I feel I should start off with a disclaimer; I had a lot of faith in this movie leading up to its release. I’d seen the trailers and the images. I’d heard the line about a human woman wanting to be an apex predator… which…. We will get into that in a second, I promise. I had so much faith in the writing and direction. I loved 2016’s Wonder Woman as an entry point for people into the Wonder Woman mythos. But on Christmas Day of 2020, I was… massively disappointed. What we received was a film that wasn’t so much incomplete as it was OVERcomplete. The movie was too long, and had too many storylines it was trying to follow that were nonsensical. But that wasn’t it. There were things I noticed on my second pass through the movie that were truly inexcusable. Let’s run through these flaws in this multi-million dollar movie, shall we?
Let’s start with the apex predator line, which was a harbinger of worse things to come. In WW84, it is established early on that every person who uses the monkey’s paw-style mcguffin gets exactly one wish (and OH, WE WILL GET TO IT). So, imagine our surprise when Barbara Minerva (played by the MARVELOUS Kristen Wiig) got a second wish, to turn her into Cheetah who looked like an extra from the cursed Cats movie. Specifically, she wishes to be “unlike anyone else” and to be an “apex predator”. This was... an odd way to say her wish, because humans are (debatably, according to scientists) already apex predators. Furthermore, that “wish” wasn’t specific enough when dealing with a monkey’s paw, and she could have become an Orca or a Badger. That may seem like a fun little joke, except the myth of the Monkey’s Paw is that you get your wish but it comes at a terrible cost, or happens in a way that is actually quite bad for the wisher. So it’s best, when handling an item that is literally a trickster god’s gift, you need to be specific. The only reason that didn’t happen is because we, as the audience, know that Barbara Minerva IS Cheetah in DC Comics.
The movie doesn’t care about the origins of these characters, or even, the core reasons these characters exist.
Issue number two, one of the things that bugs me about both movies is that Diana gains access to her god powers because of the death of Steve Trevor, a strange man that she has only known for… at maximum 4 days. But those 4 days were somehow so magical and good enough that Diana sequesters herself for 50 years, not getting close to anyone, not developing any relationships? Gurl, not even a dick appointment? I’m sorry, there ain't no way Steve Trevor’s dick was that bomb. There just isn’t. That reeks of internalized misogyny on the part of the writer, or maybe just the misogyny present in ALL of Zack Snyder’s female characters. Zack Snyder has a producer AND story credit on both these movies.
Steve Trevor didn’t need to be in this movie. We don’t need her love for some man to give her the “ability to fly”, a thing she could surely learn on her own, because she is in fact a GODDESS. Chris Pine and Gal Gadot had almost no chemistry in this movie. Gal Gadot had MORE chemistry with Kristen Wiig, which the movie should have capitalized on. We have not had lesbian representation (or even gay male representation) in the superhero genre, or even bisexual representation. And we had a great chance for a compelling story of “lovers-to-rivals.”
But no, of course not, because this movie lacked the courage to let Diana move on, let alone the courage to let her explore her queerness, which she has had since the origins of her character back with William Moulton Marsten. Actually, to that end, this movie went out of it’s way to sexually assault a man numerous times throughout this movie.
“Wait, What?” Yeah, it did. The way they chose to bring Steve Trevor back was to put him inside the body of someone else. Meaning, when Steve kissed and had sex Diana USING THE BODY OF ANOTHER MAN, the original man wasn’t consenting to those actions. His bodily autonomy was completely and totally violated, a thing which is not addressed at all, because this movie doesn’t respect or value the bodily autonomy of anyone who is coded as male. Because most of SOCIETY doesn’t respect or value bodily autonomy in the first place. And yet we wonder why we have so many people reporting being assaulted every year. Hmmm. Also, Patty Jenkins, the main writer and director, did not respond well to this criticism, basically saying, “whatever, it was the 80s, like Freaky Friday.” Patty, nobody fucked anyone in the classic movie Freaky Friday. And my final thought on that point is this: if that was the body of a woman, this movie would have handled it differently, and that is telling and damning.
And on the subject of sexual assault, this movie goes out of it’s way to shame a woman for defending herself. In a scene which is supposed to tell us that Barbara has “gone too far”, she is kicking a man who tried to assault her. Twice. She was justified in her rage, as any person being harassed would be. But they coded this as “too far”, even though Diana mere scenes before, did the exact same thing, to the same man. And I’ll say it: No, we don’t get to tone police women over how they deal with being harassed in public by aggressively misogynistic assholes. Like sure, you can’t kill somebody, but if they physically compromise your safety, you have the legal RIGHT within the country to respond with force. Note: it says RESPOND with force, meaning an attack needs to have already started; you cannot throw the first punch.
Now, let's discuss Maxwell Lord/Maxwell Lorenzano and the Dream Stone. First thing, the Dreamstone is, in DC comics, a stone that contains the powers of Dream (aka the Sandman), and it does not grant wishes “for a price”. It should have been called the Wish Stone. But see, the movie doesn’t care about it’s magical mcguffin or the rules the movie states for the mcguffin. I am, of course, referring to the “everyone gets one wish” rule. This movie breaks this rule to give us Cheetah. But also, they BREAK the Mcguffin. Like, they turn the mcguffin into a human man, which on its face sounds interesting and like a cool plot idea. A man who can grant one wish for everyone in the world. But here’s where I find an issue with this. They made a man OF COLOR be the one out here granting these wishes, and then you see this one man of color punished for the wishes that other people made after being defeated by a white woman. Also, making him latinx feeds into problematic stereotypes surrounding Latinx men and being menacing thugs and criminals. Pedro Pascal is a phenomenal actor, and he played his part well, but this character was flawed from jump street.
Now that I have spent all this time raging about this movie, I hope you all understand why I was so disappointed on first viewing. This felt like the first draft of a bad script from a 25 year old frat boy who has issues with women and a bachelors in poli-sci. We deserved better than what we got. I really hope they hire someone to REVIEW the script of the third movie which they are “fast tracking”. But honestly, I’m not going to get my hopes up.