HEAT VISION

The 'Wonder Woman 1984' Moment That Hints at Something More

Gal Gadot's Diana and Kristen Wiig's Barbara Ann discuss love in a way that suggests the film will adopt the more inclusive nature of the recent comics.

She’s back, and she’s in a whole new era. At the Comic-Con Experience in Brazil Sunday afternoon, Warner Bros. unveiled the first trailer for Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 1984. The sequel to the hit 2017 film, Wonder Woman, sees Gal Gadot suit up again as the superhero demi-god. Trading the WWI setting of the first film, Wonder Woman 1984 jumps ahead nearly seven decades to the mid-1980s, where Diana Prince seems well acquainted with man’s world. But, as the trailer implies, there’s something missing in her life. With new enemies, new powers, an old love interest and a plethora of comic book references, Wonder Woman 1984 looks to challenge Diana’s notion that only love can save the world.

The opening moments of the trailer introduce us to Barbara Ann Minerva, an archaeologist who eventually becomes Wonder Woman’s nemesis The Cheetah. In Jenkins’ film, their relationship starts off as a friendship, much as it did in Wonder Woman: Year One (2016) by Greg Rucka and artist Nicola Scott, which looks to have inspired a number of the film’s design choices and set pieces. This run, which fell under DC’s Rebirth relaunch, introduced or at least clarified a couple of things in Wonder Woman’s mythos. The first was that it depicted Barbara Ann as a lesbian. The second was that it confirmed what many Wonder Woman fans had long held true, that Diana was bisexual, and before leaving Themyscira with Steve Trevor she had a relationship with an Amazonian named Kasia. Diana and Barbara Ann’s conversation about love in the trailer, and the latter’s nervous response to being asked if she’s ever been in love, seems to imply that there may be a spark between the two – at least from Barbara Ann’s perspective. Jenkins previously explored the facets of a queer relationship in her debut film, Monster (2003), and given Barbara Ann’s eventual presence as a villain, one has to wonder if it was a broken heart that paved the way to her villainy.

Hearts broken and those healed seem to be a significant thread based on what’s revealed in the trailer. As we learned over a year ago, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) is returning to Diana’s life, despite having sacrificed himself in the first film. The manner of his resurrection is unknown, but his presence will undoubtedly cast a shadow over whatever new relationships Diana has formed, particularly with Barbra Ann. In an inverse of the first film, it’s now Diana’s turn to introduce Steve to the world as it is, one filled with the glitz, glamour and materialism of the '80s. And what would the '80s be without an action sequence set in a mall? This too stems from Rucka and Scott’s Year One. While the '80s setting originally seemed chosen for the crisis of the Cold War, it instead seems to be the perfect setting to talk about want and the desire for more in order to improve the quality of life. Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) echoes these sentiments with infomercials that promise wish fulfillment. “Life is good, but it can be better. And why shouldn’t it be?” he says.

Lord’s depiction here appears to be slightly different from the comics, in which he was a businessman who established and bankrolled an iteration of the Justice League under the control of villainous computer program Kilg%re (the '80s!). He later died of a brain tumor and uploaded his consciousness into a horned cyborg body, Lord Havok (the 90s!). Years later, in Countdown to Infinite Crisis, a resurrected and human Lord was revealed to be a criminal mastermind with telepathic abilities who had bankrolled the Justice League International in order to gain information about them and ultimately destroy the metahumans he considered a threat, despite being one himself. He created a robotic army called OMACs through Batman’s self-aware satellite Brother Eye. He convinced Superman that Wonder Woman was his enemy Doomsday and forced the two to fight in a crowded area, so the world could see the destruction superhumans caused to civilian life. In the aftermath of her battle with Superman, Wonder Woman snapped Lord’s neck (the 2000s!) in what is to this day considered to be her darkest moment.

There’s no indication that Lord is a metahuman in the trailer for Wonder Woman 1984. But he’s definitely up to something. One scene shows him looking up, engulfed by blue light. The comic nerd in me wants to cry Brother Eye, but it seems just as likely that Lord is having some kind of communion with one of the Greek gods or goddesses, or maybe…a New God? Another scene shows him holding a rock, one that may potentially grant him powers so that Maxwell Lord becomes a literal lord. And with those godlike powers, he could be responsible for Steve’s resurrection and Barbara’s Ann’s transformation, though to what end, we can’t decipher yet.

We don’t see Barbara Ann’s transformation into the Cheetah in this trailer, though Jenkins confirmed that it will happen in the film and employs a mix of prosthetics and CGI. However she ends up looking, it’s clear that Wonder Woman will have to upgrade her battle gear to take her on, and whatever Lord has up his sleeve. Some of the notable additions to Wonder Woman’s armory that we see in the trailer are her tiara, which doubles as a boomerang, just as it did in the original comics and the 1970s TV series starring Lynda Carter. We also see Diana and Steve flying through a fireworks celebration, and the size of the cockpit and the view they share makes us think that Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet may finally make its debut. But most notable is the Golden Eagle armor, teased on the first poster this summer and fully revealed in this trailer, complete with wings and helmet. The armor was introduced in the 1996 Elseworlds story Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and artist Alex Ross but has since made its way into the main DC continuity.

Where Woman Woman took place in an era before the existence of Wonder Woman comics and thus had to create its visual language accordingly, Wonder Woman 1984 is able to pull more imagery and characterizations from the source material. It looks like Jenkins’ film will not only celebrate the spectacle of '80s action movies but dive into the real-world concerns that shaped the era. In borrowing more from the comics and telling a story through her own unique lens, Jenkins looks set to deliver a sequel that will be difficult to categorize as anything except wondrous.

  • Richard Newby
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