The History of Wonder Woman: Unlocking Her Cinematic Potential

Wonder Woman has been around since 1941
Wonder Woman has been around since 1941

Seventy-three years ago, Wonder Woman made her debut in All-Star Comics #8. Created by psychologist turned inventor William Moulton Marston, she has been everything from a symbol of female superiority to a pop-culture icon. Sometimes an advocate for peace and forgiveness, other times a relentless warrior and force of nature, Wonder Woman is hard to pin down. A fact that her publisher, DC Comics, has wrestled with since acquiring her. Despite her difficulty, the world has fallen in love with her over and over. So much so she has moved beyond the comic page and into animated and live action television. And in 2016 she will make her cinematic debut in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice soon followed by a solo venture.

For many fans a cinematic debut is long overdue. When asked why such a long wait Warner Bros and DC Comics call her “tricky.” Some would fault Wonder Woman’s difficulty on her mythological background. Others might fault it on the fact her villains are not as archetypal or memorable as others. When it comes down to it, she’s difficult to market. But as history would tell, she can be marketed well. Take a look at her animated incarnations such as Super Friends (1973 to 1986) or Justice League (2001-2006) or even her animated solo film Wonder Woman (2009). She even worked in live action, as shown by the 1975 Wonder Woman television show starring Lynda Carter. By taking a look at her history we can pinpoint how to successfully market her and what awaits her on the silver screen.

The Golden Age

Wonder Woman was first published in December 1941. Her creator, William Moulton Marston, was a psychologist and inventor whose personal life brought much controversy. A well-educated man, Marston is credited with creating the systolic blood pressure test, thus paved the way for the modern polygraph. Marston also wrote several essays on popular psychology. In his 1928 book Emotions of Normal People he explored the DISC theory of psychology. This theory posited that people fell under four personality traits, dominance, inducement, submission, and compliance. These traits were influenced by how a person viewed their environment. If they favored it they would induce it or submit to it. If they did not favor it they would seek to dominate or comply with it. This theory played into his creation of Wonder Woman. Through his study of psychology, Marston came to believe women were destined to be the next leader of the human race. He believed women as a group were more compassionate, honest, and reliable than men. Inspired by his wife Elizabeth Holloway and their partner Olivia Byrne he created Wonder Woman, an Amazonian princess and superhero.

Wonder Woman from All Star Comics
Wonder Woman in her first costume from 1941.

Wonder Woman was born Diana of Themyscira. She was not a result of a union between a man and a woman, rather she was crafted from clay by her mother Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, and given life by the goddess of Aphrodite. The Amazons live on Paradise Island, sometimes called Themyscira, an island hidden from the world of man by the gods of Olympus. The Amazons live a peaceful life with not much turmoil or war. Still, they train daily and stay vigilant in case the rage of men would invade their home. In the first issue of Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor an US army pilot, crashes into the Themyscira. The Amazons nurse him back to health and when he was well enough, they discussed how to bring him home. Hippolyta decides whoever proves to be the bravest of the Amazons in a contest will bring him home. Little does the Queen know, Diana has fallen in love with the army pilot and won’t be parted from him.

Diana is of course forbidden to enter the contest by her mother. Disguising herself under a helmet, Diana soon proves to be a champion and the Queen reluctantly lets her leave. With her dream of leaving her home in her grasp, Diana is given the clothes of a foreign nation to symbolize peace. She was also given tools such as the lasso of truth, indestructible bracelets, and a tiara that can be used as a boomerang. Her powers are what you might expect from a character often called the female Superman; super strength, speed, and advanced healing. Once in man’s world, Diana takes the place of an army nurse named Diana Prince, who wanted to head home to see her husband. Hidden from prying eyes, Diana is able to live in man’s world and protect Steve and the rest of the world from harm.

The early Wonder Woman stories focused on World War II issues and unlike Superman and Batman, Diana actually joined in the fight. While Wonder Woman fought the Germans and the Japanese, Diana Prince, her civilian identity, was worried about Steve Trevor falling in love with her. She had made a group of friends called the Holiday girls who assisted Wonder Woman when the need arose. Her stories were meant to inspire young girls and women, in a time when the men were off fighting in the war. She became a model for what real women should aspire to be.

