Wonder Woman 1984

The perfect dosage of optimism for 2020, WW84 is a Classic Golden-Age DC sequel out a time-capsule – featuring epic ’80’s nostalgia, powerful emotion, diverse genre-mixes, valorous action scenes, allegorical complexity, & darkly-characterized villains. 7.5/10.

Plot Synopsis: Diana Prince lives quietly among mortals in the vibrant, sleek 1980s — an era of excess driven by the pursuit of having it all. Though she’s come into her full powers, she maintains a low profile by curating ancient artifacts, only performing heroic acts incognito. But soon, Diana will have to muster all of her strength, wisdom, and courage to defeat the new threats of Maxwell Lord and Cheetah, a villainess with superhuman strength and agility.

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Official CLC Review

A New Age Of Movie Egalitarianism

The 2017 Original WW Is One Of The Greatest & Most Groundbreaking Films Of The 2000’s: A New Era Of Moviemaking & Representation; Legacy Already In Full Effect

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

96.2%. The percentage of male directors across the cinematic landscape worldwide pre-2017 [NYT] was so vast and insurmountable, it could’ve been classified as ~total pure monopolization. The number of male-directed movies: even higher, blockbusters: forget about it, and highest-grossing/rated movies of all-time: totality. That was.. until 2017. The golden-tiara’d, lasso-twirling, tank-lifting, red-blue-and-gold power of WW changed everything: one of the greatest blockbusters of the 2000’s and evolutions of the cinematic industry saving the DCEU, garnering universal praise from critics and [non-misogynistic] audiences, and becoming one of the biggest box-office smashes ever. The Wonder Woman Effect brought about a new age of filmmaking: a tripling of that ominous <5%, progressive doubling of the top-rated films of the year each year, and checklist of massive projects with billions of dollars in budget/stakes from Birds Of Prey to Mulan to Captain Marvel to Charlie’s Angels to Black Christmas to Frozen II to Little Women to Queen & Slim all by female directors within a mere three years. Patricia Jenkins is now the highest-paid female director ever and Gal Gadot the highest-paid actress in the world – and they’re back for a sequel, this time to save the chaos, depression, COVID-19, and social isolation-filled year of 2020. The perfect dosage of optimism for 2020, WW84 is a Classic Golden-Age DC sequel out a time-capsule – with epic ’80’s nostalgia, powerful raw emotion, diverse genre-mixes, big comic book lore, valorous action scenes, allegorical complexity, & darkly-characterized villains brought to life by phenomenal contrastive Wiig-led performances.

The Amazon Olympics

The Opening Scene Sets The Stage For The Action, Morality Themes, & Complex Allegory To Follow – Rare In Blockbusters: IQ

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

From the opening scene, there’s two things on WW84’s mind: action and allegory. We’re taken back to the breathtaking island of Themiscyra and the childhood of Diana for a flashback to a morality parable in the guise of sports: The Amazon Olympics. The scene packs extreme wow-factor and brilliant representation, showcasing the wonder and might of female athletics in an action-packed triathalonic race through wind, sea, and land. The young Diana [brought to life by a spirited, hungry/ambitious child performance by Lilly Aspell that continually-inspires young girls] is thrown off her horse by chance, and recovers the lost progress by a shortcut not seen by anyone else – making it to the end, only to be stopped by Hippolyta and Antiope. The lessons of learning how to lose, that life isn’t always fair, and no good or true achievement can come by lies [no matter how justified/tempting its reason might be] are all extremely-important ones for audiences young-and-old to learn or remember: ones we often forget either passively or even purposely by the traumatic contextualization of how fate’s sometimes-cruel hands can prevent realization of our psychologically-idealized-selves/life-goals we mistakenly believe we’re entitled to in a X’s-and-O’s world. The opening scene establishes themes that resonate across the rest of the film beautifully as well: IQ & action; a rarity in blockbusters, and especially comic book films.

