Art Culture History Movies Outreach

Wonder Woman 101

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Wonder Woman’s Creation

This year marks the 76th anniversary since Wonder Woman first appeared in All Star Comics #8. Seven months later she got her own comic.

She was created by the American psychologist and writer William Marston (who wrote under the Pen Name Charles Marston), with his wife Elizabeth Marston and artist H.G. Peter.

Wonder Woman is based on the Amazons of Greek Mythology, as well as early feminists especially Margaret Sanger.

William Marston is an interesting man. Not only was he a psychologist but he invented the lie-detector test, which is interesting when you think about the lasso of truth, but he was also a lawyer, an advocate for women, and polyamorus. He was in an extended relationship with Olive Byrne who is also credited as the physical inspiration for Wonder Women in the early years. Marston died of cancer 6 years after Wonder Woman got her comic. Wonder Woman #28 was the last one he did.


In his “psychological work, Marston apparently became convinced that women were more honest than men in certain situations and could work faster and more accurately.”

In the documentary, Wonder Women: the Untold Story of American Superheriones  scholars stated that he thought the future America would be ruled by a queen and wanted to get people used to the idea of strong female leaders, such as Wonder Woman. He even said, “Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world”

Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who, I believe, should rule the world.

Marston got into comics around 1940 when he was interviewed in the Family Circle where he said he away “great educational potential” in comic books. Max Gains hired Marston as an Educational Consultant for comics for two companies that later merged into DC Comics. He pitched the idea of a female superhero to Gains and he approved.

The themes Marston created were masculine and feminine social forms, restorative and trans-formative justice, as well as dominance and submission.

There was a lot of bondage, showing Wonder Woman in chains scholars described that as then having an amazing visual of a woman breaking out of the ties that bind her. There is much less bondage in the modern comics.


Origin Stories:

Wonder Woman’s origin story has changed over the years, the constant is that she is Diana princess of the Amazons who live on Paradise Island or Themyscira. There are no men on the island. When she grows up she journey’s into a man’s world on missions of peace and diplomacy.

There is an origin story that is she was sculpted from clay by her mother Queen Hippolyta and the greek gods gave her life. Making her the only Amazon who was not conceived by a man.

George Perez origin story in late 80’s had that the Amazons were reborn from the souls of abused and murdered women from a confusing battle between the gods.

The new 52 say she is the daughter of Zeus.

In the movie they use all 3 with the George Perez story line betting a little easier to understand but also creating the antagonist or villain in the movie.

She learns the skills of a warrior as well as the lessons of peace and love from her fellow Amazonians. When Steve Trevor crash lands on the island they have a contest to detmine who should receive the honor of taking him back to Man’s world and acting as Amazon ambassador. In the Golden & Silver age she had a crush on Steve Trevor and was always saving him from some kind of trouble.

Powers and abilities:

  • Superhuman Strength – given to her from Demeter (Goddess of the Earth), it is generally accepted that she is even stronger than Superman.
  • Superhuman Speed – given to her from Hermes (God of the Messengers), the Flash even said she could keep up with him. She’s lightening fast and can disarm opponents of their weapons and immobilize them.
  • Invulnerability/Durability – given to her from Demeter, she can handle radiation, fire, explosions, lava, the coldness of space…and Superman’s heat vision.
  • Healing Factor – given to her from Demeter, she can heal injury without scarring.
  • Flight – given to her from Hermes. This wasn’t until the Modern Age of the comics. In the Gold and Silver age she could not fly but she could glide on air currents or in her invisible plane.
  • Divine Wisdom – Given to her from Athena (Goddess of Wisdom). This includes tactical as well as a strong moral sense.
  • Super Stamina – She does not need to rest or sleep.
  • Great Beauty – Given to her from Aphrodite, not really a power, but you know.
  • Enhanced sense – given to her from Artemis (Goddess of the Hunt) She has keen eyesight, hearing, taste and touch. She can always see her mark from great distances.
  • Divine Powers – Given to her from Athena. She has on occasion been able to through illusions, talk to animals, project herself to talk with the gods.


  • Piercing weapons.
  • If her bracelets were bound together by man, all her powers would be lost. This was only in the Golden Age though.


  • Lasso of Truth – made by Hepaestus from the Golden Girdle of Gaea. It forces people to tell the truth or obey commands. It can also restore lost memories, cause illusions, cure insanity and protect people from magical attacks.
  • Bracelets – created from Zeus’s shield they can deflect bullets. In the Golden Age comics the bracelets were items of submission meant to control Amazons However if they were removed she even more powerful, meaning the bracelet protect her opponents from her intense power.
  • Royal Tiara – it’s razor sharp and a boom-a-rang.
  • Invisible Plane – when she couldn’t fly in the Golden and Silver age she has the plane. She controlled it telepathically.
  • Armour – her breast plate is armor, and from time to time she had a shield but she seems to have it a lot in the movies.
  • Sword – She did have two short swords once (Vol 4 #15) but the sword is mostly used in the new 52

Story Lines:

In the Golden Age comics she forms a relationship with Steve Trevor whose plan has crashed on Paradise Island and she wins the right to return him to “Man’s World” and fight the Nazis.


