‘Wonder Woman 1984’ x King of Cups

Photo: Warner Bros.
Gal Gadot shines as Wonder Woman anew, but let’s hope this pit stop in the ’80s was a one-and-done: ‘1984’ was rough on our champion

And there on Christmas she was, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, the hero we the pandemic peeps of the year that wasn’t needed, nay, deserved, in a long-awaited blockbuster sequel premiering at oh-so-select theaters across our COVID nation (ay, pero qué pasó, California – we know better than to surge at this stage in the game, no?) and on HBO Max.

I liked the movie – I made sure of it by getting properly excited for the cozier, at-home-during-the-holidays watch, waiting until precisely the proper time to tune in and enjoy. Fuck yeah, the experience woulda been much more fun at a big movie theater with a whole bunch o’ people, but whaddya gonna do.

Wonder Woman 1984 had to come out, y’ see, one way or another. In 2021, it wouldn’t work, not with its timely and 2020-sensitive message of unity and empathy and solidarity, which, btw, might have landed with a dud back in June, the movie’s original release month, at the dawn of a summer of social unrest and stubborn, yet surmountable racial tension.

Post-election, a new era of wonder can begin, indeed.

Plot-wise, now that the pressure on the culture has begun to release, I admit, this one tickles a fancy in surprising and upsetting ways. For one, it is hella more rewarding to see Pedro Pascal (Disney+’s The Mandalorian) play up megalomania with abandon as thirsty failed businessman Maxwell Lord, only to get his just desserts courtesy of Wonder Woman, now that we know that our own real-life con man-in-chief is to be gone, gone in the new year. But ay, ay, ay, did they have to bring back Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor in such a convoluted and cringey manner? Methinks not (turns out that bodyjacking is way more problematic than time travel…), but that’s what returning director and co-writer Patty Jenkins did.

Working out of the oversight of the original steward of the DC Comicsverse, Zack Snyder, Jenkins gets to assert her style more as she delves deeper into her hit franchise (you know a Part III is inevitable), but it comes at the cost of Wonder Woman’s development. To err is human, and the Me-First Decade was the perfect time for it. Wonder Woman 1984 transports us to the era and provides our godly champion plenty of opportunity to showcase her strive, as well as the rare, beyond-puzzling shortcoming, but it’s such a darn shame that Jenkins and her two (male) co-writers made things overly complicated for our golden girl and this chapter of her cinematic story.

This excess-licious part deux calls for Wonder Woman’s Diana Prince, her earthly alter ego, to muster all of her strength, wisdom, and courage as she sees the world, already in a Cold War, devolve into an indulgent mess, while learning to let go, really, of that which she wants most. Careful what you wish for is the vibe, and no one is tasked with embodying that warning more than Kristen Wiig’s insecure Barbara Minerva, a gemologist who meets archeologist Diana at the Smithsonian and who gradually and eagerly gives into her worst impulses to become more like the Amazon warrior she envies, but as the villainous Cheetah.

Naughty as it is (boy, does it teeter on camp), Wonder Woman 1984 turned out quite nice – it was just the ticket this particular season. It did its best, and that is all any of us can do.

Hey…I said I liked the flick, did I not.

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