Surprise – Wonder Woman 1984 is a stealth Christmas movie

It’s the most wonder-ful time of the year.

Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman 1984 (Warner Bros)

We all love Christmas movies, which hail from a feelgood genre stuffed with festive cheer, surprise romances, heartwarming storylines and more fake snow than you can shake a candy cane at – but is superhero sequel Wonder Woman 1984 secretly one of their number?

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Well, that’s the question on our lips following the long-awaited release of the fun and flashy movie, which sees Diana (Gal Gadot) take on a ruthless billionaire (Pedro Pascal) and a friend-turned-enemy (Kristen Wiig) in 1980s America.

Originally planned for release much earlier, the film arrived in mid-December 2020 in the UK and on Christmas Day itself in the US, with most assuming that the release date in no way reflected the content of the film – but they’d be wrong.

You see, despite spending most of its runtime set in the sun-drenched summer of 1984, in its final moments Wonder Woman 1984 reveals its true colours, setting the action explicitly at Christmas as Diana learns to connect more with the world around her.

There’s snow. There’s adorable children. There are Christmas trees, baubles and decorations. Quite frankly, there’s festive cheer up the wazoo – and as Diana wanders around, entranced by the beautiful festivities around her, there’s even a magic Christmas star that flies overhead. It’s a Christmas miracle!

It’s unclear whether this scene was added later in the day to help tie the film to its new airdate, or whether there was always a random scene set at Christmas to finish things off, which helped convince director Patty Jenkins that the new release date would still fit her film (though we suspect the latter) – but Wonder Woman wouldn’t be the first superhero movie incongruously set at Christmas.

Famously, 1992’s Batman Returns is set at the most festive time of year despite its original release in June (and a fairly dark story based around the Penguin trying to kill people’s firstborn sons), and has had its status as a Christmas movie argued over by those who consider the Die Hard debate to be a little too mainstream.

Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Keaton on the set of Batman Returns (Getty, EH)
Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Keaton on the set of Batman Returns (Getty, EH)

More recently, 2013’s Iron Man 3 was also set at Christmas, and though it was released in May of that year Marvel later apparently decided the film counted as a Christmas movie.

“The plot of Iron Man 3 could honestly take place at any time of the year – considering it’s not wholly dependent on its Christmas setting,” Rachel Paige wrote on the Marvel website.

“But, the fact that it does take place at Christmas makes it a clear contender for a true Christmas movie, and we’re here to say, once and for all, that it deserves a place in the Christmas Movie Hall of Fame.

“Proclaiming this, of course, brings up the age-old debate as to what actually qualifies something as a Christmas movie, and your mind probably wanders to that argument over the likes of Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, Gremlins, and Rocky IV.

Tony Stark Iron Man
Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark in Iron Man 3 (Marvel)

“Hey, if those are allowed to be classified as Christmas movies, so is Iron Man 3.”

And now, undoubtedly, Wonder Woman 1984 can be counted among that number as well – though possibly even more assuredly. You see, while these other superhero and action movies are set at Christmas, Wonder Woman 1984 was also released at Christmas, and taps into the true spirit of the festive movie genre.

Like the best Christmas movies, there’s romance – in the form of Diana and Steve’s relationship – and a family drama, best demonstrated by baddie Maxwell Lord’s (Pedro Pascal) relationship with his son.

And most convincingly of all, it’s the warmth of Christmas and its attendant festivities that truly seems to heal Diana’s broken heart in the closing moments of the film, tying the holiday explicitly to Wonder Woman 1984’s emotional arc and giving audiences everywhere that warm, fuzzy festive feeling.

Wonder Woman 1984
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman 1984 (Warner Bros)
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So yep, we’re calling it – Wonder Woman is definitely a Christmas movie, above and beyond those other unusual films who have fought for that classification.

We look forward to it becoming the new Love Actually – albeit with more Amazon-vs-evil-Cheetah-Lady fights.

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Wonder Woman 1984 is in UK and US cinemas now, and on HBO Max in the US. Want something else to watch? Check out our full TV Guide.