E31 -

Heather King & Emily VanDerWerff join the show to discuss both the good bits and the bad bits of Wonder Woman 1984.

Summary:

After months of delay, Wonder Woman 1984 was finally released on HBO Max in addition to select theaters. There was plenty of anticipation for the sequel, but ultimately it was less than impressive. With a wishing stone, the introduction of the villain Cheetah, and the return of Steve Trevor the movie jumped around leaving the audience confused. With a third movie already approved, we hope director Patty Jenkins can learn from some of her mistakes.

Transcript

[music]

0:00:03.2 Natalie Dowzicky: Welcome to Pop & Locke. I’m Natalie Dowzicky.

0:00:05.6 Landry Ayres: And I’m Landry Ayres.

0:00:07.5 Natalie Dowzicky: Alright, everyone, listen up. If you can hear my voice, I want you to make a wish. Is it for that car you’ve always wanted? Is it to spend even more time at home? This is your chance. Wait, there’s a catch. We’re travelling back in time to the year 1984 and no, I don’t mean the George Orwell book. Wonder Woman 1984, at best, has received mixed reviews, and today to help us make sense of this empty spectacle is Professor of English at the University of Redlands, Heather King.

0:00:37.9 Heather King: Hello.

0:00:38.9 Natalie Dowzicky: And returning guest, the Critic at Large at Vox, Emily VanDerWerff.

0:00:42.8 Emily VanDerWerff: Hi, it’s good to be here.

0:00:44.7 Landry Ayres: Just so everyone is aware, Natalie has had this movie on our to‐​do list, on our calendar for I think, over a year since when this…

0:00:52.8 Natalie Dowzicky: It’s been a long time. [chuckle]

0:00:53.2 Landry Ayres: Show began. She has been waiting eagerly with bated breath for this movie to come out, through all of the delays and the pushbacks and everything, especially with the HBO Max distribution deal, but sadly, the movie seemed to just kind of end up messy, I found, at least. Why do you, and you think so many other people, think the movie came out this way?

0:01:23.1 Heather King: [chuckle] So disappointing. Emily has written about this already, and so I definitely wanna hear what she has to say about it more as well, but it occurred to me today, as I was thinking about this, I think part of it is perhaps inevitable for the superhero films focused on the female characters, because we’ve waited so long for them and there’s such a backlog of stories to tell and fans to service in a way, that they just haven’t had as long to tell the stories, and they’re trying to catch up in a way, and I feel like the deck’s kind of stacked against them to some extent.

0:02:00.6 Emily VanDerWerff: I think there is a real tendency within superhero cinema right now, to try to cram as much into a single movie as possible. Honestly, the more I hear about Wonder Woman 1984 and the production process, it really does seem to me like Patty Jenkins sort of made the movie she wanted to make. So I don’t wanna be like, “Oh, the studio made her do this. The studio made her do that.” But there certainly is an element of… A lot of stuff in this movie that ends up feeling like it doesn’t belong there is stuff that probably would have worked in a TV season version of this story and doesn’t quite work in a film version of this story. In particular, I’m thinking of the Chris Pine narrative cul‐​de‐​sac. I get what it’s doing there, I get why they included that element, I get what it’s supposed to mean, but it does such a poor job of dealing with the metaphysics of it all that you get really thrown by the thought of like, “Oh, Chris Pine is back.” Whereas, I think if it had just been a more traditional, suddenly he’s back from the dead and who knows how, like it might have worked better, but it’s still, it detracts from the main storyline and sort of sidelines Diana Prince within her own movie in a way that ultimately doesn’t help it.

0:03:17.0 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah, my big beef with… I mean, I love Chris Pine, don’t get me wrong. But my big beef with that was like, okay, so they brought him back, but they’re gonna bring him back in someone else’s body and then never address that. And then, like you said, this cul‐​de‐​sac effect where you’re like, “Wow, this kind of served no purpose.” And I was even saying, like I put this on Twitter earlier, I was like, honestly, we could have gotten a little more creative if we were gonna bring Chris Pine back. Why don’t we bring him back as something that’s not human or just like [chuckle] an animal or a cat, or at least put in comic relief at that point? To me, the Chris Pine storyline, I mean, as much as I love the actor and think he’s gorgeous, [chuckle] really serves no purpose. But I guess, like Emily said, there are quite a few scenes in this movie where, after the fact, I was like, “Well, that didn’t really tie into anything,” and one of those parts was the flashback in the beginning. What were we supposed to get out of that flashback?

