Episode 652: Escalators!

On the Overthinking It Podcast, we tackle “Wonder Woman 1984,” starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, and Pedro Pascal.

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Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather stream Wonder Woman 1984 which is about as good as the previous 1983.

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3 Comments on “Episode 652: Escalators!”

  1. Jay #

    Merry Christmas to you all! Great episode. I laughed a lot. Its been a difficult year but it makes me happy to have ur show to come back to after everything.
    I read Catch 22 at the start of quarantine (thanks for the recommendation) I love loved it. So funny and insightful. Pete was right, I did not enjoy Closing Time. I caught a reading bug after that and I read 17 other books, which is a record for me. Thanks to everyone for those book recommendations.
    Happy New Year in advance. Be blessed.

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  2. John C Member #

    I’m waiting for the DVD release, so I haven’t seen it, but Wonder Woman faces a serious handicap in mass media, in that…DC largely only owns the franchise out of spite.

    There’s a twisting history, but Wonder Woman was created at a then-competitor to what’s now DC (All-American) that launched a bunch of parallel characters. Wonder Woman was their Superman. Dr. Mid-Nite was their Batman. The Flash was their Johnny Quick. It’s a long head-to-head list, and some characters fared better than others.

    Around when the companies merged, All-American’s president created EC Comics, whose son turned that company from an All-American clone into the company that creeped out the HUAC hearings with gore, and punted to focus entirely on Mad Magazine…which DC also now owns. Meanwhile, DC’s contract for Wonder Woman basically amounted to that the rights to the character would revert to William Moulton Marston if DC ever wasn’t publishing a monthly Wonder Woman book.

    So, Wonder Woman looks like she’s as important to DC’s history as Batman and Superman, but her book was only published for decades to keep her from getting resold to a competitor and that book was generally phoned-in…even though a sex-positive woman whose powers don’t require her to beat everyone up AND used to include inspiring normal people to heroic feats probably makes her the company’s most modern character, plus or minus the campiness.

    So, when movies like this don’t hit the mark, it’s basically because nobody at DC really understands her or wants to understand her. They’ve tried to make her Supergirl, Emma Peel, and have somehow settled on Xena.

    I’ll also point out that Max Lord is only “a Wonder Woman character,” because DC writers couldn’t figure out how to distance her from Superman, so they had her snap his neck to save Superman. That’s almost their entire relationship in comics.

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  3. Three Act Destructure #

    Hoo, boy. This one was a doozy. Considering that the movie was an unstructured mess of random thoughts and ideas, I guess my own criticisms can’t help but be the same:

    – Pretty much every time that you guys assumed that WW84 must have been calling back to something from the comics, the answer was: no, they made these mistakes all by themselves.

    – But some of the calculations that went into making this movie did seem to have been in regards to previously existing source material. For example, the disappointingly lazy reason that they set this movie in the 80s was probably that Wonder Woman was meant to be incognito and that’s about as close as you get into history before mass personal surveillance starts to become a thing. Also, the Middle Eastern connection is likely just because it was set in the nation of Bialya which happens to be a location from DC Comics. It’s as meaningless as Pedro Pascal’s business rival being named Simon Stagg, another comic book reference with no real purpose. These are about on the level of the BvS scene in which a government agent is revealed to be Jimmy Olsen before he’s mercilessly capped in the head. Shrug. Yawn.

    – That’s not how worker co-ops function and why is this movie so against them that it treats them like scams? I assume that this will start to be a thing in Hollywood because co-ops are bad news for moneyed interests and while blockbuster movies can be all over the place in pretty much every way, they are always remarkably consistent with their political messaging when it comes to anything left-of-center.

    – Speaking of, they can’t mention women in the workplace because that’s tied to the labor movement.

    – Boy, I just love that moment of Cheetah fawning over the very idea of speaking to the FBI. I mean, gosh, they’re friggin’ American heroes, audience!

    – There’s a really odd use of black characters in this movie. A woman without any dialogue wins the Amazonian Olympics and a small black girl is impressed by Wonder Woman. And that is basically it for their representation. Oh, and one black man’s face shows up among the people making wishes.

    – Do you think that WW gave that little girl an “I’m With Her” bumper sticker after she saved her? Because, man, there is a really out-of-touch, faux-progressive, corporate Democrat streak to making a movie in which co-ops are evil but the power fantasy is to be a white woman who beats up criminal men and is owed the unquestioning adoration of black props… er, children.

    – There’s a black market in the mall which, apparently, the employees know about. Okay.

    – What insane, gated-fence political naivete went into entire rooms full of producers, executives, etc. allowing a film to be released in which the obvious Trump allegory is a sympathetic Latin man who cares deeply about his son and, again, “runs” a worker co-op? This movie was made by aliens who need box office receipts to power their spaceship so they can finally go home. It’s been a tough year for them.

