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.