Classic Golden-Age DC – A Time-Capsule

Gal Gadot Is Back As WW & Evokes Instant Remembrance Of Why She’s The Greatest CBM Lead Casting Since ’78 Reeve; A Canvas Of Hope, Love, Diversification, Joie-De-Vivre

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

Fast forward a few centuries [and the events of the first-film], and we’re welcomed by a nostalgic-overdrive of ’80’s charm & collection of near-death encounters saved by a mystery pinkish-red presence. A bank-heist at the mega-mall and hostage-shield of a little-girl brings our first glimpse of the new 2020 Wonder Woman – and it’s positively-glorious. Gal Gadot’s hope-bursting optimism, bold physicality, gorgeousness, purity of heroic presence, and joie-de-vivre enough to light up a room with her smile evoke instant remembrances of Reeve’s ’78 Superman, and remind us why we all gushed over her back in 2017: the best casting in 40+ years of CBM’s since Donner-era; classic Golden-Age DC out of a time-capsule. The action sequence that follows is one of the film’s best: evoking the wonder, energy, vibrance, and spectacle a WW scene should have as it saves children and takes down the heist with effortless stylistic flair, era-representative camp extremely-authentic to ’80’s movie tone, and swift-pacing/choreography. Perplexingly though, WW84 finds Diana not wanting to take credit or enjoy the celebritization of being a goddess among us through all of this – tiara-bataranging the security cameras and escaping a blur in the shadows to maintain her urban-legend folklore: a dark, lonely place characterization-wise.

The Mystery & Romance Arcs

True To The Original’s Best Twists, There’s Another Mystery Arc Of Fantastic Endgame & Return Of Steve Trevor For A+ Chemistry

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

The Diana Of WW84 is a different flavor than 2017’s one, authentically and continuation-true a result of the heartbreaking tragedy of losing her first love: Steve Trevor. Mending a broken heart in the hormonally-crazed ’80’s with couples celebrating around every corner, the vulnerable position of humanity and grief-stricken loss she finds herself is endearing and tangible – giving it emotional intelligence and thematic heaviness mortalizing the immortal. For a goddess that has everything we could hope for, she is just as vulnerable to emotion as the rest of us – lacking something she can’t get, but desperately wants just as relatably as we all do. That is, until she wishes upon a peculiar stone at her day-job at The Smithsonian – and her love finally returns. The effervescent, fizzy chemistry of the two light up the screen with romance just as they did in 2017 – so playful, engaging, natural, and effortlessly-convincing, they ad-libbed much of their star-crossed arc off-screenplay. The magical revival gives the lovers more time in the spotlight together with beautiful scenes like dancing by moonlight in front of The Washington Monument [grew up in DC, so this was especially-dazzling to see], funny ones like the introduction to the new world & technical/fashion ‘upgrades’ of the ’80’s, and action-packed ones. The ending character development of WW renouncing her wish and having to give up her one true love to save the world is magnificent – and opens up a new chapter in Diana’s story now having moved on from Steve Trevor leaving exciting possibilities for the future [& even perhaps: a Batman or Superman power-couple we’re all dying to see from the comics!].

The Big, Epic Blockbuster Action

From Its Opening Amazonian Olympics To Cairo Tank-Busts, Mega-Mall Bank-Heists, Finale: Big Thrills, Score, & Cinematography

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

The film plays like a true-sequel to the original by its three biggest achievements: mystery, score, and cinematographically-striking action scenes. The mystery arc is fantastic – a lost artifact that grants wishes like a genie-in-a-bottle, with a dark twist that takes as much as it gives with a suspicious historical legacy. Present before the collapse of major civilizations without a trace dating back to the Mayans, Rome, & Indus Valley, the historical revisionism of this tricky monkey’s paw adds strong intrigue to the story, made even better by further references to Greek Mythological gods being a fake-gift of lies to catalyze humanity’s self-destruction pulling strings from behind the scenes. This is especially true when it comes to WW84’s two major dichotomized antagonists [as we’ll get to later], but for now, we have to appreciate the beautiful cinematography, score, and action. From its opening Amazonian Olympics to Cairo Tank-Busts [best scene of the film in CLC’s vote], mega-mall bank-heists, and tornado/lightning-background epic finale showdowns, Wonder Woman 1984’s action is visceral, valorous, and visually-striking: a pure spectacle of power and sensory experience. This is furthered by dexterous CGI, epic scale, 35mm cinematographical proficiency [as each of our chosen photographs exhibit], and a thunderous/diverse score by the best composer in the world Hans Zimmer packing just as much emotional-overwhelm in its poignant orchestral/piano sequences as big-ticket blockbuster action drums to even some christmas-choir ones in the beginning/end to add a season’s greeting flair for its 12/25 release. Oh, and there’s synthwave fuzzy-funk – and lots of it in a nostalgic tribute to ’80’s.

