As Wonder Woman 1984 opened on Themyscira, I was delighted. The synchronized athleticism and surely intentional Olympic feats displayed against a lush, cerulean landscape harkened to scenes filmed over twenty years ago in New Zealand of a different group of Amazons in Xena: Warrior Princess.
However, the rich mythos that rules the Xena-verse was, simply put, lacking in Patty Jenkins’ latest installation of the Wonder Woman film series. The initial 2017 Wonder Woman film relied heavily on Greek mythology as Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) explored the world ruled by Ares amidst World War I. It received critical acclaim with a 93-percent Rotten Tomatoes score.
Viewers expected much the same from their Amazonian hero this Christmas. This is underlined with the introduction of Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig). While Minerva is an established DC Universe character, Cheetah — Minerva is also the Roman name for Athena, the Greek Goddess of wisdom and battle strategy. And, certainly, the kind of woman you might find hanging out in a museum with Diana Prince.
As Kristen Wiig introduced herself, the movie unfolded vividly in my mind: warring Gods, the first of the Amazons, a return to Themyscira. Instead, many of the 155 minutes focused on DC Comics villain Maxwell Lord’s rise to power and descent into madness — whilst Diana drained her powers for her long-deceased boyfriend. For a movie called Wonder Woman, there is, undoubtedly, a whole lotta man.
Ultimately, Wonder Woman 1984 is an entertaining ride but falls short of what was so clearly within reach: a woman-centered comic book powerhouse of Ocean’s 8 proportions. But, maybe if I wish it so.