Okay, I hafta do it – review “Wonder Woman 1984.” After all, it’s a $200-million movie in a year where few big-bucks movies were released. And it’s a super hero movie designed for girls (young and old) and was directed by a female director (Patty Jenkins who gave us the previous “Wonder Woman” blockbuster). And it is the first Warner Bros. movie to debut on the company’s streaming service (HBO Max) and in select movie theaters on the same day. And it stars Gal Gadot, that hot former Israeli soldier.
Also, I have to do it because after my tenure as publisher of Marvel Comics, I spend several years consulting for DC Comic, publisher of the Wonder Woman comic books (Warner Bros. is its parent company).
Everybody knows Wonder Woman A/K/A Diana Prince, that Amazon princess who has an invisible airplane and golden lasso.
“The comic book splash pages used to describe her as being “as beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, swifter than Mercury and stronger than Hercules.”
We all know she was created by Charles Moulton (pseudonym for Dr. William Marston, inventor of the lie detector), a Harvard-trained psychologist who felt there should be “a positive role model for young girls.”
In the 2017 “Wonder Woman” film, Diana sets out to stop World War I. During the non-stop action her boyfriend, American pilot Steve Trevor, gets killed.
In this latest outing – “Wonder Woman 1984” – we jump forward in time to (as the title hints) 1984. Here, Diana (Gal Gadot) is working as an anthropologist at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. She gets caught up in a scheme by a charismatic con man named Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) who gets his hands on the mythical Dreamstone, an artifact which grants wishes. Like most supervillains, Max desires to rule the world. “Yeah sure, you can have it all, we all deserve to have it all. More, more!” is his mantra.
A frumpy, insecure geologist (Kristen Wiig) wishes to be like Diana and thus becomes Cheetah, a predator-like superhuman who allies herself with Max Lord.
As for Diana, she falls victim to her own weakness and wishes for the return of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). Yes, even superheroes get the blues.
You can pretty much plot it out from there, but the familiarity feels good as we follow the bare-knuckled action that’s intertwined with Wonder Woman’s personal conflict – the choice between saving the world and holding on to her old flame, Steve Trevor.
While conflict is often a characteristic of superheroes, Warner Bros. seems intent on making Wonder Woman the most empathetic among them.
At Marvel, Stan Lee’s superheroes were designed to be more “human” than DC’s characters. Superman was impervious, Batman was driven. However, The Fantastic Four was presented as a dysfunctional family. And Spider-Man wrestled with the axiom that “With great power comes great responsibility.”
But Wonder Woman – in addition to remaining the strong feminist symbol that Ms. Magazine famously featured on its cover – displays a heartsick pathos.
Even though a demi-goddess, Wonder Woman still has flaws. “Oh yeah, she’s not perfect at all,” agrees Patty Jenkins. “I think she’s vulnerable to love, meaning she can be hurt by love. And she’s optimistic, I think she can be wrong about things. And that’s an important thing about Wonder Woman: in the TV show, in the comic books, and in the movie she’s always been an Everywoman in this interesting way, where she loves the people that she loves and she hopes that things get better, she’s hurt and disappointed when they’re not and she has to try to think about what the right thing to do is.”
You can catch “Wonder Woman 1984” – at selected theaters – like Tropic Cinema – or on the new HBO Max streaming video channel.
A third Wonder Woman film is already in the work. Patty Jenkins confirmed that the next installment would take place during the Modern Day.
As a longtime reader – she was created in 1941 – and a fan of the movies, I’m impressed with Wonder Woman’s apparent longevity. Gotta hand it to those Amazon women.
Speaking of this longevity, keep your eyes open in “WW84” for a cameo appearance by Lynda Carter, the Wonder Woman from the 1970s TV series. At 69, she looks fit enough to reprise the role.
Patty Jenkins goes on to explain that Wonder Woman is “beautiful and loving and vulnerable and kind and soft and always was. Lynda Carter did such a great job at that, and Gal Gadot has done such a great job of preserving it.”
As Wonder Woman once said, “Now I know, that only love can truly save the world. So I stay, I fight, and I give, for the world I know can be.”
As the Tropic reopens with caution, please familiarize yourself with the protective house rules and procedures. In particular, please note that all tickets must be purchased online. Got questions? Email email@example.com.
Email Shirrel: firstname.lastname@example.org