WW84 With Spoilers Review: Messy, Hokey, Confusing, And Still Pretty Cool
If you want a WW84 review without spoilers, check out Joshua Patton’s excellent article instead. If you don’t mind finding out that the OG Wonder Woman Lynda Carter debuts as a new character and leaves us with a big ass cliffhanger, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Because this is WW84 deep dive, spoilers abound, read at your own risk review. Are we good now? Okay, let’s get going.
Everything Started Out Wonderful in WW84, So Let’s Start the Spoilers
image via DC Films and Warner Bros
WW84 starts with a familiar feeling: Young Diana in Themyscira. Her mom is back, and so is Robin Wright for a cool cameo. We watch Diana participate in a deadly race not made for children. So, naturally, everyone is fine with this 9-year-old standing at the starting line. She nearly wins, but there’s one problem—she (kind of?) cheats, taking a shortcut instead of staying on the path. We get some wise words about truth and honesty, and then we skip to 1984.
Diana is beautiful, commands respect, and yet she’s sad and lonely, still pining over Chris Pine—aka Steve Trevor. It’s an impulse all of us who have him in our Top 3 Chrises List understands, a little. It’s been 60 years, but she still hasn’t moved on. She then meets Barbara Minerva (Kristin Wiig), a nerdy, literally forgettable gemologist who works at the Smithsonian with Diana. At first, Diana wants information on some stolen artifacts that she—as Wonder Woman—helped recover. But when they get dinner together, there is palpable flirtation? Diana tells Barbara that she makes her laugh in a way she hasn’t for a very long time (her answer to everything regarding age or dates). It’s charming.
Wonder Woman 1984 Squanders a Lot of Great Opportunities
Image via Warner Bros.
When Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) shows up, flirting with Barbara as he tries to get his hands on a magical stone, Diana actually seems jealous that someone else has her affection. So, the movie starts with Diana finally loosening her grasp on the past as she begins falling for Barbara. We know that Steve Trevor will return, so it looks like they are setting up a bisexual love triangle. Unfortunately, once Trevor does appear again, any notion of Diana and Barbara having a potential relationship is gone. It’s just dropped. Even their budding friendship stops cold.
This is the biggest problem with WW84, and you don’t need a spoilers warning to see why. A first-for-these-movies queer love story is just one of many plotlines that are either dropped completely or show up out of nowhere in the movie. Is this a movie about love? Or about overcoming weakness? Or parental relationships? Friendship? Greed? Yes, a movie can be about all of those things, but at no point during WW84 do any of the answers to those questions feel adequately explored or developed.
It’s a shame, too, because the entire ending doesn’t hang on Diana being a badass warrior like she was in the first film. Instead, it comes down to Wonder Woman on the ground, physically beaten, and delivering a speech. Maybe it was dull delivery or a bad script, or both, but the speech sounded more like the ramblings of your drunk friend trying to explain empathy after only recently discovering the concept. All the amazing Hans Zimmer music in existence couldn’t make that speech work. What could have been an inspiring moment with Wonder Woman came across hokey and forced. And we haven’t even gotten to the wishing stone yet.
WW84 Has a Villain Problem—but Not In the Usual Way
Image: Warner Bros. Pictures
Why do superhero films feel the need to double the villains in each follow-up? Cheetah and Maxwell Lord was already a strange combination, and we really didn’t need both. In fact, given that the plot revolves around a magical stone Wonder Woman found in a mall (seriously), Lord’s part seems silly. He wants oil and power. And maybe to impress his son? Oh, and maybe he has organ failure? He gets sick after becoming imbued with the stone’s power, but the how or why is never made clear. By the end of WW84 (so big spoilers) his motives are such a mess that they have flashbacks to him as a kid. His dad beat his mother and did not take his youthful (normal!) problem of bedwetting very well. Also, kids picked on him for being poor. It is painfully forced because none of this was adequately foreshadowed.
