Fri
Jun 9 2017 9:30am

Wonder Woman and That Pesky Love Interest Storyline

Wonder Woman's Diana & Steve

Note: This post contains spoilers!

I recently saw Wonder Woman at a women-only screening here in NYC and was blown away by the film itself and the experience of being able to sit in a room filled to the brim with women for whom Diana holds a special place in their hearts.

My bubble of happiness, however, was soon curtailed by an article at Slate in which the author declares that she “cannot abide the cheesy, thin romance that gets shoehorned into every plot.” 

Major rage-face, y'all.

The whole premise of said author's piece is that Wonder Woman can't possibly be as feminist as we think it is because of romantic entanglements and some other (potentially more valid) points to which I say—what?

Women are people. Whether they're part-god or not, women should be able to feel the entire scope of human emotions, and yes, that includes love—cheesy or not. There are arguments to be made, smart ones, about women's stories being more than one thing, but often times it misses WHY that's important.


Steve is a wonderful beta hero, whose love for Diana is as certain as his belief in her capabilities


More so than get into the ins and outs of why “more than one aspect to the story” is imporant, I want to focus on why the love story in Wonder Woman is wonderful and does not—in any way—diminish Diana or her powerful story.

Relationships are a part of human life—they're the basis of everyday human interaction. At the most basic level, how we relate or do not relate to someone colors how we go about our days and our lives. 

Women's stories are not diminished by the presence of a romance. I'm sure relatively few people who take up arms about Diana and Steve are as concerned with Tony Stark's inability to think of anyone other than Pepper Potts for large swaths of the Iron Man movies. 

At no point during Wonder Woman is Diana's power and presence diminished by the presence of Steve. He's a complement to her in the best of ways: he follows her lead, he defers to her, he bolsters her—a role often left to women in this particular genre of film. 


Source: theinvinciblecity.tumblr.com

Women, even part-god women, aren't badass simply because they wield a sword and a shield. There's power in the ability to love and let that love carry you through your life and make that be worth fighting for—which Diana reiterates at the end of the film.

How Diana relates to her mother, her aunt, the women of Themyscira, and—yes—to Steve Trevor, all makes her a fully-fleshed, multidimensional person—a woman who doesn't fit into the convenient one-note role so many superheroines play. 

More so than needing to be some grand gesture that women kick-ass by denying parts of what makes us human, it was gratifying to be in a theater full of women who lived for seeing every part of Diana's story. They sighed and cheered and swooned as the beautiful, albeit short, love story we got between Diana and Steve unfolded on screen.

My favorite thing about Steve's feelings for Diana is that it doesn't become a justification for him to overpower her in any way. Steve is a wonderful beta hero, whose love for Diana is as certain as his belief in her capabilities. He's rescued by her, he follows her lead, and when his attempts to curtail her desire to jump straight into battle fails, he backs her up. Steve is wonderfully soft—in the best ways. I mean, is there anything more pure than that bed-sharing scene on the boat? (They SHARED A BED, y'all!) 

Their romance doesn't have an HEA, it isn't a perfect ending for Diana and Steve. To me, that makes this love story even more important because they both knew the risks involved but chose to love even though their days with one another were inevitably numbered. 

So yes, I will gladly stand on an island of one and wish for love in every story because it's crucial, it's human, and it does not provide diminishing returns, but amplifies every human story. 


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Jen is the production associate for H&H, a musical theatre nerd, and Thai food enthusiast. You can find her tweeting nonsense on the regular.

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14 comments
Evelina
2. Evelina
THANK YOU for saying it. I was growing mad at a certain portion of the internet. I'm tired of hearing that love stories are boring, cheesy unnecessary. Love, as Diana herself told us in the movie, is the most important human feeling, as only love can save the world. I understand the feeling, having too many movies where female are underdeveloped sidekicks ore only love interests, but that's a reason more to truly appreciate what they did with Diana and Steve. They are equal all through the movie, they learn from each other and get better because of that.
Diana may not need a man, but what if she wants one? Let her have one.
Also, I am in denial that Steve had that ending. If they do a sequel, I want to believe some greek god will do justice!
Evelina
3. Dr. Opossum
I agree and I liked the romance quite a bit as a part of the overall film that didn't overshadow Wonder Woman's story but enhanced it. By the way, if anyone wants more of this pairing, Steve is alive and in a relationship with Diana in the current run of Wonder Woman comics.
Carmen Pinzon
4. bungluna
Love stories are cheesy and unnecessary? Please, go back to your cynical intellectual ghetto utopia and leave the rest of us alone. We appreciate that love is a powerful thing and that all great stories contain some relationship and love threads that make them human and transcendent.