0:04:18.4 Emily VanDerWerff: I don’t know. I think it’s one of the better scenes in the movie, so I enjoyed seeing the world of Themyscira again. And one of my favourite podcasts is Blank Check with Griffin & David, it’s a movie‐​centric podcast. And on that podcast, Griffin says this feels like a set up for, they’re going to do a thing about where Diana’s wish ends up being, being able to go back to Themyscira basically. Something like that.

0:04:48.7 Heather King: Oh, I would be so waiting for that movie.

0:04:51.2 Natalie Dowzicky: Oh…

0:04:52.2 Emily VanDerWerff: Yeah, like that would have been better. But also, it would have sidelined her in a way where I think that they might have felt they needed more, more clear singular stakes, which is where the Chris Pine idea came from. That said, there’s a long tradition of in the second movie in a superhero series, the superhero loses their powers, and that’s what they’re doing here, but I think there is so much more power to, oh, she goes back to Themyscira, this thing she’s always wanted to do, but the only way to save this world she’s come to care about is to leave, to renounce her wish, which will push her back into the real world. And just to get out ahead of a criticism a lot of people have about this movie that I don’t share, I love that it’s about a wishing stone, that’s so appropriately, so appropriately silly for a movie [chuckle] like this. I just had a great time with that aspect.

0:05:48.6 Landry Ayres: It’s a very fun sort of McGuffin that they use there that I think it seems lazy, but in a superhero movie, you need a certain layer of silliness and they lean into the campiness at times which I think makes it fun in a way that I think that the Spider‐​Man movies was sort of fun in that way. Even in Spider‐​Man 3, with that horrible dance sequence…

0:06:13.0 Natalie Dowzicky: Oh my God.

0:06:13.7 Landry Ayres: That was camp pushed to the extreme there. It used the sort of genre to its advantage there. And I think it tries to do that. But another thing that I don’t see how they utilise to its full extent was the setting. It’s Wonder Woman 1984, and other than the sort of stakes being that there are nuclear weapons involved at the end and some set dressing and things like that, like some of the costumes and the sort of runway montage that they do with Chris Pine, which I think we’ll get into…

0:07:01.5 Natalie Dowzicky: Hilarious.

0:07:03.4 Emily VanDerWerff: But, in another time, I don’t feel like they played with the setting to the full extent. Like they have a scene with the president, was that supposed to be Reagan? I’m not entirely sure, it could be, but if so, it was very sort of hands‐​off. There wasn’t that like really great ‘80s soundtrack as prominent in the movie, I felt like. I didn’t… You can see them playing with some of the tropes, like the sort of nerdy girl gets hot makeover, but it’s not playing with it in a way that kind of subverts it. It’s kind of just like, “Oh, this is a movie set in the ‘80s, we’ll throw this in there.” And it doesn’t even seem like it’s because it’s in the ‘80s, it just seems like that’s just the trope they used. So I was wondering, what did you think about the use or underuse of the setting and what they could have done with it?

0:07:56.8 Heather King: Well, and I wonder if part of the reason the president is such an almost Reagan but not clearly, is also just because DC has always steered away from being in the real world. Like if it was Marvel, that would have been Reagan and it would have looked more like Reagan, so I think that was just… Even though they’ve admitted they’re in DC, they’re still trying to pretend it’s Metropolis or something [chuckle]..

0:08:17.4 Natalie Dowzicky: Right.

0:08:17.8 Heather King: By not having the real president. But when you guys were talking about Chris Pine earlier and wishing he’d come back as something else, it struck me, that could have been one way to really lean into the 1984 setting, and I don’t know if you guys are old enough to remember this, but have him come back as Max Headroom or something. Like the very beginnings of that kind of virtual experience were there, so why not really play around with that more? And that would also taken a little bit out of the boring love story, sort of thing. I was much more interested in the love story between Cheetah and Diana than I was in [chuckle] Chris Pine, to some extent. But I think the whole working woman trying to have it all is depressingly accurate for the ‘80s.

0:09:03.3 Heather King: There were so many movies in the ‘80s that were about that, that it felt like it was trying to do that storyline to a certain extent, but without the meta level that would be necessary to make it not just frustrating as a movie. I’ve had a number of friends who watched it and were like, “Really? We’re still telling this story?” So I think there needed to be a level of distance from that story, so that it came across as a museum piece, rather than just being presented as a narrative that women are still struggling with.

