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“How could Wonder Woman be interested in Steve, who seemed so weak and so boring?” —Gloria Steinem.
“Steve Trevor was dull and boring and I didn’t like him much so I disposed of him.” —Mike Sekowsky.
“What does she see in that man?” —Batman.
Batman’s funny last remark on an episode of the “Brave & the Bold” show pretty much sums up the sentiment fans have had for decades! Trina Robbins even postulated that Steve is simply so stupid that he constantly fails to put two & two together…(Oh, nevermind that Etta Candy & the Holliday girls couldn’t figure Diana’s secret either, huh?!)
Its a shame there’s such harsh sentiments from people, since Steve was the prototype that inspired many other famous boyfriends of female protagonists…Michael Samuelle, Riley, Angel, Borias, Michael Vaughn, Tom Hastings, etc.
But unlike Steve, their creators fully developed them, complete with rich backstories. Heck, Lois Lane also used to be tagged as boring & unsexy by fans (and Homer Simpson)…that is, until writers modernized & upgraded her sex appeal, starting with the Teri Hatcher incarnation, but still keeping & building off of her core personality. But the Trevor character was already designed with sound attraction dynamics as WW’s ideal boyfriend…whereas Siegel & Shuster designed Lois Lane simply based on their experience with a confident girl they once knew (& fancied).
Why he’s had problems with fans & writers:
Steve Trevor is a character that is actually more misunderstood than Wonder Woman. Fortunately, he’s easier & shorter to explain than her, requiring only one article (this)……
Basically: He’s a character with a lot of untapped, built-in potential. Dr. Marston did in fact plant certain psychological cues & designed Steve with attractive core elements that most women would fall for, not just WW. But these core points weren’t properly accentuated, thus were lost on subsequent writers who were ignorant of gender/attraction dynamics, and just blended into the background, becuz Dr.Marston was too busy spotlighting WW as part of his main agenda to use her to inspire a Matriarchy. That didn’t leave much time to refine their attractive significance…something I’m sure he would’ve done had he continued living today, and was something that creators of other female protagonist boyfriends have successfully done at the onset. Plus, William Marston was self-admittedly not a very apt comics writer. As a result of these collective factors, Steve seemed boring, flat, & useless, even tho he was created with elements that potentially make him an exciting boyfriend. This is more of a problem for the Steve character than Lois, becuz of the difference in gender psych…As men’s attraction triggers come from visual stimuli, all that’s required to accentuate Lois’ worth was simply a better artist, sexier actress, etc. But for female fans to get a sense of attractive worth for Steve requires more character development, which Dr. Marston never got around to.
And the problem got worse as subsequent writers–mostly male & totally oblivious to the above cues–misinterpreted him as they did WW, left out his core elements, and utterly disrespected the character. This was from a combination of no understanding of gender dynamics & men forgetting how to be men! Culminating in Michael Jelenic wussing out, totally disrespecting men by making Steve self-deprecating & apologetic for being a man! The true Steve Trevor was a real man who didn’t apologize for it. So, the solution to Steve’s problems isn’t to upgrade him like they did Lois, but to play up the core elements already built into him.
Another thing screwing with the Steve Trevor mythos is that a lot of feminists, zealots, & wussy guys have this crazy (& un-natural) idea that a powerful independent woman doesn’t need a man to complete her. But the truth is: Even powerful independent women have emotional human needs, which is a separate issue & does not send a bad message to girls. I can attest to this firsthand as I’ve seduced CEOs & fitness athletes…these powerful women are self sufficient, but in a man’s arms they melt like butter. And WW is certainly human.
The truth about Steve Trevor:
In order to understand the real Steve Trevor, fans must first disregard what feminists say about him, becuz feminists’ expectations are totally unnatural, rendering men wussy, unmanly. Fans then need to disregard (for now) every subsequent incarnation that came after Dr.Marston died. More details on Steve & his romance with Wonder Woman can be found in relevant sections of my other articles. But basically, after analyzing Steve from the framework of a psych major & dating coach, I found that the elements that make up the core of this character–but never got accentuated, and were nearly sterilized from the 70’s show–were the very factors that made it psychologically plausible that WW would find him very attractive.