That being said one of the problematic aspects of the early Wonder Woman stories is that she is idealized to such a degree she proved too hard to emulate. Her hair was always clean. She had the perfect body. She was firm in her ruling but she was also compassionate and sensitive. She made mistakes rarely. if at all. Everyone loved her men, women, and children. Even her female villains learned to love her and eventually joined her crusade. One of the best examples of this is Baroness Paula Von Gunther, a Nazi occultist and mad scientist, found herself facing off with Wonder Woman shortly after her daughter Gerda was taken from her. When Diana learns that Von Gunther’s whole reason for joining with the Nazis was to find her daughter, Wonder Woman sets off on a heroic mission to find her. With her daughter in her arms Von Gunther is rehabilitated and becomes an honoree Amazon herself.

The men of Wonder Woman didn’t fare as well as its heroine. Steve Trevor, one of the few men in the early stories, were helpless and dimwitted. Instead of assisting Wonder Woman in her escapades, he watched from the sidelines and fawned over her. Other men that populated her world were bullies and women bashers. One villain that came out of this era was Doctor Psycho, a telepathic dwarf and misogynist. The doctor sought to put Wonder Woman back in her place; out of man’s world and back in the home where she belonged. Despite his hatred for her, Diana had the remarkable ability to forgive him and even tried to rehabilitate him. But because he was man, he was beyond redemption and continued to wreak havoc when we could. In terms of the gender superiority, it’s clear which side Marston was on.

Dr Psycho seeks to limit Wonder Woman's power.
Dr. Psycho seeks to limit Wonder Woman’s power.

Silver Age

The Seduction of the Innocent, by German American psychiatrist Fredric Wertham, was published in 1954 and reflected on the influence comic books had on young children. The book suggested that comic books could cause young children to turn to delinquency, violence, fascism, and homosexuality. Wertham believed that many comics contained graphic depictions of violence and sex. Along with her fellow heroes, Wonder Woman was under fire. Wertham suggested that Diana was a sexual deviant. He pointed out that she came from a land entirely populated by women. He cited that many pages of her comics featured women tying other women up. Wonder Woman also spent a good deal time being tied up. These accusations were taken very seriously, so much so that the comic book industry was forced to act. Thus the Comic Magazine Association of America created the Comics Code Authority as a way to avoid censorship.

The Comics Code Authority didn’t stop anything from being published, but publishers had to tweak the content so they could get a stamp of approval. A comic approved by the code had a greater chance of being bought by children, their primary demographic. Criteria for the stamp of approval included elimination of the words horror or terror in the title, no scenes of excessive bloodshed, lust, depravity, or sadism, and no suggestive or salacious illustration to name a few.

Marston easily admitted the bondage subtext was intentional. He said of bondage “The only hope for peace is to teach people who are full of pep and unbound force to enjoy being bound… Only when the control of self by others is more pleasant than the unbound assertion of self in human relationships can we hope for a stable, peaceful human society… Giving to others, being controlled by them, submitting to other people cannot possibly be enjoyable without a strong erotic element.” Marston borrowed many of these beliefs from his study of DISC theory. Wonder Woman induced being tied up in her home because her environment was favorable. In man’s world she was dominant because she deemed the environment unfavorable to her and other women. Much of the early stories contain scenes of the Amazons tying each other up for fun and pleasure. It was a common practice between the women warriors and Diana enjoyed it.

Steve is at last useful.
Steve is at last useful.

To combat the bad press, DC Comics hired writer Robert Kanigher who reworked her origin. Instead of just Hippolyta and Aphrodite helping realize her into being, many other Greek gods came to bless her. She was blessed by Aphrodite, Athena, Hercules, and Hermes. The idea here was to show she didn’t just have two mothers but fathers as well. It wasn’t just her origin that got a reboot. Diana spent far less time, saving the world and much more time looking for a husband. Gone were her group of friends, the Holiday girls, and gone was her need to break free from the hands of man. Her stories became soap operas with a superhero twist. She was no longer competent enough to deal with her enemies by herself and often times she needed help from male heroes like Superman. While the Golden Age Diana was a symbol of female superiority, Silver Age Diana was decades behind female empowerment.

