Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)


Introduction

Wonder Woman 1984 is a 2020 American superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name.

It is the third live action theatrical film featuring Wonder Woman following her debut in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and 2017 film Wonder Woman.

Diana must contend with a work colleague and businessman, whose desire for extreme wealth sends the world down a path of destruction, after an ancient artefact that grants wishes goes missing.

Outline

A young Diana Prince participates in an athletic event on Themyscira against older Amazons. After falling from her horse, Diana takes a shortcut and remounts, but misses a checkpoint. Antiope removes her from the competition, explaining anything worthwhile must be obtained honestly.

In 1984, Diana works at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. while secretly performing heroic deeds as Wonder Woman. New museum employee Barbara Ann Minerva, a shy, mousey geologist and crypto-zoologist, is barely noticed by her co-workers. Barbara eventually comes to envy Diana. Later, the FBI asks the museum to identify stolen antiquities from a robbery that Wonder Woman recently foiled. Barbara and Diana notice one item, later identified as the Dreamstone, contains a Latin inscription claiming to grant the holder one wish.

Barbara wishes to become like Diana, but acquires the same superpowers, while Diana unknowingly wishes for her deceased lover Steve Trevor to be alive, resurrecting him in another man’s body; the two are reunited at a Smithsonian gala. Failing businessman Maxwell Lorenzano, also known as Max Lord, tricks Barbara and steals the Dreamstone, hoping to use its power to save his bankrupt oil company. He wishes to “become” the stone and gains its wish-granting powers, becoming a wealthy and powerful figure who creates chaos and destruction as his powers trigger worldwide instability.

Barbara, Diana, and Steve discover that the Dreamstone was created by Dolos/Mendacius, the god of lies, treachery, deception, and mischief, also known as Duke of Deception. It grants a user’s wish while exacting a toll unless they renounce the wish or destroy the stone. Although Diana’s power and Barbara’s humanity diminish, both are unwilling to renounce their wishes. Learning from the US President of a satellite system that broadcasts signals globally, Max, whose powers are causing his body to deteriorate, plans to globally grant wishes to steal strength and life force from the viewers and regain his health. Diana and Steve confront him at the White House, but Barbara, now aligned with Max, defeats Diana, escaping with Max on Marine One. Steve convinces Diana to renounce her wish and let him go, restoring her strength and gaining an ability to fly.

Donning the armour of Amazon warrior Asteria, Diana flies to the satellite headquarters and again battles Barbara, who has transformed into a cheetah-like creature after wishing to become an apex predator. Following a brutal match, Diana tackles Barbara into a lake and electrocutes her, then pulls her out. She confronts Max and uses her Lasso of Truth to communicate with the world through him, convincing everyone to renounce their wishes, then shows Max visions of his own unhappy childhood and of his son, Alistair, who is frantically searching for his father amid the chaos. Max renounces his wish and reunites with Alistair. Some time later, Diana meets the man whose body Steve possessed. Meanwhile, Asteria is revealed to be secretly living among humans.

Cast

  • Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman:
    • An immortal demigoddess, Amazon princess and warrior.
    • Diana is the daughter of Hippolyta, the Amazonian queen of Themyscira, and Zeus, the king of the Olympian Gods.
  • Chris Pine as Steve Trevor:
    • An American pilot and spy from World War I and the love interest of Diana, who had died during the events of the first film.
    • Apparently, he was brought back to life when Diana unknowingly made a wish on the Dreamstone and his soul possesses another man (portrayed by Kristoffer Polaha in the mirror reflections, but only Diana can see his face).
  • Kristen Wiig as Barbara Minerva/Cheetah:
    • A highly insecure geologist and gemmologist who befriends Diana before becoming imbued with mystical abilities that gradually transform her into an apex predator-like superhuman.
    • She allies herself with Lord to fight Diana.
  • Pedro Pascal as Maxwell Lord:
    • A struggling yet charismatic businessman, famous for TV infomercials, and the founder of Black Gold Cooperative.
    • After spending the majority of his life searching for the mythical Dreamstone, Lord acquires it after manipulating Minerva.
    • Lord uses it for personal gain and power, and he absorbs its gifts after wishing to become the living form of the stone.
  • Robin Wright as Antiope:
    • Hippolyta’s sister, general of the Amazon army and Diana’s aunt.
  • Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta:
    • The queen of Themyscira and Diana’s mother.

