My 2 Cents on Wonder Woman 1984

What’s new, folks? As someone who hasn’t subscribed to HBO Max, I had to patiently wait a few months to be able to rent Wonder Woman 1984, the divisive sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman. It had garnered tons of positive buzz and a Certified Fresh score of 89% on Rotten Tomatoes ahead of its Christmas Day release in theaters and on HBO Max. After its premiere, however, it plummeted to the Rotten score of 59%, then rose a little to 60% before dipping back down to 59%. It’s unusual for a movie’s score to decline this sharply, and while it’s usually best to avoid a dogmatic reliance on the Tomatometer, you can’t help but wonder if there’s any credence to the heated criticism. Unfortunately, I found the answer to be an extraordinarily depressing “yes.”

Directed by Patty Jenkins (she helmed 2017’s Wonder Woman and the 2003 Charlize Theron vehicle Monster) and written by Jenkins, Geoff Johns (creator of the Stargirl TV series based on the eponymous DC Comics superhero, as well as the executive who came under fire for reportedly vetoing the possibility of Regé-Jean Page being cast for the role of Superman’s grandfather in the Krypton series on SyFy—all because he’s Black, of course), and Dave Callaham (his writing credits include Zombieland: Double Tap and the 2005 movie adaptation of the Doom video game franchise), WW84 follows Amazon warrior Diana Prince (played by Gal Gadot) in the year 1984 as she lives quietly among humanity, curates artifacts at the Smithsonian Institute, and goes about saving the day as Wonder Woman (nobody in this movie ever refers to her by that alias, though). She also has to deal with Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), her long-deceased lover and World War I spy who has somehow been resurrected; Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), a mousy geologist and cryptozoologist who will end up turning into the classic Wonder Woman villain Cheetah; Maxwell Lorenzano, or Max Lord (Pedro Pascal), a bankrupt business magnate who gives off low-key Trump vibes; and on top of it all, an ancient Dreamstone that can grant wishes.

WW84 is a sequel that fritters away the great deal of potential it holds with a listless and cumbersome script. It’s a shame because many of the individual components that are present could make for an excellent final product as long as they’re assembled correctly. Unfortunately, this movie is essentially what happens when you not only skim the instruction manual for a Lego set and mess up some of the directions but also lose a few of the pieces, resulting in a rickety model that’s one nudge away from falling apart. Consequently, we’re left to contend with a glut of logic lapses, a bafflingly cartoonish tone that clashes with the movie’s absence of authentic fun and lightheartedness, CGI that ranges from adequate to crude, dull thematic delivery, and a startling amount of sexism and racism to boot. It doesn’t help that all of this gets dragged out over a protracted runtime of 151 minutes, marking WW84 as the sixth-longest entry in the DCEU (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice barely claims the spot above it at 152 minutes).

The main cast is one of the few rewarding elements in this saddening mess. One of the ingredients that made the 2017 entry such a satisfying experience was Gadot herself, who brought a presence of stature and sincerity that made me buy her as nobody but Wonder Woman. She keeps this up in the sequel, doing the best she can when she’s forced to work with an emotionally lackluster character arc and bland action sequences.

While I do find the Bring Dead Characters Back To Life trope to be tiresome, watching the interactions between Diana and Steve is fun nonetheless. The two of them burst with chemistry and inject a bit of much-needed life into this lumbering story. But the plot device that was used to revive Steve is a real stomach-churner, and I’ll navigate it in greater detail in the spoilery section. I’m curious as to whether his return was a studio note or a narrative in which Jenkins was genuinely interested. I wouldn’t be shocked if it was the former, considering how beloved by audiences he was in the first movie and the $200 million that Warner Bros. sunk into WW84. I know Jenkins came out against the furor to allege that she was able to paint the vision she wanted of her follow-up, but very few directors have the freedom and the clout to use that much dough with no studio interference. In fact, the only three directors who are reportedly able to do just that are Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, and Christopher Nolan.