Yet, to his cred, Pedro Pascal does his best to sell these scenes, and you kind of want him (the actor not the character) to win. From the beginning, Pascal brings a sadness to the TV personality of Maxwell Lord. Even when he is granting wishes and taking things in return, Pascal exudes desperation. Sure, it was weird that he “became” the stone, whatever that means, but Pascal showed a man spiraling out of control. And when he sees his son at the end, lost in the destruction he caused, Pascal’s emotions fit the scene. He gives up his power and finds his son, and begs him for forgiveness. But that scene, as the ending to his story and the wishing stone’s conflict, doesn’t match anything else in the movie.
The Criminal Misuse of One Kristin Wiig
(Warner Bros./DC Comics)
By far, the best performer in the entire movie is Kristin Wiig. The way she plays Barbara Minerva is wonderful. Even when she’s gorgeous and powerful, she’s still stumbling over her words and horribly nervous. It’s a nice, slow transformation. Until it isn’t. For a while, Wiig’s character just disappears and then reappears out of nowhere. No, really, it’s completely random.
When Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor go to the White House to stop Lord, they have to be sneaky about it until the fighting begins. But Minerva just shows up and starts kicking Wonder Woman’s ass. How did she even know to go to the White House? When did she figure out how to fight in her own cat-style? Sure, we saw her beat the crap out of a drunk bum, but maybe a scene where we saw her discover her abilities would have helped.
From there, she’s, again literally, along for the ride. She jumps into Lord’s helicopter, and they go to…the Everglades? Guantanamo Bay? Not sure. Somewhere jungle-ish with palm trees. And after her big fight with Wonder Woman, fully as Cheetah because of wish-magic, she just wanders off. This brings us to another issue with the film.
There Are No Spoilers for What Happens to the Villains in WW84
Image via Warner Bros
After Diana defeats Cheetah, and Barbara reverts to how we saw her before she became a werecat. We see her looking at the sunrise. The film does make it clear that Barbara doesn’t renounce her original wish, but she doesn’t say or do anything. The last we see of her, she’s just hanging out on some cliffside watching the horizon. Does she go off and start a life of crime and super-villainy? Does she slink off into the wilderness to live as the jungle cats do? Does she die of exposure on this indeterminate island/coast/military base location? We don’t know! And Diana, who tried to save her friend at first and knows she is alive, just leaves her behind.
Okay, so maybe she forgot about Barbara, but she must definitely remember that Maxwell Lord nearly destroyed the world. Bringing him to justice has to be her main concern, right? Okay, first she’ll give him a moment with his son. But then it’s definitely time for prison or some U.N. tribunal? Or not. The last we see of Maxwell Lord, he’s hugging his son. So, apparently, these two villains who nearly toppled every world government are totally cool at the end. Wonder Woman doesn’t feel any need to worry about repercussions. Well, at least she got to wear some fancy armor doing it. Did she need that armor? Well…
The Completely Useless Badass Golden Armor of Asteria
Image via Warner Bros.
In that awesome race at the beginning of the movie, the contestants gather at the statue of Asteria, and we learn later that when the Amazonians were fleeing the armies of men trying to kill them, Asteria stayed behind, wearing a golden armor made from the metal her sisters gave up. As far as they knew, she died for them. Now, at the beginning of this WW84 spoilers review, you found out that it turns out to be Lynda Carter, alive and well in the 20th century. But how about that armor? How did Wonder Woman come to possess it? And how vital was it in the final battle?
The answers? It was in her closet and not at all. The first of those WW84 spoilers review is really that simple. Diana found the armor at some point and just kept it in her closet. Not since Maz Kanata brushed off how she got ahold of Luke’s original lightsaber has a movie cared less about an obviously important story. Sure, it would have been a cool subplot to see Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor have to recover the armor from somewhere, but closet works. For the other issue, we have to backtrack a little and talk about the wishing stone and Steve Trevor.
Steve Trevor…the Character Who Should Have More WW84 Spoilers
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures.
