The Ordinary Wonder Woman

Pauline Alterio , Reporter

Diana Prince – heroine, lover, warrior, museum curator – is one of the most brilliantly-written and awe-inspiring characters in the DC Comic Universe. But in Wonder Woman 1984, you’d never know it.

Nearly everything was building up to deliver a wondrous sequel: A-list cast, strong director, well-versed writers. Yet, the film struggled to fully build its villains and heroes alike, and was unable to reach the spectacular heights of its predecessor. ‘84 was chalk full of cheesy moments (magical, all-powerful rock anyone?), little diversity, and boring, groan-inducing stereotypes. Perhaps its only saving graces were the relatable feelings of particular characters and the jaw-dropping good looks of cast members.

In the film’s slow beginning, watchers are greeted with a more mature, somber version of a Diana Prince struggling to adapt to the ferality of the 80’s. As the undercover heroine slowly adapts to life and becomes friends with the awkward and clumsy Barbara Minerva, the former’s life is interrupted by a magic rock. 

Yes, really. 

Said rock is able to magically grant any wish to the user. In fact, Diana unknowingly touches the rock and wishes for her late lover Steve Trevor back into existence. Of course, what would a superhero movie be if the all-powerful material item never fell into the hands of the villain? In this picture, Barbara gets a hold of the rock, and wishes to shed her clumsy self and trade it for the bolder, “better” persona of Diana Prince. Barbara instantly becomes more and more like Diana, and soon enough even develops Wonder Woman’s powers.

Then enters Maxwell Lord. 

A struggling businessman played by Pedro Pascal, Lord himself is searching for the key to his success. Naturally, he soon discovers that the mighty magical rock is sitting right there in Washington D.C. He is able to retrieve it, and somehow smash the rock up and transfer its powers to himself. He soon goes on a rampage, visiting other successful and notorious businessmen and granting them anything they like – in return, of course, for money, power, or a squad of guards with machine guns in APCs. 

This is where viewers discover the one tradeoff to the magic rock: you are granted what you wish for, but you must lose the thing that means the most to you. Soon enough, the film circles back to Diana, who is demonstrated as losing her powers, due to the fact that she asked the rock to bring her boyfriend back to life. However, such a theme is truly only present in Diana herself. She loses a dear part of her, but her female antagonist does not clearly lose anything, a process reflected across most other characters in the film.

While the idea “be careful what you wish for” is obviously presented (and perhaps well so), characters are not properly fleshed out. Perhaps the most disappointing of such characters is Barbara Minerva herself. While beginning as a socially awkward woman, she harbors feelings many introverts will relate to, especially the envy for other, more popular people in the world. However, this promising character arc is not fully completed, and leaves viewers disappointed in the unfortunate, emotionally lackluster final battle. 

Similarly, viewers may begin the picture excited to see personal growth in Diana Prince, but are let down with campy scenes, many of which draw on harmful feminie stereotypes (winking at children while taking down bad guys in a super-mini-skirt?), that fully culminate in a visually stunning, yet cheesy and surprisingly anti-climatic scene of Wonder Woman flying through the sky, lassoing lightning.

It is perhaps through these poorly thought-out themes and character arcs that ultimately create a mediocre Wonder Woman. Some moments clearly stand out and viewers are able to connect with the feelings of characters, while others feel hollow, empty, and lackluster. Overall, Wonder Woman 1984 creates a good enough story for quick escapism, but falls flat for the more observable mind.