Like Steve Trevor reappearing on Earth and taking over a strange man’s body, the Wonder Woman franchise is back. After a few release date changes and the massive decision to move to streaming, Wonder Woman 1984 hit HBO Max on Christmas Day. And, well, wow—how can one even describe it? It’s weird … it might be bad … it is definitely sweatier than expected. After watching the movie over the holidays, the Ringer staff tried to put their thoughts together.
1. What is your tweet-length review of Wonder Woman 1984?
Sean Yoo: To quote Wonder Woman herself: “It’s so, so many things.”
Tunde St. Matthew-Daniel: In WW84, director Patty Jenkins tries to make her own version of Richard Donner’s Superman, but in doing so, gives up the sincerity that made the first Wonder Woman a superhero standout in its own right.
Miles Surrey: The universe’s answer to the question: What if Wonder Woman was as unapologetically goofy as Aquaman? Good movie.
Kate Halliwell: A brand-new blockbuster I can watch from home, basically for free? Great! (Watch Soul instead.)
Daniel Chin: I wish I had watched Soul instead.
Jomi Adeniran: I saw this in the comfort of my own home and I still feel like I deserve a refund.
everyone is taking #WW84 way too seriously just be thankful for the moment when Pedro Pascal says “I’m a pretty messed up loser guy”
— Andrew Gruttadaro (@andrewgrutt) December 25, 2020
2. What was the best moment of the film?
Hardest I’ve laughed watching a movie this year—it’s not even close.
Yoo: This is one of the best written lines in modern cinema, only enhanced by an iconic delivery from Pascal.
St. Matthew-Daniel: Nothing here reaches the level of the “no man’s land” sequence from Wonder Woman, but there were fun little things like Steve Trevor’s ’80s drip, the nod to Wonder Woman’s invisible jet, and Hans Zimmer’s score.
James: The opening flashback of young Diana was fun, as were most of the action sequences. I also enjoyed watching Diana play Pauly Shore to Steve’s Encino Man as he discovered the modern wonders of the 1980s.
Chin: Every time Pedro Pascal manically asked somebody, “WHAT DO YOU WISH FOR?”
Surrey: Every single second that Pedro Pascal was hamming it up on the screen. The only way I could love Maxwell Lord more would be if his character crossed over into Marvel territory so that Pascal-in-a-wig could duke it out with Tom Hardy’s Venom.
Adeniran: Steve Trevor trying on clothes was the best part of the movie. Just watching him and Diana go back and forth for two minutes put a big smile on my face. I could watch a Chris Pine riff for hours.
Halliwell: No matter the context, a Chris Pine makeover montage is gonna do it for me every time.
3. What was your least favorite part of the movie?
Chin: When Wonder Woman casually lassos a bolt of lightning and swings from it, not long after Steve’s flying skills seemed like such a big deal to her earlier in the film. Actually, maybe that was my favorite part of the movie.
Adeniran: THE LENGTH. WW84 was two hours and 31 minutes long. It’s longer than Avengers: Infinity War. Did they leave anything on the cutting room floor?
Halliwell: The confusing, mishmashed ending that was neither satisfying nor made any sense whatsoever. Give your wish back? On purpose? In this economy?
James: It was a little hard to follow the logic when they decided that the best way to get to Egypt would be to steal a jet, throw Steve in the cockpit, and hope that planes hadn’t changed much since 1918. Is it safe to fly through fireworks? Steve literally didn’t know what fireworks were and then he flew right through them. Also, how did he not know what fireworks were? America has been celebrating Independence Day with fireworks since 1777.
But I also didn’t like how unflinchingly OK Diana was with her dead boyfriend stealing an innocent man’s body and life. And why was that man so jovial at the end? Surely he got fired for no-showing at work for the entire duration of the film while a dead man was joyriding his body around the world.
Yoo: The fireworks scene felt like those commercials that run at the start of a movie when you’re watching at a theater—just that over-the-top, expensive CGI of popcorn popping and soda bubbling.
Gruttadaro: Hm, well, OK, so, how do I put this? This movie is pretty bad? That’s not to say it’s not entertaining, or that its badness is unique in the context of the superhero movie genre—remember Age of Ultron and Captain Marvel?—but the Wonder Woman sequel is bloated, makes no sense (how the hell did the whole Steve Trevor body transfer thing work?!), and seems to have no idea what to do with Wonder Woman. It’s a bad sign when you start rooting for the villain to win and usurp the franchise.
