Steven Universe (character)
|Steven Universe character|
|First appearance||Pilot (2013)|
"Gem Glow" (2013) (main series)
|Created by||Rebecca Sugar|
|Voiced by||Zach Callison|
|Family||Greg Universe (father)|
Rose Quartz (mother)
|Relatives||Andy DeMayo (cousin once removed)|
Steven Quartz Universe is a fictional character and the main titular character of the animated series Steven Universe, created by Rebecca Sugar. Steven is a hybrid between a "Gem", a fictional alien being that exists as a magical gemstone projecting a body of light, and a normal human being. Voiced by Zach Callison, he debuted in the series' pilot episode and made his main series debut in the first episode, "Gem Glow".
The show takes place from Steven's perspective: the audience always follows Steven, and learns about the plot and backstory as he does. As such, the only scenes without the character are those that he sees as visions or that are being told to him as stories.
The character was received positively, with his evolution through the series, ideology revolving around kindness and empathy, and disregard for gender norm receiving most praise.
Steven was created by Rebecca Sugar, with his appearance and name based on Rebecca Sugar's brother Steven Sugar, a background artist for the show.
Steven is 14 years old and the youngest member of the Crystal Gems. He is the first and only known Gem–human hybrid, the product of the union between the Crystal Gems' original leader, Rose Quartz, and Greg Universe, a human musician and car-wash owner. Wanting to bridge the divide between humans and Gems, Rose "gave up her physical form" to create Steven, leaving behind only her pink, pentagonal-faceted gem, now embedded in his navel; as a result, some Gems consider Steven and Rose to be the same entity. With this gem, Steven develops a wide variety of magical abilities. So far, he has been able to summon his mother’s shield; create a spherical force field; heal Gems, humans, and objects with his saliva; create and control sentient plant life; shapeshift; float; use empathetic telepathy and astral projection; combine bodies and minds with other Gems to form powerful "fusions"; and revive the dead with his tears.
Cheerful, kind-hearted, carefree, and always willing to see the best in people, Steven is beloved by the Gems and well-liked by the people of Beach City. Steven is said to take after Rose in terms of personality, as he is empathetic and all-loving—though Rebecca Sugar says that he actually inherited this attitude from Greg. Over the course of the series, Steven matures greatly, garnering a new respect for his position as a protector of Earth and becoming more aware of the dangers of being a Crystal Gem.
Steven usually wears a pink T-shirt with a yellow star in the center, blue jeans and pink flip-flops. In cold weather, he often wears a hooded sweatshirt or knitted sweater.
Steven has been well-received by fans and critics alike. Susana Polo of Polygon praises Steven for being the "toxic masculinity antidote" in that his dominant traits of empathy and kindness are what make him such a vital member of the Crystal Gems. Polo also commends Steven's subversion of gender definitions, him being a young boy in a feminine role with defensive abilities that manifest in shades of pink. Similarly, in a post on B**** Flicks, Ashley Gallagher also praises Steven's rejection of typical masculinity and his stereotypically defensive and feminine powers such as his shield and his healing while also expressing approval of his relationship with Connie.
Highly praising the evolution of the character through the series, Eric Thurm of Polygon stated after the season five finale: "Back in the show’s first season, Steven was far more irritating. He was myopic, focusing on what was right in front of him to the detriment of more important priorities — especially when what was right in front of him was the prospect of getting ridiculously buff. He was a huge goofball incapable of taking anything seriously. And he had a child’s instinct for deception when it seemed like he might be in trouble, whether that meant forming a 'Secret Team' to hide a mistake or asking the Gems to pretend to be his human mother. But the story of Steven Universe isn’t about Steven discarding the things that made, and still make, him childish — it’s about figuring out how to use them in more specific, salutary ways. [...] The idea that there are childish qualities worth cultivating, alongside others that can and should be avoided or shed, is a refreshingly nuanced (and accurate) take on how to be a person, even if being that kind of person requires fusing with your own body, especially for kids. Being able to gain emotional maturity, insight, and wisdom while still retaining the best parts of being new to the world — that’s the disposition Steven Universe asks of us as we, whether 14 or 34 or 34,000, continue to grow."
- Rebecca Sugar (6 October 2015). Guide to the Crystal Gems. Penguin Young Readers Group. ISBN 978-0-399-54062-2.
- Cavna, Michael (November 1, 2013). "'Steven Universe' creator Rebecca Sugar is a Cartoon Network trailblazer". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 16, 2015.
- Lamar Abrams and Katie Mitroff (writers); Joe Johnston (director) (5 January 2016). "Steven's Birthday". Steven Universe. Season 2. Cartoon Network.
- Mackenzie Atwood (25 January 2018). "The Steven Universe Podcast: Steven Universe" (Podcast). Cartoon Network.
- "Steven Universe, explained". Polygon.
- "Strong in the Real Way: 'Steven Universe' and the Shape of Masculinity to Come - B**** Flicks". www.btchflcks.com.
- Thurm, Eric (January 21, 2019). "Steven Universe's climactic showdown delivered a complicated lesson on childhood". Polygon. Retrieved January 24, 2019.