I can’t see why Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) is getting such a negative reaction. Patty Jenkins has really out done the first film in the franchise. Jenkins’ latest installment joins The New Mutants (2020), Shazam! (2019) and Logan (2016) as one of the great films of this genre in recent memory. Jenkins seems to have caught onto the fact that what works best for DC Comics’ characters is the Superman: The Movie (1978) approach which, in comparison to Zack Snyder’s approach to the same material, feels revolutionary.
Wonder Woman 1984 doesn’t really have more depth or sophistication than the earlier film in terms of narrative, but Jenkins’ technique and affection for the character shine more brightly here. This isn’t a film that feels burdened by a house style or corporate mandates the way most superhero blockbusters do; Wonder Woman 1984 is a blockbuster by Patty Jenkins.
The chemistry between Gal Gadot and Chris Pine is electric and both actors share an impeccable comic timing. And while these star crossed lovers give Wonder Woman 1984 its heart, Kristen Wiig brings a much needed sense of relatability to the proceedings. Wiig’s character gives the audience an “in”, a character whose strengths and weaknesses are as common as they are grounded. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Pedro Pascal. Pascal seems to have taken a few cues from Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor. But unlike Hackman, Pascal imbues his character with a sappy, sentimental core that allows his Maxwell Lord to be redeemed.
This is a film that certainly would have played better in theaters but, given the circumstances, we should be grateful to be getting any new content at all. So if you’re a fan of superhero films that actually bare a resemblance to the source material, see this. If you want to support women artists in the film industry, see this film. In both cases I doubt you’ll be too disappointed. The only thing I wish Wonder Woman 1984 had been more of is an homage to Canon Films and other purveyors of low budget action movies in the 1980s.