[SPOILERS ahead for Wonder Woman.]
Chris Pine’s emotional final scene in Wonder Woman was more complicated to achieve than it at first seems. The actor plays Steve Trevor in the film – a captain from the United States Army Air Service whose plane crashes in the surrounding waters of Themyscira. He is then saved by Diana (Gal Gadot) and together they embark on a journey across Europe in the hopes of ending the war. Along the way, Steve and Diana eventually fall in love with each other before, in the last act of the film, Steve decided on a self-sacrificing move to pilot an airplane full of the deadly gas and blow it up on the air with him still inside.
There have been multiple versions of the Steve in the comic books but he has always been attached to Wonder Woman’s story. On two separate occasions, Diana was even married to him. His death in the pages of the comics have also been tackled a couple of times, but given the nature of the source material, he was typically resurrected in one way or another. The death of Pine’s version of the character, however, appears to have some kind of finality to it and cinematographer Matthew Jensen reveals that they only wanted to film his death as poignant and emotional as possible.
In an interview with THR, Jensen detailed on how meticulous director Patty Jenkins was in filming Steve’s cockpit scene as a way to get the most out of Pine’s performance:
“That is just a great example of Chris’ tremendous ability. Essentially our challenge from a shooting perspective is Patty was really insistent on having this cockpit on a gimbal, mainly for performance. From a camera perspective we weren’t gaining anything by having the plane able to move on a gimbal, because you wouldn’t really see that, especially with the background that’s composited. But Patty wanted him to feel the tilt of the plane and she felt that was instrumental to getting a performance out of him. Honestly, I had all this elaborate lighting that was moving.”
However, even with the practical set built to make the situation feel more realistic, Jensen adds that bulk of the credit falls on Pine’s acting chops:
“Honestly, I had all this elaborate lighting that was moving camera to show the moonlight drift across his face, but when it came down to it, the thing that works the most is just the look on Chris’ face. He’s so good at that and Patty, we were watching it on the monitor and she goes, “I don’t need to do anything. I just need to get out of the way and let Chris perform.” A camera on an actor’s face is sometimes the greatest thing you achieve.”
While arguably every single performance in Wonder Woman is commendable, Pine’s, in particular, was splendid. He was able to perfectly stand on his own without him stealing any spotlight from Gadot. In fact, it almost feels like we were with him throughout the whole process of being in awe of Diana. He was both so honorable and funny that it’s not hard to believe that Wonder Woman would fall in love with him.
It will be interesting how DCEU will utilize Steve’s legacy as a pivotal part of Diana’s story moving forward, with the possibility of Pine returning something the producers are considering. Regardless, his arrival and abrupt departure in Diana’s life have had a major impact on her, so much so that even after all these years, she still holds him dear to her heart as shown at the tail end of the film.