In the comics, Dr. Barbara Ann Minerva was the third person to adopt the evildoer persona of Cheetah. An arrogant and ambitious British archeologist, she embarked on an expedition to Africa that led to her becoming the guardian of a local tribe and gaining her humanoid cheetah form by eating a potion consisting of human blood and the leaves and berries of the plant god Urzkartaga. Her storyline, the dynamic she shares with Diana, and the continuity reboots that have been made to her arc throughout the years is quite fascinating, and I recommend looking up her comic book history when you have free time. But no, that’s not what we get in this sequel, which frames Barbara as a cross between Jamie Foxx’s Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Laney Boggs in She’s All That (or really, anything that involves shy and frumpy women who suddenly blossom into goddesses of infinite beauty and allure with the aid of makeover montages). Thankfully, this dated stereotype doesn’t stop Wiig from sinking her teeth into the underwritten role and convincing me that Barbara can start out as a geeky scientist who then plausibly transforms into a menacing comic book villain. I just wish the onscreen portrayal of Barbara was more developed. Trivia fact: while Wiig was Jenkins’ first choice, the studio initially approached Emma Stone, who turned down the role. Like Wiig, I think Stone would have been able to grasp both the nerdiness and the ferocity of Barbara.

Max has his own chunk of enthralling comic book lore as a businessman who was involved in numerous notable events, including founding the Justice League while a computer built by the supervillain Metron was manipulating him, gaining the power of mind control due to aliens detonating a Gene Bomb in the Invasion crossover event, and getting his neck snapped by Wonder Woman. In the movie, he’s a suave huckster who appears on TV to promote his floundering oil company and spout his motto “Life is good, but it can be better,” represents the idealistic excess of the 80’s, and has a knack for tapping into people and making them and their desires feel valued. This depiction works for the most part, largely because of Pascal’s undeniable magnetism. It was clearly a delight for him to play around with the character of Max, which translates well through his bombastic and larger-than-life performance. Plus, it’s nice to be able to see his face, considering he wears a helmet ninety-nine percent of the time in The Mandalorian. I’m eager to see what projects he takes on next. Already, he’s going to star alongside Bella Ramsey (both of whom are Game of Thrones veterans) in the HBO Max miniseries adaptation of the critically-acclaimed video game franchise The Last of Us.

Incidentally, this isn’t Max’s first onscreen appearance. That honor goes to Peter Facinelli, who played the tycoon on The CW’s Supergirl. You may know the actor better as Dr. Carlisle Cullen from the Twilight movies. Here’s another tidbit of trivia: Pascal was cast in the 2011 NBC pilot of a Wonder Woman TV show starring Adrianne Palicki as the titular hero alongside Cary Elwes and Elizabeth Hurley, and created by David E. Kelley, whose extensive oeuvre boasts The Practice, Doogie Howser, M.D., Ally McBeal, and The Undoing. But the pilot was such a notorious mess that the prospective show never took off.

“Too much and too little” is the phrase I’d use to describe the 80’s backdrop. On one hand, the movie caricatures the era by exaggerating the clothing, hairstyles, and other period-specific trademarks to the point of cheese overkill. On the other hand, the movie doesn’t put in the effort to back up any of that glitz with social or political commentary on the extravagance and overindulgence of the 80’s or the Reagan Administration’s War on Drugs and nuclear weapons policies. The decade comes off as simultaneously flashy and hollow, failing to live up to the promise of Thor: Ragnorak-level color and vigor that we got from the promotional material.

Speaking of politics, why did WW84 have to stick its nose into those of the Middle East? Just why? The Egyptian oil baron, the shot of a rocket launcher-armed Muslim, and Diana saving the soccer-playing Egyptian Muslim kids—a scene that carries an uncanny connection to the real-life deaths of four Palestinian Arab children who were playing soccer on a beach in Gaza when it was struck by an Israeli missile, especially when you take into account that Gadot, an ex-Israel Defense Force draftee, advocated for the IDF during the 2014 Gaza war—are just a few of the hateful ways in which Islamophobia manifests in the movie.

Here’s an article you should check out if you want to inform yourself on this issue: https://slate.com/culture/2020/12/wonder-woman-1984-middle-east-arab-mena-racism.html

Even Hans Zimmer’s score falls short of my expectations. His catalogue features some of my all-time favorite scores, so it’s a letdown for this picture to come with generic superhero music that doesn’t build off the exhilarating beats of the Wonder Woman theme composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams for the first movie. Furthermore, it deeply upsets me as a film score connoisseur that the movie steals both John Murphy’s Sunshine theme, “Adagio in D Minor,” and Zimmer’s BvS theme, “Beautiful Lie.” It’s the equivalent of a fantasy movie lifting a piece straight off the Lord of the Rings soundtrack or a horror flick copying the Halloween theme beat by beat.