In the Silver Age Wonder Woman did have a major set back as she surrendered her powers to remain in Man’s World as the Amazons were going to another dimension. She opens a mod boutique and meets I Ching a mentor who teacher her martial arts. She goes on a series of Mission Impossible missions. Not until the 1970’s did she return to her superhero self.

In the Modern Age there was a handful of successful reboots, one with a strong connection to her Greek mythology roots, an alternate timeline where the world forgot about Wonder Woman, and new sword and shield.

The New 52 has Wonder Woman hooking up with Superman but it also showing her multi-tasking she is Queen of the Amazons, Justice League Member and God of War.

Outside the Comics

wonder-woman-ms-cover-417x550Outside of the comics Wonder Woman’s staying power came in the 1970’s. Not only did you see the return to her superhero self in comics but also Gloria Steinem used Wonder Woman as the cover of the first Ms. Magazine in 1971 becoming yet again feminist icon.

This helped the launch of the Wonder Woman TV show with Lynda Carter. Which ran for 4 years and made a lot of money for the network.

Animated series like Super Friends, Justice League and Young Justice have featured Wonder Woman. Most recently in the animated world we have DC Super Hero Girls.

Wonder Woman Movie

But not until seven Superman movies, and eight Batman movies did we get Wonder Woman in a movie.

76 years after her introduction to the world. The film is directed by Patty Jenkins, written by a dude and based on the story by three other dudes but, great Hera, its good. It’s now officially the largest opening weekend for a film every directed by a woman.

If Wonder Woman’s box office gross is over $666 million, it will be the largest box office for a female directing over passing Jennifer Yun Nelson of Kung Fu Panda 2.  But for non animated if is grosses over $610 million world wide it will be the largest live-action movie directed by a woman over passing Phyillda Lloyd with Mamma Mia.

And there is a chance because the crap storm that was Batman vs Superman made $873 million.

So please go see it again this summer, if you can and bring friends. Because if record –breaking and a good story doesn’t sell it here’s what went into just getting Wonder Woman to the big screen.

Just how many times have they tried to get a Wonder Woman movie made?

1974 – A TV film with Cathy Lee Crosby was made. It was intended to be a jump-start into a TV series. It got “respectable but not wondrous ratings” and so it went back to the drawing board and gave us Lynda Carter as a TV series.

1996 – Ivan Reitman of Ghostbusters was producer and (possible director) that made the first attempts to get a Wonder Woman movie made but the project went nowhere.

2002-2007 – Jeff Robinov is President of Production of Warner Brothers the TV/film distribution arm of DC comics.

2005-2007 – Joss Whedon works on the Wonder Woman Project for Warner Brothers. This is after Serenity movie, after Firefly, after Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The king of our people who is known for fantastic female characters drops out of the project due to creative differences.

2007-2013 The year Whedon drops out Jeff Robinov becomes studio head of WB and proclaims that will the studio “no longer doing movies with women in the lead.”

There goes the idea of a Wonder Woman movie, but it didn’t stop people.

George Miller (Mad Max) tied to make Justice League Mortal which would have Wonder Woman in it. Megan Gale was cast as WW, Armie Hammer as Batman. But the project was shelved and the 2007-2008 Writer’s Strike was one problem mentioned.

Paul Fieg (Ghostbusters) and Patty Jenkins (the eventual director of WW) also pitched a version.

Then in June 2013 Jeff was fired/quit (depending on which news story you read.) 6 months later Gal Gadot is cast as Wonder Woman in Batman Vs. Superman.

A few months later the Wonder Woman movie is official announced.

Yay! Right? Well hold on.

Michelle MacLaren signs on to direct Wonder Woman. Patty Jenkins also pitched for the job but they went with Michelle an acclaimed TV director without a feature film under her belt. Creative differences emerged and Michelle left and Patty was in. More shaky ground to start on but they start filming.

Then Batman V Superman hits theaters and I will say it’s crap but it’s more fair to say the reviews are mixed. However people love Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.

Then Suicide Squad came out, not a slam dunk for DCEU and a former WB employee wrote an open letter that Wonder Woman was a mess as was all of WB. Patty denied rumors what WW was a mess.

Now last month. Fans were worried about the lack of marketing of the film and wonderfully took it upon themselves to spread the word.

Then audience previews started and people were glowing about the movie, including myself. So the journey to just get a Wonder Woman movie to the screen has been a 76 year struggle and the fact that it came out great, its quiet an accomplishment because it had a lot that could go wrong.



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