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Review: ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ embraces the difficulties of being a hero (Includes first-hand account)

Even though Marvel’s cinematic universe dominated theatres for more than a decade, they hadn’t gained equal supremacy in the realm of female heroes who often fought alongside their male counterparts with less recognition. In 2017, DC seized the opportunity and gave their Amazonian princess a title film directed by Patty Jenkins. The result was not only on-par with some of the best superhero pictures, but it created a lot of anticipation for the film’s sequel. After some delay due to the global pandemic, fans finally get to see the long-awaited follow-up, Wonder Woman 1984.

More than 60 years after leaving her secluded island to try to stop World War I, Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) has adapted to the human world, using her personal knowledge of history to work at a museum while remaining one of the world’s heroes in disguise. She befriends her new co-worker, Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), whose humanity and sense of humour revives Diana’s spirt. However, her next big challenge comes in the form of a wish granting artifact and a man, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), who yearns to turn his fraudulent lifestyle into unstoppable global domination. As his desire for power slowly destroys civilization, Diana must choose between her own happiness and saving the world.

This story is a new take on the legend of the monkey’s paw, which grants people’s wishes — but at an unidentified cost. However, Lord grants himself infinite wishes at the expense of everyone he encounters. While the direct results are mass destruction, people’s natural inclination for greed and war is actually more frightening. Countries are divided, producing widespread illness, while humanity’s survival is left in the hands of two irrational leaders with their fingers on world-ending buttons. Unfortunately, Lord is blinded by his hunger for power, which produces a partnership with an unexpected ally and regrettably conquers his love for his son.

The second film in the planned trilogy has a very different feel from its predecessor. Firstly, Diana is a very different person. Rather than a fish out of water, she’s now a well-adapted professional with a sensible fashion sense and great people skills. While Barbara notices all of her positive attributes — inside and out — Diana is still somewhat oblivious to the power she wields over humans. However, her ignorance of the opposite sex is also owed to her unending love for Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). Even though their affair was cut-short, it left a lifelong impression that’s rekindled in this picture as the pair is offered the opportunity renew their love for each other.

As this picture is not set in the middle of a war, there’s significantly less action. Instead, the focus is on the toll being Wonder Woman takes on Diana’s personal life, as well as the harm one’s greed can inflict on others. The romantic element of this picture is definitely heightened as Diana has waited more than half a century to be reunited with the love of her life. Consequently, one of the themes in this franchise appears to be the many sacrifices she makes to keep the world safe — something many of her male DC counterparts have not had to do over the years. It’s these true-to-reality circumstances that make Diana so relatable as people, particularly women, regularly make difficult choices between work and their personal lives, or give up one important aspect of their life to focus on another. Moreover, this film, including a flashback to an influential moment in Diana’s childhood, demonstrates not all problems can be solved with strength alone

Gadot and Pine resume their roles without missing a beat. While he’s as charming, supportive and forceful as ever, she’s more comfortable in her role as both hero and woman. In the meantime, Pascal is an unconventionally formidable villain whose heart seems to be in the right place, in spite of a lifetime of shortcuts and thievery. In addition, Wiig’s gradual evolution from insecure clutz to confident powerhouse is quite believable and very impressive.

Fans should be prepared for a different type of movie that redefines the superhero film by putting Wonder Woman’s humanity front-and-centre, using action to support her character’s development rather than just drive the storyline forward.

Director: Patty Jenkins
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine and Kristen Wiig

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Sarah Gopaul is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for film news, a member of the Online Film Critics Society and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved critic.

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