It’s a victory enough to make Wonder Woman, but to do it while also making her famous love interest, Steve Trevor as entertaining and popular a star? That’s twice the victory. And even if Chris Pine jokes about Steve’s importance to Wonder Woman, the diehard comic fans know that it’s hard to have Diana of Themyscira without the daring American flyboy at her side… which is why it’s so surprising to hear Steve Trevor was almost left out of the finished film. The question of exactly who wrote Wonder Woman has turned out to be a complicated one, but what is clear is that, whether on a conceptual story level or a scene-to-scene script, DCEU creators Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns, and Zack Snyder helped bring Diana’s first solo adventure to the world.
And now, fans can hear why Steve Trevor was so pivotal to the film’s story, and Diana’s mission – straight from the source. With the newly released Wonder Woman: The Art and Making of The Film by Sharon Gosling, fans are given an extra glimpse behind the scenes, and into the earliest days of developing Wonder Woman‘s next DCEU story. At the time, it was Zack Snyder introducing the world to Gal Gadot’s take on the heroine in Batman v Superman, and as a result was among the first creators working to help her origin story take shape. Long before that story was set in stone – let alone turned into a screenplay – Steve Trevor’s role in Wonder Woman was far from a given.
If fans of the film have a hard time imagining Diana’s origin story without the American spy, Snyder explains how the writers came to that same realization:
“Early on we talked about whether or not we would bring him into the story. Steve is so deep in the mythology that after some debate we found that just like Wonder Woman needs Steve, we needed Steve too. We need to be able to look at Wonder Woman through the eyes of the audience. And it’s interesting that those eyes be Steve’s, in that he almost represents the status quo. He also has to be changed by Wonder Woman. He has to see the world through her eyes and then he had to become a hero in his own way, inspired by her.”
In the finished version of the story, fans might argue that Steve Trevor is introduced as something of a hero already: an American who joined up with the British to aid the war effort, and who performed with valor when given the chance to shut down a German chemical weapons operation. But as Snyder points out, the rest of the film sees Steve witnessing Diana becoming Wonder Woman, sees her do the impossible despite the odds, and lead the way towards his ultimate goal. When the film ends, it’s Steve’s heroism – inspired by Diana – that ultimately convinces her that mankind is worth believing in, despite its darkness.
There may be some who would bristle (and certainly have already) at the idea of Wonder Woman being forced to share the spotlight with her romantic lead. But Patty Jenkins and Chris Pine have been clear from the beginning: Steve Trevor is no “love interest.” In fact, Jenkins takes the stance that having Diana’s journey so closely linked to her relationship and romance(?) with Steve doesn’t take away from her independence. If anything, it shows that female characters and female heroes don’t need to play by different rules than, say, Superman himself:
“I feel like one of the most ironically sexist things that happened to women heroes for so long was that they had universal storytelling taken away from them. So, male superheroes could have Lois Lane. They can have love, they can have vulnerability, they can have complexity. But women superheroes or strong women characters had to be, ‘I don’t need anyone, I’m the toughest person in the world.’ That’s not fair to anybody. No human being is an island like that.
“Chris Pine was a rare and special casting. We wanted a man who was a true parallel to Diana. A giant spirit who is the kind of man one aspires to be, but isn’t afraid to be complex and leave room for and even compliment another. He’s the kind of man women want to believe is out there. He’s also one of the best actors I’ve ever worked with.”
That’s a point well made by Jenkins, since the decision to de-sexualize, or remove any vulnerability from a female lead has often led to brand new problems of representation – even in the pursuit of a feminist, egalitarian story. With Christopher Reeve’s Superman – and even Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, for that matter – the traditional idea of a ‘masculine, decisive, action-oriented hero’ is somewhat subverted by Superman out of the costume. For Reeve, it’s his decidedly submissive Clark Kent. For Snyder, it’s a man unsure of his role in the world. So if heroes can be complicated and contradictory, why can’t a heroine?
Her praise for Chris Pine isn’t misplaced, either, since his performance and characterization guarantee that the best of men, and humanity at large, is represented. Instead of sticking to the archetypes and keeping it simple, Jenkins and the other storytellers made Wonder Woman an empowering story for men and women. And what makes Steve Trevor such a success? He manages to become a hero of his own following Diana’s lead… but also knows when to leave the stage to her alone.
Source: Wonder Woman: The Art and Making of The Film