I wonder if audiences would have reacted differently to this movie if everyone had seen it in theaters rather than on HBO Max. Remember, this did kick off at 89% on the Tomatometer back when critics were attending advance screenings, but then the score took a steep drop once general audiences began streaming it from home. My theory is that the theater has a way of immersing viewers in the experience and making it feel more epic, whereas the streaming route allows phones, kids, food, pets, and other household factors to distract us from the movie. If we weren’t in a pandemic and we’d been able to go to the theater, it could have diminished the percentage plunge on Rotten Tomatoes at least, though we wouldn’t be singing its praises by any means.

That being said, I wanted so much more from WW84. It makes a valiant attempt to get a good footing, but it constantly trips over the rocks and cracks in its path until it finally tumbles down the hill. Hopefully, the Wonder Woman threequel and the spin-off produced by Jenkins that will revolve around the Amazons of Themyscira will turn out better. I’m also remaining interested in Rogue Squadron, the Star Wars film that will be directed by Jenkins and is scheduled for a 2023 release. I know there’s a portion of the Star Warsfandom that wants her to be replaced on that project, but come on, let’s be a little more forgiving. One bomb does not a terrible filmography make.

All my love and prayers go to you, folks. Stay healthy and stay strong.

Windup score: 35/100

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

Now, let’s start the spoilery section with the double-scene opening in which problems already start to arise. The prologue, which has Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen return briefly as Antiope and Hippolyta, respectively, focuses on Young Diana (Lilly Aspell) partaking in the Amazon Olympics on Themyscira. It boasts fantastic stunt work (Aspell, who was only twelve at the time of shooting, was able to do al the stunts herself rather than hand them off to stunt doubles) and is incredibly fun to watch despite the setting being obviously loaded with CGI, but it also takes up the first ten or so minutes of the film. This isn’t great when you consider the only thing pinning any narrative weight to the prologue is the lesson that Antiope teaches Diana after pulling her from the competition because she skipped one of the checkpoints. “You took the short path. You cheated,” Antiope says. “It’s the only truth, and truth is all there is. You cannot be the winner because you are not ready to win.” She goes on to point out the Golden Warrior Asteria as a noble figure to emulate and declares, “No true hero is born from lies.”

Then we time-jump ahead to 1984 as Diana foils a Washington D.C. mall heist being carried out by the kind of robbers you’d see on a Saturday morning cartoon. What’s up with the ridiculously cartoonish tone here? After the wink Diana shared with that kid, I’m amazed the movie didn’t cap things off by splashing the screen with a colorful “KA-POW!” While I’m not against the story imitating the electric spirit of Thor: Ragnarok, this feels like such a dizzyingly cornball deviation away from the 2017 predecessor’s grounded and solemn atmosphere.

These two scenes together occupy the first fifteen to twenty minutes. The studio originally wanted Jenkins to cut out one of them, but she stood firm on keeping both of them in the final cut. It would have worked to the movie’s benefit if she had shaved off the prologue—an extraneous sequence she only included to set up Diana’s origins for viewers who haven’t seen the first Wonder Woman. Here’s a quote from her interview with JoBlo explaining why she felt the Themyscira prologue was important: “You do that thing where you’re like, wait, you have to remember all the people that haven’t seen the first Wonder Woman who watch this on a plane. And suddenly it’s like, oh, it’s super hard to understand who Diana is and what’s going on without touching base there.” Okay, but if that was her goal, she could have included an economical flashback—no more than two or three minutes long. But no, the movie begins with a long and superfluous prologue targeted specifically towards a negligible segment of consumers. Frankly, if anyone out there is actually skipping the first Wonder Woman to see the sequel, then that’s their deal. This film needed to be aimed at the loyal fans, and scrapping the prologue would have helped with that objective.

Then there’s the whole Steve Trevor situation. It’s such an outlandish choice for the plot to grant Diana’s unwitting wish to be reunited with Steve by having his spirit inhabit a living and breathing man’s body—the Handsome Man, as he’s credited. The actor who plays him, Kristoffer Polaha, has multiple Hallmark Channel flicks in his credits, including one called Dater’s Handbook that stars Meghan Markle (that’s right, it’s easy to forget there was a time when she acted). I’m assuming the character didn’t get a name because the movie felt a concrete identity would humanize him and draw more attention to Steve non-consensually copulating and embarking on perilous adventures with Handsome Man’s body. Why didn’t Steve just get revived in his own body? It should have been obvious for the story to go down that path, but it inexplicably makes the extra effort to go, “Nah, let’s stir things up with a good old body swap.” What makes this even more perplexing and loathsome is the story’s innate refusal to recognize the matter of consent, as though Steve endangering Handsome Man’s life and having sex with his body are insignificant issues. But then it goes on to make a point of clarifying that this guy has no family or friends in his life, as if it wants the audience to know he’s a loner and it’s morally justifiable for Steve to gallivant in his body because he has nobody checking up on him. So the film is fine with paying attention to that detail, but it’s willing to gloss over everything else, including the fact that Handsome Man would undoubtedly be in deep trouble with the law after being witnessed aiding Diana in the chaos in Cairo and at the White House. Remember, we’re only seeing Steve through Diana’s POV while everyone else continues to see Handsome Man. Oh wait, except for Max, who recognizes Steve during their tussle in the White House, presumably because of his Dreamstone magic. However, why does he then seem unaware of Barbara’s situation? The answer: the screenplay is simply unconcerned about consistent storytelling.

