The time when “Wonder Woman” (2017) got released in theaters, personally the hype wasn’t there. Need to admit that finally DCEU had a decent film (at that time), but it’s still a disappointment due to its plot issue, especially the 3rd act that doesn’t make any sense at all. Meanwhile, critics and audiences are criticizing the sequel, being less favorable compared to the first one. But in contrast, I found “Wonder Woman 1984” (2020) – or simply WW84 – to be a massive improvement over the first. Yes, there are many issues that they haven’t learned yet, but the film offers a fresh perspective for so long haven’t been offered by other superhero films these days.
Just as the title suggests, the film sets in 1984 in the cold war era, where Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) needs to face off two new villains: Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) and Cheetah (Kristen Wiig). The cold war era is really just a backdrop with no more than a reason to show visual spectacle. But the heart of the film lies within the character relationship, especially from what the trailer suggested, the return of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). Maybe there’s a reason for 1984; to bring back the feeling of 80s nostalgia where romance is at its high-point.
Wonder Woman films are just superhero films in disguise because the romantic relationship between Diana and Trevor are always the main point of the film. Their chemistry exceeds most, if not, every superhero love interest. Need to admit the way they revive Steve is a bit corny and illogical, but there’s no denying the power they always carry when they’re on-screen. Not to mention that bringing back Chris Pine to life was not only for fan-service, but served the important element of the story for Diana’s growth as a character. If Tony Stark needs to appear in 11 films for the audience to cry for his death, Wonder Woman only needs 2 films (following the chronological DCEU timeline) to establish a stronger character compared to most MCU films, which is an impressive feat.
Patty Jenkins also did what other screenwriters are out of the league, creating compelling and developed villains. From the first act, Jenkins clearly fleshed out the character to its core, showing their motivation and flaws. And that’s what makes us gain sympathy for the villain’s journey as well, giving an emotional blast in the climax. Even though both of the motivations are well delivered, the presence of Cheetah is a bit underutilized, only appearing in several scenes just to become an obstacle for Diana. However, Max is clearly a compelling one, especially through Pedro Pascal’s blood-thirsty yet sympathetic performance, tears start to fill around my eyes on the resolution. This never happens in any comic-book superhero films that I’ve watched before.
All of the advantages being mentioned are in the expenses of its running time and pacing. The set-up is bloated and overlong, filled with too-much exposition and uninteresting character’s dialogue. Seriously, the audience no need to know the origin of Asteria, sacrificing what could be an intense fight scene. The film also still hasn’t learned its lesson from the first, the overloaded CGI fight on the 3rd act that just personally rolled my eyes. There is a sense of wonder, but bigger doesn’t mean better. And also what with the unexplained superpower that Wonder Woman suddenly got? There’s a conflict in my heart if I should actually enjoy the film or criticize its flaws for breaking concentration, thinking of the sudden illogical plot holes that happened in the film?
Nevertheless, WW84 is a mixed bag trapped between the spectrum of wonder and disinterest. The power of character exists to reach an emotional level, but the illogical nonsense, plotholes and executions also show that these filmmakers still haven’t learned much yet from the original. But in personal taste, it’s a vast improvement over the first one.