Throughout the years there are few more enduring female icons than the Amazonian princess known as Wonder Woman. Her heroic exploits have graced the pages of comic books, TV screens, and movie theaters for 75 years, An embodiment of the female virtues of strength, grace, wisdom and spirit, she is an enduring symbol of the best humanity has to offer.
June 3rd has been declared “Wonder Woman Day” (#WonderWomanDay) by DC Comics, celebrating the release of the forthcoming Wonder Woman feature film and over 75 years of stories featuring the iconic superhero.
In case you didn’t know, Wonder Woman is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. The character is a founding member of the Justice League, a demigoddess, and warrior princess of the Amazons, which are based on the Amazons of Greek mythology. In her homeland, she is Princess Diana of Themyscira, and outside of her homeland, she is known by her secret identity Diana Prince.
Wonder Woman was created by the American psychologist and writer William Moulton Marston, with his wife and co-creator Elizabeth Holloway Marston, and artist H. G. Peter. Their cohabitant, Olive Byrne, is credited as being Marston’s muse for the iconic characters’ physical appearance. Marston drew a great deal of inspiration from early feminists, and especially from birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger. The character first appeared in “All Star Comics #8” in December 1941 and first cover-dated on Sensation Comics #1, January 1942. The “Wonder Woman” title has been published by DC Comics almost continuously except for a brief hiatus in 1986.
Wonder Woman’s origin story relates that she was sculpted from clay by her mother Queen Hippolyta, and given life along with superhuman powers as gifts by the Greek Gods. However, in recent years she has been depicted as the daughter of Zeus, and jointly raised by her mother Hippolyta and her aunts Antiope and Menalippe. Her Amazonian-training helped to develop a wide range of extraordinary skills in strategy, hunting, and fighting. She possesses an arsenal of advanced technology, including the Lasso of Truth, a pair of indestructible bracelets, a tiara which also serves as a projectile, and, in older stories, a range of devices based on Amazon technology. Although Diana is 5,000 years old, her first exposure to non-Amazon society as Wonder Woman will have only come within the last few 100 years. While the Amazons were originally created to protect “man’s world,” they ultimately abandoned it.
Wonder Woman was created during World War II; the character was initially depicted fighting Axis military forces as well as an assortment of colorful supervillains, although over time her stories came to place greater emphasis on characters, deities, and monsters from Greek mythology. Many stories depicted Wonder Woman rescuing herself from bondage, which inverted the “damsels in distress” trope that were common in comics during the 1940’s. In the decades since her debut, Wonder Woman has gained a formidable cast of enemies bent on eliminating the Amazon, including classic villains such as Ares, Hades, Cheetah, Circe, Doctor Psycho, and Giganta, along with more recent adversaries such as the First Born. Wonder Woman has also regularly appeared in comic books featuring the superhero teams “Justice Society” (from 1941) and “Justice League” (from 1960).
Notable depictions of the character in other media include the 1975–1979 Wonder Woman TV series starring Lynda Carter, the most liked and enduring version of the Amazon Princess so far, as well as animated series such as the Super Friends and Justice League. Since Carter’s television series, studios struggled to introduce a new live-action Wonder Woman to audiences, although the character continued to feature in a variety of toys and merchandise, as well as animated adaptations of DC properties, including a direct-to-DVD animated feature. Attempts to return Wonder Woman to television have included a television pilot for NBC in 2011, closely followed by another stalled production for The CW. Gal Gadot portrayed Wonder Woman in the 2016 film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, marking the character’s feature film debut after over 70 years of history. Gadot also stars in the character’s first solo live-action film Wonder Woman, which was released June 2, 2017.
The following are examples of the various versions of the Amazonian Princess in movies and on TV.