SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains massive spoilers for Wonder Woman 1984. If you have not yet seen the film read on at your own risk!
Time is a flat circle in the realm of Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). The character was introduced in the modern age, then her origin film became a prequel that was set during World War I, only to have her sequel set in 1984. Add to that the fact that fans have been waiting since 2019 to SEE Wonder Woman 1984. Now that you all have seen the movie, how did it end? There’s a lot to digest with the film's third act, and this feature is ready to dive into all that we learned.
There are three main characters at play in Wonder Woman 1984, with all due respect to Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), who is like a manifested figment of Diana’s imagination. And by the end of this movie, most – if not all – are ready to fight again, should the need arise. Let’s begin our breakdown of the Wonder Woman 1984 ending with our furriest and most tragic figure, Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig).
What Happens To Cheetah?
Barbara just wanted to be recognized. She wanted to be appreciated. She wanted to feel like she assumed Diana (Gal Gadot) felt… even though in reality, Diana shunned such attention and lived to be anonymous. And yet, even after Barbara gets a taste of Diana’s power, and confronts her former friend at The White House (of all places), Barbara realizes the bitter truth. That power isn’t enough. She asks Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) for another wish. She wants to be an apex predator. She wants to be The Cheetah.
Diana knows that she needs an advantage over this powerful new foe, and so she dons the Golden Armor of the legendary Amazonian warrior Asteria before heading off to take down Barbara. This leads to an all-out cat fight where both combatants do serious damage to each other. Wonder Woman doesn’t want to harm Cheetah, but she desperately needs the villain to renounce her wish. This is the only way that things can begin to revert to normalcy. Cheetah, however, has no interest in returning to her “Barbara” form. Wonder Woman is able to combine electricity and water to stun Cheetah, and we see the villain sinking to the bottom of the water in which the women fight.
Sensing that Cheetah could have survived this stunt, we did ask Wonder Woman 1984 director Patty Jenkins if she intentionally left Cheetah’s fate ambiguous, and the filmmaker confirmed to us:
I have my reasons for making it ambiguous. … There were multiple reasons for doing it that way. And if it leaves you wanting more answers, there's nothing wrong with that.
Agreed, Patty Jenkins. That’s what sequels are for.
What Happens To Maxwell Lord?
Cheetah doesn’t get a solid conclusion, but Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) does. By the finale of the movie, Lord had turned himself into a living, breathing Genie lamp, distributing wishes to the planet’s population… but also taking something valuable back in return. The more wishes that Lord grants, the more power he obtains. Naturally, this is also draining his health. Diana had deduced that in order to fully stop Lord, everyone who has received a wish would have to embrace the most selfless task and rescind the given wish. Only then would Max Lord lose his power.
Lord, in the meantime, had accessed a top secret government satellite network that allows him to broadcast to every person on the planet. As he grants wishes left and right, the actions of the many causes worldwide chaos, unwittingly placing Max’s young son in jeopardy. Diana breaks through to Max by speaking to him about the power of truth, then uses her lasso of truth to force the megalomaniac to see the error of his ways. Diana speaks to the people of the world through Max, and convinces all of them to renounce their wish. They do, and the world begins to revert to normal.
Max reunites with his young son, whose wish was that his estranged and power hungry father simply returns to him. Max hopefully leaves his villainous ways behind him, and stays on the noble and truthful path.
What Happens To Wonder Woman?
“Truth” is a recurring theme throughout Wonder Woman 1984, as is the importance of taking the hard path to victory, and avoiding shortcuts. Wishes, when you think about it, are fast shortcuts to a stated goal. So it makes sense that Diana (Gal Gadot) would need to peel back the power of the world’s collective wishes to obtain the peace and harmony that is her ultimate goal.
And she succeeds, but only after a devastating sacrifice. Diana renounces her wish, knowing it’s the only way to get back to full power. In doing so, she bids farewell, again, to her true love Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). Mind you, this isn’t exactly Steve Trevor, and more a manifestation created by the Dreamstone when it was in the possession of the Smithsonian and being investigated by Diana and Barbara. The stone turned Diana’s neighbor into Steve (it’s weird, but we all went with it), then Steve convinced Diana to let him go, so she could get back the strength she’d need to defeat both Cheetah and Maxwell Lord.
And she does. She convinces the world’s population to buy into the healing power of truth. She embraces the joy and happiness that comes with our day-to-day living, and inches closer to becoming that role model for humanity. By the end of the film, Diana is still hiding her secret identity, but she has triumphed over the root evil that presented itself in Wonder Woman 1984.
The movie concludes, all too appropriately, during a snowy Christmastime scene where kids and families are enjoying time in a park. Diana bumps into her neighbor (Christopher Polaha), the man whose body was assumed by “Steve Trevor,” and they jointly celebrate the beauty and joy of the festive holiday scene.
But for now, that’s where the main characters are by the end of Wonder Woman 1984, and the next time that Diana would surface in front of humanity (in the DC Universe) is when Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill) need her to stop Doomsday in 2016. I’m sure that she has had several other adventures between 1984 and then. I wonder if DC and Warner Bros. will ever let us see them? Stay tuned for the latest updates about the cinematic future of Princess Diana of Themyscira here on CinemaBlend!