As my friend Matt posted, Wonder Woman 1984 was definitely a movie. No question about that.
There is, however, a real question about how good it was. And that is a truly self-contradictory answer. So, to reexplain, I recently decided to rate movies based on one main criteria…did I like it when I watched it. And that works for most movies. Not all, though. When a movie exists in a series, I also look at how it fits into that series. So a movie with issues can be good until those issues bump into established internal series continuity. Captain Marvel approaches that problem, but manages to not bump to much into the internal chronology (well, except that Fury & SHIELD knew for a fact aliens existed before Thor/Avengers).
Wonder Woman runs face first into the established continuity, flounders around, and dances off stage. I know that sentence is tortured, it’s the best I could think of.
So, let’s recap. After the events in WW1 – World War or Wonder Woman, your call – Diana laid low, maybe in Europe, until contacted by Lex Luthor between Man of Steel & Dawn of Justice. Lex had the photo of her with Steve Trevor & company (called, not kidding, the Wonder Men), and wanted…well, we don’t quite know what. Something, I am sure. Anyway, in Justice League, she very clearly states that she hid from the world after Steve Trevor died.
Well, except for that MASSIVE WORLD CHANGING EVENT IN 1984. Seriously.
So, I get that we may need to tell a story between 1918 and 2017. And I agree with that decision, even with the decision to set the movie in 1984. I mean, that’s as good a year as any. I am ok with Patty Jenkins writing a less action-centric love story. It’s a comic book, so Steve Trevor being brought back to life isn’t that unusual. Hell, I even like the idea of porting in a classic villain to oppose Diana. I can see making all of these work at once too.
When you toss in Max Lord’s total alteration of the world, and near destruction thereof, you loose me.
And let’s be honest, the events in the movie are not the kind of thing that gets swept under the rug. Remember the Challenger explosion? I do, and even if they can’t be sure of the date, everyone I know who was alive at the time remembers it. And yet somehow no one in the DCEU remembers the near nuclear war and sudden ability of almost everyone to make their dreams come true? Then it going away? And the woman in gold armor who fixed it? Really?
And when I started this, in December (yes, I know), that was the worst part of the whole thing. Then many, many people pointed out the rape of whomever Steve Trevor wound up occupying. This is a divisive one. The original inhabitant, who never even gets a name (played by Kristoffer Polaha) is perhaps no longer in residence, since Trevor is in his body. Which is…well…not what Patty Jenkins claimed1https://www.cnet.com/news/patty-jenkins-responds-to-controversial-wonder-woman-1984-plot-point/. She passed it off as being a body swap, like Freaky Friday. Which is one thing – the trope there has both people in proximity and at least nominally aware of who’s body they have, and what is happening to their original body. But Steve’s been dead since 1917. So, and this is a horror-show concept, if they did body swap, um, oops? Steve blew up. So how does that work with no other body? For what it’s worth, it could be worse – he could have been in Steve’s highly decomposed corpse in a grave somewhere.
With the reversal of wishes, some argue, it undid the abuse…but the on-screen events show that the unwishing just put the original person back when and where Steve had been standing. Likewise, every other unwishing seems to have just ended the wish circumstances, not rewound time.
Now, I am not one to read too deeply into a super hero movie. I mean…seriously. But this is something that, in 2020, should really have been thought about.
Anyway, there are other issues throughout the movie. Like the recently resurrected Steve Trevor flying the jet. Steve, who had never seen anything even remotely like a modern airplane – never mind a jet – hops in the cockpit and off we go! And no military jet in the world has the range to get to the middle east, much less back again. And since literally nothing happens to advance the plot there, we could easily have skipped it.
Another quibble is the Amazons using stirrups in their Amazon Ninja Warrior / Biathlon thing. Stirrups were unknown to the Greeks, and not invented until something like 200BC. Saddles weren’t known until 700BC. And Diana is in the neighborhood of what, 5000 (according to Aquaman in the Snyder Justice League). The Amazons date to no later than about 10,000BC – as they fought off Darkseid with pre-cataclysm Atlanteans, and about 10,000BC is the DC Comics date for Atlantis slipping beneath the waves. So, saddles and stirrups shouldn’t exist.
Playing Frankie Goes to Hollywood at the Smithsonian event is…unlikely. Especially since those songs were even more controversial than Relax.
And lastly, Pedro Pascal is just off in every way to me. His accent, mannerisms, look….it is all off somehow. I know as an actor he is meant to follow directions, and so this may be on Jenkins. Or not…hard to say. Whatever the reality is, his performance is just off, and makes the character even less believable.
Everything about this is just less than the original. I know there is an issue with heightened expectation – especially for the only really solid phase one DCEU movie. I want to think that this is just an example of needing someone to tell Patty Jenkins ‘no’. Much like the last Harry Potter book, this needed someone to edit the pages, and suggest many, many improvements.