What if everything you wished for came with a price?
By Amanda Roberge
We all know 2020 has been a year unlike any other, and with a socially distanced holiday season I was beyond thankful for a small sense of normalcy on Christmas Day with a new superhero movie, Wonder Women 1984! Normally, my sister and I would go see a new release opening weekend in theaters, with Covid-19 still rising in my area, I was thankful to be able to stream it from the comfort of our couch, snuggled up with my favorite pup who kept trying to steal my popcorn. Back in November I wrote about the modern female superhero and after watching the Wonder Woman sequel I wanted to revisit the topic. For the most part I hadn’t seen much in the way of trailers for the movie, and hadn’t sought out any reviews, so I was going into not knowing what to expect. The plot of the movie was really intriguing to me and really got me thinking, before I go on further this is your first and only spoiler warning! Continue reading at your own risk!
The whole premise of the movie is that each decision we make and what we wish for all comes at a price. The first movie ended with Diana Prince losing the love of her life but helping to end World War 1, the sequel takes place 66 years later in 1984. She’s been living among the humans, saving the day incognito, pining over Steve her lost love. Things go awry when an ancient stone “created by” trickster god ends up at Diana’s work at the Smithstonian after a botched robbery attempt at a black market jewelry store. The ancient stone grants whoever possesses a wish but, as with every classic movie trope that wish comes at a cost; this is highlighted later on in the movie as the stone being the downfall of multiple great civilizations of the past. Unknowing of the stone’s dark history, Diana wishes for more time with her lost love, her wish is granted but her powers are lessened. Her meek wallflower co-worker also wishes upon the stone not realizing its true power, to be more like Diana, her strength and confidence; her co-worker ultimately loses her compassion and kindness and turns into the villain Cheetah.
Cheetah doesn’t end up being the main villain, that honor is reserved for the con-man Maxwell Lord. The stone eventually ends up in Maxwell’s hands and he wishes to absorb the stone’s power so he can grant wishes and he gets to pick the price of the wish; but this comes at the cost of his health, every wish he grants cost him more health. Maxwell uses his new power to amass more wealth, power and influence. Eventually, his actions come to ahead when he nearly causes a nuclear war between the US and Russia. Her powers weakened from her wish, the only way Diana can defeat both Cheetah and Maxwell is to renounce her wish, and being forced to lose the love of her life a second time, so she can be strong enough to defeat both villains and stop the pending nuclear fallout and saving the day.
Ultimately I did enjoy the movie, but it did feel to me a little bit like a bridge movie between the first film and a potential grant finale part 3(pure speculation on my part at this time). I had hoped for more development of Diana’s character after having her fall in love and lose him in the first movie. Having her still brooding over the loss of him 66 years later, and to magically return was a little bit of a disappointment to me. Only then to have to choose to give him up again for the greater go; with the underlying message that love weakens us. This did get under my skin a little bit, I understand there was not really much else they could have had Diana wish for, in order for the plot to work but the writers fall back on the tragic star crossed lovers trope. Diana’s character development comes down to whether or not she is willing to make a difficult choice; to either save, keep the love of her life around or to save humanity and lose him. For a superhero it’s not much of a choice of course she is going to save humanity. I was also bothered by the fact the cost of her wish was weaken powers, her wish was for love, and the underlying message that love weakens us I think was the wrong one to send; I’d argue that love may change us and may even blind us but not weaken us.
For me what was the most intriguing part of the movie is what the different wishes, the motivating factors behind those wishes and the cost of them. It really got me wondering what I would wish and what would be the cost of that wish? Would the wish be worth the price? I truly don’t know what I would wish for, I’ve seen too many movies and read too many books to know that it rarely ends well for the wisher. I’ve also noticed that oftentimes the person making the wish had some desire to overcome a negative emotion or obstacle in their life. So what would you wish for knowing whatever you wished for came at a price?