“As lovely as Aphrodite – as wise as Athena – with the speed of Mercury and the strength of Hercules – she is know only as Wonder Woman, but who she is, or whence she came, nobody knows!” – All-Star Comics, December 1941
Sitting down to watch Wonder Woman 1984, staring (Gal Gadot) , initially my excitement was fairly high because the impactful Wonder Woman film that premiered in 2017 was such a wonderful lesson in feminine heroism. I was hopeful for a return of such feminine strength of character portrayal, and the film’s opening sequence that begins with Diana’s (Wonder Woman’s) adolescence on her native island of Themyscira or the Amazonian’s place of origin also known as The Paradise Islands. The cinematography of this sequence is quite beautiful. We are given a hint of a lesson to come that focuses on honesty and truth and after all isn’t that what Dr. William Moulton Marston, an international psychology icon, intended for his creation of “Wonder Woman”?
She is described from the very beginning as a, “character founded in scholarship,” by the Phi Beta Kappa (ΦBK) Key Recorder in Autumn of 1942. We learn as a young child, she learned why truth was such an imperative for the Amazonian women that they all lived by. Wonder Woman becomes a reminder for mankind to live up to such a higher calling for society, and when certain villains fall short, she’s around to hold their deeds accountable for the sake of a redemptive world. The opening sequence is very much in the tone of the original film, an excellent depiction of supreme athleticism, muscular control and a love for the continuous struggle of fair competition. This is what draws us into the world of such superior women.
The film translates into a less perfect time for fashion, political consequence (or Reaganism) and accountability of deeds in the 1980’s. Some of the fractures of the time include a harsh recall of fashion with padded shoulders and fanny packs. Between 1980 and 1982 the U.S. economy experienced a deep recession, the primary cause of which was the disinflationary monetary policy adopted by the Federal Reserve. The recession coincided with U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s steep cuts in domestic spending. Unfortunately, when the economy grew, it was unsustainable. That’s because in Reagan’s second year there was a very serious recession, and the poverty rate reached 15%. The early 1980s recession was a severe economic recession that affected much of the world between approximately the start of 1980 and early 1983. It is widely considered to have been the most severe recession since World War II.
Take note, spoiler alerts begin here!
Many disconnects in story also fall hard and fast as a citrine “Dreamstone” is found by the Smithsonian that is imbued with magical powers by the god of lies, also known as the Duke of Deception in the film WW84. It has apparently been around for centuries and often popped up in civilizations that have collapsed. This should have been a warning bell but the alarm and threat of the stone is not heavily dramatized until the effects of such granted wishes have begun to call in the cost for such wishes.
Before Max Lord, played by Pedro Pascal, (an opportunistic media entrepreneur, an oil tycoon, and an enemy of Wonder Woman), wishes to become one with the stone, Diana Prince (AKA Wonder Woman), and Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), both inadvertently wish upon it – Diana wishes to be reunited with Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) , while Barbara Minerva wishes to be strong, sexy, cool, and special. These wishes are granted but, we learn later, that they come at a cost.
Diana begins to lose her powers while Barbara loses some of her humanity. Barbara becomes one of the big bad’s in the movie by taking the form of Barbara Minerva’s Cheetah, she becomes the initial form of a “powered” Minerva in WW84. Barbara slowly transforms into the Cheetah, first by becoming more like Diana Prince.
So much of WW84 is filled with cliché’s and gapping story holes. I am the biggest fan of female superheroes. I have followed Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura in the original Star Trek for years. From childhood I embraced Lindsey Wagner as The Bionic Woman and Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman in the original TV series. These inspirations encouraged me to create my own interpretation of a biracial female superhero in the books of Vela Kurv. However, so much of the story fell flat with Steve Trevor’s re-emergence in this film; while in the TV series, his re-emergence with the timeline change was just so simply explained.
DC Comics fans are getting a double dose of Wonder Woman this holiday season. Not only is HBO Max streaming Wonder Woman 1984 starring Gal Gadot on Dec. 25, the channel is also giving fans a special treat by featuring the original 1970s Wonder Woman TV series starring Lynda Carter.
The original Wonder Woman series ran for three seasons from 1975 to 1979. The first season originally aired on ABC, and had Wonder Woman coming to America in the 1940s during World War II disguised as Diana Prince, assistant to military man Major Steve Trevor (Lyle Waggoner). When CBS picked up seasons 2-3 of the show, the title changed to The New Adventures of Wonder Woman and took place during the ’70s instead of the ’40s.
Inside The Comics & The TV Series
In general, the Wonder Woman timeline hasn’t been a major issue when it comes to exploring the ongoing relationship between Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor. In the comics, Diana first encountered Steve and entered man’s world during WWII, not WWI, and Steve didn’t die during their first mission together. Instead, he remained a major love interest for Diana and served as an ambassador between humanity and the Amazons.
Nor have the Wonder Woman comics had to deal with the same timeline problems as the DCEU. DC’s comic book universe operates on a sliding timeline, with origin stories constantly being updated in order to keep characters rooted in the present day. Diana may have originally debuted during WWII, but her origin has changed to show that she appeared in the DCU in the modern day alongside heroes like Superman and Batman. When DC’s New 52 relaunch began in 2011, it was established that Diana has been active in man’s world for roughly five years.
The movie looks to be more in the vein of the 1977 TV series in this regard. That series ran for three seasons, with the first taking place during WWII and the latter two jumping ahead to the 1970s. Actor Lyle Waggoner played a version of Steve Trevor for all three seasons, but in Seasons 2 and 3 he played Steve’s son, Steve Jr. The series was never very specific as to what happened to the elder Steve, only revealing that he died at some point in between Seasons 1 and 2 after being promoted to Major General.
“This world is not yet ready for all that you will do,” as Wonder Woman.
Wonder Woman emerged in 2017 as a proud statement of how well a woman can change the conditions for mankind in the positive with a well measured dose of balance procured with a female hand of superhero, not just a protagonist doled out with fighting power and speed. She is capable and strong, of course, but she is filled with heart and caring for the condition of mankind and their part in the world as time turns, is how she was depicted.
It was my wish that WW84 would reflect again, such a stand as described by her creator, William Moulton Marston in March of 1945, “Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world.” Instead this Wonder Woman of 84 had her hands tied up in clumsy gold wings that dragged and clanged. She didn’t need them to fight Cheetah or Max Lord, all she needed was what she used in the end, her task to remind mankind to believe in truth and stature. This positioning is so much better than the padded shoulders and fanny backs that reminded us of how bad this fashion was in the 80s. The best scenes in the film were in the opening sequence on Themyscira and the final Easter-egg-sequence inside the credits of WW84 starring Lynda Carter. I’m holding onto my belief in the dynamic duo of Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins for a hard-hitting comeback. And I’m still very hopeful for Wonder Woman III.