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Breaking Down the Struggles and Shiny Armors of Wonder Woman 1984's Dazzling First Trailer

Ride the lightning.
Image: Warner Bros.

This weekend, Warner Bros. took to CCXP in São Paulo to give us our first proper glimpse at the highly anticipated sequel to Wonder Woman. Trading in its predecessor’s bleak battlefield for the glamour and neon-tinged malls of the ‘80s, Wonder Woman 1984 has more than a few intriguing surprises in store for Diana—here’s a few we could find in the new footage.

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For a trailer that is otherwise so gloriously colorful, it opens with a dimly-lit, blue-stained shot of what appears to be the current home of Diana of Themiscyra (Gal Gadot), as we see her outside its windows in her Wonder Woman armor. “My life hasn’t been what you probably think it has,” she narrates.

Illustration for article titled Breaking Down the Struggles and Shiny Armors of iWonder Woman 1984/is Dazzling First Trailer

“We all have our struggles,” Diana continues, as we cut closer onto a shelf in her apartment, revealing a picture of her at Trevor Ranch. This is presumably the farmland home of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), given that Diana’s placed the watch he gave her before his death at the climax of Wonder Woman in front of it. It might be the ‘80s, but it’s clear Diana’s spent a good long time since the Great War trying to process her grief over Steve’s life.

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The person Diana’s talking to is revealed, as we cut to her having dinner with a guest: Barbara Ann Minerva (Kristen Wiig). Comics fans better know Barbara as the alter ego of one of Wonder Woman’s most enduring foes, Cheetah, but here, it seems we’re first going to meet Cheetah as a confidant of Diana rather than a rival—and before her transformation into the animalistic, feline supervillain. “Have you ever been in love?” Barbara asks.

Illustration for article titled Breaking Down the Struggles and Shiny Armors of iWonder Woman 1984/is Dazzling First Trailer
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“A long, long time ago” Diana sadly responds, as we cut back to another picture in her apartment, this time of Steve in his uniform, before cutting back to the dinner scene. Diana counters Barbara with the same question, and the two laugh off her response of having been in love “so many times.”

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Fans more familiar with the way Cheetah is presented in the comics may be put on the back foot here. Before her transformation into Cheetah in the comics, Barbara Ann wasn’t as meek as she’s presented in this scene, she was an archaeologist—a profession she may keep in her cinematic form, given the first picture revealed of her was her in a museum—and a ruthless, powerhungry one at that. She transformed into an animal-human hybrid after making a deal with a tribe she was exploring to become the new avatar of its Cheetah goddess. Her remade origin in DC’s “New 52” continuity update changed it so that Barbara’s transformation came from being possessed by the spirit of an Amazonian goddess after accidentally cutting herself on a mysterious relic, and she was an ally of Diana before her possession, but this is still a very different take on the duo’s relationship before they become foes.

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Diana gets out of a car in a stunning white dress to attend a swanky event, and the title treatment helpfully reminds us that Wonder Woman 1984 is set, well, in 1984. Please enjoy the “Blue Monday remix in the background while you also enjoy Gal Gadot looking fabulous, and remember that it has been a long long time since we last saw Diana, chronologically speaking. We know she’s still got Batman v Superman and Justice League ahead of her, though, movies that take place after she had apparently gone into hiding, keeping the mantle and presence of Wonder Woman a secret until our present day. That doesn’t mean she can’t still head out for a night of glamor!

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As we smash cut to another very ‘80s sight—a massive mall—another voice enters the narration. “Welcome to the future,” the man says. “Life is good, but it can be better.” As we cut to a wall of TVs being sold in said mall, the voice is revealed to be none other than that of Pedro Pascal’s villain, first teased as a mysterious, sleazy businessman—hence the hawking of a better life on TV—but recently confirmed as the less mysterious but absolutely still sleazy Max Lord.

Lord is another major figure from the comics, initially introduced as a shrewd businessman who actually helped establish the Justice League International, before it was revealed he was under the influence of a New Gods-made machine and the villainous program Kilg%re. He’s long been a foe of the League since—Diana even, rather famously, snapped his neck during the events of Infinite Crisis, but like all good comics characters, he got better—and done everything from being a cyborg to a criminal underworld mastermind called the Black King in between. Most importantly to Wonder Woman 1984 however, as we’ll see, is that during the Invasion! storyline, Max gained superhuman mind control abilities, letting him brainwash people (although with great strain).

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“And why shouldn’t it be? All you need is to want it,” Lord’s ad continues, as we cut between his cheesy self-help infomercial and scenes of chaos at the mall, with distressed crowds fleeing the building, cop cars showing up...and Wonder Woman, entering the fray! So much for staying hidden, Diana.