If you want to learn more about the Steve Trevor of it all, I recommend reading this article, which hits this topic right on the mark by observing that the non-consent in WW84 is tantamount to rape: https://www.themarysue.com/ww84-major-misstep-with-chris-pine-steve-trevor/

What’s up with Diana’s fixation on Steve? The film makes it plain that she hasn’t gone on any dates since losing him seven decades ago, as though it’s healthy for her to be incapable of moving past her first boyfriend whom she only know for a few weeks. It bothers me to the core that the story lets sexism seep into Diana’s tale via the choice to undermine her strength of character with boy-crazy pining. It could have been slightly better if the plot had started out with her coming off a recent breakup or enduring a lousy date—something to show us she’s tried to get out there and hasn’t been hung up on her WWI spy. Even better, eliminate the romance subplot and focus wholly on Diana’s personal arc. Captain Marvel and Raya and The Last Dragon are evidence that female-centered narratives can very well thrive without male love interests bogging them down.

As much as I’m ragging on the romance, let me reiterate my general enjoyment of the dynamic between Diana and Steve. The two scenes that best showcase this are the wardrobe montage and the invisible jet sequence. Sure, the latter does strike me as somewhat implausible for them to be able to steal a jet from the Smithsonian and for Steve to be capable of piloting 80’s-era aircraft that’s advanced far past the technology of the early 1910s. Plus, it was extremely irresponsible and dangerous for them to fly through those fireworks. But these are quibbles I’m willing to accept for an otherwise delightful scene that finally gives us an onscreen translation of Diana’s invisible jet from the comics—along with Steve’s “Well, shit, Diana!”, the best line in the entire movie. The bit about Diana being unable to find her mug after turning it invisible is amusing, too.

Oh, and there’s the Dreamstone, the MacGuffin propelling this clunky plot with its muddled internal logic. According to the exposition dump that we’re forced to slog through when Diana, Steve, and Barbara gather intel on the stone by meeting up with a racist depiction of a dreadlocked Mayan descendant played by Ravi Patel, the stone was concocted by the god of mischief, who is known as Dolos, Mendacius, and Duke of Deception. He’s a popular Wonder Woman foe in the comics, and I thought for a second he might pop up in the movie. Thankfully, this didn’t happen. The last thing we need is a third baddie complicating the sloppy plot. But I digress. Now, this expository scene claims the Dreamstone takes something from you in exchange for granting your wish, and the only ways to nullify the deal are either by renouncing your wish or destroying the stone. This is the alleged explanation behind Diana’s superpowers gradually fading away after she wished Steve back to life (honestly, why the Handsome Man?), Barbara losing her humanity after wishing to be like Diana and inadvertently gaining her abilities, and Max sacrificing his role as a devoted father to his son Alistair (Lucian Perez) after turning into the personification of the Dreamstone itself (a wish that could have gone horribly wrong if the stone wanted to be cruel by absorbing Max and trapping him inside for all of eternity).

Surprisingly, I’m fine with Max being able to turn himself into the stone, though the credit goes not to the slipshod script but to the wellspring of charisma that is Pascal. Max tricking unsuspecting people into making wishes that he signs off on and reaping whatever he requires of them in return is a plot point I find passable as well. Where the rules of the Dreamstone hit a low point is Max’s meeting with the POTUS (not Ronald Reagan, just some random white dude played by Stuart Milligan, who did portray a real American president, Richard Nixon, in the Doctor Who episode “Day of the Moon”). In this scene, Max gives the United States nuclear weapons in exchange for taking control of a satellite broadcast network that would allegedly let Max grant all the wishes of the global population due to all the particles of the TV signals touching each other—an exasperating little nugget of plot reasoning that the movie contrives to keep in line with the rule that the stone must be in physical contact with the user in order to carry out their wish. If you want just one scene as proof of the cloddish writing that went into the screenplay, this is it. And again, why isn’t Reagan here? We’re messing with nukes at this point, so this would have been the perfect opportunity to touch on his politics.