I am so tired of all the 'get the love cooties off my pristine dogma story' bellyaching!
Marilyn Porter
5. Marilyn Porter
As an Arrow fan, I see this mentality ALL THE TIME and it's annoying as heck. Romance is beautiful and it helps humanize the hero(s). The subplot was handled beautifully in Wonder Woman. I can't help but feel the men who complain about it are just showing their insecurity. It's just a shame that they lash out at those of us who enjoy it rather than own their own (narrow minded) opinons.
wsl0612
7. wsl0612
I didn't think the romance was shoehorned in, how ridiculous! We don't know really if Diana had true romantic feelings for Steve, but regardless I'll be damned if she wouldn't have been heartbroken over his heroic death. And the audience wouldn't like her very much if she didn't show feelings at all. I thought the writers did a good job of leaving it all up to individual interpretation.
Leah Zehrung
8. Leah27
Another point to make for Steve was that his faith in humanity restored her own. She was pretty disillusioned at one point and it was (I think) her feelings for him and seeing his faith that reminded her that there was good in humanity and that they were worth fighting for. I didn't used to be a big Steve Trevor fan, but after the recent comic run and Chris Pine's portrayal of him, I've come around!
Howard Brazee
9. HowardBrazee
The relationship did several important things, including:

His arguments about himself and his motivations helped her grow into learning her motivations and her adult self.

In a WWI situation, her instructor needed to be male.

She didn't have the stereotypical female/male standards of the time.

We saw early on that her powers increased when she was emotionally involved (beating the general in practice). By making their relationship big enough to be a romance or even love, she had a meaningful loss big enough to win that big battle.

By loving someone who had recognizable faults - but was nevertheless a good man and a hero - she was able to grow into the heroine she needed to be.

And finally - perfect superheroes are boring. I want characters to be human. I want them to love and cherish and lose and mourn and make mistakes. This relationship made a demi-god more human. More human is more interesting. More human means we have more sympathy for her.
Jen Wattley
10. JenWattley
@Everyone-- wow! Thanks so much for commenting and giving your insight (I was out of town, forgive the last, mass reply.) I'm so grateful for all of your comments, they're all totally on the mark.

Best,
Jen
Evelina
11. Bailee
Thank you for saying it! I hate that any kind of romance in a movie gets put down. Yes, there are some romances that aren't fleshed out and seem like they were just thrown in for no reason (I'm looking at you Captain America: Civil War) but there are plenty of movies where it fits wonderfully and even adds to the characters stories.
Danielle Carpenter
12. earthdragonwing
I totally agree with you. Women should acknowlege every part of who you are. I am a mother, wife, electronic technician, christian. I've been a diplomat, hostess, a supervisor, a handyman, a sailor (USN), a suffragist, and many more roles that I've had to assume in my life. I've experienced every human emotion possible. So, Wonder Women is not demeaned in any way by finding love with a man like Steve Trevor in the midst of war. She will never shirk from her duties to the world and a man like Steve would never have let her. As other have said, she grew more as a woman by learning to love and learning who she is and wants to be. My life has been one about family. I have lived and grown to know what is important, what to fight for and not fight for, and not lose who I am. This is why I love this story, because Wonder Woman is plainly a woman inside and feels exactly as any woman does. She is smart because she does not deny that part of herself and neither should any woman.
Teddy Pierson
13. TeddyP
I have not seen the movie yet, but as a human who lives on this planet, I stand with JWatt on this one.
Evelina
14. Colleen Thompson
You expressed my thoughts on this so well!
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