If this were a normal Friday, moviegoers would be flocking to theaters to see Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman 1984, the sequel to 2017’s groundbreaking hit Wonder Woman. But as everyone knows, there is nothing normal about this Friday.
Movie theaters remain closed on account of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 108,000 Americans so far. In major cities around the country, protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have crowded the streets to denounce systemic racism and police violence against the black community. And as a result, it’s likely the continued adventures of Diana Prince are not top of mind right now, even for fans of the Warner Bros. superhero universe. Still, for those looking for a brief respite from the world, there are plenty of alternatives to watch instead of Wonder Woman 1984 this weekend.
What better to place to look to fill the void left by Wonder Woman 1984 than its predecessor, Wonder Woman? The Patty Jenkins film was not just the first major superhero movie focused on a woman to arrive in theaters in more than a decade—it also stood as the highest-grossing live-action movie directed by a woman of all time, until it was surpassed last year by both Captain Marvel and Frozen II. Set during World War I, the original Wonder Woman remains one of the superhero genre’s greatest feats: It’s a rousing origin story that combines the Spielbergian joy of Indiana Jones with a winning romance that thrives on the chemistry between its leads (Gadot and Chris Pine).
Stranger Things Season 3
As the title indicates, Wonder Woman 1984 takes place in the heart of the 1980s—and judging by the film’s trailer, it will lean into the decades’ trappings pretty aggressively, particularly the rise of mall culture. It’s not a feature film, of course, but the third season of Stranger Things is about as close as episodic television has gotten to the notion of creating one long movie. Set mainly in a local mall, Stranger Things 3 is an ’80s greatest hits compilation, from its soundtrack to its costumes to its various references, including Die Hard, Back to the Future, and The Never Ending Story.
Wonder Woman 1984 embraces not only an ’80s aesthetic, but the decade’s filmmaking style as well. “We literally set out to do something that I may never get to do again, which is to say, ‘Let’s not make a movie that’s funny ha-ha, the ‘80s. Let’s make a grand tentpole like they made in the ’80s,’” Jenkins said in an interview on the set of the film last year. “I want it to feel like you’re seeing a movie in the ‘80s. So, we did almost all of our stunts, our fights practically.” Few blockbusters from the era are as illustrative of that approach as Commando, which finds Arnold Schwarzenegger playing a guy named John Matrix (lol) who seeks revenge on the men who kidnapped his daughter (Alyssa Milano).
Back to the Future Part II
To play wealthy entrepreneur Maxwell Lord in Wonder Woman 1984, actor Pedro Pascal was seemingly given the full Donald Trump makeover: gaudy suits, swept back blonde hair, and a nefarious agenda. But long before Wonder Woman 1984 sought to spoof the president, Back to the Future Part II lampooned Trump with grotesque Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson), casino king of Hill Valley turned crooked politician. “We thought about it when we made the movie! Are you kidding?” co-writer Bob Gale said of the Biff-Trump comparison in 2015.
Is Chris Pine underrated as a leading man? Allow director Quentin Tarantino to make the case. “Now, to me, of the actors of his age, he’s hands down my favorite—of that group, of that era, of those guys. Hands down, my favorite,” Tarantino said on an episode of The Ringer podcast The Rewatchables this year. “When I saw him in the Star Trek movie as Captain Kirk, I thought he was making this movie. I mean, I’m all aboard. And then it was so exciting to see him in Unstoppable to get the Tony Scott treatment. He needed that to make him a movie star in my eyes. He’s filmed like a movie star and he looks it. He soaks in those colors, that lighting, those costumes. He completely holds his own against Denzel [Washington]. That’s what he needed to make himself a movie star.” In a word: Unstoppable rules.
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