This movie is so lazy that it even misses the mark on Barbara’s Villain Turn—specifically, the scene where the audience is being pushed to think her descent into darkness begins with her beating up the slimeball who tried to sexually assault her. Remember, this is the same creep from whom Diana had to save Barbara earlier, and I don’t think it’s too big of a leap to assume he’s assaulted and/or raped women in the past. The scene becomes even more of a head-scratcher when you take into account the overtly ominous score accompanying it and the homeless guy who happens upon the incident and acts like he can’t fathom why a woman walking out at night would use self-defense against a man. The narrative dissonance between how the film wants me to feel—“Barbara, don’t be so mean to the poor guy”—and how I actually feel—“You go, Barbara, rip off his balls”—leaves me feeling icky.

The goodbye scene between Diana and Steve managed to drag some emotions out of me, though it’s still saddled with the non-consent problem and the unhealthiness of Diana’s obsession over her first love. However, she then renounces her wish, which not only restores her abilities but also throws in the power of flight for kicks, because what’s wrong with one more cockamamie plot point? This is also the scene that steals the Sunshine theme, which momentarily took me out of the experience. Like I said, I’m appalled that WW84 appropriates two movie themes under the care of one of my favorite film composers. Seriously, Hans, how could you?

The climax takes place at the satellite base that Max employs to transmit his broadcast to all the TVs around the world, allowing him to grant the wishes of everyone watching him through those damn signal particles and then steal their collective life force to rejuvenate his body, which has taken on a grayish pallor, bled from orifices, and generally weakened with every wish he’s granted. This sets off what I’m unofficially calling the Wishtastrophe as the world, while facing an imminent nuclear war between the United States and the former Soviet Union, begins to collapse under the weight of billions of wishes. The scene that sticks out most to me here is the one where two people are embroiled in an argument and one of them wishes the other would drop dead, followed by her retorting that she wishes the Irish would get kicked out of the country. This results in, of course, the woman starting to die and the man witnessing the police manhandle his Irish fellows. While this isn’t the kind of moment that’s blatantly offensive enough to jolt you out of your seat, it feels weird for the film, which also depicts Islamophobia, to casually toss in this xenophobic bit like anti-Irish hatred is no biggie.

Meanwhile, Diana, who suited herself up in the golden armor of Asteria, engages in a showdown with Barbara, who has now become Cheetah—that is, a humanoid cheetah who isn’t on the same level of embarrassingly bad CGI as Cats but certainly isn’t anything to brag about. Initially, I thought her transformation happened because Max granted a second wish for her when she remarked on wanting to be an “apex predator” on their flight over to the satellite headquarters, in which case this would break the rule of the user only getting one wish. However, I think it’s actually due to Max diverting some of the life force he took from his international audience into Barbara—a reason that forces me to do some brain-stretching to tolerate it.

The clash itself—set in murky darkness, overflowing with weightless CGI, and wasting the armor of Asteria that the film made a big deal of setting up earlier but then has Barbara shred to pieces like it’s a sheet of tinfoil—is such a feeble way to wrap up the dynamic between Diana and Barbara. In general, the action sequences in WW84 offer little excitement and heart, never gripping me the way I was by the predecessor’s iconic trench scene. Then Diana grapples her opponent into a lake, imploring her to renounce her wish, and when Barbara vehemently declines to do so, Diana pushes her down into the water so the falling power line can electrocute her. Considering her comic book depiction, I’m personally okay with Diana attempting to finish Barbara off for good. While there were times where Diana was framed as a vicious warrior who wouldn’t question slaying all her opponents on the battlefield, the writers seemed to have typically portrayed her as being the kind of superhero who doesn’t necessarily adhere to Batman’s “no guns, no killing” creed but is by and large merciful and would only kill in dire situations that see her being unable to use any alternative solution to spare her enemy—e.g. her breaking Max’s neck in the comics. Another example is Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Though I haven’t seen it, I’ve heard it shows her killing a criminal in a gratuitous manner that fits with her bloodthirsty comic book beats.

