I think the Aquaman movie influenced this one a bit too much, and I’m not happy about it.
Taking place in 1984 (duh!), Wonder Woman 1984, directed by the original film’s Patty Jenkins, sees Wonder Woman aka Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) as she does her best to adjust to living an immortal life in a world that she is still trying to understand. Having lost the love of her life, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), decades ago in a heroic sacrifice that led her to victory over the God of War, Ares, Diana strikes up a friendship with fellow co-worker Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) as a new mysterious object called the Dreamstone arrives at her place of work in Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian Museum. Catching the eye of business mogul, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), the Dreamstone sets into motion a chain of events that brings danger and violence to Wonder Woman’s doorstep as well as a familiar face she had no hope she would ever see again.
Compared to the first film, this sequel almost immediately sets off on the wrong foot when it comes to the tone and feel of what we’re seeing up onscreen. Much like the lambasted Aquaman movie (which I more or less despised for most of its runtime), WW84 constantly feels like its having an identity crisis in terms of how it wants to portray its hero and the situations she finds herself in. The script wants to be a hopeful, uplifting tale of a hero finding her footing in an unfamiliar world, but instead falls to the hokey, somewhat cheesy but well meaning pre-MCU type of superhero film (i.e. any of the older X-Men/Fantastic Four/Spider-Man films) that feels just slightly off-center in what it’s trying to be, making me wonder why the filmmakers went in the creative direction they did, especially considering that the original film barely had any of these issues in the first place.
With a prologue set in Themyscira, the home of the Amazons, (which I have to say wasn’t actually half bad in its thrills and entertainment factor), the script then proceeds to give audiences a cringe worthy, Aquaman-esque unfolding of events and character work that had my nerd brain as confused as it was disappointed. Not only was the overall direction and tone of these scenes completely mishandled in the most peculiar of ways, but the lead up to the nonsensical way a fan favorite character is brought back came at the cost of sloppy writing and contrived plot points that could have easily been changed to something else that made more sense.
Now don’t get me wrong, the return of this character was a sight for sore eyes, and gave the middle of the movie a genuinely fun and solid framework to entertain with, but the moment the third act shows up and the main villains of Maxwell Lord and Cheetah start to become more prevalent, the script loses itself again to familiar Aquaman mediocrity that in all honesty could have easily been avoided. Couple the fact that there was only a handful of pleasantly unexpected moments from Wonder Woman lore that made it in (the Invisible Jet!) as well as a tone that feels more “kiddy” at heart, and a lot of this script seemed like a rush job that got the Aquaman/Spider-Man 3 treatment, which is a shame considering Gal Gadot is a perfect Wonder Woman that at the moment is being squandered.
So while I highly enjoyed the original film and was genuinely looking forward to what this sequel would do for the character and her journey towards present day, Wonder Woman 1984 is a step in the wrong direction for me, hands down. And even though there were parts that I did enjoy, I hope the trilogy capper already in the works can fix a lot of this film’s flaws because if not, we’ll have went from a promising solo franchise to something better left alone.