I’m cross-posting this from my personal Tumblr blog (with lots of edits including removal of angry exclamation points), because I feel as though it simply has to be said.
I love Chris Pine, mostly because I love him in Star Trek. And he was pretty damn amazing in Into the Woods, as well. So when I heard he’d be playing Major Steve Trevor opposite Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman in the new film set to come out in 2017, I was very excited. There’s no question Diana Prince’s boyfriend is kind of a hot mess, so seeing Chris Pine’s beautiful face onscreen being whisked off by Wonder Woman as she saves him from the bad guys is something I’m dying to see.
But here’s the thing. I’m kind of annoyed at how the media’s already looking at Chris Pine having a “bigger role” than just the damsel in distress in Wonder Woman. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but tons of articles announcing Chris playing the role say things like, “don’t assume this means his role as a love interest is minor!” I take issue with this.
Why in nearly all the articles, does it have to be made very clear that “OH, STEVE TREVOR WILL HAVE A PIECE OF THE ACTION TOO! DON’T YOU WORRY, FANBOYS! STEVE TREVOR KICKS BUTT TOO! THIS FILM IS INCLUSIVE! WE’RE SO INCLUSIVE”?
Wonder Woman was set in the 1940s, and was very progressive in writing a woman who kicked ass 24/7 and saved her boyfriend all the time. The argument against this is stated pretty well in a Vanity Fair online article, which says “it would be more progressive for the Wonder Woman movie to ditch that stereotype, to create Steve Trevor as a well-rounded, participatory character and prove to the other movies how easy it is to create a love interest who really matters.”
Very well-said. And it would make sense to allow Steve Trevor’s character to surpass the role of the damsel. However, men being perceived as flat love interests is not a stereotype. Women portrayed in those positions, is! Men in compromising situations where they could be seen as “weak” as women are not encouraged to be displayed by mainstream media. But women still aren’t created as well-rounded characters when the situation is reversed–or at the very least, aren’t developed very well. And if they are, it’s a surprise to people. If, say, Superman’s Lois Lane or Natasha Romanoff of Marvel who has her own comic book series are given more depth and “bigger roles” than those assigned to them by the men who draw them up, it’s a surprise rather than a given.
I think this also does a disservice to Steve’s character, too–he’s a very capable guy and knows what he’s doing, in all Wonder Woman mediums. He’s just not as strong as his Amazon girlfriend. And that’s okay! He’s human. Portraying him as someone that needs help once in a while helps us relate to him as an audience.
I’m fine with the fact that Steve Trevor has a large role in the film. That’s great. But because he’s a man it’s a given that Chris Pine will have a bigger role alongside the heroine in a film of which she is the protagonist. Did we get such reassurance for any female “love interests” in the same film genre, where a man is the protagonist? I’m hoping that Steve is portrayed well and fairly in relation to the original comics, which set groundbreaking standards for women as presented in the comic-book medium.