Is Wonder Woman 1984 destined to be mired by another romantic interlude with Steve Trevor? Annlyel investigates
Why are Marvel superheroes more relatable than DC Comics superheroes? Because most Marvel superheroes are regular joes with outstanding abilities or intelligence, making them stand out in humanity as individuals with extraordinary suits comprised of the greatest technology or enhanced with superhuman strength, agility, and mutating scientific achievements that can be both frightening and rewarding at once.
Because these heroes are more relatable their romantic subplots are considered side pieces to their storylines, not an emotional tether that’ll make us suddenly begin to care about them. Thor is proof that this narrative doesn’t work.
Thor, the first ultra-powerful superhero to debut in the billion-dollar goliath that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, had a first film that focused more on his romance with Earthling, scientist Jane Foster, than the far-more interesting world-building of Asgard and the conflicts the Asgardians face. His love story with Jane was the tether that was supposed to make us love his character. It turned out to be a distraction.
They tried the romantic formula in both Thor and Thor: The Dark World. It didn’t work. As soon as Taika Waititi omitted Jane Foster from the equation and allowed Thor to shine in his territory, the far reaches of space, he became more likable, more relatable, and Thor: Ragnarok is deemed by many as the best film in the MCU.
Captain Marvel also suffered from the same formula. Because she is so powerful to make her ” more relatable” her debut film focused on her relationship with best friend, Maria Rambeau and her ties to their past. It was the emotional tether used to make her, an ultra-powerful superhero more human and it worked…sort of. The Captain Marvel sequel should take the Thor: Ragnarok approach, omitting any chance of a romantic tether and allow her to roam freely, kicking butt and saving the day in her territory.
DC Comics suffers constantly from this tiring formula because most of the franchise’s characters are ultra-powerful.
Superman‘s story has never been very interesting to me because he is constantly tied to Lois Lane, the emotional tether that strives to make him more relatable, more human. The Flash and Cyborg’s emotional tethers are their fathers who, when their movies finally come to fruition, could be bogged down by this emotional subplot whose focus could drag the overall enjoyability of the story into the drain.
Aquaman was lucky. His love story with Mera was less harmful because she was an Atlantian like him, meaning they could fall in love while we were able to still enjoy the epic action sequences and incredible destinations they constantly found themselves in during the duration of Aquaman. However, if his romantic relationship involved a regular human woman the movie wouldn’t have been nearly as good, for we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the vast world-building of the Atlantian story.
Batman is one of the few DC Comics characters who does not suffer from the emotional tether narrative because his romantic subplots are always backgrounded stories to the real matter at hand; his fight against an iconic Gotham villain. He’s also one of the few non-ultra-powered superheroes in DC Comics, which showcases why his relationship with his various girlfriends isn’t highlighted abundantly.
And Shazam, surprisingly, also didn’t suffer too greatly from this formula because he was already relatable enough as it was. Fourteen-year-old Billy Baston’s power is that with the uttering of the word, “Shazam!” he becomes a Superman-level superhero, which is pretty awesome. No emotional tethers needed.
Wonder Woman, however, suffered from the emotional tether formula.
Wonder Woman had every chance to be the best DCEU film so far. But the writers strove to make her more human (“more relatable”) by focusing more on her burgeoning romance with Steve Trevor than allowing her to simply shine as the Amazonian warrior that she is.
Why is the Wonder Woman television series from the 70s’ so amazing (and inspiring)? Because the show doesn’t focus on the will they/won’t they aspect between her and Steve Trevor but instead focuses on her fighting crime and saving the day. They could’ve easily done this with 2017’s Wonder Woman, leaving her romantic feelings for Steve Trevor to play a smaller role in the span of her story, but they made the love story the focal point of her evolution as Wonder Woman. And now, it seems, they’re at it again.
Instead of allowing Wonder Woman to shine as this incredible Amazonian hero who saves humanity when the world needs her most (and isn’t bogged down by romantic attachments) they decided to literally bring Steve Trevor back from the dead to muddle Diana Prince’s storyline…again!
I can’t get a line spoken from the teaser out of my head.
Barbara Minerva and Diana Prince are talking and Barbara asks, “Have you ever been in love?” Diana responds with a smile, “A long, long time ago.”
Immediately, we realize that this movie is once again subjecting us to a love story hidden within a comic-book action movie. That means once again we’re going to have to watch Wonder Woman fawn over a man (that should be dead by the way) in a fashion similar to when we had to watch Thor having to protect his Earthling girlfriend in Thor: The Dark World as she became a cog in a situation she had no business being a part of.
Wonder Woman does not need a love story to drive people to the movie theaters. She’s Wonder Woman for crying out loud! yet I have a very strong feeling Steve Trevor’s involvement is once again going to ruin what could be a fantastic comic book movie just because the writers believe she needs to remain in the emotional-tether narrative.
Wonder Woman 1984 is unleashed in multiplexes on June 5th, 2020.
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Annlyel James is a prolific Staff Writer for The Future of the Force. She is passionate about Star Wars and Marvel but loves a wide variety of movie genres. Aside from her role with Future of the Force she also writes for her own blog: annlyelonline. Follow her on Twitter @annlyeljames where she channels the Force frequently!
Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely that of the author and do reflect the overall opinion of thefutureoftheforce.com, it’s writers or affiliates.