There’s a reason why Wonder Woman is one of the best movies of 2017, and yes, it’s because of Patty Jenkins, and Gal Gadot, and the subtle blend of emotion and action, which makes it the perfect superhero movie. But it’s also because of Steve Trevor. More accurately, Steve Trevor’s death. Yeah, sorry, spoilers! But the fact that the charming love interest, and technically leading man of the movie, kicks the bucket at the end of the film is one of the reasons that Wonder Woman is a great movie. It proves that the female-led film doesn’t need a sickly sweet happy ending to resonate with audiences, and cements its feminist status by saying Wonder Woman doesn’t need a man by her side to be successful. And that’s why bringing him back for Wonder Woman 2 (AKA, Wonder Woman 1984) - which director Jenkins recently confirmed via Twitter - is one of the worst things that could happen... because it basically undoes all of this.
I don’t know about you, but I was hoping that after proving that yes, people actually do want to see female-led superhero movies, Jenkins would be given free-rein to push the Wonder Woman franchise even further. For all its positives - and there are a lot! - Wonder Woman is still a fairly safe, predictable movie and the only reason the studios thought it was such a risk is because it had a female lead. Now we’re all clear that this isn’t such a big deal - ok, everyone? Woman can be action leads - Wonder Woman 2 has the opportunity to double down on its female-positive message and make an even more exciting, daring, and yes, feminist movie. And bringing back the male love interest and leading man from the first film just feels like a step backwards for the character, rather than forwards.
It effectively undoes the overriding message of the first movie by saying, ‘Oh no, wait! Wonder Woman can’t continue her story without her man, so we’re going to defy the laws of nature and not only bring him BACK FROM THE DEAD, but also TRANSPORT HIM TO THE ‘80s!’ I mean, seriously, how is that supposed to work? Wonder Woman 2 is going to have to go to ridiculous lengths to bring Trevor back (the current money is on him actually being a different version of Steve from an alternate timeline, or being saved from his fate in Wonder Woman by a timey-wimey wormhole), and yet that’s exactly what’s happening - why? Because even though the first movie is literally about a woman (the clue’s in the title, guys), the secondary male character is still being treated as just as, if not more, important.
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Trevor’s return doesn’t even just retrospectively ruin Wonder Woman. It also causes problems for Batman v Superman and the rest of the DCEU because Diana’s pain at losing her love is a big part of her backstory in that film, and now we’re left wondering why, considering he apparently comes back. At best it spoils the ending of Wonder Woman 2 because we know she’s going to have to lose him again, and at worst it makes her role in BvS nonsensical - but at least it now matches the rest of the film! It’s almost as if Warner Bros. shot itself in the foot by introducing Wonder Woman in a modern-day setting before going back and exploring her origins but, then again, everyone knows you can’t have a female-led superhero film until you’ve introduced the character in a well-known male equivalent first, right? That was sarcasm by the way...
Before the men’s rights activists jump down my throat, I’m not saying that Wonder Woman 2 shouldn’t have any men in. That would be completely unrealistic, despite the fact that we’ve had decades worth of movies, which portray a world full of men and one beautiful woman… I’m not even saying that Wonder Woman 2 shouldn’t have a love interest, although (*whisper it*), that would be nice, wouldn’t it? But why does it have to be the same guy from the first movie? Especially considering he’s dead! Because loving more than one person in your lifetime - even if you’re basically immortal - makes you a slut? Tell that to James Bond! The iconic male action hero is solely responsible for about 80% of all female deaths in cinema. Loving that man is like a curse! And yet, you never see one of his movie’s bringing a Bond girl back from the dead, so 007 has someone to shag.
As much as I enjoyed Steve Trevor’s role in Wonder Woman, and his character is a great example of how secondary characters should be treated in film - yes, I’m looking at you again Bond - his death was really what made the movie for me. It felt like Jenkins was simultaneously pointing out the usually laughable role of female love interests in male-led action movies, while making sure the focus remained on the main character, Wonder Woman, once the credits rolled. And bringing him back, as tempting as that may be, just undoes all of that. It obliterates the impact of his death and betrays the feminist message of the first movie, ensuring that everyone knows that, yeah, you can have a female-led film - just as long as she’s teamed with an equally important male lead no matter what the cost.
Whatever happens with the sequel, Wonder Woman is still an amazing superhero flick - find out where it ranks in our all time list of best superhero movies here.