Wonder Woman 1984 is writer, director Patty Jenkins’ second offering to the DC Extended Universe.
The story picks up almost 70 years after the last film left off, with Diana Prince AKA Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) still struggling to come to terms with life after the death of love interest Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). Diana throws herself into her work as an anthropologist and archaeologist at the Smithsonian, continuing to fight crime but making sure to keep a low profile. When an unanticipated turn of events brings Steve back into her life, she is overjoyed, but soon learns that everything has its cost. The fate of the world hangs in the balance once more, and she must face off with two new adversaries – power-hungry businessman Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), and disgruntled colleague Cheetah (formerly Barabra Ann Minerva played by Kristen Wiig).
Maxwell Lord is a flashy con man, driven to super-villainy by an obsessive desire to succeed, and lack of legitimate means to do so. He is the well-known face of his company, Black Gold Cooperative, but has failed to turn a profit on his celebrity status or the money of his investors. With his slimy demeanor, aggressive finger-pointing, tackily decorated office (filled with gold furnishings), and modelesque Eastern European receptionists, parallels with Trump are undeniable. Lord is the personification of capitalist greed, a cautionary tale about the consequences of rampant consumerism. His answer to any problem is simple – the solution is always more.
Cheetah’s motivations are much less clear cut. As Barbara Ann Minerva she is shy and awkward. She’s tired of being overlooked and underestimated by those around her and jealous of Diana’s innate magnetism. But this doesn’t feel like a satisfactory explanation for her descent into evil. Not enough time is given to explain how her dissatisfaction with life mutated into a desire to assert her dominance over others, to become an “apex predator.”
The development from Barbara to Cheetah is signalled by a romcom-esque ‘nerdy’ girl makeover. She is transformed – from a conventionally attractive white woman who’s clumsy in heels, wears glasses, and has vaguely frizzy hair, to a conventionally attractive white woman who can fight in thigh high heeled boots, doesn’t need glasses, and has freshly dyed white-blonde locks.
Given the film’s updated setting – from 1918 to 1984 – its lack of diversity is disappointing to say the least. Whilst there are a number of Black people in the film, they are relegated to background roles – a girl that Wonder Woman saves, one of her colleagues, some of her competitors in an Amazonian assault course. The only Black character that gets any real dialogue is Carol (Insecure’s Natasha Rothwell), her coworker at the Smithsonian, who gets a brief comic introduction before disappearing from the plot entirely.
At the start of the film we see a young Diana running through the woods, the sequence is narrated by a voiceover of herself as an adult – “Sometimes you can’t see what you’re learning until you come out the other side.” Unfortunately, this is not the case with Wonder Woman 1984. Even after watching the entirety of the film’s (2hr 31min) narrative play out, it fails to impart any real wisdom. Though it’s undoubtedly entertaining, the film falls short in its attempts to create an allegory for the Trump era.
Wonder Woman 1984 will be released in the UK on Wednesday 16th December, but cinemas will only be open for people living in tier one or tier two areas. (Subject to change).