0:09:36.7 Emily VanDerWerff: I think there are two levels to this conversation about this movie being set in the ‘80s. One of which is what I call The Stranger Things ‘80s. The…

0:09:45.7 Natalie Dowzicky: With the mall scene. [chuckle]

0:09:47.0 Emily VanDerWerff: Yeah, the sort of trappings and fashion, and storytelling tropes because somebody mentioned that the Chris Pine storyline is basically an ’80’s body‐​swap comedy, and once they said that, I was like, “Oh okay, that makes more sense to me. I get why that’s doing here.” So I think on that level, the movie doesn’t succeed. The sort of Stranger Things version of the ‘80s, where you’re just trying to hit those tropes and make Gen X people be like, “Oh, I was a kid once.” [laughter] But I think on the level of a more… An attempt to capture the ethos of the ‘80s and sort of the political, sociopolitical realm of the ‘80s, I think it is better. I don’t think it succeeds. Its understanding of, for instance, the Middle East conflict is very shallow.

0:10:42.2 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah. [chuckle]

0:10:43.8 Emily VanDerWerff: Again, and as Heather pointed out, the depiction of gender relations in the ‘80s is also very shallow. But I think the idea of the wishing stone, the idea of being able to have anything you want without consequence and then realising the consequences later is sort of an excellent metaphor for the ways that the 1980s… The way that people thought about the economy in the 1980s, the ways in which the Baby Boomers, I don’t wanna reduce this to generational warfare, ’cause I don’t believe in that, but it’s a useful shorthand. The ways in which Baby Boomers sort of were like, “I’m gonna have everything I want and not particularly worry about what’s to come next.” Like you could read the wishing stone as a metaphor for climate change, if you really wanted to. I think this is a smart… This is almost a smart movie about that.

0:11:37.3 Emily VanDerWerff: It kind of blanks at the last second, but that scene where Max Lord, Pedro Pascal gives one of my favourite performances in the movie, that scene where he’s on TV being like, “Everybody just wish for whatever you want,” there is a very interesting critique of ‘80s economic theory in that. That said, as a trans person, if I got my one wish, I would probably not renounce that wish. And that’s a trickier thing to deal with, is that we only see people who make bad wishes, we only see people who are making wishes from a position of privilege, it is a lot different to think about, what would a wish look like if it’s from someone who is in a traditionally disadvantaged background or who has a thing that they very clearly could wish for, that might genuinely make at least their world a better place, and I think that’s a failing of the movie’s imagination?

[music]

0:12:31.8 Landry Ayres: I think this brings up something that Heather had mentioned to us before we started talking that I was sort of curious about, which is the idea and the depiction of cultures of wish fulfillment, which you were just were talking about, Emily, and it sort of plays on this idea and really builds up that specifically, the United States, but really, the whole world in the 1980s, because he’s sort of broadcasting it all over the world at that point, Pedro Pascal’s character, is based on wish fulfillment. There’s a bit of hubris involved and greed, but it very much, with the sort of blanket sort of casting, you only get those selfish, bad wishes, you don’t get people wishing for generous or good things, which is, I think, really sad, for the most part.

0:13:23.0 Landry Ayres: And it chooses to portray, you have the US, like we said, but you also have Rome and Carthage as these civilisations based on wish fulfillment and that it ultimately brought their downfall. But then you also have Kush and the Indus Valley and the Mayans, and basically, it basically gets to the point where it sounds like they’re saying innovation and building up civilisation creates or is driven by, I think, tonally, a selfish wish fulfillment, highly individualistic culture. Why do you think that it sort of gets painted this way, and why use those examples, instead of just kind of sticking with, you could say, a classical example, like Rome, Carthage and the US?

0:14:15.3 Heather King: Emily’s point about the representation of the economics in the movie, I think the way in which I can express my agreement most strongly is to say that when I finished watching Wonder Woman 1984, Pedro Pascal’s monologues had made me want to rewatch Wall Street…

0:14:33.0 Emily VanDerWerff: Yes, yes.

[laughter]

0:14:35.5 Heather King: The emblematic ‘80s movie. And thinking about having Locke in the name of your podcast, the fact that the wish fulfillment is flying in the face of the idea that labour is part of what gives you property and something, so it’s that wishing for just having without doing the work, which is where I think the flashback at the beginning ties in, in a more meaningful way. I would absolutely show up for a movie that was nothing but the [0:15:03.7] ____ type. [chuckle] And I think a lot of people felt that way after the first movie too, so there’s a bit of fan servicing going on, with that long sequence at the beginning. But I also think Diana’s lesson that she takes from that and the voiceover says, “Sometimes the lessons you learn, you don’t even realise you’re learning at the time,” is that just wanting it is not enough, that you have to put in the work and the time and the patience to get it.

