I was a fan of most of the first Wonder Woman film, but sadly disappointed by Wonder Woman 1984. At First Things, I wrote a little on how the film failed to live up to its promise.
In her second film, the recent Wonder Woman 1984, Diana isn’t facing down an enemy power, but a distinctly American moral threat. Her antagonists are relatively ordinary people: a shy scientist (Barbara Minerva, played by Kristin Wiig) and a floundering con man (Maxwell Lord, played by Pedro Pascal). Both covet the kind of mastery displayed by Diana, but they pursue the outward signs of strength while neglecting the inward discipline required to wield them.
Lord is a crook who’s even snookered himself. In his infomercials, he invites investment in his oil business with his personal mantra, “Life is good! But it can be better.” His oil fields may be secretly dry, but he still believes his own tag line, “All you need is to want it.” He has no exit planned from his Ponzi scheme because he doesn’t think of himself as a fraudster, just as a winner whose time hasn’t come yet.