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Which was a dumb idea anyway, but 1984 pays some level of diligence to Batman v Superman’s idea that Wonder Woman went into hiding for a century by having Diana frisbee her tiara at the Mall’s security cameras, before going to town on two armed bad guys. This action sequence is one of the first things we actually heard about from the movie, since it was shown at San Diego Comic-Con last year.

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“Think about finally having everything you always wanted,” Lord’s ad concludes, as we get three quick shots—Diana solemnly watching a plane fly overhead, Barbara turning away from her work in what looks like some kind of lab environment, and then back to Steve’s watch on Diana’s shelf.

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Back at the party we saw her arriving to earlier, Diana looks around, only to hear the voice of Steve, playing back his final moments with her from the first movie...

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Except it’s not in her head. A man hands her another watch—this one much more period appropriate—Diana gasps her fallen lover’s name, and yes: It’s none other than Steve Trevor, tracksuited and very back from the dead. Why this happens at what appears to be at least a public party is unknown, but Lord’s narration makes it clear that he’s got something to do with it. Is Diana undercover at an event where Lord makes people’s desires come true somehow, and her mind, clearly still on Steve after all these years, gives her a reborn ally?

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The first picture of Pine’s return for Wonder Woman 1984 saw him wearing this same tracksuit at the mall we just saw Diana fighting in, so presumably this resurrection moment takes place first. Maybe she takes him to the mall so that a man who died nearly 70 years prior can experience the nightmare/wonder of ‘80s consumerism?

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Illustration for article titled Breaking Down the Struggles and Shiny Armors of iWonder Woman 1984/is Dazzling First Trailer

Meanwhile, we get this peculiar shot of a helicopter flying towards a massive satellite dish system. “Now, I take what I want in return,” Lord says. We’ll get to what this might be a little later, but we have some ideas given the implication is that this huge comm tower is owned by Max.

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For now, we cut to the businessman coveting a strange, cryptic crystal in an office. Strange, cryptic crystals are a dime a dozen in comics, and given we don’t get an explanation here, it’s hard to say definitely what this might be. There’s a not-too-bad chance however that it’s actually part of the Chaos Crystal, an entity from the sphere of the gods in the comics multiverse that can do several things, like amplify the power of technology—the U.S. Government of Earth-2 used a shard to power a planetkiller as a back-up if that reality’s Superman ever went bad—but it can also grant wishes, altering fate and reality on behalf of its wielder.

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Is it the source of Max’s reality-bending abilities in the film, given the way he embraces it here? Or is there no reality-altering at all, and it’s something that amplifies his brain-washing powers so he can realistically convince people about things like, say, their long-dead lovers being alive again?

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“Everyone will see, Max continues, as we cut to another scene of chaos, this time in Washington DC. Diana and Steve appear to be caught up in it, as people flee towards the Hill and armed soldiers race down the streets. If you weren’t already pondering if it’s something that Lord is up to, we cut to an unrelated but symbolically placed shot of him being a smug-looking asshole about something, for good measure.

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Security guards in a very fancy looking environment open fire on Diana, who is clad in her Wonder Woman gear, shields Steve (still in that damn tracksuit, so it’s hard to say when this takes place exactly) with a flurry of deflections from her bracers. The building doesn’t look like it’s the Capitol, but it’s likely another familiar Washington locale: the White House. Warner’s recent HBO Max reveal event included footage of an action sequence at the office of the President, so that’d match up here. But why are White House security officers attacking Wonder Woman? Are they under Lord’s influence for some reason?

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At another party, this time it’s Barbara making a grand entrance, looking very different from the appearances we saw prior. You’ll also note the very subtle cheetah-print design on the dress. New look, new hairdo, no glasses..if Lord’s scheme gives Diana her long-lost Steve, is this what Barbara gets, a swanky socialite life?

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Diana and Steve fly an aircraft through a fabulous fireworks display—interestingly, Diana’s in the same suit we just saw her in in the Washington DC scenes, so maybe this is celebration after the attack, or an event before it. That they’re viewing it from the sky is interesting though—an aircraft wouldn’t typically be allowed that close to a fireworks display, but...

buuuuuut...what if it was invisible? Diana’s infamous mode of transport from the comics has long been a bane of Patty Jenkins interviews, with fans constantly wondering if they’ll ever get to see Gal Gadot crunching in an awkward floating seated position like the glorious silver and golden age comics of old. Lack of a very silly invisible cockpit aside, they may finally be getting a moment of that here, but, given we only see a cockpit and not the plane—and not because said plane is invisible, mind!—it’s hard to definitively say.

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“The world needs you,” Steve says to Diana, as we now cut from fireworks to an unknown city, as the duo chase down a fleeing helicopter. In a similar locale, a massive wall comes crashing down, so wherever this actually is, some bad stuff is going to go down. It’s apparently hot enough for Steve to finally tweak his look a bit and...just take the tracksuit jacket off. Man, that thing is gonna have a stench by the end of this movie, apparently.

