Like many people, I saw Wonder Woman 84 over the holidays. And, I’ve been trying to figure out how to broach the biggest issue I saw with the movie. Not the CG, not loopholes in the timeline – those are part and parcel with any superhero movie (or story on paper, anyways). But it was a major flaw with how Steve Trevor returned.
(Obviously, spoilers to follow)
The Dreamstone allowed people to be granted a wish, but it came with a price. Diana, lonely, wished for Steve back. And she was granted him – but he came back in the body of someone alive. And what does Diana do that first night? She sleeps with him. A lot.
This. And maybe only this is the decision I don’t agree with.
The DCEU established that Diana has led a lonely life. We see hints that she kept those she met in the original movie close, and has watched them all die. And that perhaps, this is why she’s kept people at arm’s length. Diana, living on an island where people lived forever – never had to learn about grief and how to live beyond it.
BUT, Diana has a strong moral fiber. I can see her being tempted to wish for Steve. Being unwilling to let him go. I just can’t see her making the decision to sleep with someone else’s body.
When we saw it, it did remind me of a lot of 80s movies. And the way consent was blurred in a lot of those movies, either for laughs or for emotion. In Big, Elizabeth Perkins’ character unknowingly sleeps with a 12 year old. Sure he’s in an adult body, but he’s still a child, and he turns back and leaves her to figure out what this meant for her own actions. It’s actually something that bothered me enough that I can’t rewatch anything more than the keyboard scene.
But the problem with an homage like that is that now, 40 years later… we the audience know better. While it’s something that would have been ignored in an 80s movie, this movie was written and filmed now. And judging by the reaction of a lot of people who saw it, we all felt the same way – that this was something that made the movie uncomfortable and harder to rewatch.
If anything, this could have been neatly solved if when Steve comes back in Kristoffer Polaha’s body, they go back to “his” place and spend the whole night talking, and after spending all day in another man’s things… both realize how wrong this is, spurring them into wanting to find out more about the Dreamstone…
or…. in a much different movie, Diana and Steve are confronted by the reality of what happened – seeing another man’s belongings, another man’s life. Maybe Steve realizes they need to fix this, now. And it becomes clear that the wish on the Dreamstone didn’t just cost Diana’s strength… but her moral center as well.
The latter would have required a lot more time, but I left it in to point out that it would have to be an issue answered somewhere. And that even though they did imply that he had no memory of Diana, it is a thing that still happened – and Diana remembers.
Why it matters
The disappointing thing is that in a movie helmed by women, that’s supposed to be about the strength and innate goodness of Diana – that Wonder Woman 84 would have overlooked this.
More disappointing that Patty Jenkins actually felt like this was okay. That it’s some acceptable grey area, when it isn’t.
Also: it was actually more frustrating for me that rather than keeping this movie simply about Diana and Barbara’s friendship, and finding themselves at odds because of the Dreamstone – that they added so many more threads that took up ample time.