Flicks With Nicki – Wonder Woman 1984 or WTFWW84Nicki Salcedo. Photo by Dean Hesse.
Wonder Woman 1984 or WTFWW84
I don’t mind social isolation, but I miss going to the movies. My sister decided to rent a theater so we could see “Wonder Woman 1984.” I couldn’t wait. I love seeing action movies on the big screen and the deep darkness that surrounds me. I love the echoing quiet before the film starts. And I love Wonder Woman.
The Wonder Woman of my youth was perfect. In the comics, she was the first of her kind. She had super strength and empathy. Later, we got campy hijinks in the 1970’s TV show. She spun around to transform. She ran fast, kicked butt, and captured villains with her Lasso of Truth. In Saturday morning cartoons, she was a part of “Super Friends.” She fought alongside Superman and flew an Invisible Jet. I spent much of my youth believing in my own power, looking up at the sky, and spinning around so I could turn into something wonderful.
Unfortunately, I didn’t love “Wonder Woman 1984.” The story starts with a flashback to the island of Themyscira where young Diana joins a warrior obstacle challenge. No one is concerned that a ten-year-old competes against women three times her age. When Diana gets knocked off her horse, she is forced to improvise. She takes a shortcut only to be stopped by her aunt Antiope (Robin Wright) who chastises her for cheating. It feels like foreshadowing, but we never circle back to this lesson. These were the best ten minutes of the entire movie.
Flash forward to 1984. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) channels her inner Paul Blart mall cop to break up a robbery at a jewelry store which serves as a front for stolen antiquities. Diana in modern times should have super friends. This Diana is a loner. She comes from an island of the most powerful women on earth, but has spent 66 years pining after her lost love Steve Trevor. She is an anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institute and reluctantly befriends the nerdy and ignored Dr. Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), who studies the mysterious Dreamstone that Wonder Woman saved from the mall heist.
The legend says the Dreamstone grants wishes. Minerva wishes to be like Diana. Diana wishes for Steve Trevor. In an awkward turn of events, the Dreamstone works. Minerva acquires superhuman skills. Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) comes back from the dead and pops into the body of another guy. He wears a fanny pack (bumbag) because it’s 1984. Minerva becomes super hot, super mean, and dresses like she got lost on the way to her audition for “Cats.” They let her keep the costume as long as she calls it a cheetah suit. I don’t remember Minerva wishing for this.
Enter faux oil tycoon Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) who steals the Dreamstone. He grants wishes to increase his power. This is the movie’s main villain. Wonder Woman’s archenemy is an inept criminal with a failed Ponzi scheme who is now in charge of a global Monkey’s Paw able to destroy the world. Maxwell Lord gets the whole world to make bad wishes.
Diana has sex with Steve, makes a jet invisible, and realizes that the wishes come at a terrible price once they are granted. Minerva loses her niceness. Diana loses her superpowers. Wonder Woman is conflicted about this. On one hand, the whole world is being destroyed and she could save it if she renounces her wish to bring back Steve. On the other hand, that good Steve sex though. What should she do?
The film versions of DC Comics tend to be grim, but “Wonder Woman 1984” promised us comedy, action, and romance. It didn’t work. The humor wasn’t sustained. We were too distracted by the fact that Steve Trevor is not in Steve Trevor’s body to feel invested in the romance. The action was strange. Wonder Woman spends most of the movie fighting regular people under mind control. Where’s the fun in watching her defeat a petty criminal at the mall or a police officer under mind control?
The problem isn’t just that the movie is bad, but also that the story doesn’t make any sense. It was strangely pessimistic and depressing for an action movie. The resolution with the two villains was so laughable, I had to laugh. Wonder Woman defeats Cheetah and Maxwell Lord, and I renamed the movie WTFWW84.
I want you to see “Wonder Woman 1984” so we can discuss the similarities to George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” By comparison, Orwell’s tale is far less bleak. If you are curious about the Orwellian themes, “Wonder Woman 1984” has these messages: mind control, human greed, absence of love and friendships. Every person across the world is a selfish or homicidal megalomaniac. No one wishes for a new puppy, winning lottery ticket, or front row seats to a Van Halen concert. Smart women are forgettable. Beautiful and powerful women are dangerous. A woman without a man is pathetic. I wonder what kind of woman approved this story.
Did I like anything about this movie? I like Kristen Wiig. She is enjoyable to watch despite the dismal script and character. If you can make it to the end of the movie, there is a mid-credit scene with Lynda Carter, the Wonder Woman of our dreams. Getting to the end of this movie is a reasonably big “if.”
DC Comics tries again, and I’m bound by the Lasso of Truth to say they failed. Again. Grade D+
Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom.
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