0:15:28.7 Heather King: So that at her foundation, she understands achievement differently than someone who thinks just wishing for it could make it happen. But I think there’s something… I don’t think it’s… Well, first of all, it strikes me that the whole idea of wishing is a fairly child‐​like thing, blowing out your birthday candles or wishing upon a star, so there’s something about maturity going on with that as well, which is interesting. But the idea that the cultures that are being presented as having this wish fulfillment component to them, also were cultures that had gotten to levels of luxury, for the most part. And so, if there’s something about once you have excess in a society, if that affects how people think about things, so that it’s a secondary feature, it’s not… The wish fulfillment isn’t baked in, it’s a product of other structures within the culture.

0:16:30.4 Natalie Dowzicky: I also think, going back to what Emily had said earlier, the wishes we do see, even if we don’t see… Negating the countries that it’s affected or the civilisations it’s affected in the past, the… We see an Englishwoman that wishes all Irish people would be sent back to Ireland, which just seemed kind of odd.

[laughter]

0:16:51.2 Natalie Dowzicky: Then you get… And then that man wishes that the woman that wanted to banish him dies. Even on a very micro level, it seems like all the wishes are negative. And ostensibly, the people that made those two wishes weren’t necessarily… They could have been at a place of luxury, but they weren’t necessarily in need of a wish. I also think that it just… I don’t know, just it seems incredibly pessimistic that everyone that wished for something, it was all very negative or more, more, more, which then got me thinking, and I didn’t notice this until after the film, that what a critique on consumerism, in a way, that the last… Especially the last monologue that Wonder Woman gives when she has her rope around his leg, and he’s in the, broadcasting Star Wars like Phantom machine…

[laughter]

0:17:46.5 Natalie Dowzicky: And she gives this whole speech about like, “You’re not the only one who suffered, you’re not the only one who wants more, who wants them back… ” This idea of more, whether it’s more time or… And then it got me thinking about consumerism and almost this being a critique on the human desire to always have more. And that’s the basis of wishes, they’re all… They’re wishing for more of X; the president wished for more missiles and ways to destroy other people. But I think it was just, it got me thinking about consumerism more so after I watched it. When I was watching it, I didn’t give the producers enough credit that that might be what they’re trying to get at, but did anyone else see that kind of slightly hinted at towards the end?

0:18:34.0 Emily VanDerWerff: Yeah. I think it’s endemic to this premise, I think endemic to the idea of, “We’re telling a story about having three wishes,” is that you always want more wishes. Wish stories are inherently about greed, and ‘80s stories are often inherently about greed, and I think that’s where the two things overlap. Because if you look at a uniting element in the death of most civilisations, most empires, there is this element of greed or selfishness or wanton envy, that sort of thing, that is common in a lot of them, not all of them. I’m not enough of a scholar of world history to say that, but you… There are so many civilisations that are toppled by… In essence, people stop being able to think of themselves as a society and start thinking of themselves as a collection of individuals who just happen to exist within a society. And I think what this movie is trying to grapple with is, “Is that inevitable? Can it be reversed? Is there a way to build a society that is not susceptible to that?

0:19:40.1 Emily VanDerWerff: But I think the fact that we’ve seen that happen across economic orders, across social orders, across systems of government, suggests there is this inherent thing in human nature that turns some of us towards greed and then turns more of us toward greed, and then it’s very hard to snap that cycle, which is I do think why the Themyscira prologue perhaps works, is because that is in essence, a society that is not built around those sorts of values.

0:20:04.8 Heather King: And that’s what makes Diana’s speech about “You’re not the only one,” a reasonably powerful emotional moment in the film because she’s introducing that Themysciran sense of equality and unity that Lord has been working against, by giving everybody individual wishes. The consumerism, I think, also gets flagged when all of the assistants wished for Porsches. [chuckle]

0:20:29.5 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah. [laughter] Forgot about that. [chuckle]

0:20:33.2 Emily VanDerWerff: I think that one of the other things that’s interesting about this, is that, it is… The first movie was also about a thing that makes societies collapse. Famously, I think it was Gail Simone who said that you bring in Wonder Woman if you wanna stop a war, whereas you bring in Batman if you need to stop the bad guy and you need to… You bring in Superman to stop the end of the world. Wonder Woman’s whole deal is that she tries to let us see our better natures, and that first movie is about… It’s set in World War I, but come on, it’s a World War II movie. It is set in World War II.

0:21:07.3 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah, definitely. [chuckle]

0:21:07.4 Heather King: Absolutely.

