Why Steve Trevor’s Wonder Woman 1984 Return Was So Problematic

Wonder Woman 1984 is back on HBO Max, and we're taking the opportunity to reflect on the unnecessarily problematic nature of Steve Trevor's return.

Chris Pine as Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman 1984
Photo: HBO Max

If you’ve only just caught Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max, where it was released for no additional cost to subscribers on Thursday, then you probably have some questions about the Steve Trevor of it all. Chris Pine‘s return as Diana’s long-lost love was much publicized in the lead up to the DCEU’s film release on Christmas 2020… mostly, because it is quite difficult to hide an entire Hollywood Chris while filming. But, prior to the film’s release, it was unclear in what capacity Steve Trevor would be returning, given that he, well, died at the end of Wonder Woman. The answer to how it all goes down left many viewers understandably disappointed. I enjoyed Wonder Woman 1984 a heck of a lot more than most people and was left dumbfounded by the film’s unnecessary decision to bring Steve back in some poor guy’s body. Let’s discuss!

How Steve Comes Back in Wonder Woman 1984

If you’ve watched Wonder Woman 1984, then you know that Steve Trevor comes back to life because Diana wishes for his return on the Dreamstone. At the time, she doesn’t totally believe in the power of the ancient stone (mostly, because she thinks it is some knockoff and not an actual artifact made by the gods), but she still goes for it because she misses Steve so goddamn much. Hr wish is granted and Steve is brought back to life in the body of a local architect, played by Kristoffer Polaha (whom you may know from the excellent Life Unexpected, among other things).

The Problematic Nature of Steve’s Return From the Dead

Wonder Woman 1984 completely ignores the uncomfortable nature of Steve’s return, which sees the WWI pilot waking up in some random guy’s body (presumably without that dude’s consent), and proceeding to use it as if it were his own. After waking up in Not Steve’s body, Steve proceeds to have sex with Diana, eat Cheez Whiz, and get into several life-or-death scenarios that could lead to the forever deaths of both Steve and Not Steve with one stray bullet. Sure, Diana is a good protector, but, because of her wish, she almost immediately starts losing her powers, putting Not Steve’s body in even greater danger. When Diana tries to convince Steve to stay behind when she goes to confront Maxwell Lord at the White House because she wants him to be safe, there is no discussion of how Steve is also using this poor stranger’s body without thought to the implications or consequences. When Steve convinces Diana to let him come along, it is framed as Steve making his own choice about his own body, but, you know, it’s not his own body.

Eventually, Steve convinces Diana to renounce her wish, sending Steve back from the heaven-like afterlife from whence he came and restoring Not Steve’s consciousness to his own body. Again, this decision is not at all framed as the right thing to do because Steve has effectively stolen some poor schmuck’s body, but rather as the right thing to do to save the world—which, yes, definitely… and, even if the fate of the entire world were not at stake, this guy deserves his bod and existence back.

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It’s supremely weird and unfortunate that Wonder Woman 1984 made the choices it did in how it brought Steve Trevor back, mostly because the ickiness of the return were totally unnecessary. Unlike some viewers, I liked the decision to bring back Steve for the Wonder Woman sequel (at least partially because of my undying love for Professional Movie Boyfriend Chris Pine), but there was no reason whatsoever for it to be in someone else’s body. The Dreamstone has seemingly unending power to do change reality, which means that Steve simply could have been brought back to life in his own body, magically restored to its circa 1918 status (because no one wants a mostly decomposed corpse boyfriend/sidekick walking around DC).

The only reason to have Steve Trevor come back in another body would be if the creative team desperately wanted the character back but could not secure the actor for the return, which was not the case. In fact, it was probably closer to the opposite. Since they had Chris Pine, they didn’t need to have Steve Trevor come back in another body because the audience and Diana saw Steve Trevor in his original form anyway. Basically, it was a wholly unnecessary decision that, for some viewers, ruined the movie altogether.

Wonder Woman 1984 is now available to stream on HBO Max in the United States.