A Brief History Of Wonder Woman
You’d be hard pressed to find a North American who doesn’t have some association with the words ‘Wonder Woman,’ but how did she become a household name?
To find out, we’ve got to go back to the beginning:
Wonder Woman’s Look
Wonder Woman was co-created by artist Harry G. Peter and a psychologist-slash-writer named Charles Moulton. Moulton’s wife Elizabeth had a mistress named Olive “Dotsie” Byrne and it was Dotsie who actually inspired Wonder Woman’s look!
Wonder Woman’s Social Philosophy
Wonder Woman was also inspired by an early twentieth century brand of feminism, and you need only look to her origin story to find obvious examples of this: she’s the warrior princess of a race of immortal super-women who formed a matriarchal society on the lush and fictional Paradise Island! And in early iterations, Wonder Woman frequently rescued herself from bondage which would have been a powerful metaphor for overthrowing the real-life patriarchy in the 1940s.
Wonder Woman As A War Hero
The Second World War was underway when Wonder Woman debuted on the cover of Sensation Comics in 1942, so early depictions had her defeating, among other supervillains, the Axis military forces that North America and England were at war with. Wonder Woman, of course, was also a founding member of the Justice League—or the Justice Society as it was called before 1960—which had its fair share of war allegory as well.
Wonder Woman Gets Man-Handled
But it wasn’t always smooth sailing for Wonder Woman! At the hand of her various creators, Wonder Woman had her identity tweaked and revamped countless times. Stories found her once running a mod boutique! Then later, learning martial arts from a Chinese mentor named I Ching! And, under the penmanship of writer and artist Michael Sekowsky, she even surrendered her powers so she could stay in Man’s World!
Wonder Woman On TV
This incarnation of Wonder Woman saw her as an assistant to government agent Steve Trevor in the 1974 made-for-TV-movie, but by 1975, Diana Prince returned to her Second World War roots when actress Lynda Carter portrayed her in the 1975 TV series. The show eventually modernized itself and brought Wonder Woman into what was then the present-day 1970s.
Wonder Woman In Crisis On Infinite Earths
By this point, the growing number of artists and writers contributing to DC Comics at large had created a slew of contradictory timelines and multiple Earths. It all came to a head in 1985 when Prime-Earth, Earth-Two and four other alternate Earths were combined into a limited, twelve-issue series called Crisis On Infinite Earths. The series aimed to unify over fifty years of DC characters and Wonder Woman felt the effects.
Wonder Woman’s Greek Roots
The end of the twentieth century overwrote her marriage to Steve Trevor, changed her birthplace from Paradise Island to Themyscira and, it endowed her with the sole task of bringing peace to the outside world. This era also saw the rise of Wonder Woman’s ties to Greek mythology. Her new origin story had her formed from clay by Queen Hippolyta then blessed with beauty by Aphrodite, given strength from Demeter, wisdom from Athena… and the list goes on.
Wonder Woman Today
Of course today, you can still buy Wonder Woman comics. It’ll set you back about three or four dollars which is a far cry from the ten cents it cost back in the forties. Oddly enough though, people seem to have their own personal versions of Wonder Woman which are usually a combo of the various histories I just mentioned. We are all, however, standing on the precipice of a new Wonder Woman in the making! It has been seventy-six years since Charles Moulton imagined Wonder Woman and this weekend will mark her first-ever standalone film.