I just need to communicate a few things before I start. First, yes, I know I said that Aquaman would be next at the end of my Cyborg introduction piece, but I procrastinated hard on that and never quite finished it. Next thing I knew, it was time for Wonder Woman's 75th Anniversary and there was the big announcement that she would become an honorary ambassador to the UN. In light of all that, it felt right to put Aquaman to the side for now and concentrate on Wonder Woman. I know that it's Aquaman's 75th anniversary as well, but... Let's face it, Wonder Woman's more important both as a superhero and as a feminist icon. Ladies first, Aquaman. I'll get to his profile sometime after I finish my Wonder Woman celebration pieces... hopefully. Also, I wanted to mention a few slight alterations I made to my Cyborg piece. First, I rectified the fact that I never credited his creators in the profile. Shame on me since comic creators barely get enough credit as things stand. Second, I added a picture of Cyborg from the Justice League movie trailer so you can see him in all his live action glory. You can find my Cyborg introduction here: http://comicvine.gamespot.com/profile/jekylhyde14/blog/getting-to-know-the-justice-league-cyborg/127692/
Now, on to Wonder Woman:
Created By: William Moulton Marston
First Appearance: All-Star Comics #8 (December 1941)
Portrayed By: Gal Gadot
Diana is the princess of the Amazons and the island of Themyscira. She is the beloved daughter of Queen Hippolyta of the Amazons. Throughout the years, the circumstances of Diana's birth have changed in the comics. Her Golden Age and Post-Crisis on Infinite Earths origins told, more or less, the same story: Queen Hippolyta molded a baby girl out of clay and then prayed to the Greek gods to give it life.
The Greek gods then blessed the child with the beauty of Aphrodite, the wisdom of Athena, the speed of Mercury, and the strength of Hercules giving Diana her special gifts. More recently, there have been updated accounts of her birth and parentage. Writer Brian Azzarello's run on Wonder Woman, starting with 2011's New 52, changed the story to make the god Zeus out as Wonder Woman's biological father. With Zeus as her father, Wonder Woman is technically a demigod which accounts for all of her super powers. Grant Morrison's Wonder Woman: Earth One made Hercules into Wonder Woman's father in a similar vein. If I were to hazard a guess based on the trailer, I would say that the movie is going to go with the formed from clay origin story. In the trailer, Wonder Woman says, "I have no father. I was brought to life by Zeus." Take that with a grain of salt, though, since the film isn't out yet. Regardless, in every origin story, Queen Hippolyta is her mother and her powers come from the Greek gods.
The island of Themyscira and the Amazonian society are hidden from the outside world of man by the Greek gods. All of the islands inhabitants are women and their society is shielded from the wars and struggles of man's world. The Amazons are also practically immortal and never age. Diana grows up on Themyscira as a happy child and the island's favorite daughter. This all changes when Captain (later Colonel) Steve Trevor of the US army crash lands his plane on Themyscira and is badly wounded. Diana finds herself drawn to Cpt. Trevor. She wants to save his life and seeing a man for the first time awakens her curiosity for the outside world. Defying her mother's orders, Diana competes in a tournament to decide which Amazon will be chosen to take Steve Trevor back to America. Diana wins the honor and becomes the champion and ambassador of the Amazons. Upon being exposed to America and the outside world, her extraordinary powers are revealed and Diana takes on the dual identities of Diana Prince and Wonder Woman.
Personality and Motivations:
The two most important goddesses to Amazonian culture are Aphrodite and Athena. As such, love and wisdom are cherished by the Amazons above all else and, by extension of that, peace is their ultimate goal. Being their champion and favorite daughter, Wonder Woman exemplifies this triumvirate of Amazonian ideals. Diana is usually patient, kind, loving, and wise. She has a great deal of empathy for others as is on display right off the bat with her concern for Steve Trevor. She tries everything she can to be there for her friends and feels terrible if she feels she's let them down even in the slightest. Diana also tends to yearn for fun and adventure which gives her a bit of a mischievous side. This led her to oppose her mother's wishes and travel to man's world in the first place. Wonder Woman never backs down from a challenge and has fun completing them.
