She is THE DC Cinematic Universe.
I was going to lead with some nonsense about how she’s the matriarch of the DC Cinematic Universe (not you DCEU, sit down) but she’s so much more than that. She has ended up setting a standard which the other DC films have had trouble trying to meet. Whether it’s their inability to understand how to have fun with the stories they get to tell (you’re fine Aquaman, you wacky fish), or the fundamental fact their lore is LITERALLY f*cking crazy, they just don’t hit the mark like Diana. Also yes, I’m excluding Joker because that hurts my insides, and should fall under a Black Label moniker for DC films.
With the weight of the DC Cinematic Universe still resting on her very lofty shoulders, does Wonder Woman 84 live up to this standard she set herself?
Of course! The action, chemistry and super heroics of Diana returns with 80’s flair.
We start in Themyscira, wistfully setting the tone and message Diana hopes to share with us all throughout the film. And yes, it does come back up! It’s not just there cause “that’s a cool intro”. Blasting into Diana’s new future, where she’s secretly doing superhero things (but not enough for the world to remember her in Batman V Superman), she thinks of her role in the world, and whether her saving it frequently has any kind of payoff to her own happiness. I mean, at this point she’s kind of been alone for 66 years just existing so something’s gotta give.
ENTER THE MCGUFFIN.
The what you say? Well “the object or device in a film or book which serves merely as a trigger for the plot.” This McGuffin also introduces Kristen Wiig‘s Barbara Minerva, and our favourite prince and mandalorian, Pedro Pascal, as Maxwell Lord. They all dance around the McGuffin, which suddenly leads us all to the realisation that Chris Pine‘s Steve Trevor is back! Aha Shake Heartbreak, you love to see it. With our gal Gadot returning as Diana, we get to see the intense chemistry those two have, which really makes you feel like a pining 100 year old Amazonian warrior.
Some minor action scenes inconvenience the story (this is sarcasm), which appears to tell a story of how Diana lives in the world, rather than how it reacts to her. This is unfortunate as it limits the action we see. And these set pieces are truly incredible, with a refined lens being placed on how Diana moves and uses the tools at her disposal. These tools range from some classics returning, to how much more expertly used the lasso is. There’s also a sense of grace to her movement; Almost whimsical, in how she uses objects with flourish to reposition herself in battle.
And then more story needs to happen.
The story isn’t bad, as it plays around with the themes of greed, passion and control. It also mixes in some triggering events to postulate the power dynamics of assault which positions how this happens in a world with a Wonder Woman. And this all congregates into a story which bloats ever so slightly, leading to pacing issues throughout. Fear not though! The lustre of the story is only ever so slightly tinged by this, with a metaphorical turn physically coming in the form of golden armor later.
Patty Jenkins Direction with Wonder Woman 84 shines as brightly as their work on the first film. Rounding back to how I see Diana carrying DC, it comes in an allowance of a larger sense of freedom within WW84. The era is allowed to paint itself across the camera, countering the classic, washed-out look we’re so familiar with (Bruce and Clark are shaking).
Wonder Woman 84 is a fine sequel.
Somehow producing another origin film that continues to setup Diana’s place in a cinematic universe she so confidently leads, while that universe somehow didn’t know she existed, is something I still adore so much. And while it may lack some of the strengths of the first, it still so effortlessly stands leagues ahead of the rest of its pack.
There’s no wonder why she’s the one who leads.
The fact we finally get to see the glorious colours of Wonder Woman shine brilliantly on-screen is good enough. But it's that we see more of how Diana Prince tries to fit into a world of dreams, where her dream was left decades earlier.
Hopeful, bombastic, iridescent and Amazonian, Wonder Woman 84 is a gorgeous sequel which still sees Diana soaring above the rest of her DC family.