Steve Trevor is the hero we need


Spoiler Alert: Copious spoilers and plot details to follow. They will rain down like Amazons swinging from a cliffside. Consider yourself warned. 

Much has been written about Wonder Woman.  Gal Gadot’s amazing portrayal, the skillful directing by Patty Jenkins, and the incredible choreography of the fight sequences have all been thoroughly and rightfully lauded.  I whole-heartedly agree that it is the best version of the first female big-screen superhero we could have hoped for!

What seems to be missing from the conversation is the human component of the story.  Superhero movies are focused on those with special powers and abilities.  Regardless of how the power is gained – chemical enhancement, spider-bite, high-tech gadgetry, etc. – the protagonists and antagonists are somehow imbued with super-human abilities.  Wonder Woman herself fits this criteria.

What we rarely see in superhero movies are fully fleshed-out characters without the aid of super capabilities.  Characters to root the story to humanity and reality as most of us know it.  They are few and far between.  They appear as the occasional one-note secretary or shadowy government agent, relegated to a fraction of screen time.  Without these relatable, normal human characters woven throughout the story, big-budget, splashy superhero flicks are fun, but rarely carry any kind of weight.  In Wonder Woman, we miraculously get several fully human characters. These characters bring a sense of reality to a story about a woman who, in her own words, “was carved from clay and brought to life by Zeus.”

I am firmly of the belief that Steve Trevor and his crew ground Wonder Woman in reality and thus give the film an emotional resonance that most superhero flicks do not achieve.  Wonder Woman may be the female superhero we have been waiting for, but Steve Trevor is the hero we need.

Etta, Steve’s secretary, does more with her limited screen time than most.  Lucy Davis’ Etta is charming and witty, but she’s also clever and brave!  She notices that Steve and Diana are in danger, follows, and pulls Diana’s sword on a bad guy trying to get away!

Chris Pine, Gal Gadot and Lucy Davis in Wonder Woman (2017). Photo by Clay Enos. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC

The crew assembled by Steve are an interesting bunch – a liar, a murderer and a smuggler.  Sameer is an intelligent, multi-lingual smooth-talker.  Unable to be the actor he dreams to be, he is resigned to use his considerable skills to help the allies in the war.  The war has clearly taken an emotional toll on Charlie, yet he continues to try and do his part.  Chief is the man who can get whatever is needed even though much has been taken from him.  Clearly none of these men are where they want to be, yet they recognize what is needed from them and continue to help Steve and Diana beyond the terms of their original deal.

Ewan Bremner, Said Taghmaoui, Chris Pine, Gal Gadot and Eugene Brave Rock in Wonder Woman (2017). Photo by Clay Enos. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC

Steve’s crew and Etta are links to reality.  Steve Trevor is the link to humanity and true heroism.

We meet Steve Trevor just after he risks his life to help stop the war.  Acting as a spy for British Intelligence, Steve infiltrates a German lab.  His job is merely to observe and report, but when he witnesses the devastating possibilities of Dr. Maru’s latest weapon, he cannot walk away.  Seizing opportunity, he steals Dr. Maru’s notebook, steals a plane and does his best to destroy the German lab as he escapes.  His plane is shot-down as he is pursued by multiple ships in the German army.  He does all of this alone, without aid of superpowers.  This man risked his entirely human life to protect others.  That is a hero.

Chris Pine in Wonder Woman (2017). Photo: Warner Bros. Entertainment

Steve’s initial instinct, both immediately on the beach and later in the alley, is to be protective of Diana.  Chivalry is under-rated in this day and age.  A man instinctively trying to protect a woman from danger is sexy.  It does not belittle her power.  It is not anti-feminist.  It’s what a man should do.  Once Steve learns what Diana is capable of, he has no qualms about stepping back and letting her step up.  In fact, he asks if there’s anything else she wants to show him.  His masculinity is in no way threatened by the powerful woman who is capable of things he cannot explain.

Yes, Steve tries to stop Diana from entering No Man’s Land.  Of course he does!  His reason for trying to stop her is not because she’s a woman, it’s because of the danger to any person.  When Diana marches up that ladder and steps into one of the best cinematic moments in history, he yells after her, but does not chase.  As Diana deflects bullets and whatever else the Germans throw at her, bringing tears to the eyes of filmgoers, Steve recognizes the impact of what she is accomplishing and urges his crew to follow her onto the battle field.  Again, entirely human, non-superpowered people, heroically risking their lives to aid others.

Ewan Bremner, Said Taghmaoui, Chris Pine and Eugene Brave Rock in Wonder Woman (2017). Photo by Clay Enos. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Ratpac Entertainment LLC

Steve’s actions when we first met him on the beach showed the kind of man he is.  He stepped in to fight alongside the Amazons, and paid particular attention to how they fought.  After witnessing the shield trick only once on the beach, he trusts that Diana will know what to do when he gathers the men to pull the same trick for her during the sniper attack days later.  He learned from the women, trusted the skill in Diana, and employed their trick without hesitation.

Repeatedly throughout the story, Steve puts his life at risk alongside Diana in order to complete his mission.  He does so without an impenetrable shield, lasso and gauntlets.  He does so without superhuman strength.  A well-trained soldier/spy, he risks his life to complete his mission by trusting his training, his crew and Diana.

More from Bam Smack Pow

Steve finally does complete his mission by making the ultimate sacrifice.  His death carries weight, for the audience and for Diana, because he is human.  So often in superhero movies we see characters miraculously bounce back from the dead before the credits roll.  The ultimate gotcha.  It’s predictable and expected at this point.  It also cheapens the story.

Chris Pine did an amazing job bringing Steve Trevor to life.  I could wax poetic for several pages about the subtle shifts in his expressions.  As much as I personally enjoy him, I hope if the writers do find a way to bring him back for the sequel, they will do so in a way that keeps him decidedly human.  A superhero story, intricately woven with a human story, gives the audience so much more ability to connect.