Well, it’s the last day of 2020 and you know what that means: it’s time to put all of my energy into thinking about one of the least important questions in a superhero movie. I am hearing rumors that there were perhaps some things that happened in 2020 that take precedence over the costuming of the character Steve Trevor in the movie Wonder Woman 1984 but verily I say unto you I cannot think of one. The clothes that they threw on to the perfect frame of Chris Pine (Reigning Best Chris) are the only thing living rent-free in the walk-in closet in my mind.
Even if you haven’t seen the follow-up to 2017’s Wonder Woman, it’s no spoiler to reveal that salt-and-pepper snack Chris Pine’s love interest character Steve Trevor not only somehow overcomes actually dying in 1918 during the first film but shows up in the year 1984 having not aged a day, looking like a delectable reconstituted snack.
You know, we really don’t talk enough in our culture about the trend of symmetrical white men from the past in superhero movies showing up in the future and being unproblematic. Chris Evans (Best Chris Emeritus) as Captain America gets frozen in ice from the 1950s to the mid 2010s, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) experiences a similar fate, and now Steve Trevor jumps nearly 70 years. And yet there’s not nary a scene of any of them walking down the street like “By golly, Diana, can you believe that—a Black person riding in the front of the bus?!” Do I want to see this? No. Do I think it’s hilarious to think about? Absolutely. We are bedeviled by desiccated elected leaders who have actually lived through the passage of time and are still like “Wait, you want me to capitalize the C in Colored now? Modern times!” Meanwhile, these defrosted snack-a-doodle-doos stepped out of the rift in the time-space continuum and were like “Okay, women have jobs, Black Lives Matter, and I should start using mousse in my hair. Got it.” Homeboys read one Wikipedia page and caught up.
Unlike Bucky and Captain, however, Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman 1984 isn’t technically there. A magical wish pulls Steve out a game of cribbage in Heaven and into the body of some random 80s dude. To everyone else he looks like 80s dude but to Diana he looks like Steve Trevor. This is called an Oda Mae Browning in reference to the time that Patrick Swayze in Ghost took over the body of Whoopi Goldberg so that he could kiss Demi Moore. Very common.
The movie never answers many important questions—what happens to the 80s dude’s consciousness? Is his family concerned that he is, like, not showing up for work and has started hanging out with a tall Smithsonian curator who is frequently near the scenes of large-scale public battles? This is what keeps me up at night. But the greatest and most pressing question that I have after watching Wonder Woman 1984 is whether they want me to think that Fake Steve Trevor is a good dresser.
I literally do not know the answer to this question. See, not only does Chris Pine take over the body of Fake Steve Trevor but he then must attire himself like a man of the present using Fake Steve Trevor’s wardrobe. This results in a weirdly paced montage where Steve Trevor tries on a bunch of outfits. I have watched this scene 100 times and each time I scream out loud “Are these supposed to be good clothes or bad clothes? And also what’s going on with the strange energy in this scene? Are these lines improvised? The shoes? Is there a thing with the shoes?” I can’t get into most of these questions but I can talk about the clothing.
Much was made of the early set photo released in 2018 of Chris Pine wearing a track suit and fanny pack; I wrote about it in my capacity of Thirst Journalist. Little did we know that was just the tip of the thirstberg. See, most of the ensembles that Real Steve Trevor pulls from Fake Steve Trevor’s closet do not get Diana’s approval. I think there’s another article to be written about the question of whether Diana, toast of Themyscira, has bad taste in fashion but let’s not bite off more than we can chew, okay?
In the montage, Steve keeps popping into the doorway of Fake Steve Trevor’s bedroom with different outfits while Diana sorts through the closet. This would suggest that Chris Pine is stepping into the kitchen (?) to get changed out of modesty despite the fact that he and Wonder Woman just spent the night together. Odd, but he is a man born in 1875 so I guess we’re lucky he’s not calling for his frockcoat so he can go have the local leech collector fix his humors.
Anyway, Diana is sorting through the closet and I cannot get a bead on Fake Steve Trevor’s aesthetic. He obviously has money, because the apartment is very nice and the clothes are high quality. Also, there is framed art on the walls which, given my knowledge of Single Men in general, is inaccurate. But are we to believe that they are good???? THIS IS MY ROSEBUD.
