Wonder Woman 1984 is not that good a movie. If not for the performances of the main cast and the over-the-top action scenes, it’s just another superhero film getting added to the pile of other DCEU movies.
The sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman (and prequel to 2016’s Batman V Superman Dawn Of Justice) has a broken and messy plot. Let me tell you why.
Of course, I’ll be discussing full-on spoilers from the movie, so here’s a warning for anyone who hasn’t seen Wonder Woman 1984. You can still check out my spoiler-free review of the movie here.
In Wonder Woman 1984, Diana (Gal Gadot) is living in secret in Washington D.C. in the 80s. She’s working at the Smithsonian as an anthropologist while somehow being Wonder Woman on the side without anyone knowing.
She strikes up a friendship with Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig). They both come into contact with a mysterious stone, which is being tracked by businessman con-man Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal).
Maxwell Lord’s Undefined And Vague Powers
First of all, the stone is called the Dreamstone, and it’s apparently based on an obscure magical artifact from the comics. In the DC Universe of the comics, the Dreamstone was created by the entity Dream Of The Endless, and it’s used by villains like Doctor Destiny to reshape realities.
However, the Dreamstone in Wonder Woman 1984 has the ability to grant wishes, but only to one person at a time. It’s simply a MacGuffin used to grant wishes, but it’s a confusing one that muddles up the plot.
In the movie, Maxwell Lord uses his one wish to absorb and become a living Dreamstone. While he gets the power to grant wishes in the process, he can only grant those of other people.
However, he somehow uses that loophole in that he manipulates people in either granting his wishes or apparently gets to take anything of their possession in return for granting their wishes.
Maxwell Lord’s powers as a living Dreamstone is undefined and vague, which makes for an unsatisfying villain. The writers of Wonder Woman 1984 sort of knew this, so they had to shoehorn Barbara Minerva AKA Cheetah into the movie to ensure that Diana has a worthwhile adversary.
It’s disappointing because Maxwell Lord in the comics is a much more cunning and calculative villain. He’s like a much more charming and good-looking Lex Luthor, but with the added advantage of being able to telepathically influence people’s mind or persuade them into doing something.
In the comics, he was considered to be so dangerous that Wonder Woman was essentially forced to kill him by snapping his neck in the 52 story arc because he was controlling Superman at the time.
In Wonder Woman 1984, Maxwell Lord seemingly gets away at the very end by renouncing his wishes and returning to his son. All Wonder Woman had to do to defeat him was appeal to his love for his son.
Sure, that’s more in line with the movie’s themes, but we could have gotten a better version of Maxwell Lord. One whose powers didn’t have to depend on a wishing stone, and whose motivations could be made clearer.
In Wonder Woman 1984, it was never made clear what his real endgame is. Apparently, Pedro Pascal’s Maxwell Lord just wanted more power and couldn’t stop granting more wishes to increase his power, which ends up screwing the world over.
How Could They Disrespect Cheetah Like This?
Barbara Minerva gets her powers in the comics from being cursed by the African god Urzkartaga. Her powers are a curse, and she blames Wonder Woman for it, which is why she remains the hero’s main nemesis over the years.
In Wonder Woman 1984, Barbara Minerva wants to protect Maxwell Lord from Diana because she wants to stay strong and beautiful. She then transformed into the Cheetah just because she wished to be an “apex predator.”
There were several problems with Cheetah in Wonder Woman 1984. We see Barbara in her human form for 90 percent of the movie’s runtime, and she only turns into the Cheetah for the climactic confrontation with Diana.
The CGI looks horrible and the scene was probably shot in the dark to make the character look a bit better. It’s noticeable because the rest of the movie’s action scenes were shot in bright daylight, so there’s no reason why this fight had to be in the dark unless it was to hide the visual blemishes.
Not only does Cheetah look like a Cats movie reject, she only appears for less than ten minutes in a very underwhelming fight scene between her and Diana. It’s extremely disappointing, considering how much the trailers and marketing hyped her up.
Wonder Woman 1984 Ultimately Serves Diana
One could say that the villains don’t much matter in Wonder Woman 1984 because it served as crucial character development for Diana, adding more depth to the character.
It’s a necessary stepping stone for the character’s growth. Why did Wonder Woman continue protecting humanity for so long after Steve Trevor’s (Chris Pine) death?
In Wonder Woman 1984, she makes the painful decision to finally let go of Steve and fight for a civilization that needs her more than anything. This pretty much makes her the first bonafide hero in the DCEU, so I still think it’s unnecessary for Wonder Woman of all heroes to hide her crimefighting like she’s a vigilante.