In 1968 under writer Dennis O’Neill, Wonder Woman gave up her powers to live permanently in man’s world while her fellow Amazons headed to another dimension after their home had been destroyed. Diana stayed behind to help free a wrongly convicted Steve Trevor, who dies shortly after he’s set free. Powerless and homeless Diana began running a fashion boutique and was trained by a martial artist to resume crime fighting. After Steve’s death she became more emotional and shrill. She was no longer the regal heroine we had known in the golden age. The idea behind these changes was to make her a modern woman. They wanted to liken her more to espionage thrillers and not mythology and fantasy. During this time, the Wonder Woman title was not selling well. DC assumed women weren’t reading the title so they sought to make her more modern. They thought men weren’t reading it, so they likened her to a women they might be attracted to. Selling Wonder Woman proved even harder during the 70s.

The 70s

In the United States the late 60s saw second wave feminism come into being. Issues like reproductive rights, domestic violence, marital rape, and others came to the forefront of women’s minds. Books like the Feminist Mystique criticized the media for how women were portrayed in media and accused the media of limiting the possibilities for women. It’s during this time that activist and freelance journalist Gloria Steinem chose Wonder Woman for the cover of Ms. Steinem chose Diana to be on the cover for a very simple reason; “Wonder Woman symbolizes many of the values of the women’s culture that feminists are now trying to introduce into the mainstream: strength and self-reliance for women, sisterhood and mutual support among women, peacefulness and esteem for human life: a diminishing both of “masculine” aggression and of the belief that violence is the only way of solving conflicts.”

Wonder Woman on Ms Cover
Wonder Woman takes her first step to being a feminist icon on the cover of Ms.

Before Wonder Woman made it on the cover of Ms, she had been criticized by Steinem. In one story, under writer Samuel R Delany, a final battle would take place at an abortion clinic. When Steinem objected DC feared that she wouldn’t want Wonder Woman on the cover and needing the press, they fired Delany. In Wonder Woman issue #204, Diana’s powers were returned and along with it came the feminist title. While the title got many young women interested in the heroine, it also in some respect lessened her appeal. Although feminism refers to equality between the sexes not female superiority, many people believe the latter. As a result Wonder Woman didn’t appeal to enough people, that sales were plummeting once more.

70s Wonder Woman may have not been selling well comic book wise, but she was selling in other media. In 1973 Super Friends an animated TV series following the adventures of several DC characters as they battled with the forces of evil. The primary cast included Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman. The heroes often faced aliens or mad scientists and occasionally a villain from the comics would appear such as Wonder Woman villains Cheetah and Giganta. Today, these shows are known for being heavy-handed with the morals. For young kids though, there was nothing cooler. Action figures of the heroes were released and Wonder Woman had the pleasure of being one of the only female action figures.

Wonder Woman wasn’t only for kids though, in 1974 a TV movie starring Cathy Lee Crosby was put into production. This film featured a powerless Wonder Woman much more in line with the secret agent Diana from 1968. Crosby had barely any resemblance to her comic book counterpart either, and as result audiences didn’t really care for it. A year later, they cast model Lynda Carter to star in a new TV pilot that modeled off the Golden Age iteration of the character. This version was such a hit that it ran for three more seasons. As second-wave feminism came to close Wonder Woman became less and less significant. The next decade, however, made many welcome changes to the character.


