This story contains major spoilers for Wonder Woman 1984.
When news first broke that Chris Pine would be reprising the role of Steve Trevor in the highly-anticipated Wonder Woman sequel, fans were confused as to how exactly the film would make that happen. Steve famously died in the first film, leaving a pilot-sized hole in Diana Prince's (Gal Gadot) heart that proved almost impossible to close. But in Wonder Woman 1984, that gap is indeed filled, thanks to the power of a simple wish.
In Wonder Woman, Steve meets his untimely end in a last ditch attempt to save the city of London from a terrorist attack; he hijacked a bomber aircraft and and blew it up mid-flight, killing himself in the process. His death fuels Diana's determination to take on the film's big bad, ultimately solidifying her true abilities as a demigod. Almost 70 years later in 1984 , Diana has made spent the past few decades protecting the world from evil, a job that is especially thankless because she doesn't have anyone to share her wins with. Superheroes get lonely too, and Wonder Woman 1984 sees our heroine feeling dejected after all of her adventures because she just misses her man.
While working as an anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institute, Diana and her co-worker/future arch-nemesis Barbara Ann Minerva (Kristen Wiig) come across a seemingly innocuous ancient stone. Its Latin inscription describes it as the "Dreamstone," a mystical element rumoured to grant wishes to whoever comes upon it. Diana only has one wish, and she makes it half-heartedly because it's just not possible: bringing Steve back from the dead.
Only her wish does actually come true...kind of. While attending a Smithsonian gala, Diana is approached by a man who seems to know her, and the stranger transforms into Steve right before her eyes. It's not really her lost lover — it's more like the stone allowed Steve to possess someone else's body, which is disconcerting and a little troubling, if i'm being honest — but Diana (and I, the ultimate Chris Pine stan) are thrilled all the same. And her beau is just as ecstatic because life in the eighties is obviously much cooler than it was in the early 1900s. Everything seems perfect for the happy couple because they're finally reunited, but nothing lasts forever, and certainly not in the comic book world. Diana's wish comes with a hefty price tag, one that neither she nor the world can afford to pay: the gradual loss of her godlike powers.
The discovery is especially harrowing for the superhero because of what's going on around her. Wannabe oil tycoon Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) has gotten ahold of the Dreamstone, absorbing its abilities through his own twisted wish, and he uses his unlimited powers to wreak havoc on the earth. He hoards oil, supplies nuclear weapons, and places the world in a generally precarious position. Though Max seems unstoppable, there is one way to reverse the damage done, and it's the very last thing that Diana wants to do. Everyone on earth has to renounce their wish, meaning that she would be forced to live without Steve once again.
It's a tough call, but just like in the first film, Steve is willing to make the sacrifice for the fate of the world. Humanity needs Diana at her best, and if that means that they can't be together anymore, renouncing her wish is the only way. So after one last tearful goodbye kiss, Diana reverses the wish, sending Steve's consciousness back to the great beyond and healing herself in the process.
But she's not the only one who has to take back her deepest desires; the rest of the world also has to opt out of their wishes. That proves to be a probably, especially for co-worker turned rival Barbara, who now has Diana's powers and then some after making her own heartfelt wish. The women face off against each other in an intense fight, but not even the magic of the Dreamstone and her agile catlike form can help Barbara take down Wonder Woman. So Diana sets her sights on Max, who is growing more powerful by the second, thanks to the wishes of people around the world. Through a heartfelt global broadcast, our heroine convinces everyone to renounce their wishes to prevent the totally annihilation of human civilization. It works — even Max ends up taking back his wish — and humanity is saved. Diana may be all alone again, but the world can continue turning on its axis.
Did the plot play out the way fans were expecting? Of course not; personally, I thought we might have been looking at Steve's great grandchild or something, not his avatar back from the afterlife. But director Patty Jenkins knew that audiences were still mourning the charming fighter pilot after Wonder Woman, and the stars concerning Steve's possible reappearance just happened to align (even if it was a little out there). It was almost as if the universe wanted him back.
"There was never [a possibility of keeping Steve]," Jenkins told Refinery29 of the character's comeback. "In fact, there were more chances that he could have never been in the second film in the first place."
"It just so happened that the storyline availed itself to making perfect sense for him to come back," she continued. "So once I started to figure out what the story was while we were still making Wonder Woman, it started to click that that was all going to fall into place. So we knew, and [Chris] knew, but I like it because they're even though he has a similar [exit], they're totally different in what the emphasis is when something is foisted upon you, versus when it happens in a different way."
Just in case you're holding your breath for another Steve return, you'll be waiting awhile; the DC Extended Universe is currently expanding to introduce other important DC Comics heroes like Robert Pattinson's emo Batman, Black Adam (played by Dwayne Johnson), and the beloved Green Lantern Corps. But you can rest assured that when Diana returns in the third part of the WW trilogy, those baby blues and that swoon-worthy grin will always be with her in spirit. He may be gone, but the memory of Steve Trevor lives on forever.