Let’s say ten years ago you asked someone to name a superhero. You were likely to hear that person say Batman or Superman or maybe Spider-Man. Now, you might hear Iron Man or Captain America as well. But ask anyone at any point in time to name a female superhero and you will get one answer: Wonder Woman. Also known as Diana Prince, she is a vital part of the DC Comics pantheon and is still the most high-profile female comic book hero. The appeal of Wonder Woman is vast and has a deep and lasting cultural impact.
The character of Wonder Woman — and her alter ego: Diana, Princess of Themyscira — were created by psychologist William Moulton Marston in 1941. She appeared for the first time in All Star Comics #8, illustrated by H.G. Peter. She originally had a star-studded flowing skirt along with her armored bodice.
Queen Hippolyta of the Amazons sculpted Diana out of clay and Zeus brought her to life. She leaves her idyllic island home when American soldier Steve Trevor crashes there and she realizes she must help humanity. Wonder Woman would later get her own title and join the coalition of heroes called the Justice League. DC Comics has overhauled it’s slate of characters at different times over the years, most recently in 2010 when Diana finally got pants!
Prior to 2017, Wonder Woman had appeared on screen in live action. A television series premiered on ABC in 1975. It starred Lynda Carter as the title character, while Cloris Leachman played Queen Hippolyta in the pilot. Carter added her famous ballet-spin of transformation to the character. The show was fairly successful and aired until 1979. As the decades wound on, Diana’s Justice League colleagues got big-budget film franchises but she was absent from multiplexes. Many attempts were made over the years but nothing panned out. In 2011, NBC made a new Wonder Woman pilot. It had the clout of famed producer David E. Kelley behind it and starred Adrianne Palicki. However, the show was never picked up as a series.
Years from now, when comics fans reflect on the legacy of Wonder Woman, 2017 will be known as a watershed year. Fans knew Warner Bros., the movie studio which has a long-standing relationship with DC Comics, wanted to create a connected universe like Marvel has done. In 2016, this began with Batman v Superman. The film combined Henry Cavill as Superman, continuing his role from 2013’s Man of Steel, with Ben Affleck as an older and world-weary Batman. They briefly find themselves at odds, but the film is subtitled Dawn of Justice for a reason. Gal Gadot stars as Diana and her Wonder Woman arrives to take her place beside the boys.
The world received a Wonder Woman film in the summer of 2017. Gadot was joined by Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta and Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, and it reached commercial and critical success. Diana delighted audiences again in November of the same year when Justic League hit theaters and added Aquaman (Jason Momoa), the Flash (Ezra Miller), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to the mix.
The power the character of Wonder Woman has to impact our culture has never been more evident. She has always been a feminist icon but she also means a lot for the LGBT community. In this era of vocal discussion about women’s rights, Diana Prince is more relevant than ever. Fans will be able to judge for themselves how Wonder Woman will feature into this atmosphere when the sequel to Wonder Woman releases in 2019. My guess is that she’ll be leading the charge.