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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Wonder Woman 1984 is the sequel to 2017's Wonder Woman and takes place about 65 years after the events of the first film. Gal Gadot returns as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, who finds herself up against two new villains (Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal) who are motivated by envy and greed -- but is also reunited with her long-lost love, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). There's more romance in Wonder Woman than most other superhero films: Diana and Steve embrace, kiss, and are shown in bed together (nothing graphic seen); another couple also makes out. While there's no world war (or war god) in this movie's story, it does have near-constant peril/risk, with much of the world devolving into mass chaos as the result of the villains' actions. Expect battle scenes, car chases, heavy artillery, gun use, references to nuclear weapons, children in danger, and beatings/hand-to-hand combat. Characters are injured, sometimes gravely, but not killed -- though there are a few sad plot twists. One character's physical appearance deteriorates disturbingly, with blood dripping out of his ears, nose, etc. Language is infrequent but includes "s--t," "bitch," and "hell"; adults drink socially. This sequel isn't quite as diverse as the original but does feature female leads, a woman writer-director, and Pascal, who's Latino, as the villain. That said, it also has stereotypical representations of Middle Eastern people and problematic messages around the idea of returning colonized land, the impact of domestic abuse, and lack of consent/agency.
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What's the story?
WONDER WOMAN 1984 takes place seven decades after the events of Wonder Woman, with Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) now a curator at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. Her new colleague/friend, shy gemologist Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), has been asked by the FBI to consult on a recovered stolen artifact: a citrine rock embedded in a base engraved with Latin words asking those who hold it to make a wish. Diana amuses Barbara by making a wish while holding it, and later Barbara wishes that she were as strong, confident, and sexy as Diana. After Barbara gives a private tour to museum donor/TV infomercial host/oil entrepreneur Max Lord (Pedro Pascal), he steals the stone. It quickly becomes clear that the stone really does grant wishes, because Barbara transforms into a superstrong, put-together, charming woman, and Diana meets a man who seems to be Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) resurrected (others see him in the new man's body, Quantum Leap-style, but Diana and the audience see the old Steve). Diana and Steve go on a mission to find the stone, not realizing that it's now inextricably linked to Max, who wants to be the most powerful and influential man on the planet.
Is it any good?
Campier and less revolutionary than the original, this long but entertaining sequel still shows the many ways women can be strong, heroic, and smart. (Though it does suggest that some of them hinge on being able to pull off high heels.) It also highlights the dangers of greed and excess. Director Patty Jenkins seems to relish displaying the "me" decade in all its materialistic glory, with the big hair, the big malls, and the big desires to win at all costs. Jenkins, working from a screenplay she co-wrote with Geoff Johns and David Callaham, also features a more melancholic Diana this time around. She's spent 65 years missing her one true love, Steve, whom many fans will agree is worth a lifetime of "pining" for. When he reemerges, there's a sweet callback to the first movie's fashion show sequence. Now Steve is the one trying on different '80s outfits to blend in with the times (get ready for Pine in a fanny pack and Members' Only-style jacket). There's also a lot of immediate romance, since they're lovers reuniting rather than strangers meeting-cute and getting to know each other. Once again, Diana and Steve are one of the most romantic superhero/partner couples.
Wiig is a precise choice for Barbara Minerva, who's described in DC Comics lore as ambitious, selfish, and neurotic -- although in this case, the selfishness only manifests after her wish is granted. Barbara's metamorphosis is well executed, as is the character's desire to be as beautiful and bold (not to mention strong) as Diana, even though that doesn't ultimately bring her happiness. Pascal, who's probably best known for being the masked star of The Mandalorian, is wonderfully smarmy and self-aggrandizing as Lord, the entrepreneur who wants it all. Diana's commitment to change hearts rather than break bodies (she refuses to use guns and only hurts people when she has no other choice) is a powerful reminder that protectors can use other skills besides their might to help defuse situations. Of course, she still has to knock out a bunch of evil-doers, but these aren't the death-and-blood-filled battles of the Batman movies. Despite the performances of the supervillains, Wonder Woman 1984 is at its best when Gadot and Pine are together -- and not (just) because they're both disarmingly gorgeous, but because their chemistry and their connection are what drives the story forward. In many ways, Diana is like Captain America, forever bound to grieve the loss of her love -- so in the next sequel, she needs close friends (like Cap had) to fill in that void.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Wonder Woman 1984's messages about greed, excess, and conspicuous consumption. How does the desire for "more" corrupt those who make wishes?
How do the characters demonstrate courage and teamwork? What about Diana's keen sense of compassion and empathy? Why are those all important character strengths? Why do you think she's unwilling to use guns and unnecessarily hurt people? How does that compare to other superheroes' attitude toward weapons?
What makes Diana a role model in Wonder Woman? Why does Barbara envy her? What message is the movie sending through Barbara's transformation? Does wearing tight dresses/high heels make her "better" in some way?
How did you feel about the way Steve came back for this movie? (Spoiler alert) Is it OK that he and Diana treated the body he was using as if it really belonged to him? What message does that send about the importance of consent and agency?
Talk about how Middle Eastern characters are represented in the movie. Why do you think it's so common for Middle Eastern characters to be portrayed as villains? How does the movie's storyline perpetuate stereotypes about Middle Eastern men?
- In theaters: December 25, 2020
- On DVD or streaming: March 30, 2021
- Cast: Gal Gadot, Pedro Pascal, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig
- Director: Patty Jenkins
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Great Girl Role Models
- Character strengths: Compassion, Courage, Empathy, Teamwork
- Run time: 151 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of action and violence
- Last updated: March 30, 2021
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