Princess Diana of Themyscira, better known as Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), is one of comics’ most powerful superheroes. She is a gifted fighter who is as skilled at hand to hand combat as she is at keeping the peace. But Wonder Woman did not just become the savior of mankind on her own. She is taught how to be a warrior by her fellow Amazons.
The Amazons are a race of female warrior women who live in a matriarchal society. This makes Wonder Woman the story of not just one woman, but many. Diana owes her success to her mother, Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), and the other Amazons of Themyscira. They helped shape her into the hero she becomes; the woman who can balance both strength and justice. The Wonder Woman stories are as much about womanhood and community as they are about kicking butt and stopping bad guys.
Now after 75 years of comic book adventures, it is finally time to see Diana and her fellow Amazons on the big screen with Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman film. But who are the Amazons? And what makes them so special that one of their own can save the world? Here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About The Amazon Warriors.
15. They Were Created From The Souls Of Unjustly Killed Women
The Wonder Woman comics deal with a fair amount of Greek mythology, starting with the creation of the Amazons. In the post-Crisis comic book world, the Amazons were created when a group of goddesses decided they were against the violence of the world and wanted to bring forth a race that would uphold their ideals of peace and love. Of course Zeus and Ares, the God of War, were not too fond of this plan.
Artemis, Athena, Aphrodite, Hestia, and Demeter went against the men’s wishes and traveled to the Underworld. There, inside the Cavern (or Well) of Souls, were trapped the souls of women who had been wronged or killed by the violence of men. Using their magic, the goddess took these souls and mixed them with clay and stone to create the Amazons.
The Amazons are a force for good. These women have a chance to come back to life to defy not only the gods, but the men who killed them in the first place. The fact that they stand for peace, equality, and tolerance just makes their origin story all the more more powerful.
14. They Live On Paradise Island
The Amazons live on Themyscira, originally called Paradise Island. As the name would suggest, this island is an idyllic, beautiful place full of lush greenery and Greco-Roman architecture. The island’s location is a secret and varies depending on the medium. Some of the comics have set it near Greece while movie and TV shows place it in the Pacific Ocean or near the Bermuda Triangle.
Paradise Island is where Diana is born and trains for her eventual position as Wonder Woman. The Amazons live there in harmony with nature and each other. In some versions of the comics, the island is home to a number of mythical creatures including pegasus, centaurs, griffins, and even a dragon.
Themyscira will be shown in the upcoming Wonder Woman film, where Italy stood in for the mythical locale. The trailers have given us a glimpse of the island nation and the women who live there, showing the importance of both in Diana’s origin story.
13. They Once Rode Giant Kangaroos
Besides the mythological creatures that sometimes inhabit Themyscira, there is another even more unusual animal that calls the island home: the Kanga. Kangas are basically giant kangaroos, but these marsupials have the ability to leap so high and so far that they can take flight. They can even fly into outer space. The Kangas have special lungs that allow them to hold their breath for this very purpose. The Amazons used Kangas for transportation, in tournaments and races, and for hauling building material the way humans would use horses.
Wonder Woman has a pet Kanga named Jumpa. Jumpa was the star of his own comic, DC Super Pets, a series marketed to younger readers. It featured the adventures of Jumpa, Superman’s dog Krypto, Batman and Robin’s dog Ace, Supergirl’s cat Streaky, the Green Lantern’s chipmunk Ch’p, and more.
12. They Are Led By Hippolyta & Antiope
Hippolyta and her sister Antiope (Robin Wright) were created from the two souls that emerged first from the Cavern of Souls. In a classic case of “early-bird-gets-the-worm”, the goddesses chose these women to be the Queens of the Amazons. They bestowed Hippolyta and Antiope with the Golden Girdles of Gaea to help them in their rule. These belts provide the women with superior strength, wisdom, and power.
Hippolyta and Antiope ruled side by side, creating a strong and vibrant society for their fellow Amazons. However, they did not always agree on the best way to rule. Hippolyta was a devoted servant to the gods. She believed in peace and diplomacy above all else and was grateful for the daughter (Diana) they had granted her. Antiope was more violent, governed by her passions and need for revenge. Eventually Antiope would leave Themyscira with a small group of Amazons and would never see her sister again.
11. They Were Tricked By Hercules
In comics, as well as Greek mythology, Hercules isn’t the nicest guy. And when it comes to his history with the Amazons, he’s downright vile. In the Golden Age comics, Hercules stumbles upon Themyscira on his quest to steal to Golden Girdle of Gaea from Hippolyta. But like the boss that she is, Hippolyta fights him for it – and wins. Rather than punishing the demigod, she invites him into her sacred island– which turns out to be a big mistake.