She sounds too good to be true, right? Well, there's also another side to Diana which is a little less harmonious: Her warrior side. Like all Amazons, Diana is a trained warrior, and, like all soldiers, knows that war sometimes means doing things that are ugly but necessary. This side of Wonder Woman is perfectly exemplified in the "Sacrifice" story arc. When Maxwell Lord uses his mind control abilities to force Superman on a rampage, Diana is forced to make a difficult decision to protect Superman and the rest of the world. This side of Diana can be hard, calculating, and ruthless. She wants peace and love, but knows that there are sometimes bleak realities you have to accept to get them.
As for her mission statement, Wonder Woman is an ambassador of peace. Her ultimate goal is to help man's world turn away from war and aggression. Her actions as a superhero reflect those aims as she attempts to thwart the most violent and dangerous members of the outside world. Going hand in hand with peace, Diana also works towards equality. Gender equality, in particular, is important to Wonder Woman. She's often shown as being surprised and shocked at the toll man's world takes on a woman's natural strengths and beauty. Everything Wonder Woman does, she does for peace and equality.
Powers and Abilities:
As I mentioned in the origin above, Wonder Woman is blessed with the beauty of Aphrodite, the Wisdom of Athena, the speed of Mercury, and the strength of Hercules. What this amounts to in the way of super powers has always been super strength and super speed. As time has gone by, she's also gained the abilities of flight and near invulnerability. The flight seems to be an extension of Mercury's speed and the invulnerability an extension of her great strength. Basically, at this point she's evolved into a Superman level power set. In the Golden Age, the Amazons once had the ability to send each other telepathic messages with the aid of a mental radio, but that power is rarely seen in the Modern Age.
Wonder Woman also has a vast array of combat abilities and special gear. She's a trained Amazonian warrior and eventually becomes their greatest warrior. This makes her one of the best combatants in the DC Universe whether the combat is armed or not. These days, she's often seen wielding a sword. Of course, she also has her three most iconic pieces of equipment. First, there's her invisible, robot plane which, in some eras, responds to her telepathic commands. Next, there are her Amazonian bracelets. The Amazons all wear these bracelets to remind themselves of how they were once defeated by Hercules and enslaved by men. They make the most of this reminder, though, and use the bracelets as a defense against firearms in a game they lovingly describe as "Bullets and Bracelets."
Finally, there's her Golden Lasso of Truth. Blessed by the gods, the Golden Lasso forces anyone caught by it to tell the truth. It also forces the captive to obey the commands of whoever wields the Lasso. It's Wonder Woman's greatest and most often used weapon.
Honestly, she doesn't have many. These days, she's moved past any mortal weaknesses, and there's nothing like Kryptonite to take down Diana. In the Golden Age, there used to be this strange weakness where if an Amazon's bracelets were chained by a man then they would lose their strength. Wonder Woman was captured quite a few times this way. I think creator William Moulton Marston hoped that this would be symbolic of what happens when women are forced under the will and domination of man. These days, though, I think it's considered a little problematic, so it's not used much anymore and I doubt it will come up in the movie.
The Golden Lasso of Truth can also be considered a weakness for Wonder Woman. The Lasso compels whoever it holds, and Wonder Woman is no exception. There have been many stories where an enemy has gotten a hold of the Lasso and has used it to capture and compel Diana to do their bidding. Keep this in mind during the movie if Diana ever gets captured and interrogated by the Germans.
Finally, supernatural forces seem to be the most dangerous threat to Wonder Woman's survival. Her powers are, one way or another, reliant on the gods of ancient Greece. If her connection to those gods is interrupted or severed then she can be left powerless. This is exactly what happened in Wonder Woman Vol. 1 #179 when the Amazons and Themyscira withdrew from Earth. Diana lost her connection to the gods and she was forced to go on with her adventures without her super powers. It also seems that a great enough supernatural force can kill Diana outright. Both the mythical witch Circe and the demon Neron have almost claimed Wonder Woman's life with powerful blasts of magic (in War of the Gods #3 and Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #124 respectively). It's important to note that Wonder Woman is only near invulnerable so you could expect that any force great enough or any foe powerful enough could succeed in killing the Amazon princess. Luckily, forces that great are rare.
