Joe Flood is a writer and photographer.
“Wonder Woman 1984” has been filming in Washington. If you went by one of the locations, the assistants told you that it was “Magic Hour.” But everyone knew it was “Wonder Woman.”
Seeing photos online, I hurried down to catch the shoot at the Hirshhorn Museum.
My timing was propitious, and I biked up just as “Wonder Woman,” I mean “Magic Hour,” was rehearsing a scene.
There’s Gal Gadot!
No. It was her stand-in.
The stand-ins were acting now, walking where Gadot and Chris Pine later would, and acting, too, the Pine stand-in reacting to something overhead. Walk, talk, react as the camera whirred and cars from the 1980s idled nearby.
The old cars hit reverse, the stand-ins returned to shadows, and the extras relaxed in their bright, 1980s clothes.
The cars moved forward, the stand-ins took their marks, and the extras tried to look natural.
Drivers from down the street honked, annoyed at being delayed. High school tour groups, clad in identical green shirts, trooped by, unaware of the movie shoot. Assistants shooed joggers across the street. “The sidewalk is closed!”
And then, there were Gadot and Pine, wearing the same clothes as the stand-ins but anointed with the familiarity of stars. You know them, but you don’t. Their images are the only things truly accessible.
They duplicated what the stand-ins did. Walk, talk, react. Pine gawked at whatever was in the sky but with considerably more subtlety than the stand-in. That’s probably why he’s the movie star.
I loved their use of D.C. landmarks. They re-created Commander Salamander in Georgetown, a mainstay of 1980s cool — when the 1980s were cool.
What wasn’t so cool was “Wonder Woman 1984” shutting down Pennsylvania Avenue all weekend long, blocking off bike lanes with no alternate accommodations. Instead, confused tourists, groups on Segways, bikes and cars crammed into narrow streets trying to detour around the blocks-long bottleneck.
There weren’t even detour signs for the lost. Instead, just fences and people with ill-defined authority telling them to leave and “No photos!”
To help the filmmakers, the D.C. government erected barricades, parked dump trucks and even brought in police officers to keep the curious away. Money talks in the non-superhero universe.
Meanwhile, a few blocks away, the D.C. Department of Transportation had finished its reconstruction/destruction of the 15th Street NW bike lane by the old Washington Post building. It had been a protected bike lane until it was destroyed to enable a private developer to construct a building. The biking residents of the city (including me) have endured years of dodging cement trucks and cranes so that a rich man can get richer.
I biked by. All the resources of the city were handed to the “Wonder Woman 1984” filmmakers. On 15th Street, DDOT couldn’t be bothered to put up a barrier of plastic bollards.
But that doesn’t matter to Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and a government entranced by Hollywood fame. They’ll block off entire streets for an imaginary character but do little for the residents who are forced to beg for a few pieces of plastic protection from very real dangers.
In the movies, Wonder Woman stands up for the oppressed. But in real life, there are no superheroes. If you have money, the city will let you do what you want.