The next decade ushered in plenty of changes to DC Universe. A crossover event entitled Crisis on Infinite Earths sought to get rid of the inconsistencies from the Golden and Silver Ages. The event concerned every significant character in the DC parathion, including Wonder Woman. Writer and artist George Perez revisited her history with the Greek deities, and this time all the gods played an equal part in bringing her to life. Additionally, Steve Trevor was less involved in her origin. He was a now an older gentlemen and no longer a love interest. The leader of her former Holiday girls, Etta Candy, came into the picture as a friend of Diana. Writer Josh Byrne brought her to the next level by involving her in the creation of the Trinity. The Trinity are the three most powerful and dangerous heroes in the DC Universe and includes Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. The Trinity is not only recognized by the creators but the other characters in the universe as well. Before then, Superman and Batman stood alone as defining the DC Universe. For the first time in her history Diana was on same the level as her male counterparts.

Diana weighing her options before Max Lord.
Diana weighing her options before Max Lord.

Although Wonder Woman was now on level ground with the male heroes in terms of power, DC decided to throw a curveball, by allowing Diana to use lethal force. The DC heroes are probably best defined by their moral standing. They will not kill, no matter the cost. Wonder Woman was raised as a warrior and as such there are practices, like killing your enemies, ingrained in her. Diana will not kill if it can be avoided, but she’s not above it. If there is no other way to protect the people she loves, she will not hesitate ending their life.

Another big change that came from this era, was writer Greg Rucka adding another layer onto Wonder Woman’s story. Diana became an ambassador for Themyscira in the world of man. It was her job to negotiate peace between an ancient world and the modern one. She was now quite literally stuck between two worlds her new home and her old one. Giving her the role of peace keeper gave her stories a more political thriller spin which DC hoped would get more interested in her. Still, she wasn’t quite at the level DC wanted her to be. So DC decided a new tactic and brought in popular novelist Jodi Picoult.

Picoult, probably best known for her novel My Sister’s Keeper, is not a comic book writer. So giving her such a big character to play with, was a bit of surprise for many comic book readers. Still, it proved to be shine the spotlight on a well deserving superheroine. Many newspapers celebrated this new direction DC was headed. Unfortunately, Picoult’s run didn’t stick with readers and she was replaced after four issues.

Through the 90s and early 2000s Wonder Woman attempted to make a comeback on television and the big screen. Screenwriters like Joss Whedon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Avengers fame tried to get solo film off the ground. When that didn’t pan out television writer David E. Kelley from Boston Legal wrote a television pilot. The pilot, which was filmed but never released wasn’t what DC had in mind for a Wonder Woman television show. More recently the CW network attempted a prequel series entitled Amazon but this property was dropped after less than year in development. While the live action treatments weren’t working, Diana made an appearance in the animated medium several times. She was a lead character in the 2001 Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoon. She even had a solo film in 2009 that went straight to dvd and starred Kerri Russell in the lead role.

The New 52 & Beyond

New 52 Wonder Woman as she first appeared
New 52 Wonder Woman as she first appeared

In September of 2011 DC Comics had another crossover storyline occurred entitled Flashpoint, which shifted the timeline to such a degree, that all the current titles were cancelled and a new timeline was introduced to bring in new readers. Writer Brian Azzarello was brought in to reimagine Wonder Woman. Although her origin had been rebooted twice before, Azzarello took a huge leap by making her a demi goddess. In the New 52, the title of the reboot, Diana was not shaped from clay as she was led to believe. Instead, she is daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta and is given a whole new family of gods and goddesses. This storyline also introduced a villain called the Firstborn, a child of Zeus and Hera who was buried deep within in the Earth shortly after his birth. Ares, the god of war, who has been a villain of hers for many decades, has become somewhat of a father figure. But the biggest surprise of all in the New 52, was the decision to make Superman and Wonder Woman a couple.

After years of failed live action attempts, Warner Bros announced Wonder Woman would make her cinematic debut in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice soon followed by a solo film. Little has been revealed about these films, or Diana’s role in them. Recently, a producer of Dawn of Justice announced Diana would have the New 52 origin in the DC cinematic universe. Regardless of what readers may think of the New 52 or her new storylines; it seems they will serve as a guideline. Marketing wise it makes a lot of sense. If they like the movie they will more than likely, buy the comics. When it comes down to it, marketing is what makes comics, TV, and film sell. Depending on how they market her, cinematic Wonder Woman could either be a hit or miss.

