Wonder Woman 1984

“Wonder Woman 1984” needs to be 25 minutes shorter.

That’s my main criticism: It’s just too long. The drama of emotional moments and the thrill of action set pieces are undermined by the extended running time–it just keeps going, and fatigue eventually sets in.

The internal logic of “Wonder Woman 1984” is a bit squishy, too. The film hinges on wishes and the unintended consequences they can bring. That part is interesting. But it isn’t immediately clear that the guarantor of a wish has the power to take something in return. This turns out to be important because the villain (Pedro Pascal, really hamming it up) acquires the power to grant wishes and then uses the quid-pro-quo nature of these exchanges to become the most powerful person on Earth. For a while it doesn’t make sense why this is happening.

The other antagonist, Barbara Minerva (played by Kristen Wiig), follows the same path as Selina Kyle. But Barbara lacks the delight of Cat Woman–she doesn’t relish her power and what she can do with it. The result is a villain whose heart isn’t in it.

There are good things in this movie:

  • Gal Gadot (Diana Prince / Wonder woman) and Chris Pine (Steve Trevor) have fantastic chemistry–the movie is funnier and more impactful when Gadot and Pine are together. The return of Pine’s character makes sense within the wish-fulfillment context of the story, too, which was something I was a little concerned about since Trevor very much died in the first film. Trevor’s presence also reveals the depth of Diana’s long-term loneliness and highlights the negative coping strategies she’s employed over decades. Being Wonder Woman kind of sucks.

  • The ’80s stuff is absurd, which is great because everything about the 1980s was ridiculous. Pine gets a lot of comedy out of a fanny pack.

  • Wonder Woman–both the character and this series–are earnest to the point of cheesy. That’s a smart counter to the devil-may-care quippiness of Marvel (don’t get me wrong, I love Marvel’s snark, but that’s Marvel’s thing).

A suggestion: It’s time for Wonder Woman to have a solo story set in the present day. An origin story set during World War I was fine and the 1980s was an okay (though unnecessary) setting for the sequel, but Diana’s inherent goodness would be fun to see in a modern context–one that doesn’t involve refereeing superhero spats and attending Justice League meetings.