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Wonder Woman 1984

Peter W Sheehan  |  28 December 2020

Wonder Woman 1984. Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, and Pedro Pascal. Also, Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen. Directed by Patty Jenkins. Rated M (Action violence). 151 min.

This American film, with a title that ambiguously includes the choice of '84', is based on the DC comics character, Wonder Woman. The movie is set in 1984 in the USA, during the Cold War, and is a sequel to the successful 2017 film, Wonder Woman, which was directed by the same director (Patty Jenkins), and starred the same heroine, Gal Gadot. The choice of 84 in the title hints at the futuristic significance of George Orwell’s classic work, 1984.

Classical allusions are relevant to the movie. Wonder Woman is the daughter of Hippolyta, the Amazonian queen of Themyscira, and Zeus, king of the Olympian Gods. The 2017 film, and early scenes to this one, prepare us for a child who enters the human world as Diana Prince. In this film, as with the 2017 movie, Diana has come of age. She is a mature woman and demonstrates fully grown strength, and superhuman powers.  

This film injects Diana’s love interest, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), into the film’s plot-line. Diana had assumed that Steve Trevor had been killed during the events of the first film. After a little bit of ancient history in the film’s initial scenes, the camera shows us Diana Prince as a committed professional working in the anthropology and archeology department of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. She emerges as Wonder Woman only in minor rescue attempts of persons in distress, and tries to stay out of the limelight, not wanting to change roles, knowing this will attract the scrutiny of those around her. She feels settled, but lonely, especially in the absence of Steve Trevor.

A major villain of the movie is Cheetah (Kristen Wiig). As Barbara Minerva, she first becomes Diana’s friend, and later demonstrates evil behaviour. She becomes a villain, together with Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) – a self-obsessed business entrepreneur, who fraudulently sells The American Dream for his own profit. Cheetah is envious of Wonder Woman’s special powers and, while conscious of her own burgeoning strength, she succumbs to Max’s words and regards his vision as true for her – so preparing the ground work for the major economic and social target of the film, which is “capitalism, represented by high consumer-consumption, and people wishing for (and receiving), “more”.

When Barbara grows in strength and transforms into Cheetah, a final battle occurs. With two villains, however, the film runs the risk of drawing attention away from the victory of superhuman virtue (in Wonder Woman) over villainous adversity (in Cheetah, and Max). This creates a clash between powerful envy (in Cheetah), and avaricious, human greed (in Max). In doing that, the film becomes less a sequel to the original 2017 film than a story that prepares viewers for Wonder Woman of the future. This movie is basically an adventure story that allows Wonder Woman to develop her romantic attachment to Steve Trevor, who has been missing from her life, and the supremacy of virtue over evil gets sidetracked in the complexity of the film’s other plot lines.

It is hard to sustain two villains, when most Superhero, or Superheroine, films have just one, and this movie largely sustains its pace through outstanding special effects, which it delivers well. Fast-moving foot-and body-work, editing and choreography in this film are state of the art, and the film projects its action in fast pace, and in attention-getting style.  

The next instalment of WW is planned to put Wonder Woman more explicitly into current time by integrating the COVID-19 pandemic into the film’s plot-line.

WW84 is a competently directed action piece with satirical overtones – which nicely reminds viewers of Trumpian excesses – and continues Gal Gadot in an established role, which she plays impressively and glamorously.

The film, however, awaits fulfilment of its Orwellian promise to anticipate the future, which is symbolised by the inclusion of “84” in its title, and the film’s opening Washington line. The future looks promising, but needs another instalment of the Wonder Woman franchise for that to occur. 

Peter W Sheehan is an Associate of Jesuit Media
Roadshow Films Pty Ltd
Released 26 December 2020


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