St. Matthew-Daniel: Steve Trevor being resurrected back into Diana’s life by possessing an unknowing man’s body was ummm … clunky at best and problematic at worst.
Surrey: While I’m happy that Diana and Steve were reunited, I, uh, don’t think the guy whose body Steve was possessing (?) consented to any of it—including the implied off-screen sex.
4. Take your pick: Wonder Woman or WW84?
St. Matthew-Daniel: Wonder Woman is a decent third act away from being mentioned alongside the likes of The Dark Knight, Logan, and Black Panther. On the flipside, WW84 suffers from the same sequel-itis that plagued Iron Man 2, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and dare I say, Thor: The Dark World—which ironically, Patty Jenkins was once set to direct. So yeah, Wonder Woman.
Chin: Wonder Woman. The first film had its flaws after the story left Themyscira—especially during its disastrous third act, featuring the climactic battle against David Thewlis’s Ares—but it’s still not even close for me. WW84 was a mess.
Adeniran: I’m watching Wonder Woman 10 times out of nine.
Halliwell: Wonder Woman by leaps and bounds—extra-long Amazonian leaps and bounds, at that.
Surrey: Wonder Woman 1984. Just because Wonder Woman was actually watchable compared to the rest of the DCEU circa 2017 doesn’t make it a good movie.
Yoo: Wonder Woman is the better movie but I had more dumb fun watching WW84.
Gruttadaro: I feel like I’ll get bullied if I give my honest answer. But I also feel like everyone is misremembering Wonder Woman, a movie in which the villain was a CGI JACKED DAVID THEWLIS.
James: I would rather watch Wonder Woman, but until my dying breath I will always remember WW84.
5. This is the section to say whatever you want about Pedro Pascal as Max Lord. Enjoy.
Chin: That wig belongs in the Smithsonian.
Adeniran: I haven’t seen someone carry anything as much as Pedro Pascal carried WW84. Pascal shined whenever he was on screen. It was like he was in an entirely different movie—and I want to live in an alternate universe in which that movie was released. I only wish there was a way he could be added to the Justice League Snyder cut.
James: Just days after Pascal turned in a subtle, nuanced, and moving performance opposite a puppet, he gradually cranks the acting knob up to 11 in WW84. Pedro Pascal is the new Nic Cage: He’s capable of incredible things, but he’s only as good as the director who wields him.
Surrey: Life is good, but it can be better … if Pedro Pascal gets an Oscar nomination next year.
Gruttadaro: If a glut of superhero movies is our fate—which it is, you watched the Disney investor call, too—and every good actor is forced to star in them, then I’d rather they deliver absolutely bonkers performances like this one. Come on, most of these movies are not great—you might as well make them interesting.
St. Matthew-Daniel: Just a quick shout-out for a strong winter for The Mandalorian cast and crew. First, composer Ludwig Göransson goes from dropping an epic score on the season finale of The Mandalorian to providing the music for Tenet and then Pedro Pascal plays the galaxy’s best bounty hunter–hero before stealing the show as a villain in WW84.
Mando: The gift that keeps on giving.
6. Finish the sentence: “Kristen Wiig as a superhero movie villain was …”
St. Matthew-Daniel: … wild.
Halliwell: … a cross between a Revolve influencer and a Jellicle—objectively a terrifying combination.
Surrey: … apparently an extra from Cats? Wiig did enough in limited screen time that I hope she gets another go at Cheetah for the next film, but for god’s sake, fix the CGI.
Gruttadaro: … weird at first, then you got used to it, but then she turned all the way into a cheetah, at which point it went back to being weird. (Speaking of, a meek woman goes from wishing to be popular and beautiful to wishing to be a straight-up apex predator? What—and I mean this in the nicest way possible—the fuck?)
Chin: … actually pretty fun? But honestly, all I can think about is this:
Adeniran: … fine but ultimately completely unnecessary! Wonder Woman just needed somebody to fight. Cheetah is one of Wonder Woman’s most iconic villains and here she’s essentially relegated to simply being an enforcer. Let’s be honest, if we cut her out of the movie, nothing changes; maybe it gets better.