0:21:08.4 Emily VanDerWerff: But that movie is about, okay, well, how do we avert armed conflict? How do we avert this potentially society destroying thing? This movie is about how do we avert this potentially society destroying thing? I don’t know what time period the next movie will be set in, I think it’s very smart to do a series of movies set in different time periods, with a character who is immortal, but I think that if they’re going to close out this trilogy in a meaningful way, they need to find a different thing that tends to cause civilisations to fall and tackle that question. It’s an interesting idea for a superhero trilogy, even if this second movie doesn’t really work.

0:21:47.1 Heather King: I have not done this, but now I want to watch her speech to Ares at the end of the first movie, with her speech to the teleprompter at the end of this one, because Emily, I’m really intrigued by what you’re saying, and I think Wonder Woman’s answer to both crises is more love and compassion, and that that’s part of what she does with the speech in the second movie, is to remind people to… Of their better natures as you say, and to care about one another, and to have that sense of community, which is part of why it’s so distressing that there’s not more time given to the relationship between Barbara and Diana, whether we wanna queer that relationship or not, but just that potential female bond that could have done a lot more.

[music]

0:22:39.6 Natalie Dowzicky: We’d be remiss not to talk about the villains in this film, since it’s a superhero movie, and if you compare it to other superhero movies that have memorable villains and have villains that still stand out in people’s minds, so we have this ongoing discussion about Batman within our team, and we’ve covered it here on the show about who was the more memorable villain, the Joker or Bane? And to me, if you try to think of that question here, since it is really a dual villain story, I don’t see either of these villains as all that memorable. I love Kristen Wiig, but I just don’t think they did enough to develop her story, other than it being like nerdy girl becomes hot and is now a supervillain. What did you guys think of the dual villain scenario here? And do you think it worked?

0:23:30.5 Emily VanDerWerff: I like both of these characters in isolation. I don’t know that they work together. I don’t think the special effects on Cheetah are very good. I like the idea of the Cheetah character, especially if you played it up a little bit more explicitly queer, as Heather mentioned. They’re already like 75% on the way there…

0:23:53.8 Landry Ayres: Yeah.

0:23:53.8 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah.

0:23:53.9 Emily VanDerWerff: I don’t know why they didn’t just go the rest of the way and be like, oh yeah, Barbara is into Diana and Diana is oblivious. Have one of those famous tropes, outside of the fact that then you have a situation that plays into horrible stereotypes of lesbians throughout fiction, throughout history.

0:24:11.6 Landry Ayres: Sure.

0:24:11.8 Natalie Dowzicky: Right.

0:24:12.0 Emily VanDerWerff: That said, we’re already almost all of the way there, so you’re not really getting anything from not making it explicit. That said, I think the Max Lord character is honestly maybe the best in the movie. I think they handle a lot of his… They handle a lot of his story with a lot of nuance and depth in a way I was not really expecting. So I think that these are both interesting characters, they both have interesting arcs, and Diana ends up sidelined and that’s not a huge problem in some of these movies, it’s just a similar thing happens in Batman Returns, which is another first to superhero sequel, but yeah, it’s very difficult to get you re‐​invested in Diana’s journey when she just leaves the movie for a while.

0:25:00.4 Heather King: Emily, I agreed with your point in your piece in Vox about how much there was that needed more time, and I thought the Max Lord character was fascinating because he is caught in one version of domestic versus public aspiration, and Diana is caught in another, and the resolutions that they come to reverse the normal gender resolution for that, and I thought that was kind of interesting that Lord is rehabilitated and returned to the domestic role of father, whereas Diana has to give up the potentially domestic role of romantic partner and returned to being the hero. So that was kind of fun, but I really felt like again, it was just too crowded to have Lord and Cheetah there, and that Cheetah was the one that ended up really getting short shrift, because not only… It’s the tired nerdy girl gets hot story, she’s all that, whatever, but it also… Her final nastiness is not even her own doing because during…

0:26:09.5 Heather King: I had missed this the first time through, but during the televangelist moment that Lord has at the end, he says, “Give her your rage, give her your prowess.” So he sort of supercharged her as a villain, so it’s not even her choice to break that bad at the end. She’s been put in that position by Max Lord. And the second time through that actually kinda made me angry on Barbara’s behalf.

