(Some spoilers ahead for “Wonder Woman 1984”)
Everything is a franchise these days, especially when it comes to nerdy megablockbusters. The Marvel Cinematic Universe changed so much about the landscape of Hollywood, and so DC Comics naturally tried to replicate its massive success with its own slate of interconnected comic book movies.
Things haven’t quite worked out the same way for the DCEU, with the whole thing kinda blowing up after “Justice League.” But the shared universe of films based on DC Comics still exists, and “Aquaman,” “Shazam,” “Birds of Prey” and now “Wonder Woman 1984” are a part of it. Things are less connected now, with no obvious crossover in sight, but the films still tend to nod to each other.
But is that the case with “Wonder Woman 1984”? It’s set well outside of the time periods of any of the other DCEU films. That was also the case for the first “Wonder Woman,” which took place way back during World War I, but that film squeezed in modern-day framing — Bruce Wayne sent Diana Prince a photograph of Steve Trevor, and that photo caused her to reminisce about the war.
So while “Wonder Woman” was otherwise totally self-contained, that very light frame story forges the film’s connection to the greater shared universe.
As far as I can tell, “Wonder Woman 1984” doesn’t do anything like that. I couldn’t detect even a single reference to any other DCEU character or film — other than the first “Wonder Woman,” of course. As far as this movie is concerned, there are no superheroes out there other than Diana herself. There’s no frame story. No nods to potential future villains or heroes. No obscure comic book references that could blossom into a a major plotline somewhere down the road. No post-credits scene teasing “The Suicide Squad” or “The Batman.”
You might think that, given the year this movie takes place, it would be pretty difficult to bake in references. But, honestly, they had a built-in gimme. Ben Affleck was born in 1972, so 1984 is a plausible year for the DCEU to place the death of his parents. And, thus, a plausible excuse to include a shot of Wonder Woman watching a news broadcast about the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. This is an example of a natural and relatively easy way it could have nodded to the greater franchise.
(Brief aside: Yes, I know that the new Batman, Robert Pattinson, was not even born yet in 1984. This was just a hypothetical, not something I think they should have done.)
But it doesn’t appear to have done anything like that. So “Wonder Woman 1984” is instead a pure sequel, standing apart from the shared universe.
I’m not passing judgment, of course. Just as there’s nothing inherently wrong with playing into the shared universe concept with references, there’s also nothing wrong with not doing that. There’s no correct way to handle this sort of thing.
It’s possible, of course, that I missed something, and that “Wonder Woman 1984” actually does contain a super secret DCEU Easter Egg that teases some future film. But after two viewings I didn’t notice any. If the fans unearth anything new over Christmas, we’ll be sure to update this article.