A dream is a wish your heart makes, as we all know from Cinderella. This is also how Diana Prince resurrects her long lost love Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman 1984. It’s appropriate; Wonder Woman is, after all, a princess.
Ever since the announcement that Gal Gadot’s superhero would be joined again by Chris Pine in the new sequel, fans have been wondering exactly … how? His World War I flying ace sacrificed himself in a critical moment in Patty Jenkins’ first movie. Even if he had somehow survived that fireball, his character would be around 103 by the time Ronald Reagan was winning a second term.
Diana is ageless and immortal, of course, and her love for Trevor has also proved to be timeless. As the sequel opens, she’s still missing him and hasn’t moved on. Then, one day, he reappears. In a swirling party sequence, a young stranger catches Diana’s attention. He knows her, but she doesn’t recognize his face—until she realizes the soul of Trevor has taken over the body of this man. We see Pine’s baby blues, even if the rest of the world sees whatshisname.
What follows is a tidy reversal on the fish-out-of-water comedy of the first Wonder Woman. Instead of Gadot’s Diana losing her marbles over a baby on the streets of 1918 London, we get Pine’s Steve ranting against the evils of futons, enjoying the thrills of fanny packs, and mistaking a trash can for art as he navigates Washington D.C. (and beyond) in 1984.
The film is packed with plenty of 80s references to delight audiences—but for Steve’s return in another man’s body, Jenkins leans on a favorite trick from the 1989 TV show Quantum Leap. In that beloved NBC series, Scott Bakula’s Dr. Sam Beckett continually “leapt” into the body of a different person in time. Audiences would see Bakula, but the mirror and everyone around him would see the person whose shoes he’s filling. Jenkins uses a classic Quantum Leap mirror moment to help sell the premise.
That’s the “what.” For the “how,” let’s go with another classic 1980s reference. To quote The Cars song from 1984: “Uh oh, it’s MAGIC!”
The plot of Wonder Woman 1984 involves an ancient crystal known as the Wishing Stone, which will manifest anything that is yearned for by the person touching it. It transformers Kristen Wiig from a gawky nerd to a glamazon (and later the villain known Cheetah, the ultimate “cat lady”). Pedro Pascal’s sleazy businessman literally wishes to become the stone itself, so he can possess the phenomenal cosmic powers of a genie. (That’s Disney Animation reference #2, for those keeping score.)
Diana doesn’t even have to speak her wish out loud. When she holds the stone early in the film, we know what she longs for. The stone knows, too. That’s what causes Trevor to reappear as a man out of time. But for every wish the stone grants, it exacts a price in return. And as long as she holds on to this version of Steve, Diana will keep losing her superpowers. Only renouncing the wish will restore her—but letting go of Steve again isn’t easy.
Of course, eventually Diana does just that. And once she does, the move gives us a truly magical moment. The battered, bleeding and wounded Diana instantly heals—and although Steve returns to the indescribable beyond, she soars through the sky, riding the heavens. How’s that for magic?
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