0:26:34.7 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah, and I guess my big question too, with Cheetah was the whole line about… It was a little confusing what she was giving up, so I guess she was… ‘Cause in my eyes, okay, Wonder Woman’s giving up Steve, giving up Chris Pine, the character, and then to me, Cheetah/​Barbara was giving up her humanity, I guess. So I guess that… What she was giving up was a little bit more intangible than what everyone else seemed to be giving up. And I guess that just looked like a little bit of a stretch to me. And I didn’t mind the returning to fatherhood story of Max Lord, though I don’t… To me, it was very predictable once his son was introduced, ’cause it was like, oh, his son, and introducing him, I can see that the only purpose that this son is going to have is to remind him of his humanity or remind him of being a father to his son, and being someone that his son would look up to. So I guess that was more so just predictable. Not that that’s a bad thing, but at the same time, like I said earlier, neither these villains strike me as all that memorable in the grand scheme of superhero movies.

0:27:53.6 Heather King: Right, well, and there are so many films now that are about fixing the dad that that’s a really, really tired trope right now.

0:28:01.4 Natalie Dowzicky: Well, it’s also interesting if you compare that to, Diana doesn’t know her father story, and then the fact that they choose fatherhood for him to return to is another interesting thing to consider, but still, I don’t necessarily think that’s something that could be central to the next movie, so to speak.

0:28:25.9 Emily VanDerWerff: There is this arc in the comics that my wife adores that I could not tell you which issues it’s in, so don’t quote me on the thing I’m about to get wrong, but it’s something where Diana fights Zeus. And it is like, he’s either her dad or implied to be her dad, and it is this big culmination of things. I would be very surprised if they don’t figure out a way to do that in the third film or something akin to that. I had a point somewhere… Oh yeah. The thing about, oh, okay, he needs to be a better dad. I agree, that’s super tired. It’s like we heard all of the criticisms, which were quite good criticisms of the arcs that were like, “Can a woman have a family and a job?”

0:29:12.2 Emily VanDerWerff: And then we’re like… The problem with that is not that that story is tired, it’s that we need to apply it to men, and then applying it to men was interesting for a while, but that story is tired ’cause we’ve told it so many times. There are other ways to tell a story about the unique pressures that are put on people who are in high positions of power then, but then they don’t hug their kid and isn’t that sad?

0:29:35.2 Heather King: It felt somewhat unbalanced that we get all of the back story of Max Lord with those flashbacks to his abusive childhood, and then we don’t really know anything about where Barbara came from. And I just… I think because the… I know Max Lord was in the previews, but I had gotten so fixated on Cheetah being in it, that I didn’t fully realise before watching the movie that it was gonna be a two‐​villain affair, I thought it was just gonna be Cheetah.

[music]

0:30:08.3 Natalie Dowzicky: So, I was kind of curious. We’ve discussed that this movie was pretty messy and had a lot of different plotlines that either went in circles or didn’t really have a purpose. If you were to pick one of the plotlines in the movie and actually build it out more, which line would you choose?

0:30:27.5 Emily VanDerWerff: Oh, gosh. I think that a movie that was just built around differing approaches to dealing with gender imbalances in terms of power, in terms of men taking on women, filtered through ‘80s movie tropes, it probably would have remained cheesy, but it would have not felt like it stranded both Diana and Barbara in different versions of a story that could have had some real power to it. That’s not really like a singular line or a singular moment, but I’m thinking a lot about that scene where Barbara attacks the man outside and when she’s starting to realise her power and we’re meant to read it as her final act of villainy, but within the context of the film, it doesn’t seem that bad compared to a lot of the other stuff that’s happening. She’s just like beat up a person who’s catcalling her. It is a pretty classic power reversal fantasy. To actually dig into the implications of that, the movie needed more real estate. And that it doesn’t, I think kind of ends up hamstringing it.

0:31:43.0 Heather King: Absolutely, I feel like I’ve already tipped my hand that I would prioritise the Barbara and Diana story, just find out more about Barbara’s back story than “I was busy in college,” which is the only line we really get explaining her past at all.

0:31:56.3 Emily VanDerWerff: This is a movie I would wanna see. It is not a movie anyone would ever make, I think it would be interesting if this movie took place in a vague version of the afterlife, and so it’s just an hour of Chris Pine walking around, having deep philosophical conversations with the great thinkers from history, and then he’s suddenly ripped into a Wonder Woman movie, and we see that part of the movie from his perspective, and then he goes back and we just have more philosophical conversations. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful film?

0:32:23.4 Natalie Dowzicky: So it’s like, Soul, the Disney movie Soul meets Wonder Woman?

0:32:29.1 Emily VanDerWerff: Yeah, exactly.

0:32:29.2 Heather King: Right.

0:32:29.3 Natalie Dowzicky: And Chris Pine comes back as a cat. [laughter]

0:32:32.5 Heather King: Why not?