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“You know what you need to do,” Steve continues, as we cut back to the White House fight, featuring not just some fancy lasso work, offensively and defensively as Diana battles and swings around, but Steve getting in on the action too!

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A quick cut back to the DC scene from earlier sees Diana, now in her costume, running down the same road we saw soldiers and fleeing civilians on earlier, and we get a very brief flashback to her running on Themiscyra as a child in the process, before, back in 1984, she whips out her lasso and just goes bolting into the sky.

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We quickly get what appears to be an explanation for that flashback cut almost immediately, as we return to Themiscyra and scenes of Amazons riding towards a massive, clifftop building that’s basically a giant sphere. It appears to be an arena of sorts, with Amazons leaping between massive poles in what appears to be their own take on the Olympics. Was little Diana’s running her taking part in these trials too? Why would she be flashing back to this during the Washington fight?

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We’re not given chance to ponder, with a cut to a very interesting shot of Lord, arms wide open, in a spinning room as he’s bathed in blue light by a bright, circular opening above him. If this is in that massive satellite tower we glimpsed earlier, that big blue circle could possibly be some form of a major bit of tech from the comics: Brother Eye.

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Created by Batman as a very ominous bit of planet-wide surveillance—what could possibly go wrong?—Brother Eye was an orbital satellite station powered by a massive, powerful artificial intelligence that Bruce initially used to track metahuman threats. During Infinite Crisis however, Lord discovered the satellite and hacked into it, taking control from Batman and using its vast power to hunt down metahumans and eradicate them with the use of another Brother Eye creation, the Omni Mind and Community (best known as OMACs). OMACs were regular people infected with nanobots from Brother Eye and transformed into cybernetic warriors that could stand toe-to-toe with powerful metahumans and even beings like Superman—but given there’s no cyborgs to be seen here, maybe this version of Brother Eye (if it is Brother Eye, that is) is just some sort of power amplifier that enhances Lord’s mindbending abilities?

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“Nothing good is born from lies, and greatness is not what you think,” Diana defiantly states, as we get two more action shots—a graceful, lasso-enhanced ballet in the White House as she takes down a group of security agents, and her leaping over a flipping truck in what looks to be the same environment as the mystery city we saw earlier. Steve’s impressed, at least.

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Elsewhere, as two massive anti-air turrets open fire at an unknown target, Diana takes to the skies once again with her lasso...and hot damn, she’s literally swinging between lightning bolts. What else can you even say about that? It’s rad.

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Well, it gets radder. Jump cut and now Diana’s got another upgrade that more than matches “can literally ride lightning” in the cool stakes: Golden, gloriously winged armor, encasing her head and body in material that, like her bracers, can deflect bullets (and can collapse or shed its wings, somehow).

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We got to see this armor in the poster released to distract us all from the announcement that Wonder Woman 1984 wouldn’t be at Comic-Con this year, and speculated there that it has roots to a particularly iconic Wonder Woman look from the comics. But the eagle-esque helmet and wings we see here confirm it: this is Wonder Woman 1984's take on the Golden Armor of Kingdom Come.

Designed by legendary artist Alex Ross for the landmark 1996 miniseries he did with Mark Waid, in the comics the Gold Armor was a ceremonial battlesuit crafted by Pallas—not to be confused with Pallas Athena, the Greek God Diana’s had more than a few encounters with, this Pallas was an Amazonian artisan—that gave Diana enhanced protection when fighting particularly powerful foes. Although Kingdom Come was an “Elseworlds” tale, the Gold Armor was eventually transitioned to mainstream continuity a few years later.

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Finally, the trailer ends with a joke that serves as a fun little tie-in to Diana’s future career as an art curator by the time we re-meet her in BvS and Justice League. She’s showing Steve around the contemporary artwork at a museum, only for the man-out-of-time to start intellectually admiring a trash can. Look, to a dude from 1914, a trash can is pretty fascinating!

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Outside of establishing a few teasing connections to the comics, like Maxwell Lord and Diana’s gleaming new armor, the first trailer for Wonder Woman 1984 is understandably filled with more questions than it is answers. How does Steve Trevor come back? How does Barbara become Cheetah? What will cause Diana to return to the shadows ahead of her re-discovery in Batman v Superman? We’ll find out more when we get closer to the arrival of Diana’s sophomore solo outing, when Wonder Woman 1984 hits theaters June 5, 2020.

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James is a News Editor at io9. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!

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DISCUSSION

alliterator85
alliterator

She’s showing Steve around the contemporary artwork at a museum, only for the man-out-of-time to start intellectually admiring a trash can.

Look, if a banana taped to a wall can be sold as art for $120,000, I’d say that Steve is ahead of the curve in thinking a trash can is art, too.