WONDER WOMAN 75TH ANNIVERSARY
Wonder Woman was created by American psychologist and inventor of the lie detector, William Moulton Marston. She first appeared in All Star Comics #8 in December 1941 and had her first cover in Sensation Comics #1 the following month. Wonder Woman’s original origin story goes back nearly 5000 years. According to legend, her mother Queen Hippolyta had sculpted her from clay. She was given superhuman powers by the Greek Gods and went by the name Princess Diana. In recent years her origin has shifted to where she is the daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta. For some purists, the original origin is always the best while for some the Zeus connection adds a new dimension to this god-like warrior.
As a native of Paradise Island, inhabited solely by a tribe of women called the Amazons. This secluded island is where Captain Steve Trevor crash lands and is found unconscious by Diana who nurses him back to health. Hippolyta decides that Trevor needs to be returned to man’s world and only the most worthy of her warriors will be tasked with this mission via a competition. Diana is forbidden to take part in the competition by her mother. However, Diana conceals her identity and ultimately wins it. Hippolyta gives in and accepts Diana as champion. For her efforts, Diana was rewarded by her mother with a special uniform, symbolic of the world she would be entering.
Much like Marvel’s Captain America, Wonder Woman was introduced during World War II and was shown fighting Nazi’s and other Axis powers. As her character evolved over time, so did the involvement of Greek mythology with monsters and other gods figuring into her storyline. While Diana has an array of powerful weapons at her disposal, she is best known for her indestructible bracelets, her tiara, breastplate and of course, the Lasso of Truth. And never forget her invisible jet.
Her first appearance outside the pages of DC Comics was in of all places, The Brady Kids cartoon in 1972. Yes, those Brady’s. It was in an episode called “It’s All Greek to Me”. She was voiced Jane Webb.
The Ultimate Feminist and a LGBT Pioneer
When Ms. magazine founder, Gloria Steinem placed Wonder Woman on the magazines first cover, she did so to bring to light empowering image of this superhero icon that had been diminished over the last few years. Wonder Woman appeared in her original costume that piqued the interest of DC Comics owner Warner Communications. The comic book giant restored Wonder Woman to her former glory for a new generation of young girls to admire and look up to.
Wonder Woman has always been an advocate for equality for all people. So it comes to no surprise her stance when it comes to gay rights. This past September comic book writer Greg Rucka announced with the rebooted Rebirth series by DC Comics that she would be bisexual. For Rucka it only made sense that she had same-sex relationships having being surrounded by women all her life.
Since her debut, Wonder Woman has had to face many intriguing and formidable villains including Ares, Hades, Cheetah, Circe, Doctor Psycho, and Giganta.
In June 2003 writer Matt Wagner created a three issue story arc called The World’s Finest Trinity consisting of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. The story took place before the formation of the Justice League. The premise of the story centered on the first meeting between our heroes as they faced off against Ra’s al Ghul, Bizarro and Artemis. The series was a huge success and in later years an on-going Trinity series was published by DC with such writers like Kurt Busiek, Fabian Nicieza and Francis Manapul.
Four women have had the distinct honor bringing Wonder Woman to life on the small screen and soon on the silver screen.
Cathy Lee Crosby (1974)
Heavily influenced by the Wonder Woman that appeared in DC Comics from 1968-1972, Cathy Lee Crosby was cast as the Amazon Princess minus her trademark tiara and overall look that we had grown accustom to. She was more like super-agent Wonder Woman in the same vain as Emma Peel from the British television series, The Avengers. While the ratings were not poor, ABC did not pick it up but instead of abandoning the idea, they ordered a second pilot starring Lynda Carter.
Lynda Carter (1975-1979)
The icon and the series that the character will always be compared to is the beautiful Lynda Carter. Lynda may not have been the first live action version to appear but she will always be the definitive Wonder Woman. The TV series ran for three seasons from 1975 to 1979 producing 59 episodes plus a movie pilot. The series started on ABC to solid ratings but the cost of the period piece proved challenging and Wonder Woman made its way to CBS for its last two seasons. Much of the pilot was loyal to the original comic book source with Wonder Woman joining the military under the name Diana Prince. The show however only glosses over some of her origins but for the most part it, highlights the important aspects of the character. Lyle Waggoner co-starred as both Steve Trevor and Steve Trevor, Jr after the series shifted from its original WWII setting that appeared on ABC its 1970s California setting on CBS.
After the success of the comic book series Batman ’66 which continues the adventures of Adam West’s Batman, in October 2014, DC Comics announced a continuation of this series with Wonder Woman ’77 which debuted in May 2015. A team-up between West and Carter will also take place in the near future.
Adrianne Palicki (2011)
There was an attempt in 2011 by David E. Kelley to bring Wonder Woman back to television. Her role was redefined as she is portrayed as a successful corporate executive, almost a cross between Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark. The unaired pilot starring Adrianne Palicki was not picked up by NBC. I came across the pilot that featured Elizabeth Hurley as the villain and Cary Elwes as Diana Prince’s assistant and actor Justin Bruening was cast as Steve Trevor. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of the pilot and although it wasn’t great by any stretch, but there was some potential that NBC didn’t feel comfortable enough to give it a go.
Another failed attempt didn’t even get pass the planning stage when the CW toyed with the idea. It would take another couple of years before a new Wonder Woman would be introduced to the world.
Gal Gadot (2013-Present)
In 2013, Warner Brothers announced Fast and the Furious alum Gal Gadot had been cast as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman in the highly anticipated 2016 film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice starring along side Henry Cavil as Superman and Ben Affleck as Batman. At long last Wonder Woman would make her big screen debut. On June 2, 2017, Gadot will reprise the role in the first ever solo live-action film along with Chris Pine as Steve Trevor. This will serve as her origin film. And then in November 2017, she’ll appear in Zack Snyder’s Justice League. After nearly thirty years of being dormant, Wonder Woman would shine brightly on three occasions in a two-year span. Finally, she getting the treatment she had long deserved.
A Symbol of Empowerment
On October 21, 2016, in recognition of 75 years as a role model for young women around the world and a feminist icon, the United Nations appointed Wonder Woman as a UN Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. Both Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot attended the ceremony to represent this incredible honor.
As you can see throughout her 75 glorious years, Wonder Woman has been and will always remain a role model for the ages. She is as much a fabric of the superhero realm and a major staple for DC Comics as Superman and Batman. I would even go as far as to say she is the perfect balance of the two. Wonder Woman is the People’s Champion and we’re lucky to have her.
May the Dork be with you,
The Dork Knight
Photos courtesy of DC Comics, Ms. Magazine, Warner Brothers, ABC, CBS & NBC