0:32:32.5 Natalie Dowzicky: But not as Cheetah ’cause that would be too confusing.

0:32:35.7 Heather King: But it also struck me… The flashback we get of Asteria in the golden armour, she’s able to stand up to hordes of men. That scene shows all these guys just whaling on the armour, and it seems fine. So the fact that Cheetah is able to make such inroads on it, also felt like something that needed to be developed more. Like how is she more powerful than the Spartan army? And what are the implications of that?

0:33:06.8 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah, and I also… Well, the interesting thing about her flying, like we were saying too, is that she flew right after Chris Pine was like, “Well, I’ve already been gone.” And he was a pilot, so then I was like, “Oh, that’s a cute little connection that now she flies.” But then again, I was like, this isn’t all that important. Other than that scene was really cool when she lassoed the lightning and she… The graphics of her in the sky and such was much… They did a much better job with that than they did with the whole Cheetah and Wonder Woman fight scene, where Cheetah is drowning, and it just looked like a bad… It looked like the Cats movie.

0:33:47.0 Emily VanDerWerff: I was digging her Cheetara vibes though. I gotta say. It was like… For a movie set in the ‘80s, I’m very much digging that they kind of leaned into that aesthetic, which I liked a lot of.

0:33:58.3 Natalie Dowzicky: Right. Yeah, maybe we’re just scarred from all the bad press that the Cats movie got.

0:34:03.8 Heather King: Right, right. But, Natalie, I think you’re picking up on something really interesting with the idea that she lets Steve Trevor go, but manages to keep him with her, because she says earlier that planes always reminded her of him, that he was always with her because she could see the planes flying overhead, and she thinks through his monologue or his comment about what flying is like as she tests it out, so there’s a way in which she’s internalised him in her present existence as well, that obviously is supposed to be her sort of self‐​reintegration before she goes into the final showdown. But I think it’s plausible.

0:34:46.7 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah, and also, I don’t know if you guys picked it up, but speaking of old Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter was actually in this film, and I actually wouldn’t have picked up on it. I was watching the movie with my mum who picked up on it, ’cause it’s in the post‐​credit scene, the woman that’s like walking through that… You’re assuming… ‘Cause you’re getting the back of her and she’s wearing a blue cape‐​like shawl, and you’re in anticipation thinking it’s Gal Godot, and then she turns around and speaks to one of the people in the market, and it’s Lynda Carter, which I thought was cool. Also, Lynda Carter looks great for her age.

0:35:33.9 Heather King: She does. But she also… In the flashback, when Diana is showing Steve what the golden armour had been for, the eyes of the woman in the armour, that’s Lynda Carter, too. I would lay money. Those blue eyes.

0:35:46.3 Natalie Dowzicky: Oh! I didn’t realise that. So the person that was being Asteria in the flashback?

0:35:51.1 Heather King: Yeah. Yeah. ’cause that’s who she’s supposed to be when we see her at the end, so that she has been in the world as well, quietly going around being a low‐​key superhero, saving the little girl at the fair, and uses the same line that Diana had to Barbara, about, “Oh. It’s all in the weight. It’s very easy,” downplaying her abilities.

0:36:11.5 Natalie Dowzicky: I think that was a cute little nod.

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0:36:15.7 Landry Ayres: And now for the time in the show where we get to share all of the other things that we’ve been enjoying with our time at home, this is Locked In. So, Heather, Emily, Natalie, what else have you been enjoying?

0:36:27.9 Heather King: TV, I don’t have anything particularly cool for because somehow my entire family has become obsessed with Master Chef, and we have been working our way through seasons of Master Chef. So now I’m very self‐​conscious when I make dinner every night about whether it’s plated well or not… We have… My sons are 14 and 17, and so we have lots of funny like, “Mum, this is really you on a plate” moments. But I have been devouring audio books. And my recent fling is, I’m gonna butcher the name, but Chimamanda Adichie, who wrote Americanah and The Thing Around Your Neck. Just fantastic novels that are looking at experiences across the US and in Nigeria, and these really well‐​rendered lives that have just been fantastic to explore and sink in to as narratives.

0:37:28.5 Emily VanDerWerff: I will point to the new show on PBS, the new adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small. It is a lovely soothing show about a nice boy who goes to the countryside in the 1930s and helps heal some nice animals because he’s a veterinarian. And there are stakes, but the stakes are always like, “Is the calf gonna be born? Is the dog gonna be better?” It is really the perfect antidote for these times. I struggle sometimes with low‐​conflict stuff, but this has just the right amount of conflict, while also being fundamentally about people who are trying to be like do good work and be good to each other.