Additionally, Lucian Perez appears as Alistair, Maxwell’s son from his divorce; Amr Waked appears as Emir Said Bin Abydos, the ruler of oil-rich Bialya; Kristoffer Polaha appears as the man whose body Steve inhabits (credited as “Handsome Man”); Natasha Rothwell appears as Carol, Barbara’s boss at the Smithsonian; Ravi Patel appears as Baba Jide, a man who keeps documents of the Dreamstone’s history; Gabriella Wilde appears as Raquel, Maxwell’s assistant; Oliver Cotton appears as Simon Stagg, Maxwell’s corporate investor; Kelvin Yu and Asim Chaudhry briefly appear as Barbara’s colleagues at the Smithsonian, Stuart Milligan appears as the President of the United States; Patrick Lyster as General Petersen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (credited as “CJCS (Oval Office)”); and Constantine Gregory as Russian General.

Lynda Carter, who played the titular heroine in the 1970s television series, makes a cameo appearance midway through the film credits as Asteria, a legendary Amazon warrior who anciently possessed the powerful winged suit of armour. Matt Costello from Still Game cameos as a cab driver. Gadot’s husband, Yaron Versano, and their two daughters, Alma and Maya, make brief appearances near the end of the film.

Production

Development

The director of the first film, Patty Jenkins, who initially signed for only one film, had expressed interest in returning to direct the sequel. In June 2017, during an interview with Variety, comic book writer Geoff Johns revealed that he and Jenkins had started writing the treatment for a Wonder Woman sequel and that he had a “cool idea for the second one”. While speaking in a Q&A at a Women in Film screening of the film, Jenkins stated she would indeed direct the sequel. Jenkins later clarified that “it wasn’t a confirmation. Just talking about ideas and hopes.”

On 22 July 2017, at San Diego Comic-Con, the studio officially announced a sequel would be produced, with Jenkins returning as director; its title was listed as Wonder Woman 2. In September 2017, it was officially confirmed that Jenkins would be directing the sequel. On 13 September 2017, it was reported that The Expendables writer David Callaham would join the film to co-write the script with Jenkins and Johns, who had already been working on it for several months.

On 28 February 2018, it was reported that the film would be shot with IMAX film cameras in select action sequences. By late May 2018, long-time DCEU producer Zack Snyder confirmed on social media platform Vero that he, along with his wife Deborah Snyder, would serve as producers on the Wonder Woman sequel. On 13 June 2018, the title of the film was announced to be Wonder Woman 1984. A source close to Jenkins described it as a stand-alone film “in the same way that Indiana Jones or [James] Bond films are, instead of one continuous story that requires many installments.”

Pre-Production

Pre-production officially began by early December 2017 in the UK. That same month, director Patty Jenkins stated that the film would be another great love story. In April 2018, the film was confirmed to be set in the 1980s. In May, production designer Aline Bonetto (Amélie, Wonder Woman) was announced to be returning for the sequel, as well as Academy Award winner Lindy Hemming, also returning as costume designer.

Casting

In September 2017, Gal Gadot was confirmed to return as the title character. On 28 February 2018, it was reported that Kristen Wiig was in talks with the studio to play Cheetah, the main villain of the film, with director Patty Jenkins confirming her casting the next month. By 28 March, Pedro Pascal, who played Ed Indelicato in the pilot of the cancelled 2011 Wonder Woman television adaptation, was cast in an undisclosed key role, later revealed to be Maxwell Lord. On 13 June, Jenkins confirmed the return of Chris Pine as Steve Trevor via Twitter. On 24 July 2018, Natasha Rothwell was announced to be cast in an undisclosed role. A few days later, on 27 July, Ravi Patel and Gabriella Wilde also joined the film, with their roles being kept under wraps as well. By late August, Connie Nielsen and Robin Wright were confirmed to reprise their roles as Hippolyta and Antiope in a flashback sequence. In November 2018, Kristoffer Polaha revealed that he has a role in the film.