In order to secure a hit, Warner Bros. would be wise to pull from Marvel Studios. Marvel and Disney have created an enormous connected universe that is both a critical and audience success. If Wonder Woman had a Marvel equivalent it would be Thor. Thor is pulled directly from Norse mythology. To connect him to our world they connected science to magic. In the first film Jane, a scientist and Thor’s love interest, “Magic is just science we don’t understand yet.” By framing magic and science as one in the same it connects Thor to world filled with scientists, super soldiers, and assassins. A demi goddess could fit into a world of aliens, vigilantes, and androids if magic is explored as a science and not some mystical force.


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is expected to hit theaters in March of 2016. Until then the future of the world’s most famous superheroine is uncertain. The only thing for certain is that characters will change with time. The world outside will dictate what her origin will be, the villains she fights, and what she will fight for. A Wonder Woman solo film directed by Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones directed Michelle McLaren is expected in 2017. Let’s hope this time, Diana makes it to the big screen.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. LaurenCarr

    Wow! Great Article! Not many characters in history have the longevity that Wonder Woman has.

  2. Dominique Kollie

    This was great. I definitely think that one of the things that hurt the possibility of a Wonder Woman movie was the fact that she’s had some of the most reboots and alterations in comic history, just to fit her within the guidelines. It’ll be interesting to see if the films portray her as a champion of females, since the lack of female representation is why this was such a big deal, or go with the gritty warrior Diana. Hopefully they don’t just make her the voice of reason between Batman and Superman

    • Thank you! I imagine she’ll have a Black Widow-esque appearance in Dawn of Justice. I hope she’s her own boss though, not following anyone’s orders. They really should pull from Greg Rucka’s run.

  3. Aaron Hatch

    Its good to see that Wonder Women is still seen in our culture not just as a great Female Superhero, But just an awesome superhero in general. Heres hoping the movie is just as goods the comics.

  4. I much rather enjoy the coupling of Batman and Wonder woman versus her and Superman. I feel like they are too alike as characters to be paired.

    • I agree! I feel Superman and Wonder Woman highlight the “godliness” in each other and that just doesn’t appeal to me.

  5. Jamey Maes

    GREAT article. For anyone interested, there are the Archive Editions that cover WW’s initial runs of the Forties, The DC Showcase B&W’s that cover her Silver Age adventures, Vol’s 1-4 of Diana Prince is Wonder Woman (late 60s- early 70s de-powered period), volumes of the Perez run (post-Crisis reinvention). These all give a good guide to the Amazing Amazon’s history for over 70 years. 

    • Jamie Tracy

      To add to these, check out Greg Rucka’s run. Possibly my favorite stretch on Wonder Woman. Also, Trinity by Matt Wagner.

  6. Superman and Wonder Woman should always been together. Screw Lois Lane xD

  7. Jamie Tracy

    Excellent job Cagney-
    The re-write works great.
    I didn’t tell you this as you were writing it but my 2 daughters have a playroom in our house that is decorated with a Wonder Woman theme. It has figures, statues, comics, posters and original art I started buying for them when they were born. I see her as a strong role model for my girls. I am hoping that she translates well on the big screen and becomes a huge success for DC.

    • Thanks, Jamie!

      You helped immensely! I also hope she becomes a huge success. It’s about time she gets her moment in the sun.

  8. WW is one of my favorite female superheroes.

  9. Totally prefer WW with Batman like in the animated series, so more interesting, Superman has Louis as well. Kinda seems like a stereotype couple to me, big strong man gets the big strong woman, like the jock and babe.

  10. Kaleigh Altman

    I’m new to comics and you’ ve definitely helped me with reading material!

  11. Jillian

    I actually view Wonder Woman in the same light as Superman…. in that I don’t like either. I mean, she’s a historically significant character, true. But…. well I’m not going to go into the reasons why I dislike her.

  12. K.W. Colyard

    “The doctor sought to put Wonder Woman back in her place; out of man’s world and back in the home where she belonged. Despite his hatred for her, Diana had the remarkable ability to forgive him and even tried to rehabilitate him. But because he was man, he was beyond redemption and continued to wreak havoc when we could. In terms of the gender superiority, it’s clear which side Marston was on.”

