Amazonian superhero gets some assist from the era’s machines
Just in time to end 2020 and bring in 2021 on a cheerful, hopeful note, DC has released “Wonder Woman 1984”, the fourth modern film to feature the Amazonian. Half Indiana Jones adventure, half rom-com, and one hundred percent comic-book fantasy, Wonder Woman 1984 takes viewers on a joyride across a brightly-colored snapshot of the 1980s. The plot is reminiscent of the wild and crazy storylines of superhero comics of the era. Fittingly for a character who emerges from a mythical island, Wonder Woman aka Diana Prince has to combat the threats to life and liberty in the 1980s: nuclear war, big oil, unscrupulous business moguls—and some magical powers wielded by the villains.
As a film set in the 1980s, hallmarks of the era: TV sets, brightly-colored gym wear, flashy clothes are all around—and especially the cars. One of the first vehicles to be prominently seen on-screen is the 1980s favorite, the Pontiac Firebird. The Pontiac Firebird was GM’s response to the popularity of the Ford Mustang, and shared a platform with the Chevrolet Camaro. Pontiac was then branded as the “performance division” of GM. The Firebird, aka Firebird Trans Am, featured prominently in several popular films and TV series. Burt Reynolds used it as the hero car in the hit film “Smokey and the Bandit,” thus supercharging Firebird Trans Am sales for a happy GM. It’s been called the most successful automotive product placement of all time. Another generation of viewers would have a later version of the Trans Am seared into their memories as the star of “Knight Rider.”
Wonder Woman’s chief nemesis in the movie is ambitious businessman and would-be oil mogul Maxwell Lord, played by Pedro Pascal. Part Gordon Gecko, part Lex Luthor, Lord has to look the part of a successful business tycoon, so he is chauffered in a Rolls Royce Silver Spirit. Various versions of this full-size luxury car were prominent in movies and TV shows of the era, including Dallas, Dynasty, and Miami Vice.
As the movie takes them to Africa, Wonder Woman and magically resurrected beau Steve Trevor need a car to chase after the bad guys. What better car to use than the “workhorse of Africa,” the Peugeot 504. The 504 sedan was styled by the Pininfarina studio, and featured a sturdy platform and long-travel suspension that made it suitable for countries with rough terrain. As expected, the 504 in WW84 takes quite a beating. You may also recall the 504 as the henchmen’s chase vehicle in the James Bond film “For Your Eyes Only.”
Leaping from the Peugeot, Wonder Woman makes quick work of taking out the villains. They were driving a Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUV. The G-Class was introduced in 1979 and its appearance remained mostly unchaged until today. Still, sharp-eyed viewers may notice that the G-Class vehicles in the movie were likely from the 1990s and customized to look older.
The brawnier vehicles in the action set piece were based on a Russial BRDM amphibous vehicle, and a Ural 375 truck. The GAZ-66 is also in the convoy. The GAZ is a Russian off-road capable military truck. Almost a million GAZ-66 vehicles were produced, and gained popularity in armed forces and off-road enthusiasts.
Director Patty Jenkins said that: “There was something about [the 1980s] that symbolized the beginning of modernity and the mechanized world.”
Indeed, for a longer and faster journey, Diana and Steve commandeer a fighter-bomber plane, depicted in the film by a Panavia Tornado. Steve enjoys the jet plane’s high performance (“No propeller!”), while Diana makes sure that they aren’t seen by friends and foe alike. It makes for a joyful moment, at a time when we all need it.
PHOTOS ARE SCREEN GRABS FROM MOVIE TRAILER