The 80’s Nostalgia

A Curated Exhibition Of Lovable ’80’s Quirks – Glorious Tube Socks, Parachute Pants, Hotrods, & Mega-Malls For Twisted Laughs

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

The nostalgic-overdrive of ’80’s is strong with this one. Through the clever plot-arc of Steve Trevor coming back, we’re able to be projected on him as an audience equally clueless about the era [if, for example, we weren’t even alive until the ’90’s like us at CLC] for a curated tour/exhibition of the 1980’s also working as a clever-reversal of the dynamic of 2017’s Wonder Woman: wherein Diana of Themyscira was the one being introduced to the peculiar idiosyncrasies of the world of mankind by Trevor. Tube socks, neon-overload, parachute-pants, fast-food, arcades, spray-on deodorant, cheetah-print foreshadows, sweatpants, jumpsuits, galaga/bubble-transitions, futons, flamboyant outfits, fanny-packs, tank-top gym-culture, nikes, breakdancing, self-help TV seminars, hotrod musclecars, pop tarts, and big hair are but only a few of the glorious culture-evocations it makes in a heartfelt and strong period-piece to the age of Ziggy, Game Boy, New Wave, MTV, and Bowie. They’re all twisted for great whiz-humor poking fun at the colorful nonsensicality and bad-taste-galore kitschiness of the era – a strong balance of tonal-diversification juxtaposed against its serious/heavy themes without once being cringy kid-pander humor or quips-for-quips-sake like the MCU gets often in trouble with. The excess and insatiable lust/drive of the ’80’s to ‘have it all’ plays perfectly in juxtaposition with WW84’s themes, villains, & wish-narrative.

The Comic Book Lore & Fandom-Service

From The Armor Of Asteria To Invisible Jet To Lightning-Swinging To Materioptikon To Linda Carter Cameo To The Legion Of Doom

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

Tallying up what we have so far: we have a film that should please ’80’s-junkies, modern action-fans, mystery/romance-obsessors, classic-DC hard-to-pleasers, fans of the original WW, and feminist diehards. Add to that list: comic book purists. WW84 packs huge fandom-service and comic book lore in what feels like an event on-par or perhaps bigger than the WWI-set original. The Armor Of Asteria, Materioptikon, Invisible Jet, Legion Of Doom founding-members, WW’s most iconic villainess, lightning-swinging with the lasso of truth, and the power of flight achievement [one of the best scenes of the film and reference to Man Of Steel’s first-flight masterpiece scene back in 2013!] all in one film?! The Wonder Woman-lore exposition in WW84 is enough to make readers of her original comics on cloud nine – yet handled with characteraizational-depth consumable and graspable by mainstream and comparatively-nescient CBM-audiences running the world’s box office right now. That’s not even including one of the best mid/post-credits scenes of the genre: a cameo by Linda Carter referential to her time as the original Wonder Woman of the iconic first 1970’s TV-Series. The innovative expansion of the careful-what-you-wish for trope of storytelling exposes the vulnerability/metaphorical-kryptonite of each and every one of us, imputing freshness on an old concept and extrapolating comics’ ideas to real-world contexts. The phenomenal decision to incorporate a Loss Of Powers-arc further pushes our protagonist to her limits like the best sequels do – setting the stage dangerously and life-threateningly for the arrival of two of the biggest bads in the history of comic book heroicism: Cheetah & Maxwell Lord.

Wonder Woman’s Greatest Villain Is Here

The Best Achievement Of WW84: Powerful, Wowingly-CGI’d Cheetah, Brought To Life By A Diverse, Empathizable, Vicious K. Wiig

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

The biggest achievement of WW84 is its breathtaking version of Cheetah. Let’s be clear: Cheetah is a Top 15-20 Greatest Comic Book Villain in the history of the genre. Though with several incarnations, Barbara Ann Minerva is the most iconic – and that’s the one we got, with some major [brilliant] character-rewrites. Gone is the white-savior narrative of the early [era-plagued] comics’ African-village origin into a parable of predation, magic, and power here: skyrocketed by a magnificent career performance by Kristen Wiig. The awkward, geeky, high-strung invisible corporate zoologist/gemologist Wiig and Jenkins paint for the character is one referential to the best of ’80’s average joe/underdog narratives – twisted for maximum terrorization. A sweetheart who brings food to homeless guys and wants nothing more than to be noticed, remembered, and treated like a human being instead of a [constantly-bullied/belittled] loser you can sense the melancholic pain in her voice and downward-glances, Minerva is extremely-accessible/relatable and empathizable – hardly the girl you’d think of as an evil & destructive villain; one born out of real emotion and rage bottled beneath the surface. As the best villains and majority of classic golden-age comic book/DC villains, her life changes when she meets Diana and wishes to be just like her – on a stone that grants her wish, but takes her humanity. The shocking transformation of Wiig’s physicality, personality, and nuance to match the leopard-bold, thigh-high boot, new attitude of Barbara 2.0 is wildly-impressive – a far-cry from the SNL and rom-coms of her yesteryears and a vicious, well-CGI’d, fear-evocative, psychologically-warped performance that paints a near-perfect Cheetah as she turns against her once only-friend shockingly and reverses her food-chain status as prey [literally] hunted down sexually in the park earlier to the apex predator that will never happen again to.