    I think this section could be expanded into another article regarding the onus placed on victimized women to be forgiving, particularly in religious settings.

    Also, it’s The Feminine Mystique, not Feminist.

  13. Megone

    The evolution of Wonder Woman is hardly ever explored. I think you do a really great job of breaking down her history and why her presence is important in today’s comics.

  14. Excellent retrospective! Wonder Woman and all the social and cultural messages associated with her is a fascinating topic and you do a great job exploring it.

  15. Swisher

    Wonder Woman is one of my favorite superheroes in the DC Universe and I can’t wait to see her in the new Superman vs Batman movie.

  16. Keturah

    I don’t like her new 52 origin

  17. Rinaldi

    Funny how in 2004 Wonder Woman liked batman 

  18. You should do a history of Black Adam. He is easily one of my favorite super villains. 

  19. Wonder woman is stupid her reason for becoming a superhero is so dumb batman saw his parents shot in front of him and decided to not let that happen to anyone spider man lost his parent’s then uncle so he wanted to try to stop that from happening to anyone else wonder woman they were like wanna become a superhero? she’s like sure!!! wow such a good backstory she’s so stupid

  20. If super man and wonder women had a kid he/she would be stronger then super man and wonder women 

  21. she is the biggest female superhero, she is sexy, badass and independent. she is overly sexualized at times and not to forget that she is a role model for so many girls and women around the world, she is very inspiring and iconic female character who should be treated like that.

    i love her and she is my favorite superhero but i am so disappointed that she will be portrayed by gal gadot. i wanted a list actress like anne hathaway or other actresses like jaimie alexander, gemma arterton and emily blunt for greatest female role in hollywood.

    • Domenic

      I prefer batman and wonder woman. Its like the head cheerleader and the captain of the football team with superman and wonder woman. She just seemed like she was completely into him because he was “the big gun” it was one dimensional. With Batman it was a more personal intellectual relationship. Also it was finally a woman that batman could be with and not have to worry about his enemies going after and her being unable to take care of herself, as she demonstrated by crushing a stone gargoyles head (justice league) 

    • Wonder Woman and Superman have no chemistry, their is no attraction between the two. Their relationship is incredibly forced and based solely on their power level. Seeing them together is like Hayden Christianson and Natalie Portman in Attack of the Clones. Every time they are together you can tell she is thinking, Don’t touch me.

  22. This is a great article about a superhero who can go toe to toe with the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight, and it make it better she is a woman that sets the high standards of super heroine.

  23. I love Wonder Woman as a character but I am getting kinda bored with all these super powers these heroes are getting now which are super convenient to get to stop a bad guy.What happen to our supers heroes being vulnerable? It seems like everytime you look up they discover a super power that they didn’t or have the first 50 years. Superman is bestowed super gas from an old Kyptonian device that allows him to fart knockout gas,

  24. The best woman

  25. Lon Tinsley

    the 52 sucks so many broken things justice leage war actually made me hate superman, wonder woman, captain marvel and the green lantern and didn’t make darkseid look powerful or menacing enough 

  26. Felica Hynes

    You know Wonder Woman is ripping off a lot of characters. The reason I’m saying that is because when she takes her bracelets off she becomes stronger. That’s like a rip off of super shadow. She’s also ripping off Belldandy because she’s a goddess and whenever she takes her bracelets off she also becomes stronger. In fact whenever she takes them off she becomes unbelievably strong. 

  27. Feminist icon yet dresses like a stripper. Strange.

  28. Teodoro

    Here is a great history of topics I would like to see here:
    History of…
    Silver Surfer (And Dark surfer in one)

  29. Kandra Dawkins

    love these history of articles

  30. I hate the new 52 “Power Couple”. Previously, I loved the fact that Wonder Woman could be a powerhouse in their team without being a romantic option. Now, shes just gonna be sexy eye-candy, like all superheroins. Way to go on ruining your characters DC!

