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Are we really surprised that a superhero sequel isn’t that good?

“Wonder Woman 1984,” a movie whose expectations were way too high

Danny Edwards, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Originally published January 14, 2021

Credit: Warner Bros.

When I saw the first “Wonder Woman” in 2017, I was blown away. It seemed as if I had finally found the superhero for me. 

In terms of DC, I’ve enjoyed the “Batman” movies and nothing else. In terms of Marvel, I fell off the train a few years ago when everything became so formulaic and boring that I found myself falling asleep during action sequences. 

But “Wonder Woman” brought something new to the table: a fresh face courtesy of the lovely and talented Gal Gadot, and faces that we’ve known and loved before like Chris Pine and Connie Nielsen.

“Wonder Woman” felt real and awesome and empowering. “Wonder Woman 1984” fell short in comparison.

We start by jumping into 1984 where Diana Prince (Wonder Woman) is working as a researcher of antiquities at the Smithsonian Institution. Also working at the Smithsonian is Barbara Minerva (played by Kristen Wiig) who is mousey and nerdy and seems to be ignored by absolutely everyone. 

Barbara runs (quite literally) into Diana one day at work and seems absolutely enchanted by her. My first thought was “could this be? A gay storyline?” No. The answer is no.

It turns out that Barbara is more enchanted with the idea of Diana and wishes to be like her, not with her. Her wish is granted and she gradually transforms into Cheetah (Wonder Woman’s famed nemesis in the comics). You can tell as she gets more evil and corrupt because she starts wearing more eyeliner, and as all superhero movies have taught us: a woman with lots of eyeliner = bad. 

How does she transform, you ask? Well, there’s a magic old stone that grants people one wish as long as they are touching it, and that finds its way into the Smithsonian and to Barbara.

The wishing stone was one of the most disappointing aspects of the movie; it felt cheesy and weird, and we didn’t learn enough background information about it.

Now we get to my favorite character: Maxwell Lord (played by Pedro Pascal), a failed oil tycoon who is broke and desperate. 

We are led to assume that he has been searching for the wishing stone for a long time, and he soons finds it at the Smithsonian. His descent into madness and relationship with his son I thought was well done. Well, it was well-acted on the part of Pascal, but poorly written.

Then there’s Steve (played by Chris Pine). Ah, Steve. The love interest of the first movie is pulled back into the sequel in a way I can only describe as less than satisfying. He spends his time sitting or standing looking at Diana and contributing absolutely nothing of importance to the story. The actors in this movie really gave it everything they got, so don’t blame them for the disappointing outcome—blame the writing.

A major issue with this movie was too many villains. Cheetah is supposed to be Wonder Woman’s arch-nemesis, but she barely gets any screen time. They needed to pick between Cheetah and Maxwell Lord, but instead having both was doing too many things at once. 

Another issue was the CGI. Maybe due to COVID-19 halting production they had to rush things in order to finish in time for release, but the CGI of real people just looked bad. Diana is shown several times swinging through the air carrying people, only they don’t look like people, they look like rubber, lifeless mannequins.

When Barbara is shown in her final form as Cheetah, she is completely CGI. It was not the best to say the least. In the “X-Men” movies, the actresses who play Mystique went through hours and hours of make-up to make the transformation. The result is a realistic (and really cool) looking character.

I for one am really tired of CGI people on green screen backgrounds. There are other ways to create characters and worlds without using only CGI or only green screens. 

LED screens, puppets and intense makeup take a lot of time and cost a lot of money, but the results are astronomical. 

If you want to watch this movie I say go for it. It’s entertaining enough, just don’t go into it with too many expectations.

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Are we really surprised that a superhero sequel isn’t that good?