Filming

Principal photography began on 13 June 2018, under the working title Magic Hour. Filming took place at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden in England, and at a number of locations around the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia in the United States, including the Landmark Mall in Alexandria, Virginia, and Georgetown during June and July 2018, with scenes shot in Alexandria from 18 June through 14 July. Filming occurred outside the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., during mid-June. Other filming locations around D.C. included the Penn Quarter neighbourhood, McPherson Square, the DAR Constitution Hall near the White House, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Smithsonian), and the Lincoln Memorial. By mid-July, production in the United States was completed and moved to England. In August, filming on location took place in several places around London, including St. Andrew’s Place, Regent’s Park and the Royal College of Physicians. Between September and October 2018, production also took place at Almería, in Andalusia, southern Spain, as well as Fuerteventura and Tenerife in the Canary Islands. From September 5 to 11, filming occurred at the Alcazaba of Almería fortified complex and the Wall of Jayran in Almería. Production moved to Fuerteventura from 13 September through 26 September, with the Corralejo Dunes National Park, Parque Holandés, El Jablito, La Oliva and the Jandía Natural Park as filming locations. Filming in Tenerife began during the last week of September, lasting two weeks at various different locations on the island.

Production went back to England in October, with shooting on location taking place at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, Hyde Park and the Savoy Hotel in Central London, and Torrington Square, adjacent to Birkbeck, University of London. By mid-November 2018, Pedro Pascal finished filming his scenes. Principal photography finished on 22 December 2018, after a six-month shoot. Additional photography and reshoots began on July 28, 2019, in London at Warner Bros. Studios, and was completed the following month.

It was the first film to sign-up to the Producers Guild of America guidelines on how to deal with incidents of sexual harassment on set.

Post-Production

Richard Pearson served as the editor for Wonder Woman 1984. John Moffatt (Harry Potter and Life) served as the overall visual effects supervisor for the film. Double Negative (DNEG), Framestore and Method Studios provided the visual effects for the film. Alexis Wajsbrot served as the visual effects supervisor for Framestore. In December 2019, Jenkins revealed work on the film was completed five months in advance of the original release date.

Music

In August 2018, Hans Zimmer was announced as the composer for Wonder Woman 1984, replacing Rupert Gregson-Williams who scored the first film. Zimmer previously scored Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the first and second films in the DC Extended Universe, and the latter which also featured Wonder Woman. The first track from the score, “Themyscira”, was released as part of DC FanDome 2020. Another track, “Open Road”, was released on 10 December 2020, as part of the “Week of Wonder” social media promotion leading up to the film’s release.

The album was released on December 16, 2020, by WaterTower Music.

Other music featured in the film according to the closing credits include “Welcome to the Pleasuredome” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, “Voi Che Sapete” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, “Adagio in D Minor” by John Murphy, “M.E.” by Gary Numan, “Rio” by Duran Duran and “I Won’t Leave You” by Clinton Shorter from the 2014 film Pompeii.

Release

Wonder Woman 1984 was theatrically released by Warner Bros. Pictures in a handful of international markets starting on 16 December 2020, and was theatrically released in the United States and Canada on 25 December in Dolby Cinema and IMAX while streaming on HBO Max in the United States and via premium video-on-demand in Canada the same day. IMAX theatres will show a version of the movie with a taller aspect ratio during select scenes. The film will be released theatrically in additional markets through 28 January 2021.

It was originally announced for release on 13 December 2019, before being moved up to 01 November 2019, then it was delayed to 05 June 2020. On 24 March 2020, with theatres closed for an uncertain period of time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the film was delayed to 14 August 2020, taking the release date of Malignant. In June 2020, another delay saw the film’s release pushed to 02 October 2020, before it was delayed further to the Christmas date.

Later, Variety reported the film would be keeping its Christmas release date in theatres, while the film would also premiere digitally on HBO Max in the US the same day, with the film being available at no extra cost to subscribers, after a staggered theatrical release schedule in most international markets that do not have HBO Max starting on 16 December, including Greece, South Africa, and the UK. Shortly after, Deadline Hollywood reported that in order to get exhibitors on board with the day-and-date HBO Max release, Warner Bros. agreed to take a lower cut of the rental revenue than it usually does with a tentpole release, as well as to pull the film from HBO Max after a month so that the second month of the film’s run would be exclusive to theatres. The site also said industry analysts had estimated the film’s break-even point at $500 million and that it was expected to lose money for the studio. Adam Aron, CEO of US theatre chain AMC Theatres, supported the simultaneous release strategy, stating, “Given that atypical circumstances call for atypical economic relationships between studios and theaters, and atypical windows and releasing strategies, AMC is fully onboard for Warner Brothers’ announcement.”