  31. This is very informative. Didn’t know this.

  32. Wonder woman is one of the most underrated superheroes. I hope someone over wb are making a WW film…

  33. Hardison

    While some people gripe about the New 52 messing with Wonder Woman’s origin, I have to admit Azzarello and Chiang’s run is the first time in a long time I actually gave a shit about a Wonder Woman comic. The writing was excellent and the story was worth a second read. Good luck Finches, you two have a tough act to follow.

  34. Sunwyun

    Very interesting. I loved Wonder Woman when I was a girl.

  35. I hate many things from the New 52 and the ”power couple” is one of the ones I hate the most. Next to the thin Amanda Waller, the faceless Joker, the whorelike Harley and I should stop naming them. You should make a video of the top 10 changes that the New 52 made that are hated by fans.

  36. Wonder Woman just became bull. I’m tired of people rewriting the superheros to make them gods. No cool or interesting anymore. It’s no wonder DC is getting their a@@#$ kicked in the movies by Marvel. DC heroes are gods while Marvel heroes are interesting and most are human still.

  37. Milford Kee

    Remember when you in high school and everyone packed into the gym so that they could find the school’s strongest girl and boy so they could go with each other to the dance? no? THAT’S BECAUSE IT NEVER HAPPENED. Two characters shouldn’t be together because they’re both really strong, they should date because their personalities that fit together. 

  38. Wonder Woman was created because society needed to recognize they had “wonder women” in their midst, and NEEDED them for the war effort.

  39. Big breasted woman with star-spangled swimming-suit and lasso. Dumbest Superhero of all time.

    • LarryLane

      So an amazon warrior from a mystical mythical land is dumb? mythology is dumb? and that lasso actually pulled the earth and lifted islands. Most superheroes are kooky and weird in the early years. I could sit here and point how unrealistic Batman is…or any hero really…Captain America’s outfit is even more silly….but that’s the charm of superheroes ….and its lame to sit there and rag on what someone else loves….we all love our heroes no matter their flaws. You sir are in severe error.

  40. What a great article, very well researched and informative. Lets hope Wonder Woman makes it to the theatre. I wonder if she hasn’t, simply because she truly is a super hero. A female one. One that might rival the male super heroes that have come from Marvel and Disney. If given her chance Wonder Woman might usurp her male hero counterparts and ruffle a few feathers in Hollywood.
    Thanks again.

  41. Joetta Schwab

    In the new 52 did they just forget about Lois lane since superman is with wonder woman. I liked it better when wonder woman liked batman 

  42. Spencer

    Awesome article – I didn’t know a lot of this!

  43. Definitely an interesting history for Wonder Woman. I always used to like her character in Justice League, all the superheroes were pretty badass. I’m curious as to how they make her new upcoming film.

  44. This was incredibly interesting and detailed. I love that you managed to give her full history with such an unbiased voice. You never spoke about your own experiences with Wonder Woman. and you avoided passing judgment on the directions she was taken. You simply marked the changes with the reception of the public. Nicely done. And I had not heard about her solo movie. I hope it is good. I’m sick of seeing so many moody male superheroes discovering their powers.

  45. Monique

    Fantastic article, Cagney! We’ll be studying WW later this semester in my “Women in WW2” class, and I’ll be sure to quote you. 🙂

  46. This was a great article. It was very informative and gave a more in depth look at an icon.

  47. Natalie Sheppard

    Great, very thorough article.

  48. wonder woman is my favorite

  49. Grindrod

    Thorough and well researched article. Kudos!

  50. Jeff MacLeod

    I enjoyed this article, I will recommend it to my students in a course I teach on political imagery in graphic novels/comic books.

  51. This was a fantastic article on the history of Wonder Woman through her various renditions. I believe that the thing that has made Wonder Woman have so much staying power and the ability to have various reboots is because of her original creation. William Moulton Marston instilled values he observed from two women he loved in his life. Because of this he was able to see woman in different ways and create a more realistic woman then heroine. Wonder Woman portrays how many facets woman can have. The only trouble with the cinematic universe is making sure they stick to her characters core qualities and not compromise them to make a good film. Wonder Woman has always been able to handle the men in he life, whether they are heroes or villains, so in the films she should be much like Black Widow is to the Avengers, her own woman who can kick ass, take names, but also cry and fall in love.

