Spoilers for Wonder Woman 1984 lie ahead so, if you haven’t seen the film, proceed at your own risk.
After years of waiting and several delays, Wonder Woman 1984 has arrived, and it’s an action packed, exciting and emotional sequel that lives up to the hype. The film is an ambitious piece of filmmaking that not only gives audiences a chance to escape during these tough times, but it also asks them to consider the truth and just how important it is to our society. And what’s probably most impressive about the film is that it actually manages to improve on its predecessor in a few key ways.
It goes without saying that 2017’s Wonder Woman set an incredibly high bar, meaning Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot and their collaborators really had their work cut out for them. Admittedly, the film doesn’t quite hit the bar set by its now-iconic predecessor. Despite this, it can be said that Wonder Woman 1984 surpasses the original film in some respects and even improves on the few flaws it had. So let’s take a look at what the sequel does better than the first installment:
Wonder Woman 1984 Adds More Complexity To Diana Prince’s Character
2017’s Wonder Woman did an incredibly effective job of diving into Diana’s backstory and showing us sides of her that weren’t conveyed during her big-screen debut in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. While she was definitely cool on and off the battlefield in Zack Snyder’s DC Extended Universe installment, Patty Jenkins’ film truly made her into a multidimensional character. However, the film put firm emphasis on only a few key traits, particularly Diana’s seemingly impenetrable optimism. What Jenkins does so brilliantly with Wonder Woman 1984 is that she maintains the essence of who the Amazon warrior is but also adds additional layers to her that we haven’t seen before.
One of the biggest changes in Diana Prince that’s highlighted in Wonder Woman 1984 is a sense of selfishness, which mainly stems from her desire to keep Steve Trevor in the present after wishing for his return. This is something we rarely see from Diana in any medium, let alone the big screen. Not only that, but this is one of the few times we see Diana in a state of true desperation. This is especially clear when she and Steve seek out the Dreamstone from Maxwell Lord, only to come up short. And who could forget the fear and defeat in Diana’s eyes after she’s bested and told off by the empowered Barbara Minerva. With this sequel, both Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot deserve credit for keeping Diana’s character intact while breaking her open even further and showing off sides of her that are rarely explored.
Cheetah And Maxwell Lord Are Much Better Villains
There’s a lot to love about Wonder Woman 1984, but two of the best parts of the film are easily its antagonists – Barbara Minerva/Cheetah and Maxwell Lord. The 2017 film saw Diana go up against three big bads in Ares, Doctor Poison and General Ludendorff. All three characters had specific roles they were meant to play and did so effectively, yet their parts didn’t allow them to get much character development. Maxwell Lord and Barbara Minerva, on the other hand, have clear arcs and, while a few more scenes with them wouldn’t have hurt, they both get their due.
Barbara Minerva, played perfectly by Kristen Wiig, begins as a kind social outcast before transforming into a cold and powerful being who struggles to hold onto the abilities she’s gained. As a result, she tragically becomes the antithesis to ex-friend Diana and by the end of the film, appears to still crave power. Pedro Pascal’s Maxwell Lord, a failed businessman who also seeks power, is also relatable, as we understand that his desire for power stems from a poverty-stricken life filled with ridicule. And while it may seem a bit cliché, the fatherhood component was an unexpected and interesting aspect of his arc. Cheetah and Lord in no way break the mold when it comes to superhero villains, but they’re certainly more fascinating than their predecessors.
Wonder Woman 1984 Delivers Better Action Sequences
Patty Jenkins gave us plenty of thrills through the action sequences featured in Wonder Woman. Scenes like the fight between the Amazons and the German soldiers and the battle in the town of Veld are still amazing. And of course, there’s the iconic No Man’s Land sequence, which unbelievably received pushback in the beginning. Admittedly, due to the structure of Wonder Woman 1984, the action sequences seem a bit more scattered, yet they actually manage to deliver on a greater level. In crafting the sequel, Jenkins clearly wanted to up the ante, and she ultimately created some pretty elaborate sequences.
The mall sequence, which sees Diana take on a group of robbers, starts things off with a bang and shows off Jenkins’ creativity. The filmmaker is especially skilled at utilizing the environment during fight sequences. This could be Diana swinging across the mall using her lasso or when she shimmies around and under cars during the exciting chase in Egypt. The final fight between Diana and Cheetah is also a sight to behold and feels a bit more controlled than the former’s fight with Ares (more on that later). Patty Jenkins had to work hard to top her efforts on Wonder Woman, and she certainly does so in the action department.
Hans Zimmer's Score Is Better Than The Original Film's
One of the most memorable aspects of Wonder Woman was the score, which was composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams. The composer managed to create some memorable tunes that played over some of the film's best moments. Some of the ones that quickly come to mind are "Amazons of Themyscira" and "No Man's Land." Ultimately, Gregson-Williams wouldn't return for 1984 but, in his place, would be none other than Hans Zimmer. The celebrated composer is a veteran of the DCEU, having scored Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. And Wonder Woman 1984 may signify some of his best work not only within the superhero franchise but in his overall career.
Hans Zimmer's musical score for Wonder Woman 1984 never lets up. The score kicks off with a bang when viewers are sent back to Themyscira in the film's prologue, giving audiences an energetic vibe that perfectly sets the stage for the competition among the Amazon warriors. The score also delivers during key moments like the Cairo chase sequence or the final battle between Diana and Cheetah. Of course, it also helps to increase the emotion in more intimate scenes, especially Diana's reunion with Steve Trevor and their eventual goodbye later in the film. On top of all this, Zimmer even managed to throw in a piece of music from Batman v. Superman. Zimmer has a pristine reputation for a reason, and Wonder Woman 1984 is only another great notch in his belt of incredible film scores
Wonder Woman 1984 Has A Better Third Act
Wonder Woman was a nearly flawless film but, if there were any one complaint viewers had, it was the third act, which saw Diana go toe to toe with Ares. Over the years, many have softened their views on the CGI-filled battle, which only gets better the more you watch it. Still, Wonder Woman 1984 provides a smoother third act that’s equally exciting and poignant. Interestingly, Patty Jenkins recently revealed that she had a similar ending in mind for the original movie and constructed 1984’s ending based on that idea.
As previously stated, the battle between Diana and Cheetah is well done and doesn’t feel nearly as overblown. Meanwhile, Maxwell Lord’s takeover of the airwaves and offer of wishes succeeds in making the threat feel universal, as many across the world make reckless demands, with serious consequences. And of course, Diana’s appeal to Lord and the world made for a different kind of final confrontation, one that succeeds on an emotional level. It honestly doesn't stick the landing perfectly, but the third act highlights just what Patty Jenkins does best, which is deftly balancing character and spectacle.
But do you think there are any other ways in which Wonder Woman 1984 surpasses its predecessor? Let us know in the comments! And be sure to keep it here at CinemaBlend for more news from the world of movies and TV.
Wonder Woman 1984 is now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.