I know what you're thinking. "The first movie was better." It was, but don't write this one off.
The first time I watched Wonder Woman 1984, I didn't like it. There were some parts I enjoyed, including several nods to the Lynda Carter TV show. But as a whole, the movie left me flat. There were a lot of plot holes and pacing issues. But something else bothered me. It made me angry and I couldn't figure out why.
I gave it a second shot before it left HBO Max. Sometimes it takes a while for movies to settle in my soul, and I liked it better the second time around. It still had the same plot holes and slow pacing, but now I understand why it made me so angry. This movie, like 2020, had failed my expectations. I wanted something happy and victorious, and this—was not that.
Doesn't that describe 2020 in a nutshell? I was expecting a different movie, just like we were all expecting a different year. A better year. But Wonder Woman 1984 was still a worthwhile movie. Why?
The theme of this movie is gratitude and contentment with what you have. That's a tough message for 2020 and I think it's why the movie did so badly.
Everyone wanted more. Nobody was happy with what they had, not even Diana. The Dreamstone preyed on their discontent. The results were like the short story "The Monkey's Paw". There was a cost for every wish granted.
The movie, like the year 2020, asks us to pause and see what we have our lives right now. With all the loss of the year, I didn't want to deal with that much introspection. I just wanted "normal" again. But 2020 was the year we all learned to appreciate what we have.
Maxwell Lord had a son who adored him, but it wasn't enough for him. He wanted "more". More power, more money, more fame. So he stole the Dreamstone, an artifact that grants wishes, but takes something in return. He wishes to become the Dreamstone and sets about granting people's wishes. Honestly, it smacked of the Christian prosperity gospel. He chewed the scenery like a televangelist. If you do enough and have enough, you will earn love and acceptance. I've dealt with religious manipulation, and this—was pretty accurate. Prove your worth to earn God's love.
Takeaway #1: You are already worthy.
Barbara Ann Minerva wanted to be confident and liked, so she wished to be more like Diana. She did not know what she was asking for. She also gained Diana's powers, but without the wisdom to use them wisely. How many times do we lament over unanswered prayers? Perhaps it's a blessing that we don't receive a yes to all our requests. In the end, Barbara lost her empathy and humanity. I wish the movie had done more with her character. She had a lot of potential and became a stereotypical female who was now cool because she could walk in heels and wear animal print. Cheetah—get it? (Eye roll.)
Takeaway #2: Be content with who you are.
Even Diana was not immune to the Dreamstone's power. She was so obsessed with Steve Trevor that the Dreamstone brought him back—in the body of another man. Now, that plot point was creepy, but it raised several interesting points. First, Diana didn't seem to care what happened to this man while Steve was in his body. It was a cheat, and she lost her powers because she lost her love for humanity. Love is always Diana's greatest superpower.
Takeaway #3: Cheating always involves a cost
Second, at the end of the movie, Diana ran into that same man. She previously became irritated every time a man paid her any attention, yet spent her time mourning a man who had died almost 60 years ago. She refused to even give anyone else a chance. (Men, I'm sorry that this movie made you all look like creeps.)
Takeaway #4: Appreciate what you have right now.
Was Wonder Woman 1984 a great movie? No. The first one was better, but there were some good parts. It had problems, but there were also themes worth exploring. Themes that made it the perfect movie for 2020.
Maybe most of us were so burnt out and jaded from staying home that we couldn't see the interesting bits. I know I was. If you didn't like it, give it a second chance. You may change your opinion.