(Warning: There are some super huge spoilers for “Wonder Woman 1984” below)
It was not a secret that Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) would pop up in “Wonder Woman 1984” even though he died at the end of the last movie. Dude was a key part of the film’s marketing, appearing wearing a track suit and a fanny pack — we just didn’t know why he’d be back, or by what means. But the direction that Patty Jenkins and co. went with was pretty surprising.
Now that we’ve seen “Wonder Woman 1984” and know how Steve came back to life, we have a whole bunch of new questions. Most of them are about the fact that Wonder Woman never considered the immense ethical problem of having Steve steal some random guy’s body forever.
Let’s recap the basics. Steve is brought back to life by the Dreamstone, which is a magic rock that grants wishes, “Monkey’s paw”-style. That is, it gives you what you asked for, but also takes something away. So Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) wishes that Steve would be alive again, and it works! But over the course of the film, the magic of the stone slowly saps away her Amazonian superpowers.
Steve’s resurrection is a little more complicated than we’re used to in these sorts of situations in movies and TV shows. His physical body is not revived. He isn’t simply conjured into being. No, it’s just his soul that has returned — in another man’s body.
Eventually, Wonder Woman is forced to renounce her wish in order to get her powers back and save the world. And when she does and Steve leaves again, I guess this guy regains his consciousness right in the middle of the chaos of the climax of the film, having no idea what’s going on.
“Wonder Woman 1984” never stops to ponder the weirdness of that situation. It actually glosses over it by having us look at Chris Pine’s face the whole time instead of that of Kristoffer Polaha, the actor who plays the person whose body Steve is possessing.
But this certainly awkward. For several days, this unnamed guy loses control of his body while Steve and Diana have their harrowing adventures. He wakes up with, at minimum, a bunch of extra scrapes and bruises. Diana had sex with him at least once without his consent. The whole movie they were risking this man’s life, without letting him choose to get involved.
Steve didn’t have any choice here either, at least in regards to living in this guy’s body. But Diana did. And when she eventually did renounce her wish in the third act, it’s not because of any concern for that guy, but because she knew she had to in order to save the world. If the world hadn’t spiraled into chaos, she would have been happy to have Steve just take over that guy’s existence until he died.
It’s frustrating that “Wonder Woman 1984” isn’t really concerned about any of that, that a character who is sort of the shining star and the beating heart of the DCEU would completely ignore the many ethical complications of Steve’s return from the grave.
The weird thing about this whole situation is that they could have just had Steve manifest in a new body instead of doing this possession thing. You would think that the entire reason they would do it this way would be to invite the ethics conversation I’m having here. The Dreamstone is just magic, and it doesn’t have any rules except those set by the writers.
I’m assuming, then, that at some point there was a version of this film where Wonder Woman does ponder the ethical ramifications of Steve possessing this random dude. It may be that this complicating factor in Steve’s resurrection was intended to be the result of the Dreamstone’s perversion of wishes. Like a “you can have him back, but in a way that will be ethically untenable for a true superhero” kind of thing.
That, to me, is much more interesting than “you can have Steve back but you’ll lose your powers.” This would have been an actual ethical dilemma, without any global stakes. Diana giving up Steve to save the world is boring. Diana giving up Steve to save one person is a much more compelling point of discussion.
Instead, the version of “Wonder Woman 1984” that we ended up with simply is not concerned about this issue at all. That’s a shame, and honestly a pretty strange moral lapse for the character.