0:38:11.5 Emily VanDerWerff: And it’s very British if you like that sort of thing. I’m also reading the book, Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters. It is one of the first novels from a major publishing house by a transwoman author, and it is fantastic. Beyond my rooting interest in the cause, she has crafted a really smart book about a transwoman, her ex, who is a detransitioned transwoman, once again living as a cis man, and the woman that he unexpectedly gets pregnant, and then how they form this weird ad‐​hoc family unit. I can’t wait to see the Netflix mini series. Just to tie it into things we could watch.

0:38:57.1 Natalie Dowzicky: Right.

0:38:58.5 Emily VanDerWerff: Sure.

0:39:00.5 Natalie Dowzicky: So I did watch Death to 2020, it was hilarious, will not be something we talk about on Pop & Locke, but it’s a new… Oh yeah, it’s new. It’s a new “documentary” and I put that in quotes, on Netflix ’cause it’s also a comedy because all of the “experts”, again, in quotes, that come on to talk throughout the documentary are all actors. So they take film from this past year, from the news, and then they intersplice it with these interviews of these experts, and it’s absolutely hilarious. That, I’ve watched multiple times now. And then the other thing, I reluctantly am rewatching The Lord of The Rings for the show, and I am now through the first one, I have two more to go. This is the first time I’m rewatching them, so I am just reminded of how lengthy and just how much fun they are, and I mean that in complete sarcasm. But yeah, that’s it for me. And on the book front, I am reading The Turn of The Key by Ruth Ware, not my favourite book by her, so I’ll have to have to come up with some more books soon though.

0:40:14.7 Landry Ayres: I am not ashamed to admit, though I probably should be ashamed to admit, that I have recently began devouring The Blacklist on Netflix.

0:40:27.2 Natalie Dowzicky: Oh my gosh. [chuckle]

0:40:28.4 Landry Ayres: It is not good, if you do not enjoy making fun of and calling out all of your wild, very easy to guess predictions for network thriller dramas, I don’t recommend it, but if you like James Spader or really, if you just like Robert California from The Office, then you might have a good time watching this show. I am firmly in the camp of Robert California is an alter ego, a cover for Raymond Reddington that allows him to launder his money, and if you’ve seen either show, you might be aware of how easily those two line up. I also have recently just rediscovered one of my favourite, sort of, very easy, easy watching shows, which is Creature Comforts, and I usually tend to… And I started with Creature Comforts America, which is a stop‐​motion claymation series…

0:41:25.9 Heather King: Yes.

0:41:26.0 Natalie Dowzicky: Oh my gosh, [chuckle] yeah.

0:41:26.3 Landry Ayres: Where they interviewed all of these people about normal everyday topics, and then they animate animals to match up with their voices and sort of go with them. And they’re so life‐​like and expressive, that it really is… It’s great. If you like watching things like Christopher Guest movies and that sort of dry vein of humour, I think it’ll be something that you really enjoy, but the animation is sort of in that Wallace and Gromit style, so if you like that, you might enjoy it as well. And any time it’s animals talking, I’m firmly in support. I’m in the “release the original Sonic cut” camp as well, just ’cause those teeth are terrifying. I also have been watching a lot of Japanese vending machine videos on YouTube because…

0:42:20.1 Natalie Dowzicky: What?

0:42:20.7 Landry Ayres: It’s fascinating. Natalie, it’s great. It’ll put you to sleep. It’s the best thing to do when you wanna go to sleep.

0:42:27.8 Natalie Dowzicky: Okay.

0:42:28.2 Landry Ayres: They have the best, most interesting vending machines, anything you want in Japan, you can get it in a vending machine. If you go to the YouTube account, DancingBacons, this person travels all over Malaysia and Singapore and Japan. There’s no talking, so you don’t have to worry about them doing any sort of grating YouTube voice, they just go to vending machines, buy things and they eat ‘em and they tell you about ‘em and it’s great.

0:42:55.5 Natalie Dowzicky: Oh my God. [laughter] That is so stupid.

0:43:00.3 Landry Ayres: It’s great.

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0:43:03.3 Landry Ayres: If we got something wrong about Wonder Woman 1984 and you think it’s actually a very good movie, please let us know on Twitter, you can find us at the handle @PopnLockePod. That’s Pop, the letter N, lock with an E, like the philosopher, Pod. Make sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Pop & Locke is a project of lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org, produced by me, Landry Ayres. To learn more, visit us on the web at www​.lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org.

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