Patty Jenkins’ Disappointing Response to Criticism of Body-Swapping Storyline in Wonder Woman 1984
Once it was revealed that Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) would be returning in Wonder Woman 1984, after his death in the first film, the question was: How are they going to explain his return? The answer was: not great, Bob.
In a film where walls are built instantly, nuclear weapons come from nowhere, and immigration services manifest in the blink of an eye, Steve Trevor is resurrected in the body of some random handsome rich dude in D.C. instead of his own. Why? Unclear. I mean, yes, Steve’s body was blown up, but again, weapons appear out of nowhere. Why can’t Steve do the same? There is no narrative reason for her boyfriend to possess the body of someone else.
Especially since they have sex with this stolen body. Which … is rape. In case you didn’t know. And apparently, director Patty Jenkins kinda knows.
Hahaha. Exactly @DustyDontShoot!! https://t.co/83cm3Uhb9t
— Patty Jenkins (@PattyJenks) December 30, 2020
The tweet linked points out that Jenkins’ decision in the film is playing with the body-swapping tropes of the ’80s that were rooted in rape culture, like movies like Big, in which a child is in the body in the adult and has sex with an adult woman. The tweet also says that, via the rules of the film (rules that I think are scatterbrained), the events were erased from reality and, hence, the rape in question doesn’t happen.
Except that Diana clearly remembers the man in question, so the event clearly happened to her, and she is smiling away when the “handsome man” in question reappears at the end of the film.
This doesn’t answer the issues of where this man was when Steve occupied his body. Did he die? Was he in the white people version of the sunken place? If she is having sex with this person’s body while he is without consciousness, that is fantasy rape despite the movie’s lack of awareness about issues like grey consent, and the core issue that this storyline was nonsensical and should not have happened in the first place. There are so many other things the movie could have done in order to bring Steve back. I mean, this movie clearly isn’t above lookalikes or reincarnation.
Male sexual assault was a part of two big discourses over the recent holiday week, due to Wonder Woman 1984 and Netflix’s Bridgerton. Both illustrate a lack of understanding about the fact that men can be sexually assaulted, and that just because the positions are switched does not invalidate the fact that someone is not fully consenting. It is assault. Whoever this man was, putting his body into the narrative that focuses on sexuality is inherently problematic because his body is part of a sexual story without his consent.
It is disappointing that rather than just admit this was an oversight, Jenkins retweeted something that just says “the rape is okay because it was undone-ish and also the ’80s did it.”
Yup, keeping the rape-y tropes, but not putting any good ’80s music in the soundtrack.
(image: Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images)
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