When Diana holds the wishing stone, she, without realizing it, wishes Steve Trevor back into existence. His return doesn’t make sense, even if the reason for Chris Pine to be in this film is “god-magic.” For one, he doesn’t come back in his own body. Instead, he takes over some nameless dude’s life. (Seriously, Kristoffer Polaha’s character’s name is just “Handsome Guy.”) Steve wakes up in an apartment in the future, but his reflection is of another dude. Who is said dude? What is his connection to Trevor? Does Trevor or Diana feel at all bad that they basically killed this guy’s consciousness so that they can be together? Does Diana feel at all weird that though she was with Trevor, she technically had sex with a some other guy’s body? All of this ethical dilemma is just completely glossed over.
But just as ill-thought-out his return was, his departure is even worse. Throughout the movie, Diana keeps losing her power—the price she had to pay for getting her boyfriend back. To get her powers back and save the world, she has to renounce her wish—meaning that the nameless dude returns and Steve Trevor goes back to wherever he was in the afterlife. It’s a needed conclusion but executed poorly. They’re in the streets, the world is going crazy around them, and she renounces her wish there. As soon as she does, she gets her powers back and goes to save the world. But first, she gets the armor.
The Point of the Asteria’s Armor Was Only Commercial
Image: Funko Pops
Why does Batman and Iron Man change their costumes every movie? Well, the real reason is the toys. More costumes, more toys. But they always at least try to have some kind of story reason for it. Here’s the most frustrating of all the WW84 spoilers: The armor could have had a point, but it didn’t. Now, when would the best time for Wonder Woman to put on Asteria’s armor. Is it A: When she’s weaker and more vulnerable, or B: after she renounces her wish and gets all of her power back? The answer is A. WW84 went with B.
And going with B pretty much undercut all drama. She was already bulletproof again; what did she need golden armor for? She had just learned how to fly, so why did she need wings? The only thing the wings really did was guard her against Cheetah for about 35 seconds before they were destroyed. (Though they apparently survived being pummelled by an entire army in the olden days?) Then she was just Wonder Woman cosplaying as an Oscar statue.
The story should have gone like this: She wears the armor for actual protection, Steve takes the invisible jet (more on that later too), and they go to face Lord together. We see her fighting Cheetah, the armor protecting her, but she’s still getting her ass kicked. Meanwhile, Trevor is doing his spy thing. But the armor isn’t enough. To defeat Cheetah, she needs to be Wonder Woman again—and then renounce her wish. Then she would no longer need the armor and not look so ridiculous for the rest of the battle.
What Did Work in WW84?
Image via Warner Bros.
Despite that previous 1800 words hashly criticizing the movie, there were some great moments. First, even if it was only for 5 minutes, it was worth getting Cheetah. The fight between her and Wonder Woman was brilliant and crazy. Wonder Woman 3 really needs to bring back Kristin Wiig, perhaps able to tap into her Cheetah form at will. And, I felt Wiig had much better chemistry with Gadot than Pine did. Every scene featuring Barbera Minerva, even if they didn’t make sense, were great scenes.
The invisible jet was also a spectacular inclusion. Even the fact that they found a way to make it work in the story was impressive. Now, apparently, it’s the slowest fighter jet ever made, since they stroll through some fireworks in DC, but it was still great and needed a bit more time. Also, when did she get the power to turn things invisible? That could have been useful in Justice League and Batman V Superman. But this is supposed to be positive, so let’s keep going.
Finally, there was one breathtaking scene with Wonder Woman. How she learns to fly. Having just rescinded her wish and lost Steve again, she launches herself into the sky. She can hear him talk about flying, how it’s just wind and air, and finding a way to ride it. This was our “No Man’s Land” moment from the first Wonder Woman movie. And it rivals the amazing Man of Steel scene where Clark learns to fly. It also helps that Hans Zimmer scored both. In a complete mess of a movie, this moment reminded us of why we love Wonder Woman. She’s just that—a Wonder.
Featured Image: Warner Bros.
Roman Colombo finished his MFA in 2010 and now teaches writing and graphic novel literature at various Philadelphia colleges. His first novel, Trading Saints for Sinners, was published in 2014. He's currently working on his next novel and hoping to find an agent soon.