I believe in story analysis. As a pop culture commentator writing about film and TV, it is important to discuss story using rules of story analysis. Without story, films and TV shows would merely be a collection of loosely connected events and action sequences. With regards to Wonder Woman 1984, I had previously posted a non-spoilers review. Perhaps it is time for a story analysis of Wonder Woman 1984 to illustrate my point.
This sequel movie was approached very differently from the original 2017 film. Whereas the first movie followed superhero movie conventions very closely, this sequel attempted to deliver a strong thematic core (presumably) to distinguish itself from the standard contemporary superhero movie.
Simply put, the movie portrayed Wonder Woman as a paragon of virtue in contrast to the greed, deceit and lies prevalent in the 1980s. The “Me Generation” came to prominence in this era, where selfishness and ‘looking out for #1’ became the defining values of Americans. This is personified in the character of Max Lord, a veiled satire on outgoing President Donald Trump, who rose to fame in the 1980s as a wealthy property developer known for unscrupulous behaviour and unfair business practices.
All well and good. However, in order for the movie to communicate this message to the audience, it has to be presented in a story that makes sense i.e. the series of events in the movie has to contain unbroken logic. If there are plot holes and inconsistencies, then the engagement level of the viewer would fall and thus might not be able to accept the thematic nuances of the movie.
The main plot hole concerns the dreaded ‘mcguffin’ – an object or device in a film or a book which serves merely as a trigger for the plot. In this case, we have the wishing stone that appears from nowhere in the first act of the movie. Now, without the wishing stone, there would be no story and it is this reliance on the wishing stone to push the story forward that is the fatal defect in the movie.
The source of the powers of the Cheetah and Lord are derived from the wishing stone, without much explanation. The viewer is expected to accept this plot device at face value on faith but the movie does nothing to establish any credible background such that the viewer’s suspension of disbelief might be maintained.
Wonder Woman herself wishes Steve Trevor back into existence but even the mechanics of that resurrection is unclear. Presumably Trevor’s soul possesses an entirely different person but Wonder Woman only sees Trevor instead? How does that work? Again, not explained whatsoever.
Then somehow, Wonder Woman begins to lose her powers and there is a suggestion that the wishing stone works like the monkey’s paw of that famous horror tale. But why would it result in Wonder Woman gradually losing her powers and not some other negative consequence? No explanations once again.
But this ‘monkey’s paw rule’ does not apply to Cheetah? What does she lose? Very inconsistent. Worse still, the effects of the wishing stone can be easily over-ridden by the wisher renouncing his or her wish. Why should that work? It just does, no questions asked.
Sad to say that this is the tip of the iceberg as far as our story analysis of Wonder Woman 1984 and an examination of its plot holes and inconsistencies go. Suffice to say that plot logic was sacrificed in the name of pushing a thematic agenda which rarely works. The result? A poorly received sequel that massively underperformed and disappointed after the promise of the excellent original film.
… still there’s more …