The film’s simultaneous release strategy led to Warner Bros. announcing on 03 December 2020, that its entire slate of 2021 films would be given the same release strategy. This led to many filmmakers, production companies and theatre chains (who were not informed and consulted with over the move) to voice their disappointment and displeasure over the move, especially in regards to the special treatment given to the cast and filmmakers of Wonder Woman 1984 that was not given to the other filmmakers and actors with their 2021 films. Despite being paid her bonus by Warner Bros. as a result of the move, Patty Jenkins herself expressed both worry and optimism over the move’s impact on the future of theatres and moviegoing.

On 19 December 2020, Warner Bros confirmed a premium VOD release in the UK as a 48-hour rental for 13 January 2021, due to the lockdown and closure of theatres in response to COVID-19 surges in the UK.

Home Media

WW84 is scheduled to be released on Digital HD on 09 March 2021. Its DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Ultra HD release will be followed on 23 March by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Marketing

On 22 June 2018, it was reported that Gal Gadot would be attending the Warner Bros. DC presentation at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC), and some footage from the film would be shown to promote it. Director Patty Jenkins and actors Gadot and Pine attended the Wonder Woman 1984 panel at SDCC on 21 July 2018, where a short clip of the film was shown. New footage was shown during CinemaCon 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada, with a first look at Kristen Wiig in the film. In June 2019, Warner Bros. screened an extended look to European exhibitors at CineEurope in Barcelona, Spain.

A teaser poster debuted on 05 June 2019, one year ahead of the film’s then-scheduled release date. In October 2019, it was announced that the film’s first trailer would debut during Comic Con Experience CCXP 2019 on 08 December, with Gadot and Jenkins attending the event in São Paulo, Brazil. By the end of the month, WarnerMedia Entertainment debuted new footage from the film during the HBO Max presentation to the press. The first trailer debuted on 08 December at the 2019 Comic Con Experience (CCXP), with the show being livestreamed on Twitter around the world in real time. It used the Sebastian Böhm’s instrumental remix of “Blue Monday” by New Order. The same day, character posters for Wonder Woman, Maxwell Lord, Barbara Ann Minerva and Steve Trevor were released. In August 2020, the film’s second trailer was released during DC FanDome.

The second trailer was “re-released” in November 2020 once the film’s simultaneous theatrical and streaming debut was confirmed. Later that month, a new international poster was released, along with confirmation the film would have a presence at Brazil’s Comic Con event CCXP 2020 on 06 December. A one-minute final trailer was released during the convention.

Wonder Woman 1984 premiered on 15 December 2020, in a fan-first event, via the DC FanDome virtual platform. The “Virtual World Premiere” included the participation of director Jenkins, stars Gadot, Pine, Wiig and Pascal, and a performance from the film’s composer Zimmer. The opening scene of the film was released during the event.

The week prior to its domestic launch, the studio spent $17 million on television ads promoting the film.

Audience Viewership

Following its opening weekend, Warner Bros. announced that HBO Max saw total viewing hours on the film’s first day more than triple in comparison to a typical day in the previous month. Several days later, Screen Engine reported that 23% of viewers had subscribed to HBO Max in order to watch the film. The company also said that Wonder Woman 1984 was already the most-watched straight-to-streaming title of the year, beating Hamilton. Following its third weekend of release, Deadline Hollywood wrote “if there’s anything positive to report, we’ll hear about on the next AT&T earnings call” but if viewership numbers were noteworthy “we would have already heard about it.” According to Nielsen, the film totalled 2.25 billion minutes spent by HBO Max users over its first three days of release, “equivalent to about 14.9 million complete plays of the 151-minute movie”.

Box Office

As of 07 February 2021, Wonder Woman 1984 has grossed $40.3 million in the US and Canada, and $113 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $153.3 million. In January 2021, The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the film would likely lose the studio “north of $100 million.”

In the US and Canada, the film was released alongside News of the World, Promising Young Woman, and Pinocchio, and was projected to gross around $10 million from 2,150 theatres in its opening weekend. It ended up debuting to $16.7 million, finishing above expectations and with the best total of the COVID-19 pandemic, but 87% less than the first film’s opening weekend. Over 10,000 private screenings of the film were held, accounting for about $2 million (12%) of the opening weekend total. It fell 67% in its second weekend, grossing $5.5 million. In its third weekend the film fell another 45% to $3 million, with Deadline Hollywood saying it “continued to emulate the legs of a horror movie”. The film grossed $2.6 million in its fourth weekend, finishing second behind newcomer The Marksman.

