Over the years, since the closing credits of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Warner Bros. Pictures and the makers of DC films have demonstrated an ability to put out movies that consistently underwhelm. A couple of notable exceptions to this rule are Wonder Woman (2017) and Shazam! (2019). Long story short, DC has failed to capture the magic that Marvel, and recently Disney, has been able to achieve with their cinematic properties. Wonder Woman 1984, the latest addition to the saga, repeats many of the same mistakes as other DC films.
Wonder Woman 1984 picks up more than forty-years after the events of Wonder Woman and Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) is making her mark as an unidentifiable and mysterious crime-stopper, which includes foiling a jewelry store heist and saving a new bride from a fall. During the day, Diana is an anthropologist, which is how she comes to meet Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) and Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) while researching the origins of a particular artifact, known as the “Dreamstone.” It has the ability to grant its holder their most desired wish and it is this unchecked power that begins to cause trouble in the world.
To its credit, Wonder Woman 1984 embraces some of the campiness and eccentricities of the 80s. It’s something that can work and would if it was done in a deliberate and measured way. But this is part of the movie’s downfall, as the acting and storyline leans too far into the silliness and it becomes a distraction from the story. It becomes a parody of itself when it shouldn’t be.
As shown in the film’s trailer, Diana’s love interest Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) returns. This is a significant part of the story and it is used to demonstrate the power of the Dreamstone as it grants wishes for all of the main characters, but it ultimately rings hollow and the potential for this storyline isn’t fully realized.
DC films throughout the past decade, such as Wonder Woman 1984, The Justice League, and Superman, have had a rough time trying to connect with audiences. They’ve been unable to achieve what Marvel has. Instead of creating relatable and likable characters for the screen, you get stoic and sometimes emotionless caricatures. Rather than having epic, and even comical, adventures, you get dark and brooding soap operas. DC and Warner Bros. has the potential to create some great films, we saw it with Shazam! not that long ago, but they just haven’t learned.
It’s important to note, though, the importance of female-led superhero movies and, just as important, female-created superhero movies. There’s a need and there are so many opportunities to get these projects done. Sadly, they won’t succeed if the same tired model is used every time.