But first, here are the roles that the Steve character was designed to serve:
– the herald to the Amazons that things are heating up in Man’s World,
– a secondary “hunter” hero & ally in Man’s World,
– the love interest,
– and the esquire in jeopardy.
And here are his timeless core character elements:
– His passion & aim in life for his values of justice & freedom.
– His proactiveness
– His Man’s World “hunter” occupation, corresponding with WW’s, toward his fight for truth-justice-freedom…which in most cases meant he’s some sort of covert op.
– His brave hero status back home due to his good works in the name of justice & freedom
– His fiery, unforgiving temper
– His status as a lady’s candy …which includes, among other tid bits, his confident, playful flirtations …all of which is also used to his advantage as a covert op.
– His natural submission to a stronger woman who loves him, yet remaining self-assured….which, for Dr. Marston’s liking, also meant having blond hair.
– His masculine, self-assured confidence in himself as a man who has boundaries.
– His mysterious past.
– Him being a product of his time.
The above timeless core elements don’t change no matter what modernization or incarnation. Everything else is interchangeable (including his race). Basically: Being that he was meant to be WW’s first & only true love interest, Steve follows the mythological archetype of demigod Orion to WW’s ‘goddess Diana’. He is a fellow “hunter” like WW, albeit of a lower mortality status & not as accomplished; a man with his own dutiful calling in life that he’s passionate about, living with a definite purpose. And for the original incarnation, that meant being military-bound, as that was the thing to do during World War 2 to show your dedication to freedom & justice. The fact that he was a Caucasian World War 2 army officer was simply a product of the times. His passion & proactive leadership also explains his fast military promotion.
Many fans have absurdly scorned Steve’s role as esquire-in-jeopardy–a role that exists only due to the perilous nature of his work! Whereas Lois Lane’s role as damsel-in-distress was due to her foolish antics, just to get the big scoop, yet nobody feels she’s any less the strong confident woman! Like other things in the WW mythos, this double standard & fan-attitude toward the fictional Steve is a reflection of people’s chauvinistic mindset & their own distorted real life beliefs about gender dynamics & roles…what it really means to be a man or woman.
Being saved by a woman–especially the super capable WW–doesn’t make you less of a man. Steve was self-assured & never thought any less of himself, neither did WW, so why should you the fan? For WW, its quite the opposite….
As a hero on a mission, Steve was certainly not a wussy or WW’s lapdog who sits around doing nothing! His dedication is admirable, and shows fearlessness & FIRE! All of these are natural attraction triggers for women, even for Wonder Woman whose capability makes Steve seem a weakling in comparison. Becuz despite having the strength of a superman, WW is still a woman, with a woman’s psychology. And WW has the better deal out of this, becuz she gets to watch him be fearless AND have him alive by personally saving his life, which actually increases his value to her each time.
But their dynamic isn’t simply a gender reversal of Lois & Superman. Rather, it’s based on a particular real life archetype relationship that has existed since ancient times, and gradually occurred more often in modern times. Its one that can be clearly seen today between power women (ie. CEOs) and their lower-status boyfriends–who, like Steve, have their own, smaller careers, yet are attractive to their power girlfriends despite it. The psychological theory behind it: Men inherently desire to submit to a stronger woman who loves them, of which Dr. Marston meant for Steve to be a reflection…Nearly every man has some Steve Trevor in him, especially those who tend to date power women. Steve isn’t chauvinistic like most men of Depression Era. In fact, he’s impressed by WW’s straightforward confidence & strength, mixed with her alluring femininity. But that doesn’t mean he gives up his own strength & masculinity.
Also, Dr.Marston chose to place him as a counterintelligence officer probably becuz Dr.Marston had experience in that military dept himself, which coincidentally provided a fitting occupation for Steve’s archetype…he’s NOT a flyboy…he’s a hunter of justice. WW represents the “better”, feminine way to go about the same occupational endeavor as Steve, which probably explains the eagle icon on her chest as Hippolyta knew what the emissary would be involved with before designing the outfit. Similar to Steve, WW was “waging war” on the forces of Ares, but via 3rd-party intervention rather than war-heroing.