Key Supporting Characters:
Hippolyta is queen of the Amazons and Diana's mother. Hippolyta's character is usually colored by the time she was tricked by Hercules which led to the defeat and enslavement of the Amazons in man's world. With the help of her gods, Hippolyta was able to rally and free her people. She became a kind, fair, and loving ruler to the Amazons, but the event made her distrustful and, at times, resentful of the outside world. She is particularly overprotective of her daughter whom she loves above all else. She initially tries to protect Diana and keep her on Themyscira by forbidding her to join the tournament to decide who would take Cpt. Trevor home. Hippolyta often times makes questionable decisions and tough calls in the name of protecting her daughter and her people, but, in the end, can usually be counted on to do the right thing. One last fun note is, in the Post- Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity where The Justice Society of America inhabited the same world and timeline as the Justice League, Hippolyta was retconned as being the Wonder Woman of the Justice Society and the 1940's. In this identity, she makes a big sacrifice to save her daughter in the Our Worlds At War crossover.
Captain Steve Trevor of the US Army is the man who introduces Diana to man's world. He crashed his plane on Themyscira and ended up wounded. Because of this, he became the first man Diana ever saw and sparked her interest in the outside world. He was originally played as Wonder Woman's boyfriend and became her damsel in distress. Steve would rush off, get into trouble, and Diana would have to save him. He was basically Lois Lane to Wonder Woman's Superman. Despite this, Steve is capable, brave, and his love and affection for Wonder Woman is genuine. Since the New 52, he's been seen in the comics as a high ranking member of the spy group A.R.G.U.S. and sometimes acts as Amanda Waller's right hand man. In the film, though, I imagine you can expect to see the Golden Age interpretation of Trevor on full display.
Etta Candy is Wonder Woman's best friend in man's world. In the Golden Age, she was the outgoing, outspoken, candy addicted, and courageous leader of the Holiday College girls and Beeta Lamba Sorority. She's also been an air force officer and, in the New 52, Steve Trevor's A.R.G.U.S. secretary. At her best, Etta is Wonder Woman's most fearsome ally. She's always ready for a fight and tends to rally back up for Wonder Woman when the going gets tough. The film seems to be taking a nod from the New 52 by using Etta as Trevor's secretary. She also appeared a bit buttoned down and reserved in what little we've seen of her in the trailer, but, if I know Etta, she'll find a way to let her heroic side loose before the end of the movie.
Honorable Mentions: Donna Troy (Wonder Girl I), Cassie Sandsmark (Wonder Girl II), and the Amazon warrior Mala.
Baroness Paula Von Gunther
When I first started thinking about this blog post, I hadn't even considered mentioning Paula Von Gunther. After seeing the Wonder Woman trailer, that changed. Not only am I mentioning her, I'm leading with her. That's because I'm pretty sure that the woman in the trailer with the broken mask is the Baroness Paula Von Gunther herself. In the Golden Age, Paula was a Nazi spy leader who specialized in torture, humiliation, and brain-washing. She could make victims obey her by using a hypnotism technique that imprinted her image into their minds. She was behind a number of plots thwarted by Wonder Woman, but often eluded capture. Eventually, Wonder Woman discovered that Paula only did the bidding of the Nazis because they had her daughter. Diana rescued Paula's daughter and put her on the path to redemption. In Wonder Woman Vol. 1 #3, Paula helped rescue Wonder Woman from a burning factory, but her face was disfigured in the process. She wore a veil to cover her scarred features. That makes me believe that the woman in the trailer is Paula, and she's wearing the mask to cover her disfigured features. Paula Von Gunther pops up again and again in the Wonder Woman comics, so it makes sense that they'd use her in the movie.
In the Golden Age, he went by his Roman name Mars. In the Modern Age, he's best known by his Greek name Ares. In all ages, he is the god of war and destruction. Seeing as how the Amazons are dedicated to peace and love, this makes Ares their natural nemesis. In Post-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity, the Amazons were even created by the gods to stem Ares' influence on man. The god of war often opposes Wonder Woman from behind the scenes. He uses his power and influence to create plots and situations to destroy Diana and her Amazon sisters. ...Sometimes. The New 52 portrayed him as a tired, old drunk who was weary of war and destruction. He played mentor to Wonder Woman and even passed his mantle onto her. No matter what role he plays or what name he uses, though, if Wonder Woman is around then the god of war isn't far behind.
