Wonder Woman 1984: Wonder Why 1984?


George Yanacek, Entertainment Editor

Although delayed due to the pandemic, DC’s newest film, Wonder Woman 1984, finally released in theaters and on HBO Max late last year. As a sequel to the successful 2017 film Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman 1984 had a lot to live up to, however, its various problems keep it from being an entertaining addition to the DC Expanded Universe.

The film takes place–you guessed it–in 1984. While working at the Smithsonian Institution, Diana Prince, or Wonder Woman, stumbles upon the “Dreamstone,” an artifact with an inscription claiming to grant the holder one wish. Initially disregarding the item, Diana unintentionally wishes for her lost love, Steve Trevor. After reuniting with Steve, Diana realizes that the Dreamstone was actually made by the Greek god of lies and that the wishes it grants come at a price. Eventually, struggling businessman Max Lord steals the stone in a plot to save his failing oil business. Diana and Steve must stop him in order to save the world from falling into utter chaos.

The genie-in-a-bottle storyline seems a bit cliche for such a large-scale movie and even a little out of place for a superhero movie. In fact, whereas the first film firmly rooted itself around Wonder Woman’s role, very little of this movie involves her specific abilities, mythology, or character. Instead, it unfolds into a string of tropes in which any generic superhero could be shoehorned. Additionally, a few obvious and nonsensical plot devices tear away any immersion the movie had left. 

Consequently, the movie’s action seems manufactured, with little connection to the narrative. Wonder Woman may fight bad guys, but, in the end, very little of it affects the way the story plays out.

Upon further examination of the movie’s plot, it becomes apparent that, despite the heavy advertising of its era-specific theme, essentially none of it has anything to do with the year 1984. Because of this, the 80s aesthetic serves as more of a filter: a way to entertain watchers with dated outfits, hairstyles, and technology and to ultimately distract them from the flimsy plot.

The fact that virtually no aspects of the movie’s plot revolve around anything either Wonder Woman–or 1984–specific says a great deal about the quality of the film and how little character it actually has.

Even after stripping away these elements, the film mimics much of the first film. For the most part, Wonder Woman 1984 follows the same structure of its predecessor: beginning, ending, and generally proceeding in basically the same way. Several of its scenes are even suspiciously similar to ones found within 2017’s Wonder Woman, and a few even seem like outright copies with a new 1980s coat of paint.

Ignoring the plot’s obvious issues, Wonder Woman 84 is a pretty average superhero action movie despite a few entertaining sequences. It has what one would expect from a superhero film: drama, impressive action scenes, and occasional comedic moments. However, as a whole, its issues distract from most of its successes. The film lacks the distinct character of the first, and the flashy ‘80s aesthetic fails to compensate for its faults. 

Although entertaining at times, it’s certainly not a must-see.

Wonder Woman 1984 scores 5/10.