    – If we’re talking bad special effects then I need to bring up the scene in which Wonder Woman saves a hilariously obvious child-sized dummy from being run over by vehicles. Also, she saves two but only one is visible while she’s rolling. Good chuckle moment. Glad they left it in.

    – What was the joke with the homeless guy reading Waiting for Godot? Is it a joke? Did they forget to put a joke in there? Is it a pun on Godot/Gadot? What? The obvious punch-up is to have him reading something like 7 Habits For Highly Successful People. That’s only five years off and this movie doesn’t care about historical accuracy anyways.

    – Why did the President mention the Star Wars program? Was Reagan still President at some point? What happened to him?

    – Why did they choose “stands up to rapist” as Cheetah’s turn-to-the-dark-side moment? It even had its own evil music that was cool but wasn’t used in the rest of the film. Why was the one homeless guy that Cheetah liked hanging around in the same spot as the rapist for a second time? Are they a duo?

    – Wonder Woman started to fly to a song from the soundtrack to the movie Sunshine because they left the temp track in and nobody cared enough to notice.

    – The lesbian subtext in this film was louder than the actual text of most of the rest of the movie. WW and Cheetah go on a date in which they mostly just flatter/hit on each other (Wondy even whips out the classic “oh my god, you’re sooo funny” line). Then Cheetah gets attacked in the park and WW saves her in the most erotic-pirate-novel-cover pose possible.

    Why was she stalking her, by the way? How else would she know to spring into action right then? Later, Pedro Pascal hits on this poor woman and WW is instantly and insanely jealous and angry about it. Note that she does not know who he is. They specifically make sure to have us be aware of that. So the only reason that she could be angry is that the lady she went on a date with is now flirting with a man.

    And here’s the thing: all of this would be fine if the filmmakers were just honest about it. In the first Wonder Woman movie, she stated outright that the Amazons were bisexual and it was okay. Nobody freaked out. I don’t think that the smellier parts of the internet even mentioned it. But apparently, for this sequel, they decided to do the exact kind of exploitative gay-but-not-gay schtick that got Disney in trouble with their Beauty and the Beast remake. Everything I’ve heard from that community is that they’re tired of this kind of crap. Just make the characters into lovers. It wouldn’t change much except that it might make the Steve Trevor bits actually meaningful instead of just wasted time.

    – I love the scene in which we find out about the Mayans and the wishing stone just because Cheetah’s part was clearly done in a reshoot. She’s never in the same shot when they’re looking at the book but she does provide a running commentary which nobody else reacts to. Even when she starts freaking the heck out about their plan. Steve and Diana even openly discuss Wonder Woman having powers in front of her, which she says nothing about. Just beautiful filmmaking.

    – I guess everyone knows that Wonder Woman is Wonder Woman or maybe not or who cares.

    – What bad timing that now, when that scene of Gal Gadot looking directly into the camera and talking about wishes happens, all anyone can hear is “Imaaaagine allll the peeeople.”

    – Everyone has already harped on about the plane scene and, yes, it is very dumb. But it’s at least the kind of dumb that I can handle.

    – Patty Jenkins probably would be comfortable directing the most awesome Hallmark/Lifetime movies ever made. Monster is already one of the tried-and-true types of movies that they like to produce: lady serial killers. That Hallmark vibe was one of the few things that worked in this movie and I wouldn’t be surprised if it all came from her. I’m very familiar with Geoff Johns’ work and the messier parts of the movie all feel like him.

    – Oh, yeah, horses and lassos. Of course Wonder Woman would own a ranch.

    – I hate to say it but I think we were wrong to blame the visual murkiness of the original movie on Zack Snyder’s influence. Jenkins appears to be another DCEU director who has a troubled relationship with color and light. Especially in some of those final scenes.

    – I love the way that Maxwell Lord drops his catchphrase as if he’s doing so begrudgingly but clearly actually loves it. Perfect acting choice.

    – The only famous story in which Wonder Woman and Maxwell Lord interacted is the one in which she showed up just to snap his neck and kill him while he was taunting her about how she had to do it in order to save innocent people from the overwhelming power that he had access to. But, for obvious reasons, they can’t do that here. The movies in this cinematic universe gain nothing from each other except for unfortunate baggage.

    – Between this and Cyberpunk 2077, this has been a Christmas of long-delayed and clearly still-unfinished products being released to the public anyways. Well, at least it’s a good year for it. It’s not like there are any major world events that we might need a distraction from.

    – I spent fifteen dollars on an HBO Max app that didn’t work (would get an error trying to play anything) and then had to, ahem, look up the movie online instead. I don’t know if I can even get a refund. Maybe Christopher Nolan was right about this streaming service all along.

    – Lynda Carter! Yay!

    Watching Wonder Woman 84 is basically the same as watching the rough cut for a real movie. It’s tough to say whether you liked it or not because it’s not at the stage for that kind of opinion. We can only take notes on what does and does not work and why. I hope Warner Bros. didn’t have a lot riding on this one.

    Oh. Oh, no.

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