'Wonder Woman 1984' Has an '80s Businessman Villain Inspired by Donald Trump

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Dec. 25 2020, Updated 8:00 a.m. ET

Although it was released during the Trump administration, the first Wonder Woman was shot and conceived in an era where Barack Obama was still the president. The first movie was a massive success, proving that DC's attempt to match Marvel's superhero juggernaut was not entirely hopeless. It also proved that audiences would turn out for a blockbuster that was centered on and creatively controlled by women. 

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What is 'Wonder Woman 1984' about?

Thanks to the success of the first movie, there was an almost immediate demand for a sequel. Now, three years later, Wonder Woman 1984 is set to hit HBO Max and arrive in theaters on Christmas Day. The movie has not yet been widely seen, but it's already generating some controversy because some think the movie has explicit anti-Trump sentiments coursing through it. To get at why that is, we first have to discuss what the movie is about. 

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The sequel is set 70 years after the first film and takes place against the backdrop of excess in the 1980s. The movie also features the return of Steve Trevor, who appeared to die in the first film. The movie also introduces a pair of new villains, Cheetah, who's played by Kristen Wiig, and Max Lord, who's played by Pedro Pascal. 

Is 'Wonder Woman 1984' anti-Trump?

Although there are plenty of comic book elements at the heart of Wonder Woman 1984, the film's director Patty Jenkins has been quite clear about the fact that Max Lord, a conniving businessman and one of the film's villains, is based on Donald Trump. In the film, Max cons his way into the Oval Office by making promises that he can't deliver on and also suffers from a debilitating inferiority complex. 

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As the movie suggests, there isn't much that's authentic about Max. His success is based entirely on lies, and he even says, “I’m not a con man. I’m a television personality!” at one point in the film. It's not hard, then, for viewers to draw a line between Max and Donald Trump, who has made similar claims and relied on his success as a businessman to propel him into the White House. 

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When Patty was asked about the real-life inspirations for the character, she acknowledged that she drew from Trump. "He's one of them," she said when asked about her influences. "Trump's definitely one of the people we looked at, but it's any of those kind of mavericks of business success that was big in the '80s. Who went on to be major players in our world in potentially questionable other ways."

While some fans are disappointed by this explicitly political bent, the original Wonder Woman was also infused with politics, in part through its depiction of a hugely functional island run entirely by women. In interviews, Patty has also made it clear that, while Max is based in part on Trump, there are some differences between the two. 

"You’re not just doing a campy ’80s businessman," Patty told The New York Times. "You’re doing somebody who wants to be that, an immigrant who’s seen those guys in The Wall Street Journal, and so he’s frosting his hair and trying to look like he’s white." 

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