Wonder Woman 1984 is the sequel to the 2017 Wonder Woman which was pretty much the only good movie that DC put out in their Ben Affleck Batman-verse so expectations were high going into it.
Sometimes I feel bad shitting on movies that I genuinely have no problem with. I know people must think I’m a miserable human who enjoys zero things as I find issues with every movie I watch but I promise you that it is possible to be critical of a film while also enjoying it. Both things can be true.
Wonder Woman 1984 is gorgeous and I cannot stress enough how important it is for these superhero movies to be colorful and not gray and smokey like Zack Snyder was so desperate to vomit up. God, Zack Snyder sucks.
But I can’t help but think how much greater this movie could’ve been if it actually tried to tell a complex story instead of some generic least common denominator action movie.
There is an obvious and lame theme about lies vs. truth that we are beaten over the head within the opening scene when baby Diana cheats to win some Ironwoman competition in Themyscira before Antiope (Robin Wright) scoops her up and explains that lies are bad or whatever even though they then fast forward to modern day where Diana lies to literally everyone about secretly being Wonder Woman. Ok.
There is a magic rock that grants wishes and our big bad oil baron villain, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) steals and wishes to uh, become the rock—as one does. Later instead of easily stating that the rock’s wishes come with side effects, Diana says the wishes are ‘lies’ because that’s the theme and they are going to shove that down our throats.
The movie is basically fine but it’s juvenile which is odd because they have 80s makeover scenes in a movie that appears to be for a generation that wasn’t alive in the 80s but go off. Do your thing. The movie is fine.
But let’s talk about Cheetah and all of the potential there that was squandered.
First, I still think it makes zero sense to cast Kristen Wiig—a woman who is almost 50 years old—to play a character that is supposed to be the physical equivalent of Wonder Woman.
Now, I love that older women like Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen are still getting roles as powerful women in this series but like, there are other actors who could’ve fought Wonder Woman. You don’t need to be Gal Gadot’s dress size to fight Gal Gadot.
Having read a dumb amount of comic books, Cheetah always seemed to proudly represent qualities and behaviors that women aren’t frequently allowed to express and more importantly, her relationship with Wonder Woman allowed Diana to also demonstrate these harsher emotions.
Wonder Woman is consistently in control of her presentation. Never a hair out of place. But when she’s in a room with Cheetah, all of her more warrior-esque qualities shine. She becomes borderline blood-thirsty.
We could’ve seen a movie where Diana and Barbara both slowly unravel as they reckon with each other’s existence.
I know giving people superpowers via sketchy genetic experiments has been done to death but it’s far more conceivable than a magic rock. Make Maxwell Lord a CEO of a company that does genetic engineering who tricks Barbara into becoming Cheetah in order to best her rival, Wonder Woman which results in Cheetah losing her sanity and Diana losing hers as well as a result of her desperate need to defeat her.
The story could’ve been about Cheetah’s jealousy and Wonder Woman’s brutality. Cheetah could’ve been used to erode Wonder Woman’s veil of perfection and exposed her lizard brain animalistic savagery. She comes from an island where she fights all day every day. The lesson Robin Wright should’ve taught her is about self-control and balancing her emotions instead of being like ‘lying is bad’.
Women can be cool and sleek and sexy and angry and cruel all in one day. Male action heroes are allowed to show fury in one scene and kindness in the next. Wonder Woman 1984 had an opportunity to create a more diverse female action hero and villain but instead chose the easiest path possible with zero nuance and weird out-of-place Arab stereotypes for no reason.
Also not to get into the dumb Mary Sue conversation where a female character can just effortless do anything she wants without any visible struggles to acquire her abilities to do anything she wants but like, are we to believe that Wonder Woman has both the power make things invisible AND fly just from her sheer will to do so?
So she has super strength, super speed, can turn invisible and can fly? She has more powers than Superman and none of the Kryptonite. What a fun and relatable protagonist!!!