I haven’t found any particular real life person that Dr.Marston modeled Steve after. I don’t think he modeled Steve after himself either. However, there was one person in Dr. Marston’s life named ‘Trevor’ who seemed conventional & well-adjusted upfront, but was later exposed as having a secret life of stealing money to give to charities & beautiful girls due to his inferiority complex of needing to be sexually sought after by girls. This “Trevor” guy may have inspired one aspect of the Steve Trevor character: an apparently incidental element of mystery, in that we don’t really know much about his in-story background–other than he has nieces–nor what drives him. Either becuz Dr.Marston intended to play up the “mysterious boyfriend” angle, or its just another result of his unfinished development of Steve. Regardless, ensuing creators have played up the “guy-with-a-mysterious-past” angle in their own heroine boyfriends, giving them more sex appeal (ie. Angel, Michael Samuelle, etc). Perhaps writers should capitalize on this aspect of Steve if they want to make him more interesting from now on.
Another repeated aspect of his archetype in subsequent heroine boyfriends is the fact that he’s older than WW (or at least older looking) by at least a few years, while she is a young maiden…which aligns with the typical age differences that men & women find most attractive in each other.
Why does Wonder Woman love him?:
In-story, it was no accident that Steve crashed near Paradise Island…he & WW were paired by the gods (likely Aphrodite, the love expert). In real life, Dr.Marston set him up to complement WW as her first & only true love…just as Orion was to Artemis.
On Steve’s side, its simple…he had unconsciously longed for the virginal epitome of feminine tenderness who also has a spine. Which is in contrast to the many shallow, deceit-prone women in Man’s World that he has dealt with or dated.
On WW’s side, her love for him advanced in two stages…the initial, then the subsequent solidification. Her initial attraction to him was due to the great feminine/masculine polarity existing as he’s the first man she’s ever met, having been raised by only women…ditto with Mala. But for WW, it amplified once she made physical contact with him, which started a chain reaction advancing that attraction, including the Nightingale Effect. As she is the most human & caring Amazon, she went out of her way to take care of him, which meant she was investing, and the more she invested, the more she wanted him…this was later compounded by all the times she saves him. Also, her mother disallowing her the pleasure of being with Steve due to Aphrodite’s Law just created in WW more longing for him, since the more you say a young woman can’t have something, the more she’ll want it. It didn’t hurt too that Steve was so fascinated with her & called her a beautiful angel. All that, combined with her wanderlust, created the strong desire in her that is comparable to a HS girl longing for that popular guy that she’s been cheering for on the sidelines, not wanting to miss out on being a part of his life. Becuz she, above all other Amazons, allows herself to be amorous for men, being the most quirky, organic, off-beat, & sometimes silly.
From there, the second stage occurred as she came to know Steve as a dedicated man, passionate about his life mission of justice & freedom; a passion shared by them both. But its from the personal motivation behind his dedication that they find connection with each other, comparable to the one Steve Rodgers & Peggy Carter had. Of course, WW is–and continues to be–attracted to Steve due to his attractive core qualities and the evolutionary psych phenomenon Preselection which was caused by his status as a lady’s candy whom every girl wanted a piece of. But its the personal connection that created in WW a deeper sense of love value for Steve, and “allowed” her to invest in him longterm. Cementing it all was her superior capability putting her in the delighted position of being needed by him, which is key becuz she’s a modified version of what we PUAs classify as “Connoisseur” type. And in my screenplay, I even added that Steve went thru child abuse & became a stronger person in the end, which further established a personal link to WW’s heart as she not only protects children but can relate to his resultant fiery temper in fighting for justice, which he hasn’t learned to control as well as she has.
So she seeks to be a part of his life, becuz at this point her love for Steve has solidified, to where his flaws are attractive to her as he needs her to balance him out, while she needs him for security & comfort (in the “arms of Orion”). And if he were to die, I’m sure WW would add a special star-constellation design on her hotpants in memory of him.
However, this second phase wasn’t developed into the spotlight, as it just got moved along by the others stories which dealt with WW’s heroics. And so, like with the attractive core elements, most fans & subsequent writers were oblivious to the cues & their significance.
