When lightning strikes and a movie is deemed a success, a sequel is inevitable.
When Wonder Woman burst on to screens in 2017, it was a big turning point for the DC Extended Universe, coming off a run of less-than-stellar superhero movies.
After being cautiously optimistic about the sequel, 2020 happened, and the movie suffered multiple delays.
Now, it’s premiering in the U.S. in the theaters remaining opened, as well as on HBO Max. It’s the first-of-its-kind deal, and it’s certainly risky for a project that cost around $200 million to make.
The good news off the bat is that the sequel is worth the wait, but it would probably be a good idea to throw your expectations out the window before watching.
Clocking in at just under two hours and forty minutes, the movie moves at a breakneck pace, despite being filled with considerably less action than its predecessor.
WW: 1984 is a plot-heavy movie, zeroing in on new villains in the 1980s, and naturally, that means an influx of new characters; some of them get lost in the shuffle.
Kristen Wiig is a robust sparring partner for Gal Gadot. Both actresses delight in every scene they share, but Wiig’s Barbara doesn’t feel developed enough by the end credits.
Barbara’s arc never really reaches a full-circle moment, and while there are solid scenes between Barbara and Diana peppered throughout the flick, it’s hard not to want more.
Then again, it’s better to be left wanting more than less, I guess.
Pedro Pascal is given some of the best material of his career to work with, and he steals the show amongst the crop of new cast members.
He’s proven to be a versatile actor, with roles in Game of Thrones, Narcos, and, of course, The Mandalorian.
Out of all the characters, he is the best written in the sequel, delivering a nuanced performance that doesn’t feel similar to his previous characters.
Taking Diana to a different time period was always going to bring different people into her orbit, but it seems Diana, too, has changed.
Gal Gadot gets some more solid stuff to work with, but this is a Diana that we haven’t seen before and feels considerably different to the one we met earlier in the DC Extended Universe.
For that reason alone, I suspect fans will be split down the middle on how her journey plays out in this latest story.
It’s a very different direction for the superhero, and by the end, I didn’t actually feel like I’d watched a superhero movie.
As mentioned previously, the action has been toned down considerably here, and it seems to be in response to the criticism of the VFX-heavy conclusion to the original.
We know Jenkins was asked to change it at the eleventh hour by Warner Bros, and while the plot reaches an emotional climax in the final third of the sequel, there could have been a little more action so that all fans felt given their due.
Fans may come out of the movie, questioning the direction of the narrative. It’s not a bad direction to take things; it’s just completely different from what you would expect from a superhero movie.
Superhero movies are typically filled with action scenes, leading to an almighty battle at the end, but Wonder Woman: 1984 seems to tell a story about society — people’s wants vs. desires.
If I were to compare it to superhero movies of the past, I would compare it to Tobey Maguire’s era of Spider-Man.
There are many moral conflicts, which, in turn, drive much of the drama, but the movie’s finish leaves us with a sense that this could be the end of the line for Gal Gadot’s iteration of the hero, especially if the experiment, launching it on streaming simultaneously with theaters, should fail.
Of course, Chris Pine is a welcome comeback, but I’m not going to delve into the plot surrounding his return beyond saying that it’s heartbreaking.
The success or failure of Wonder Woman: 1984 will come down to your expectations for the sequel. The lengthy delays didn’t do anything to temper expectations, which will play a part.
While the movie does have some flaws, the good far outweighs the bad, and it is thoroughly enjoyable, despite the long runtime.
Wonder Woman: 1984 launches in cinemas and on HBO Max on December 25.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.