James: … a cat. But then she wasn’t a cat anymore. But she might soon be a cat again. But under no circumstance will she be Catwoman. Because that’s Zoë Kravitz. But Catwoman isn’t actually a cat. And that is the state of cat women in the DC cinematic universe.
7. How has your assessment of DC changed over the past few years?
Halliwell: I appreciate its pivot toward fun and nonsensical superhero movies in recent years, but I remain largely unimpressed.
Chin: I really haven’t been a fan of DC’s overall body of work, and yet here I am eagerly awaiting Matt Reeves’s The Batman. But Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne, Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman, and Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon? Come on, just take my money now.
St. Matthew-Daniel: Since DC doesn’t have a consistent franchise arc like Marvel’s MCU, I’m answering this by briefly assessing the different eras of the DCEU so far:
- The Snyder Era (Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, Justice League): Unnecessarily dark and rushed.
- The Solo Era (Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Shazam!, Joker, Birds of Prey): Unique and mostly entertaining.
- The Streaming Era (WW84, Zack Snyder’s Justice League, The Suicide Squad): Jury is still out, but since each movie here is essentially a follow-up or a new version of a pre-existing DC film, this era runs the risk of being uninspired and lukewarm. Maybe Matt Reeves’s The Batman will save the day in 2022.
Adeniran: My feelings about DC being inconsistent haven’t changed. Everything since The Dark Knight Rises has ranged from OK (Wonder Woman, Birds of Prey, and Aquaman) to just plain awful (Batman v Superman, Justice League, and Suicide Squad). The studio doesn’t have a Kevin Feige or even a Kathleen Kennedy to shoulder the creative direction of its vast comic book canon and that becomes a clearer problem every time a new DC movie comes out.
Gruttadaro: I, for one, am glad that DC decided to stop trying to be “MCU but for edgelords” and instead started letting each movie be its own thing. Aquaman, Birds of Prey, and WW84 are flawed movies, but at least they are movies and not merely continuations of a massive studio’s strict, rote vision.
Yoo: Even though I loved Birds of Prey and Aquaman, my opinion of the DCEU has not changed in the slightest. Something about all its movies has felt off—there’s no cohesiveness and the movies themselves feel disjointed. DC stressed early on that it wanted to create darker and grittier movies, yet the only ones that have been successful are the ones that strayed from that norm. Hopefully DC can continue with that trend and forge its own path rather than always trying to compete with Marvel. I’m willing to give the studio some time, though; just like Max Lord said, “I’M A FORGIVING MANNNNNNNN!!!!!”
Surrey: Aquaman, Shazam!, Birds of Prey, and Wonder Woman 1984 is a chaotic quartet of movies, but they actually feel like they were made with distinct visions instead of being an assemblage of studio notes. In the past few years, at least, it’s the DCEU > the MCU. Call me when Marvel makes something as perfectly silly as Aquaman.
8. What are you wishing for from Max Lord? And more importantly, what is he taking from you?
Halliwell: I would probably try to take the Max Lord route and wish for more wishes. Maybe we could team up as a duo and conquer the galaxy. Yes, I’m Baby Yoda in this scenario.
Yoo: I would love to have the ability to dunk a basketball but I fear Max Lord would take away my jump shot, which would leave me resembling a player like Shannon Brown, and honestly? Nobody wants that.
Surrey: I’d wish for some kind of luxurious tropical vacation, but the joke’s on me because Max Lord would make it so that it would rain the entire time I was there.
Chin: I would wish for the Knicks to finally become a contender again. Maybe Lord would take away all of James Dolan’s money in return, and he would be forced to sell the franchise. That’s probably just wishful thinking, though.
Adeniran: This is lame, but true: I would wish to be verified on Twitter. Max would then immediately take away my followers, my social media instincts, and my deep meme collection, leaving me unable to come up with any clever content. Joke’s on him, though; I have a blue checkmark now. I don’t need to be competent for people to like my tweets.
Gruttadaro: The Buffalo Bills are going to win the Super Bowl. Max can take my undying patience and capacity for hope.
St. Matthew-Daniel: Just like Diana, I’d wish for the return of a true love: the full movie theater experience. Maxwell Lord can have my HBO Max subscription in return.
James: I’m wishing for another Wonder Woman movie and I want it to be bigger, flashier, and even more scatterbrained. I hope they write it using Mad Libs while eating lots of drugs. I’m addicted to the mania of WW84. I need more, even if it will likely take from me another 2.5 hours of my life.