Warning: Massive SPOILERS are ahead for Wonder Woman 1984.
Ever since we laid eyes on Wonder Woman 1984's first images, there’s one question we’ve kept asking ourselves: 'How in the heck is Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor back?' In the 2017 original film, we all watched teary-eyed as Diana Prince said goodbye to her first love when he sacrificed himself for the greater good. And at the time, it felt like his death was meant to stick with Wonder Woman and teach her a tough but important lesson about what it means to be a true hero. Now that we finally know how and why Pine returned for WW84, we’re itching to talk through this.
What struck me the most about the return of Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman 1984 is how somber and off-putting it was. I thought I was going to be happy with these two finally reunited and together after all these years. There are those moments, but for the most part, Wonder Woman 1984 felt oddly self-aware that Steve Trevor was supposed to stay in the past. And isn’t there a creepiness about the way in which he returns? I mean, the dude takes on the life of another man, even living in his apartment and seeing the man's reflection in the mirror. But as Diana leers, “All I see is you.” First here’s my dilemma with this:
The Problem With WW84 Bringing Steve Trevor Back
Aside from how jarring the methods are in which Steve Trevor does end up back in Diana's arms and how long she just doesn't question it, there is an aspect about Wonder Woman 1984 that makes it seem like Diana Prince has been waiting to move on from Steve Trevor (nor looked at another man the same) since the fateful day at the end of Wonder Woman almost 70 years ago. Her home is littered with memorabilia of him and she seems to live an isolated life honed in on doing her work and fighting bad guys every so often. During her lunch date with Kristen Wiig’s Barbara, she talks about the time she was in love literally “once,” taking us back to her first World War I adventure. With this framing, it almost feels like no time has passed for our heroine; like her life does not move forward without Steve Trevor being part of the story.
This is a frustrating element about Wonder Woman 1984. While we’d imagine she’s lived an interesting life away from Steve in between the ‘20s and the ‘80s, and has moved on, there is a part of Diana’s arc that feels like we haven’t fast-forwarded a lifetime. I believe this unintentionally happens as the filmmakers set up the specific story of Wonder Woman 1984 and Diana’s wish specifically. But the problem remains as Chris Pine’s character enters the fold and becomes a character who accounts for some toned-down action sequences with the hero, who seems to be losing her powers every day she spends with him. Throughout the movie, Diana is realizing she cannot have both. She cannot truly be who she needs to be with Steve Trevor by her side. For both Wonder Woman and WW84, before it can reach its stunning conclusion with Diana kicking ass on her own, she has to have a key moment with Steve that emotionally motivates her to finish the job.
Steve Trevor Represents An Important Value To Wonder Woman
On the surface, bringing back Steve Trevor does seem to take the power away from Diana Prince. Digging deeper, there’s also an element to Diana and Steve in Wonder Woman 1984 that strengthens the core storyline that Patty Jenkins is telling through her solo movie arc. As you may remember at the end of the first Wonder Woman, Diana confronts Ares in an epic finale sequence where the pair also talk about the downfalls of mankind and how we are often “filled with hatred,” and in the context of that movie, creators of a World War. Despite humanity's downfalls and Ares believing they don't “deserve” her protection, Wonder Woman says this:
It’s not about “deserve.” It’s about what you believe and I believe in love.
With this in mind, Wonder Woman 1984 continues to explore her values, with Steve Trevor embodying what she imagines when it comes to her belief in love. As the story of the film progresses, and Diana Prince realizes she must let Steve go, she learns another important value that goes hand-in-hand with love: truth. She can love and miss Steve all she wishes, but he no longer exists. During the sequel, he was an ideal, memory and want she was holding onto. As the rest of the world gave into their desires like she was, she realized that looking at what’s really in front of you is just as important as having belief and finding love in humanity.
It’s Time For Wonder Woman To Move On From Steve Trevor
Diana is all about love, and with that in mind, I see no problem with Steve Trevor playing another large role in Wonder Woman 1984. Not to mention that he ends up playing this “on her arm” boyfriend type who sincerely tries to fight her battles with her and is up to braving the fight, but really cannot hold his own without her. Chris Pine is fulfilling a trope that many women throughout movie history have been ridden with and tried to defy – not being as strong or able as their hero S.O., but trying their darndest to support them.
In a lot of ways, Steve is to Diana what Peggy Carter was to Captain America or Lois Lane to Superman. They represent this humanity and home away from their soars to superhero glory, and really help ground the main character’s on their journey. If Wonder Woman was devoid of love or someone to symbolize her desires and wants, she would not be as effective of a character that Patty Jenkins has adapted her to become. And when there's that little wink rom-com moment with the guy whose body was stolen by Steve, it's showing Diana being able to believe in love and see what is in front of her at once. Growth, honey!
While Wonder Woman 1984 is a worthy sequel to the 2017 epic, it would be a mistake for the story not to continue or for it to continue with him again, when the movie was so focused on Diana realizing she needs to place Steve Trevor in the past. I’m thankful this love story was given a deeper arc than a one-and-done storyline (its flaws and all), but I do hope we get to see Diana in the present day in a story that is not defined by her first great love.
The broader question might be whether these Wonder Woman movies work without Steve Trevor as the character moves forward, or if the storyline has defined itself too heavily on their relationship. At this point, we’d only figure this out through a third Wonder Woman movie. What do you think? Does Wonder Woman 1984 have a Steve Trevor problem? Vote for your thoughts in the poll below.