Wonder Woman 1984 opens with two different action sequences that serve two very different purposes. The first is a flashback sequence showing a young Diana (Lilly Aspell) competing in an Olympic-style competitive event on Themyscira, and the second brings us into Washington D.C. in 1984 with a vibrant, cartoonish sort of jewelry heist that adult Diana (Gal Gadot) stops in a shopping mall. However, one of them almost didn’t make the cut because Warner Bros. Pictures wanted director Patty Jenkins to trim the two and a half-hour runtime by getting rid of one of them.
Speaking to JoBlo, Patty Jenkins revealed that Warner Bros. initially wanted her to cut either the Amazon Olympics-style sequence or the shopping mall robbery. But the director liked the double opening, and despite the fact that the sporting scene was a late addition to the script, she felt that the scene was necessary for two different reasons, and not just because people liked all of the scenes on Themyscira in the first movie. Jenkins explained:
“I wouldn’t have jammed it in there because of the success of the film, because it actually made the movie too long. We have two openings in our movie and we would talk about it with the studio all the time and they would say, ‘You’ve got to cut the mall and the eighties, or you’ve got to cut the Amazon.’ I was like, we can’t, we can’t cut either.”
On the surface, it might seem like the Themyscira sequence could easily be cut, but Jenkins saw that it served two purposes. First, it gives a brief introduction to Diana’s origins for those who maybe haven’t seen the first movie yet and are catching it by happenstance with their family or on a plane. But more importantly, it allows Diana’s realization in the film’s climax to come full circle. Jenkins elaborated:
“I love the fact that you hear all of the ‘being a great hero takes your whole life,’ you know? So there was this wisdom there that they were trying to tell her which is not about being the strongest or the fastest, it’s about these complex observations you have to make during life in order to become a true hero. I love that she doesn’t understand that until that final speech.”
The scene also instills the importance of truth and honesty in Diana, adding to her earnest perspective of the good in the world that she has clung to for so long. It’s because of this that she can’t let people believe in the lies of the wishes that Maxwell Lord is recklessly granting to people without any thought. Granted, it’s all a bit corny and maybe too earnest, but I think that’s also part of the appeal in our frequently dark and dreary world.
As for the 1980s shopping mall sequence, Jenkins didn’t provide a passionate defense for that scene, but it’s clear that sequence introduces us to the vibe of 1984 in this movie. It gives us a sense that this is a time of excess and gung-ho capitalism and selfish behavior. It also sets the stage for the tone of the movie since it’s certainly a cheesy sequence that feels like it wouldn’t have been out of place in Richard Donner’s Superman movies. It has a Saturday morning cartoon sort of feel to it, for better or worse.
Wonder Woman 1984 is now in theaters and available to stream on HBO Max until January 24..
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