Let me be clear, first and foremost, that I firmly believe in the deepest parts of my heart and soul that the first Wonder Woman film was decent at best. But because the film starred a female in a male-led Hollywood, and had a female director, in a male-led Hollywood, many were far too afraid to criticize the first movie for its obvious blunders. That being said, I will hold no punches back on WW84, despite it being written, directed, and starring a female. This movie was objectively awful on nearly every level. Let’s talk about why.
Director Patty Jenkins got lucky with Wonder Woman (2017), plain and simple. This was a movie that was destined to make money due to its intellectual property, being a part of a larger shared universe, and being a superhero film. Those three bullet points are enough to make it a box office success regardless of who the director is. That film was not made better or worse with Patty Jenkins directing. But holy hell, WW84(2020) suffered a horrible fate, not because Patty Jenkins directed, but because she came up with the story and wrote the screenplay as well as directed this colossal mess.
The plot begins with some more origins of Diana Prince, for some reason. We get a little more backstory on her childhood before jumping to 1984 where Diana is working at the Smithsonian operating as WW here and there without anyone knowing and swinging through the city like Spider-Man on her Lasso of Truth to make it passed 5th Ave traffic downtown. While working, Diana meets Barbara Ann Minerva (Kristen Wiig), a nerdy nobody that everyone treats like trash for no apparent reason other than the plot willing it so. You know how the 80s were; everyone is rude to people with glasses and they just have to kick the stack of papers the helpless sap drops from their briefcase for sport.
Minerva reveals a unique stone that is revealed to be a sort of Monkey’s Paw, something that has caught the attention of Max Lord (Pedro Pascal), who needs it to get his failing business off the ground. Using his charms, Lord is able to sucker Minerva into giving it to him, which he uses for his greater purposes but not before both Diana and Barbara use it for themselves, the former using it to bring back her lover Steve Trevor, while the latter use it to “be like Diana”, unwittingly copying her powers, abilities, and sex appeal (yes, seriously).
As Max uses the stone to wish to become the stone itself (while still being human), the Monkey’s Paw caveat begins to take effect and he begins to die. The only way he can stay alive is to get others to wish for things and steal some life from them… or something. Oh and Steve Trevor comes back but its sort of like a weird possession thing where Diana and the audience can see Chris Pine but everyone else sees some other random handsome guy… for some reason. Of course, Diana is met with a Monkey’s Paw effect as well where she loses her powers… just a little bit but not much, and Barbara Minerva loses her likability. Yes. You read that right.
The Monkey’s Paw
My major gripe with the Monkey’s Paw is how poorly executed it is. Typically, the Monkey’s Paw is a clever twist on your wish. Say, for example, you wish to be more desirable to women, the caveat is that you can’t perform in bed. Unfortunately, Patty Jenkins doesn’t understand the point of this and just throws logic or reason out the window and removes any possibility of a clever twist on the wish and instead just replaces it with random contrivance and weak plot devices. For example; Minerva wishes to be like Diana and so she becomes more desirable to men (by literally doing her hair and taking off her glasses) and gets super strength and junk. The caveat here, is that she starts to lose her humanity, something that only a homeless guy seems to care about. Sure, losing her humanity is a bad thing, but it literally never helped Minerva in the first place so who cares if she lost it? The only person to care was a guy who barely got any screen time and uses a week-old newspaper as a blanket. Another lousy example of this is that Diana wishes to get more time with Steve Trevor, so he possesses another human body, for some reason (like, there wasn’t a better way to implement this?), and the caveat is Diana slowly loses her powers but not quick enough to stop her from beating the shit out of everyone. So, in the end, it didn’t even really matter. Instead of removing her powers, an unrelated personal attribute that has literally nothing to do with Steve Trevor, maybe make him forget Diana or something? I don’t know, anything would have been better than Jenkins’ idea of a twist on these wishes. Ugh, I can’t stand thinking about it.
The city starts to fall into chaos as cause and effect from the Monkey’s Paw Wishing Stone that Max has become, Diana and Trevor rush to save the day, but are met with people under Max’s wish law, and of course Minerva is happy to not be a loser anymore by not having to wear glasses and refuses to let Diana stop Max.
Eventually, Max bends the rules of the wishing stone thing and allows some sort of additional power to be given to Minerva where she becomes an “apex predator” and therefore as a result, she becomes a human cheetah hybrid thing.
So Max decides to take over the country by duping the President and using some Department of Defense satellite to reach everyone in the world through particle rays or some other pseudo-science bullsh*t to “touch” everyone and get them to wish for things. The idea here is that the wishing stone only works if you touch the stone, or Max in this case, and he figures that satellite beams work the same way. Which they wouldn’t but somehow do because Patty Jenkins wills it so. The result is catastrophic (no pun intended) and the world falls to disarray. Meanwhile, Diana and Cheetah (just LOL) fight outside in the dark so you can’t see how terrible the CGI is in their fight (see picture above).
Diana eventually incapacitates Cheetah and manages to save the day by convincing Max that what he is doing is hurting his relationship with his son so he basically just reverses all the wishes or whatever and he leaves to be with his son and everything is forgiven.
Okay, so the story is clearly a massive mess held together with duct tape and Elmer’s, and that would otherwise be forgivable if it weren’t for some of the most horrible CGI and wire-fu stunt coordination we have ever seen. Diana uses her lasso like Spider-Man constantly and this would not be an issue in concept it didn’t look so terrible, visually. The only thing that was even worth anything in this film was Pascal’s performance as Maxwell Lord, even though his character was a walking cliche full of redundancy. But, even with all of that working against him, he was a joy to watch. Sadly, the same could not be said for Wiig’s Barbara Minerva, a role so overplayed that it felt copy and pasted from Jamie Foxx’s Max Dillon from TASM2 or Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian from IM3 or one of the many other countless villains who would have otherwise turned out fine if someone would have just helped them pick up their god damn research papers instead of kicking them down the hall like some fratboy asshole.
Look, WW84 is not bad because it was written, directed, and starring a female. It is bad because Gal Gadot can’t act. It was bad because Patty Jenkins can’t write or come up with an original idea. It was bad because the story was laughably awful and derivative. It was bad because the CGI budget clearly was used for Aquaman 2, and it was bad just because it was a bad movie. The only thing not bad was Pedro Pascal but his role was so all over the place, it couldn’t carry this movie to anything beyond 1.5 Stars.
Unfortunately, WW84 fails on nearly every level and shows that something going on over at Warner Bros. desperately needs to be reworked in the DCEU department because Aquaman and Shazam! can’t be the only good movies this franchise has to offer.