, flared collars and vacant “girl power” messages. Even with Wonder Woman leading the action film with her fist in the air, the feminist icon could not seem to rescue the film’s empty storyline and dismal attempt at social impact. 

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) - IMDb
Photo courtesy of IMDb.com.

     Directed by Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman 1984 revolves around a wish-granting rock that our beloved hero, Wonder Woman/Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), seeks to destroy as it is exploited by corrupt hands. After her lover, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), is resurrected from the dead in a new body, she enlists his help to prevent greed from infecting the world. Gadot and Pine’s on-screen chemistry mimics the electric aura of the 80s; however, the film robs the couple of screen time and passes it to the laughable antagonists: a sordid con man, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), and a Wonder Woman wannabe, Dr. Barbara Minerva (Kristin Wiig). 

     They are not only an aberration from the intimidating DC Comics villains, but they are also lazy and literal efforts to personify the era’s laissez-faire capitalism, with both “wishing for more.” Maxwell resembles the inauthenticity of political figures in his stiff suits and insincere small-talk while Dr. Minerva, later known as Cheetah, is reminiscent of high school envy and cattiness — no pun intended. Even though the antagonists are haphazardly executed, they provide a strong contrast to the benevolent hero-couple, specifically during the uniquely choreographed fight scenes.

     In addition to poor characterization, the sequel is also remiss in its duty to capture 1980s nostalgia despite “1984” being part of the film title. From the Barbie-like leotards to the overly teased hair, the wardrobe and makeup appear as if they had been borrowed from an 80s-themed school spirit day, or better yet, a Party City catalog. However, Wonder Woman dons modern blazers, sleek ponytails and muted tones. While her clothing is a stylistic inconsistency among the rest of the characters, her sophistication serves as a pleasant deviation from the film’s cheap aesthetic.
     The set managed to sink even lower than the wardrobe, considering that it is virtually identical to modern-day D.C. Since the film is devoid of anything 80s-related after its first slow 15 minutes, the rest of the film relies on a single character, who is a knock-off of President Reagan, to emulate the era.
     While the film’s attempt to reflect the 80s was intriguing, the reason as to why its creators chose the time period remains unclear. Ultimately, the time period does not phase the viewer or impact the plot; it is merely a stagnant background for the characters to exist in, rather than interact with.
     Instead of highlighting the decade’s pop culture, the film shoves racism, sexism, nuclear warfare, saving children and international relations into two hours and 31 minutes. The film executes a brief montage of colored peoples’ faces, where each person stares pitifully into the audience’s eyes during the plot’s resolution. Instead of forging multi-dimensional characters for people of color, it is obvious that the creators decided that racial stereotypes are a sufficient substitute for diversity, and as a result, they bombarded the storyline with Egyptian oil conflict and violent Arabs.

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) - Writing credits - IMDb
Photo courtesy of IMDb.com.

     Along with diversity being forced, the film overwhelms the viewer with idle feminist messages. While there are a few poignant scenes with young girls gazing at Wonder Woman with admiration, most feminist-centered scenes are excessive and obvious in their messages.
     For instance, when Steve is assimilating into the world after being resurrected, he is found consulting Diana for fashion advice and on how to use an escalator. In contrast to its predecessor, this film deeply roots itself within a man’s reliance on a woman, especially when Dr. Minerva protects Maxwell as he scampers from Wonder Woman. Despite superhero role reversals being empowering for girls and women, the impact is repetitive by the middle of the movie and dulls by the end. One meaningful scene is more likely to resonate in the audience as opposed to a succession of flagrant or highly-inflated ones. 

     Without the occasional saccharine feeling that comes with every superhero movie, the highly-anticipated Wonder Woman sequel is underwhelming and lacks substance. As disappointing as it is to say this, Wonder Woman 1984 is just a banal action film with predictable characterization and meaningless diversity and feminist messages.
The truth is now set free. 

 

Wonder Woman 1984 is now available in theatres and is rated PG-13. Parents should be strongly cautioned; some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Viewer discretion is advised.