  52. Looking forward to a telling of her story that doesn’t reduce her to a pumped up pinup. The few comics of hers that I have read through the years were influenced by whoever happened to be writing and drawing it at the time. Anyone have an idea where to start during its run to find a team that really puts her story together?

  53. Solid analysis of Wonder Woman’s various portrayals over the years, including what worked and what did not. I sincerely hope that her upcoming film appearance does her justice, and doesn’t commit the crime of reducing her to a love interest for one of Bruce or Clark.

  54. SomeOtherAmazon

    Wonder Woman, as crucial member of the big three, deserves more screen time than she’s gotten. I hope that after Batman Superman she gets her own sequel, or several! The island of the Amazons could definitely lend itself to some great movies.

  55. I think with the way kids are receiving the Percy Jackson series the idea that she won’t market well is ridiculous. Kids find Greek mythology very interesting and many people grew up with her.

  56. Wonder Woman is an icon just as much as Batman and Superman are. She’s one of the top founders of the Justice League and it’s a shame that it took this long to properly put her on the silver screen. Still, it is as they say, better late than never. I look forward to seeing her in Dawn of Justice and I hope that her solo film is successful. The world needs Wonder Woman, both in and out of the comic book world.

  57. scole

    I really like this article because, as a lover of WW, I get a lot of “she’s not that important” or “what does she even do? kill people with a lasso” and it’s just overall annoying because WW is such a great character I love WW. she’s honestly one of my favorites. I’m glad people are finally starting to realize what a great character she is, but she’s always been better than Batman and Superman to me, Catwoman is one of my other favorites and they both are genuinely great characters.

  58. Massimo Ossi

    What are your sources for this article?

    “The Secret History of Wonder Woman” by Jill Lepore (Knopf, 2014) tells the entire story, including an extensive study of Marston’s life and ideas, and it would seem you have relied on it rather extensively. It got lots of press, including an appearance on Colbert’s Report–so it’s not just an obscure academic book.

    And even if you have not, it would be wise to at least acknowledge that her book is out there.

  59. ADenkyirah

    Great article! Wonder Woman is part of the big three. Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, and it’s about time that we get her in a movie and her own standalone move. My expectations are very high, when we see her in the Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Wonder Woman isn’t just a warrior, she is a educator, an ambassador, and a beacon of faith. She is everything that I’ve always wanted to be, when I was younger. She is unapologetic, she isn’t shy of her distaste for somethings, and she is unlikely to back down from a challenge. I want to see all of that in the DCEU. I don’t want them to water her down and make her seem like a sidekick to the rest of the male dominated Justice League. She is one of the ORIGINAL members of the Justice League. I like the New 52, version of Wonder Woman, but I wouldn’t mind if they took some inspiration from her Silver Age comics and DC animated movies like, Crisis On Two Earths and Throne Of Atlantis.

  60. Having seen BvS, I can say that Gal Godot’s Wonder Woman is the best part of the film. It’s ridiculous that it’s taken so long for her cinematic debut, but she left quite the impression. Hopefully, her characterization in her solo film, which is unfortunately a prequel, doesn’t erase her portrayal in BvS, repeating the many rewrites she has received in the comics.

  61. Thanks for the providing a history of Wonder Woman in various media incarnations. It will be interesting to see how the new movie will respect the character compared to the 1970s TV series.Interesting comparison too with Wonder Woman and Superman. Both with alter egos and side kicks – Steve trevor/Jimmy Olsen

  62. L.J.

    Interesting Article! Learned a lot about the history of Wonder Woman.

  63. The change in early Wonder Woman reflected closely the cultural change from the 40s to the 50s.

  64. While this may be an older article, Wonder Woman has come a long way in media since 2015, whether it be good or be bad *cough* WW 1984. Anyways, very insightful article that showed us her true prowess in media throughout the decades.

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