Cheetah has had many different origins and identities over the years, so let's just concentrate on the most recent version. Antiquities expert Barbara Minerva stole an ancient San Tribe artifact called the God-Killer Knife from A.R.G.U.S. Minerva stabbed herself in the chest with the knife, and the act allowed her to channel the San Tribe's cheetah god. As the Cheetah, Minerva gains strength, speed, and deadly, poisonous claws. She bears a grudge against Wonder Woman over a perceived slight and is not afraid to go after Diana's loved ones to get to her. Cheetah is selfish, blood-thirsty, and deadly. She's also one of Wonder Woman's most iconic villains, so I wouldn't be surprised to see her hit the big screen someday.
Honorable Mentions: Dr. Psycho, Circe, and the First Born.
Recommended Reading: (Though, you could just check out the list of my ten favorite Wonder Woman stories: http://comicvine.gamespot.com/profile/jekylhyde14/blog/my-ten-favorite-wonder-woman-storiesruns/128860/)
1) Wonder Woman Archives Vol. 1- This compiles the earliest adventures of Wonder Woman written by her creator William Moulton Marston. In my ten favorite Wonder Woman stories list, I go on and on gushing over Marston's Wonder Woman, and I'll probably write about it even more in the near future. Therefore, I'll be brief. It's ahead of its time, progressively feminist, and wholly unique. It will also help familiarize you with Wonder Woman's origins and give you background on the Amazons. Finally, since both the early comics and the movie are set during wartime (though, different wars), the early comics are probably the best on-page representation of what the movie will be like. Hence why it's my top pick.
2) Wonder Woman (2011) Vol. 1: Blood- This contains the first six issues of the Brian Azzarello/ Cliff Chiang run on Wonder Woman. The critically acclaimed run is action packed and includes a wonderfully stylized version of the Greek Pantheon. It's a great story that will give you a look at a more modern representation of Diana.
3) "Stoned"- Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #206-210- This story by Greg Rucka and Drew Johnson shows Wonder Woman at her fiercest. Forced into a duel to the death with Medusa, Wonder Woman has to go to great lengths to win. This story started the era of the warrior Wonder Woman and got me interested in her solo book again.
Top Moments as a Justice Leaguer:
3) "The Secret of Cheetah"- Justice League (2011) #13-14- The Justice League attempts to capture Cheetah and Superman ends up mortally wounded in the process. Wonder Woman is forced into action to try and save her new love while discovering the origins of Cheetah's powers. A good, modern Justice League story focused on Diana.
2) "The Twelve Labors"- Wonder Woman Vol. 1 #212-222- Now that her super powers are back, the Justice League want Wonder Woman to rejoin their ranks. However, she refuses to do so until she completes twelve labors to prove she still has what it takes. A different member of the league observes her in each task. Check it out to see Wonder Woman impress her team once more.
1) JLA: A League of One- Wonder Woman learns of a prophecy where the Justice League sacrifice their own lives to stop a powerful dragon. Deciding that she will not let her friends die, Diana takes it upon herself to subdue the League and stop the dragon on her own. This is definitely the story where Wonder Woman proves that she is one of the Justice League's most powerful and most noble members.
Other Live Action Versions:
Outside of the DCEU films, there really aren't as many live action versions of Wonder Woman as there should be. The first was the Wonder Woman TV show starring Lynda Carter that aired from 1975-1979. Though this show is considered outdated in many ways today, it remains a highly influential pop culture milestone. My mother talks about it and The Bionic Woman as early television series that helped empower women. The 70's TV series is currently going through something of a resurgence as DC is publishing a comic book based on it.
The only other live action version of Wonder Woman is the failed 2011 TV pilot starring Adrianne Palicki. I've seen it and... it's not the worst live action DC project I've ever had to sit through. It's not great, though. It centers around Wonder Woman juggling crime fighting, running a company, and managing her personal life. The antagonists aren't exactly threatening, the side plots aren't particularly engaging, and the special effects fall flat. The most interesting part about it is that Wonder Woman kills in the pilot. A taste of things to come? Anyway, you can track down the pilot online, but I'd only suggest doing that if you're a dedicated fan. Wonder Woman deserves better than that, and, hopefully, she'll get it with her upcoming film.
Alright, that's that. Wonder Woman is one of my favorite characters and my bae. She's a feminist icon and seems to have all the momentum in the world going into 2017. I hope I managed to do her justice. Join me next time for Aquaman... maybe... probably... Do I HAVE to???