Wonder Woman 1984 Would Have Been Way Better if Its Soundtrack Was Nonstop ’80s Pop Songs

The 2020 Movie Club: an interruption.

Wonder Woman in her uniform smiling.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by HBO Max.

Movie Clubbers! I must interrupt your enlightened critical discourse about body swapping and Karen haircuts to weigh in on a very important issue. I have figured out what is wrong with Wonder Woman 1984.

You have declared WW84 pretty good (Dana) or good if you don’t think about it too long (Justin) or obviously bad (Alison). While I had a fine time during WW84, I mostly view it as a cavalcade of missed opportunities. Why produce a sequel to a hit movie that was uplifting and fun and make it dour and glum for its entire second half? Why shoot a scene in which Kristen Wiig stares longingly at Gal Gadot over glasses of wine while they bemoan their shared loneliness and not end it with them falling into each other’s arms?


And, most glaringly, why on earth would you set a movie in 1984—as Michaelangelo Matos’ terrific new book points out, a signal year for pop hits—and then not lard the soundtrack with every great song from that era? The teaser trailer for WW84, memorably set to New Order’s “Blue Monday,” promised a Skittles-colored New Wave extravaganza, and so boy was it a drag to discover that other than a well-placed Frankie Goes to Hollywood track, the entire movie was scored with basically the same big, loud, Hans Zimmer score as every other superhero movie.

Think about it! 1984 was the year of “Let’s Go Crazy.” It was the year of “Cool It Now.” It was the year of Bruce’s “Dancing in the Dark,” Madonna’s “Material Girl,” Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” Need a song about magic? This was literally the year of the Cars’ “Magic”! Need a song about flying? You may choose between two enormous hits called “Jump”!!!


Imagine if that scene of Chris Pine trying on Handsome Guy’s clothes had been set to “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” or if Kristen Wiig’s glam makeover had been scored by Sheila E.’s “The Glamorous Life,” or if Wonder Woman and Cat Kristen Wiig had faced off to 1984 Grammy winner Pat Benatar’s “Love Is a Battlefield.” I think if I had been served up those needle drops I might have been able to overlook the fact that Patty Jenkins didn’t bother to set-dress the D.C. Metro to remove the signs for the opened-in-2014 Silver Line, or that Kristen Wiig somehow got a second wish and used it to turn into a cat, or that when Pedro Pascal went on worldwide TV not one single person on Earth said, “I wish this blowhard would shut the hell up.”


Not all the songs on my fantasy version of the Wonder Woman 1984 soundtrack need to be Prince- or Madonna-level hits, of course. 1984 was also the year of the Bangles’ “Hero Takes a Fall,” the Replacements’ “I Will Dare,” and—speaking of authenticity in D.C.—the Minor Threat LP. (Hey, at least we got this moment.)

But sometimes, at a big climax, what a movie like Wonder Woman 1984 needs is a huge, universally known hit song to push a cheesy moment into the realm of the sublime. Here, I’ll show you:

I rest my case.

You might think I’m foolish,

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