Maxwell Lord

The Biggest Surprise: One Of DC’s Powerful Businessmen – A Trump-Satire w. Brilliant Theme-Resonant Critique Of 80s Capitalism Plus Beautiful & Dark Fatherhood Exposition

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

The team-up and conjunction that grants her powers is a finely-scripted dual-villain narrative that succeeds where many other [even WW’s first appearance on-screen: Batman v Superman] failed, to bring another heavy-hitter of comics to-screen: Maxwell Lord. Pedro Pascal has become one of the biggest names in the world thanks to his career role in the modern neo-western/sci-fi Star Wars TV series The Mandalorian – and showcases more of his pedigree and range with this completely-antithetical villain. The cocky smugness of the ponzi-scheming oil tycoon, masquerading as a self-help TV savior, is brilliantly-acted – complete with a richly-aggravating laugh, superiority-complexed ego, manipulation of human emotions, constant-lie narratives, loud-volumes, and even big hair/toupé look clearly-satirical of Donald J. Trump [made even more-unmistakable by a literal presidential-arc in the finale]. The wish-narrative demonstrates his efficacy as a villain tricking the god of tricks/lies himself to come out the winner & one of the most powerful beings of CBM’s: able to manipulate reality upon a wish. The sociologically-analytical themes provide a veiled, advanced critique of capitalism and the false or misleading promises its snake-oil-salesmen make to people who don’t know any better. The Cold War period ’80’s choice also plays thematically on the excess and chastisable-greed of the era: wherein the answer to practicalities like the nuclear-arms race was always ‘more‘ instead of less, without care for civilians or possible-casualties. The ambition and materialism of his goals also analyze masculinity – money/status and resources being not the key to impress everyone today like they were previously in our evolutionary history, foremost in your son. The point that dazzled me most of Lord as a villain and WW84 as a whole was its fatherhood arc – a graceful, complex panegyric to father/son relationships that not only adds huge depth to Pascal’s Lord backstory-wise growing up in a world of domestic abuse, ridicule, and isolation [wildly-dark for a CBM, true to the best of DC’s tonal-balances], but showcases many sons just wish for more time with their dad instead of a bystander-fan of their career.

Flaws

More Cheetah, 2 Hour 30 Min Runtime, Trevor/Wall-Realization, & Raison D’Être Are Mild Flaws; A Critical Bias Against DC

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

The complex allegorical themes of WW84 make it one of the most impressive and ambitious comic book films.. but don’t tell that to critics, I guess. The mixed reception and nitpicking of WW84 further-reverberates what we’ve been saying for years: there’s an inarguable bias against DC movies in pop-culture and film journalism. We at CLC simply don’t understand how the comparatively-basic, dumbed-down, formulaic MCU movies [even Mt. Rushmore cinematic legends like Scorsese & Coppola had to come out to publically call garbage] keep getting higher-scores than every other film & blockbuster – including DC’s wildly-diverse and 10x more IQ/thematically-ambitious collection: Joker, Man Of Steel, Aquaman, BVS, WW84, etc. If anyone can convince us crimes-against-nature like GOTG2, both Ant-Mans, Age of Ultron, & Thor: The Dark World, etc. are all better films, we’ll quit film reviewing. WW84 and the DC films at least pack some intellect, weighty themes, originality, and tonal-diversification beyond primitive popcorn formula – and are inexplicably-punished for it. Even worse: WW84 is everything critics said they wanted back in The Zack Snyder Era: heart, humor, hope, vibrance, & pure Donner-era nostalgic superheroicism… & they STILL found ways to hate it. The vitriolic public reaction can be boiled down to misogyny, fake middle-school ‘superhero fans’ who don’t even know the history of the genre they claim to care so much about [clearly haven’t even seen Reeve’s Superman or ’80’s movies to appreciate the love-letter/homages], Snyder-dudebros hating everything not inexorably-grimdark or masochistic like BvS, critic-influence on public consumption of movies, political & existential edge from the election and COVID-19, and the virility of being negative in today’s cynical/despondent world-view – all of which are exactly why a dosage of bright antidote-optimism and hope is so valuable in a year like 2020. Real flaws in WW84 are that it does run long at 2 hour 30 min, could’ve used more Cheetah [though Minerva will inevitably return for multiple Justice League films to fix that], Egypt-wall & Trevor-revitalization mixedly-realized [MAGA-wall symbolism we’re sure will be missed by general audiences, and (although minor) not sure why they didn’t just bring Trevor fully-back from the dead if the entire film is built on a magic-foundation ~supporting it], & I wish they’d given Diana more backstory beyond remembrance/loss to not make Steve such a propulsive raison d’être for WW. None are massive deal-killing blackhole-flaws beyond the majority of other CBM’s [including Avengers: Endgame, which had a litany of flaws/plotholes given 100% pass]: theatrical releases helping blockbusters by hiding flaws beneath overall-spectacle with better visual and sound experience, plus the inability to pause/nitpick – unlike on VOD.