One thing is for sure, though—there are so many clothes. This dude is 80s rich! Problematic? Probably! Possibly Patrick Bateman? I’d believe it. Anyway, Chris Pine, not knowing anything about the way that fashion has evolved puts together some impressively accurate 80s ensembles. If you gave me clothes from today and said “How do you think you should wear this?” I would be lost in the sauce, baby. But Steve Trevor is on the case.
His first choice is a baggy gray suit with an animal print shirt underneath. THIS MAN WAS BORN THE YEAR TWAIN PUBLISHED TOM SAWYER AND NOW HE’S LIKE “YES, I WILL WEAR THIS FESTIVE BLOUSE!” Steve Trevor Queer Eye’d himself! He even does the French Tuck!
Anyway, Diana doesn’t like this “Miami Vice guest star” outfit so it’s back to the drawing board.
This is when I lost my mind. So, you’re telling me this mid-30s “architect” (coke dealer) has a beautifully-appointed sun-dappled apartment in D.C. and a closet full of Don Johnson cosplay but also dresses like a member of WHAM! What is this man’s social life situation?! Objectively, this outfit slaps, even with the addition of the American flag fanny pack, which Real Steve Trevor is oddly enamored by (he’s like “Now this will make America great again!”) And I think if I saw zippered leather pants and a cheetah print tee in a man’s closet I’d be like “We should definitely be friends and I will not testify against you in court.” Which is why the next outfit is such a curveball.
What in Caddyshack hell? Why does he own this? For whomst? Even Real Steve Trevor hates it. Diana, meanwhile, has rejected everything as if she doesn’t know how men dress in the 80s. She’s walking around in stunnnnnning floor length coats like she’s Linda Evangelista herself and yet she’s thrown off by a dude in a sleeveless A.C. Slater tee? Get with the times!
Diana then submits her audition for Amazon Eye by picking out an ensemble for Steve and it is completely deranged. One hundo percent whackadoodle.
LENNY KRAVITZ SCARF!
I don’t know. I simply don’t know. The fact that Diana, Princess of the Amazons, wrapped a throw rug around Chris Pine’s neck and was like “Chef’s Kiss! That’s fashion, baby!” has completely broken me. Steve Trevor ends up spending most of the movie in an unremarkable but fashionable track suit and occasional fanny pack. Looking like a fanny snack. So what are we to make of all the disparate clothes? The capital-C Choices? Wonder Woman’s aggressively Amadeus-like ensemble inspiration?
I think that Patty Jenkins is trying to tell us that Fake Steve Trevor doesn’t have taste so much as he has “enough money” and “an oblivious boldness” which has papered over larger flaws than that, lemme tell you. And, as we see in the epilogue, it makes him a good match for Wonder Woman.
It’s not really a spoiler to say that after the final battle, we catch up with Wonder Woman now starring in a Hallmark movie as she walks through a random Christmas village.
Like any other heroine of a Hallmark Christmas movie, she smiles beatifically, gets gently snowed on, and face acts lightly. And then she has a meet-cute with REAL Fake Steve Trevor, now back in his body and WEARING THE DERANGED OUTFIT.
Patty Jenkins woke up on the last day of editing Wonder Woman 1984 and chose violence. She was like “I am so deeply committed to making the question of whether Fake Steve Trevor is a good dresser and whether Wonder Woman has taste the only thing that people think about that I’m going to make one of the final shots of this two and one-half hour film a full body pan of a person you saw once in the first act. LOOK: a vestigial belt!”
I could not be more obsessed with this utterly chaotic choice. Are he and Diana supposed to get together in the end? Is this some sort of commentary? Is this my villain origin story????
The choice is SO chaotic, in fact, that this scene is filmed in a completely different aspect ratio. Here’s what the final battle looks like on the screen, notice the narrow ratio:
And here’s what the very next scene looks like:
SO MUCH MORE SCREEN REAL ESTATE? HOW COME MS. JENKINS?!!! Patty was like “Your irises better wake up for this wild costume dramaturgy!” I don’t know what to make of any of this. I will be sitting here in my cheetah blouse and American flag fanny pack thinking about it for the rest of my life.