That’s why in my modern WW screenplay I emphasized this second phase by elaborating the scene in the Paradise Island recovery unit where those two are alone, connecting on a personal level. I also elaborate his background as an Asian American former foster child adopted by the Trevors who endured racism & injustice while growing up, giving a worthy reason why Steve is the way he is today. I took liberties on his background, becuz Dr. Marston never formulated one for him and there’s nothing in Steve’s core design that said he had to be Caucasian. And the reason he was blond stems from Dr. Marston’s belief that the best romantic combo is a blue-eyed brunette girl to a light-haired man and that blonds are more submissive to brunettes. But this theory isn’t solid, so I don’t list it as a core trait. However, applying another of Dr. Marston’s theories, my Steve would still have a good amount of submission in him, since he’s Asian (esp. Chinese descent). But to satisfy hypothetical viewers, I wrote it so my Asian Steve bleached his hair to a near-blond. And IF Hollywood ever does use my rendition of Steve Trevor, it would produce the very first Asian American romantic lead; finally breaching the barrier of a centuries long Western world culture of prejudice.
Steve = The PUA paragon:
Despite his first incarnation being a product of his overly patriarchal time (which influenced him less than other men), Steve is actually the alternative to the badboy that women usually go to whenever they can’t find a better confident man. He represents the modern ideal man that women really want…the right balance of masculine swagger & feminine thoughtfulness. These ideals, hidden truths, and more have been imparted to men by dating coaches like me, for years. And so Steve Trevor could very well be a rallying symbol for this sexual revolution happening today that includes, among other things, sound dating science that reveals women don’t necessarily want or need to go to the badboy…that there’s no shame in being a man who is with a stronger woman…that you don’t have to be overly macho to be seen as manly & attractive to women. Even before seeking the help of dating coaches, men everywhere can simply look to Steve Trevor as a true-to-life paragon and receive a more accurate concept of what’s truly manly or wussy…and to put their egos aside (Ditto with women).
Aphrodite’s Law & the Amazons’ no-consummation Law:
Aphrodite’s Law is the story device that creates [conflicting] drama between WW’s & Steve’s romance, such as her initial rebuffs. The Law states that Amazons must neither be captivated by men nor ever submit to them, lest bad fortune come upon them. The Law came as a result of the Amazons’ historic enslavement. But Aphrodite’s Law is actually an allegory for WMM’s advice to women (esp. his love leaders) for changing the world toward a matriarchy. In a nutshell, he was saying: Ladies, remain aloof to men…don’t be so beguiled by men, because your resultant natural submission reaction leads to putting you in a position of lesser power…instead, you must captivate them (as allegorized by the Magic Lasso), thus making them submit to you…from there, you are then in the position of power and can dictate your natural loving ways, thus collectively changing the world.
Of course, for the very human WW, that is a very difficult Law to follow; and one that has caused relationship drama between her & Steve. Becuz not only does Steve desire to take her as his bride, but deep down WW desires to submit to him like any normal woman. But due to the consequences that would affect her ability to take on her mission here in Man’s World–a mission she deeply values, she must adhere to Aphrodite’s Law & go against that part of her feminine nature. And so part of their dance is about struggling to find a compromise.
The drama of WW being portrayed as torn between Aphrodite’s Law & her passions was a reflection of WMM’s advice being imperfect & somewhat still experimental, having not yet found a more refined & definite solution to a psycho-social dilemma. For it was originally meant for the worse case scenarios, as allegorized by Hercules, which more often occurred in Dr. Marston’s day. But who’s to say when or if a woman would face such worse case scenarios, especially in these modern times? Steve represents a different kind of man that is more prevalent today. WW meets this ideal man that the gods set her up with, but they don’t tell her that. So a part of WW’s saga with Steve was also about showing how fit he is for WW, as well as how much of a better man he was supposed to become on account of the captivation created by WW’s light rebuffs.
For more info on the love dynamics between Steve & Diana, or why Wonder Woman & Superman are an unlikely pair, or such, refer to the appropriate sections of my other WW pieces online….