Conclusion

A Golden-Age/’80’s Tribute & Original CBM

The Perfect Dosage Of Optimism For 2020, Classic Golden-Age DC Out A Time-Capsule – Epic ’80’s Nostalgia, Powerful Emotion, Valorous Action, & Allegorical Complexity

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros.

Overall, WW84 is a good CBM sequel that nods to the foundations of its genre and original groundbreaking film – while laying the groundwork for bold new possibilities. Patty Jenkins has managed to craft not just one, but two projects of Golden Age-comics nostalgia and beaming-optimism that understand the core of DC Comics’ mission statement to a science – deliver indescribably-needed hope & escapism in a world as dark as our Trump, COVID-19, & racial injustice-plagued 2020. The film packs powerful raw emotion and lessons, achieved through a revitalized trope of genie-in-a-bottle given a clever spin by way of a dichotomized-villain allegorical tale. Gal Gadot predictively steals the show again with her hope-bursting purity and power of presence – reminding us why she’s the best lead-casting since Reeves’ 1978 Superman, here characterized with empathizable mortalization of a dark-and-lonely place lacking the one thing she wants-but-can’t-get-back; a goddess brought to our level. The return of Steve Trevor brings the effortless chemistry of the couple more exposition for fantastic humor and era-throwbacks in a curated tour of the ’80’s and all its quirks/idiosyncrasies. Kristen Wiig’s Cheetah is one of the best CBM villains 2015-: a geeky, awkward, high-strung loser whose wish to become a strong, fearless apex predator where once she was prey breathes the ferocious, vicious antagonist right off the pages of DC comic book history. Maxwell Lord is a brilliantly-thematized villain: a ponzi-scheming oil tycoon clearly-satirical of Donald J. Trump and the false-promise machine of capitalism, beautifully-acted by Pascal & given immaculate characterizational depth by WW84’s wildly-ambitious fatherhood arc – analyzing the deleterious psychological effects of growing up in a childhood of domestic abuse, bullying, and belittlement & their venomous effects on masculinity/parenthood. There’s hope, humor, Donner-era nostalgia, morality parables, exposition on the beauty of mankind, groundbreaking representation, and mystery all true to the original – alongside, of course, phenomenal action sequences packing the signature power, epic-scale, and bold cinematography of the DCEU. I’m getting damn tired of the double-standards and continual-underrating of the now wildly-diverse DC collection from Joker to Aquaman to Man Of Steel to WW84, etc. to the comparatively basic/formulaic MCU-movies: here even more perplexing by it being everything critics of The Zack Snyder Era claimed they wanted, only to ~hate it again. Sure, it’s not as good as the original – few sequels are – and has flaws – 99.9% of films do, but it’s absolutely comparable and just-as-good-or-better than most CBM’s. The perfect dosage of optimism for 2020, WW84 is a Classic Golden-Age DC sequel out a time-capsule – with epic ’80’s nostalgia, powerful raw emotion, diverse genre-mixes, big comic book lore, valorous action scenes, allegorical complexity, & darkly-characterized villains brought to life by phenomenal contrastive Wiig-led performances.

Official CLC Score: 7.5/10