Addressing the Islamophobia in “Wonder Woman 1984”

Wonder Woman 1984 Islamophobia
Diana and Steve in a taxi with the Islamic pendant (Image: Screengrab)

Turns out, along with being problematic when it comes to consent, Wonder Woman 1984 also features Islamophobia. Sigh! At this point, if you’re out there supporting Wonder Woman 1984 while ignoring or excusing certain narrative issues, I don’t know what to say to you.

This piece contains minor spoilers for Wonder Woman 1984. Consider yourself warned. 

Full disclaimer, while I rolled my eyes at Wonder Woman 1984 featuring a Muslim character as one of the bad guys, I didn’t pick up on the blatant Islamophobia during my initial viewing. I got to know about the implications of the scene in question after I decided to head on over to the Muslim side of Twitter.

An action sequence during Wonder Woman 2 occurs in Cairo. Maxwell Lord goes to meet Emir Said Bin Abydos and take over his oil empire. The Muslim character’s wish is to construct a wall and regain control of his ancestral land.

During the final moments, the movie also had a character in mujahideen-looking garb wishing for nuclear weapons.

Wonder Woman 2 Islamophobic
Image: Screengrab

Yes, it felt weird this movie didn’t have a single Muslim character playing the role of a good guy, especially after the first Wonder Woman had a Muslim character be one of Diana’s friends. But it is what it is. I would like Hollywood to do better, of course.

Now, coming to the most problematic and Islamophobic scene that involved Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). I was surprised when I saw tweets about said scene and how blatantly Islamophobic it was to show Steve swatting away a pendant, inside a taxi, with the name Allah and Muhammad (P.B.U.H) written on it.

Turns out, my mind didn’t even register such a moment. Instead of realizing what had transpired onscreen, apparently, my brain did something and I thought Steve had quickly placed the pendant on the dashboard before crawling out of the taxi to help Diana.

I rewatched the scene and was quite disappointed to see the scene for it was. In my opinion, there was no reason for such a scene to exist. It served no narrative purpose other than Steve being shown throwing away the names of two beings held in high regard in the Muslim community.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against artistic content asking questions about various faiths or exploring what it means to follow a certain religion or belief. Shows like Elite, Tiny Pretty Things, 9-1-1: Lone Star, and Ramy feature Muslim characters in the main cast, with Elite and Ramy having queer Muslim characters. The Old Guard movie co-starred a queer Muslim character married to a queer Christian character.

Such artistic content uses fictional Muslim characters to challenge the “interpretations” of Islam that continue to be used to encourage hate and discrimination in the real world. At no point does such content (even when certain Muslim characters aren’t being played by Muslim actors) attack what numerous Muslims believe in.

However, in my opinion, seeing Steve throwing away a pendant showcasing names sacred in Islam served no narrative purpose except for adding to Wonder Woman 1984‘s Islamophobic and anti-Arab count.

Wonder Woman 1984 Islamophobia
Image via Twitter @radbrowndads

Warner Bros. has greenlit Wonder Woman 3. Here’s  hoping the creative narrative choices are better than what fans of Diana Prince, like me, had to sit through while watching Wonder Woman 2.

Feel free to share your thoughts with us.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

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18 thoughts on “Addressing the Islamophobia in “Wonder Woman 1984”

  1. Thanks to this article, I’ve re-watched this scene over and over, and it looks to me that Steve is swatting the rear-view mirror to get it out of the way so he can climb out of the taxi after crashing it into the armored vehicle. Watching it frame-by-frame, it’s obvious he’s aiming for the mirror and not the pendant. The other issues brought up I can see, but I don’t see the pendant one.

  2. Fun Fact: Boxing legend Muhammad Ali’s Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame isn’t on the ground due to the name’s relevance in the Muslim community. Seeing Wonder Woman 1984 being so nonchalant about having Steve (a good guy) swat away such an Islamic pendant was just ufff.

  3. I saw this movie last week and the moment I saw the pendant in the car. I was thinking how is this going to end and I wasn’t surprised the way it did. You can see the hate towards Muslims. They are lucky this scene hasn’t been brought to the mainstream otherwise you’re going to see a lot of angry Muslims. It’s very deliberate and planned. They should say sorry and remove it.

    1. Yup. It’s similar to how certain members of the LGBTQ+ community also don’t like using the word “Homophobia” and what it actually means if you get into technicalities. But, unfortunately, until there’s a larger consensus on which words to use instead of such terms and said words become part of the lexicon, it is what it is.

  4. Islamophobia doesn’t exist, just real worries about a very bad set of ideas:

    European Court of Human Rights

    “Noting that the Welfare Party had pledged to set up a regime based on sharia law, the Court found that sharia was incompatible with the fundamental principles of democracy as set forth in the Convention. It considered that “sharia, which faithfully reflects the dogmas and divine rules laid down by religion, is stable and invariable. Principles such as pluralism in the political sphere or the constant evolution of public freedoms have no place in it”. According to the Court, it was difficult to declare one’s respect for democracy and human rights while at the same time supporting a regime based on sharia, which clearly diverged from Convention values, particularly with regard to its criminal law and criminal procedure, its rules on the legal status of women and the way it intervened in all spheres of private and public life in accordance with religious precepts.”
    Annual Report 2003

    1. “Islamophobia doesn’t exist, just real worries about a very bad set of ideas.”… “Homophobia doesn’t exist, just real worries about a very bad set of ideas.”… “Racism doesn’t exist, just real worries about a very bad set of ideas.”… “Anti-Christianity doesn’t exist, just real worries about a very bad set of ideas.”

      It makes no sense. Lol.

      Anyway, the point of this article makes it clear that questioning and challenging religious beliefs should be okay. However, what Wonder Woman 1984 depicted wasn’t any of that. It wasn’t questioning or challenging anything about Islam in the overall narrative.

  5. ADMIN NOTE: Farid is not banning anyone. I am. If you break our website rules, I will implement our policies accordingly. Additionally, I will close down this comments section if it gets too out of hand. These rules can be found here:

    Discussion is fine. Racist comments are not. Neither is name calling, harassment, or comments that derail the conversation with the intent to start a fight. If you violate these rules, I will step in again. If these rules aren’t violated, you can continue to have valid discussions.

    UPDATE: Due to islamaphobic and homophobic email threats, we have had to close down the comment section to this article. We apologize to those who wish to continue this discussion further.

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