Unfortunately, none of that matters, since Barbara is somehow alive and coughing when Diana pulls her out of the lake. I can understand Diana’s Amazonian magic protecting her from electrocution, but Barbara is a mere mortal who shouldn’t have survived—yet another example of the plot responding to logic with a shrug emoji. When you think about it, Diana and Barbara don’t get that many good moments together. All they really have is their laid-back lunch in the first act and then Diana saving Barbara from the sexual predator before their interactions turns hostile. Barbara also shares a flirtatious meet-cute with Max in the first act that sparkles with adorable chemistry, but we never truly swing the focus back to that ship.

Diana proceeds to go one-on-one with Max, who hams it up by shouting “Granted! Granted! Granted” over and over while granting the wishes of humankind. It really is a sign of Pascal’s charm that he continues to shine after enduring both this scene and the Touching Particles bit at the White House. Then Max uses the strength he’s gained from all the wishes he’s granting by means of satellite particles to blast Diana away with a gale. Apparently, the movie thinks it’s valid for the embodiment of the Dreamstone to transcend wish territory and be able to pluck abilities like transforming people into humanoid animals and wind manipulation out of the superpower lottery. Then Diana seizes him with her Lasso of Truth, using him as a conduit to promote the beauty of the truth and encourage everybody to renounce their wishes while the BvS theme plays in the background. The entire population does as she says, destroying the nuclear missiles that the Soviet Union had launched at the U.S., tearing down that racially insensitive “Divine Wall” in Cairo and replacing it with a canal, and canceling out the rest of the tumult that had arisen—although I find it implausible that not one person out there kept their wish (according to the research I did on the DCEU timeline, Bruce Wayne’s parents had been mugged and murdered by this time, so I wouldn’t be shocked if he ended up wishing his parents back to life). I get that Diana’s monologue is meant to circle back around to Antiope’s advice at the beginning of the movie in order to construct its thematic core around what we suffer from taking shortcuts to achieve fantastical and ultimately futile desires and what we gain from tackling life with honesty and clarity. While this is a solid theme, the narrative conveys it to the audience in a miserably vapid fashion.

At least Barbara, whom we see return to normal, isn’t included in the cringeworthy montage of people saying “I renounce my wish.” This movie may have made a lot of ridiculous choices, but sparing Wiig from having to utter those awful words isn’t one of them. We don’t even see her anymore after this, as if the plot forgot to give closure between her and Diana. Wiig absolutely deserved more from the script.

Then Diana shows Max visions of his troubled childhood, his path to building his oil corporation, and finally his son Alistair wandering through the Wishtastrophe in a panicked search for his dad. I felt bad for this kid the whole time, what with him barely getting any attention from Max and, from what was implied, receiving the same negligent treatment from his mom. This pushes Max to renounce his own wish, wiping out the Dreamstone once and for all, and reunite with his son. The father-son relationship is an element I found compelling than most of the other drivel here, and I wish the movie had spent more time developing it. Do we ever see Max be punished for his wrongdoings? No, of course not, because the plot wants to hand-wave away high stakes, repercussions, and anything else that could ratchet up the tension and convince me to invest myself in the story. And hey, does society remember the Wishtastrophe afterwards, or was it erased from their memory? If people do remember all the insanity, they would need tons of explaining. In any case, I’m inclined to believe the movie itself doesn’t even know the answer.

The last scene before the credits start rolling is a Hallmark Christmas that feels like the studio plopped this at the end to tie in the movie with its December 25 release. It features some family cameos, with Gadot’s husband and younger daughter on the carousel, and Gadot’s elder daughter and Jenkins’ son throwing a snowball at Diana. This is the sequence in which Diana bumps into Handsome Man, who may or may not be aware that a few days of his life are unaccounted for. I’m still baffled as to why the movie felt it was necessary to shoehorn in the body swap. Now, we’ve been frequently told that Steve Trevor is The One for Diana and she’ll never be able to love anyone else in the whole wide world. So you’d think it would make narrative sense for her to undergo character growth by going out with Handsome Man and moving on from Steve, right? The answer is a massive “NO.” My inner writer is sobbing right now in response to this defiance of basic writing structure. I desperately hope Steve doesn’t get a second resurrection in Wonder Woman 3.

That would be the conclusion if not for the post-credit scene where someone prevents a telephone pole from falling on a baby. Surprise, surprise, it turns out that Lynda Carter has a cameo as Asteria, who lives incognito among the general public like Diana. It’s a nice moment, though I would have preferred a version of this film that executes a deeper exploration of Asteria and her armor instead of relegating them to irrelevancy.

So, that’s Wonder Woman 1984. Oh well, I guess we’ll always have the 2017 film to appreciate. Let’s hope the threequel arrives with much tighter writing and a much bigger heart.

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