Internationally, the film was expected to debut to around $60 million from 32 countries. In China, the film had a disappointing first-day opening, only grossing $4.6 million, compared to the local film The Rescue, which grossed $8.9 million its first day. Global projections were subsequently lowered to $35-40 million, and the film went on to debut to $38.2 million, including $5 million from IMAX screens. China was the largest opening with $18.8 million, followed by Taiwan ($3.6 million), Thailand ($2 million), Brazil ($1.7 million), Japan ($1.6 million), Mexico ($1.6 million), Singapore ($1.3 million), the UK ($1.2 million), and Spain ($1.1 million). In its second weekend of international release, the film made $19.4 million from 40 countries. Its largest markets were Australia ($4.5 million) and Japan ($2.5 million), while China’s running total reached $23.9 million.

Controversy

The plot point of Steve inhabiting the body of another man, credited as “Handsome Man”, was criticized for putting his body into dangerous situations and being used without his consent, including a sex scene between Diana and Steve. Criticism was aimed at the film’s lack of acknowledgment of what happened to the man while Steve was inhabiting his body, as well as Diana and Steve not appearing to consider the issue of consent, even if Steve coming back in another man’s body was not any of the characters’ intention. The Mary Sue described the event as a rape and strongly condemned it. Jenkins replied in agreement to a fan’s tweet that tries to explain there were no issues with this plot aspect, that the film was following the trope of a body swap, similar to Big or Freaky Friday. Bonnie Burton, writing for CNet, stated that while this may have been Jenkins’ intention, the body swap trope may not be as politically correct in the current period as it was in the 1980s.

Roxana Hadadi of Slate criticised the film for its negative stereotypical depiction of Arab people.

Sequel and Spin-Off

Sequel

In January 2019, after principal photography on Wonder Woman 1984 was completed, director and co-writer Patty Jenkins announced that the plot for a third Wonder Woman film was mapped out. The filmmaker stated that the plot of the next instalment would take place during the modern day. By December 2019, Jenkins expressed that the wait between the second and third films will be longer than the time it took to release the first sequel. In April 2020, Jenkins said she had a story arc that would take in all four Wonder Woman films, including an Amazons film, and then a third Wonder Woman film. In late June 2020, speaking to Heroic Hollywood about the third film’s status, Jenkins revealed that she had stopped working on the story which she had been developing six months prior so she could see how to absorb the result of the COVID-19 pandemic into the story. In an interview with the Happy Sad Confused podcast in December 2020, Jenkins stated that while she and Geoff Johns had already “beat out an entire story” for a third film, she now has doubts about whether she wants to make it with the world’s current state, unsure if it will be her next film and if her feelings about it will change. When interviewed by MTV News about what she would want to see in a third film, Gal Gadot stated that she wants the third film to take place in the present, having no interest on revisiting the past as she feels that those time periods on Wonder Woman’s life have been handled perfectly. The sequel was officially greenlit on December 27, 2020, with Jenkins and Gadot officially returning, and Warner Bros. confirming that the film would have a traditional theatrical release.

Spin-Off

In December 2019, director Patty Jenkins announced that a Wonder Woman spin-off film was in development, with the story focusing on the Amazons of Themyscira. Jenkins is attached as executive producer. By April 2020, Jenkins revealed that she will not direct the spin-off, though she will serve as producer. Later that year, the filmmaker stated that the spin-off will take place after Diana leaves Themyscira and that it will be linked to the events between Wonder Woman 1984 and the third Wonder Woman film.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Patty Jenkins.
  • Producer(s): Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder, Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot, and Stephen Jones.
  • Writer(s): Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns, and Dave Callaham.
  • Music: Hans Zimmer.
  • Cinematography: Matthew Jensen.
  • Editor(s): Richard Pearson.
  • Production: DC Films, Atlas Entertainment, and The Stone Quarry.
  • Distributor(s): Warner Bros. Pictures.
  • Release Date: 16 December 2020 (UK) and 25 December 2020 (US).
  • Running Time: 151 minutes.
  • Rating: 12A.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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