Every superhero struggles at some point. We know that Superman will deal with kryptonite or Iron Man will lose his suit. But we also know that eventually—no matter what struggles they deal with or enemies they face—they’ll triumph in the end.
So it can be said for Wonder Woman.
No, I’m not talking about her clash with arch-nemesis Cheetah or showdown with Max Lord (because, of course, that’d be a spoiler), but about Wonder Woman 1984, the movie. The First Lady of Justice took on COVID-19 and, despite some bumps and bruises, wound up on top.
Sure, the box office wasn’t quite as robust last weekend as we remember from our pre-coronavirus days. Wonder Woman needed just a $16.7 million weekend in North America to take No. 1 over the Christmas holiday. Take a look at this time last year—when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker led the way with $289.8 million—WW84’s take would’ve been only good for fifth place—more than $83 million behind fourth-place Knives Out. (Still, it would’ve beat Cats, so that’s something.)
Still, no movie has made as much in the COVID era as Wonder Woman 1984 had. (Tenet was the previous record holder with a $9.4-million take this September.) Worth noting: Only 35% of theaters are open in the United States, compared to 70% when Tenet was released.
Even more noteworthy: Most people who watched the superhero film likely watched from home, where it was streaming on HBO Max. While we’ve not yet heard how many subscriptions HBO garnered from Wonder Woman, we do know the movie broke all sorts of records for the streaming service: Nearly half of those who have an HBO Max subscription watched the movie on Christmas Day.
No wonder that Warner Bros., the studio behind Wonder Woman 1984, is fast-tracking yet another sequel, which the studio says will have a traditional release.
But Wonder Woman 1984 definitely left some families—especially those who can’t or won’t go to a movie theater just yet—in a quandary: Is the movie worth a subscription to HBO Max? They’re not just pondering the $14.99 monthly subscription fee (or $69.99 for six months), but the streaming service itself. After all, it’s not just Wonder Woman that might land in front of your kids’ eyeballs.
It’s a complicated question—even outside the fact that the movie (as reviewed by Bob Hoose) has some issues of its own. HBO Max actually has a pretty robust streaming service that goes well beyond just what you’d find on HBO. It’s got what it calls “hubs” dedicated to Sesame Street Workshop, Cartoon Network, Studio Ghibli (the studio behind well-regarded anime films such as Spirited Away) and Looney Tunes. And if you’re into old movies like I am, it also offers another hub dedicated to the sorts of films you’d find on Turner Classic Movies.
But then you’ve got, y’know, HBO, which was known to many a parent’s parent as that “naughty premium network” that continues to have a serious yen for nudity and other forms of problematic content. While it has hubs of its own, HBO is a hub itself for salacious, violent and unquestionably adult content.
For parents who want to take the plunge, HBO Max does offer some parental controls: You can create your own Kid profile for your kid, and the service also allows users to block problematic content with a PIN number, which theoretically would keep sons or daughters from switching profiles when you’re not looking.
Still, that’s hardly failsafe technology, and parents will indeed have to ponder whether Wonder Woman (or anything else on the streaming service) is worth it. For those who want to see Wonder Woman 1984 but don’t want to see HBO Max on their TVs or phones, you can always wait for it to come out in the more archaic form of Blu-Ray and DVD. Expect it to drop there in late March or early April.