Hercules takes advantage of the Amazon’s hospitality, drugging and chaining the women while they sleep after a night of celebrating. His men sack the city and rape and beat the unsuspecting Amazons. He then steals the girdle because he couldn’t win it honestly.
There is a slim chance we will see any of Hercules’ treachery in Wonder Woman because the events take place long before Diana is created. Nevertheless it serves as an important part of the Amazons’ history. It shows they were right to fear men, even those who are half gods, and to take precautions in protecting themselves and their paradise.
10. Their Paradise Was Originally A Punishment
In the Golden Age Wonder Woman comics, the Amazons are forced to live on Paradise Island because they have been banished from the World of Men. This comes as a (pretty unfair) punishment from the gods for allowing Hercules to steal the girdle and overtake them. They are cast out to sea to find a place to live and start anew.
After searching, the Amazons finally settle on Paradise Island. The island is isolated and hidden from sight by human eyes. This serves as both a protection and a reminder of their not-so-distant past. Men also cannot step foot on Themyscira. In different comic storylines, there are varying degrees of punishment for this crime, from death to causing the anger of the gods to making the man fall in love with the Amazons.
9. Their Island Sits On Top Of The Entrance To The Underworld
Doom’s Door is the entrance to the Underworld, behind which the hydra, minotaurs, chimera, and other dark forces lurk. In George Perez’s 1980’s version of Wonder Woman, this portal to the Underworld is located underneath Paradise Island. As an additional part of their punishment, the Amazons must guard this door, at great risk to themselves. The warrior women take turns on duty, standing outside, and many lose their own lives in the process.
This desire to punish the Amazon women for failing to save humanity is common throughout their comic history. They are enslaved, beaten, and cast out of society all for not living up to the (impossibly high) standards set for them by the gods. It is frustrating to see such abuse, especially from the goddesses who created them. However, it is also empowering to see the Amazons rise above such trials and create a strong society.
8. There Is A “Lost” Amazon Tribe
Everything isn’t always all peace and harmony on Paradise Island. After Hercules and his men attacked the Amazons, Hippolyta and Antiope disagreed on how to retaliate. Antiope wanted revenge, while her sister sought a peaceful alliance. Because they couldn’t agree, Antiope left with a group of Amazons and went on to sack Athens. This splinter group of Amazons eventually settled in Egypt and became known as the Bana-Mighdall.
The Bana-Mighdall were pretty different from the Amazons they left behind. First off, they decided that the best way to continue their population was to kidnap men and use them for breeding. They locked these men in stables and only made use of them when there was a need for procreation. Female children were trained to be warriors, while the male infants were killed.
7. They Are Immortal
Despite some of its drawbacks, Paradise Island does have a special benefit for the Amazons. The women who live there are immortal, just as long as they don’t leave the island. They can be hurt or die from injuries sustained in battle or otherwise, but for the most part they live long lives. Wonder Woman gives up this ability when she leaves the island on her mission to Man’s World, although she still ages very slowly.
This detail can be used to explain why Diana hasn’t aged from the events of Wonder Woman, which takes place during World War I, to Batman V Superman, which is set sometime in the future. During press for the film, Batman V Superman director Zack Snyder revealed that in the DC Extended Universe Diana is 5,000 years old. The reason she looks so good for her age must be that Amazonian immortality (and really good genes).
6. They All Have Powers
Everyone knows Wonder Woman has powers, but she isn’t the only Amazon to be given gifts by the gods. All of the women of Themyscira have abilities that make them superior to mankind. Besides their immortality, they possess super strength, stamina, and agility. They are also less prone to injuries. All of these powers are enhanced by the intense training they receive in archery, sword fighting, and combat skills. For a race that was created with the purpose of keeping the peace, they sure are always prepared for war.
The Amazons aren’t unstoppable, though. They wear special bracelets, called Bracelets of Submission; another punishment of the gods to remind them of their submission under Hercules. If these bracelets were bound together or if the Amazon’s wrists were tied they would lose their powers.
5. They Have Their Own Comics
The Amazons have existed as long as Wonder Woman. In the comics, their histories are intertwined and have changed just as much as Diana’s over the years. However, once Diana leaves Paradise Island, the Amazons are usually pushed aside for her adventures in Man’s World. And the comics focused on the Amazons haven’t been met with the most success.
During the DC’s Crisis storyline, a comic about the Amazons was released called Amazons Attack! The storyline involved the Amazons attacking Washington D.C. to free a captured Wonder Woman. In the process, they go after all the men in the city, as well as try to assassinate the president. The series was not well received and only ran six issues.
However, recently DC has had more success giving the Amazons a story all their own, without Wonder Woman. The current series Odyssey of the Amazons, written by Kevin Grevioux with art by Ryan Benjamin, details the quest of the Amazons to find more women like them throughout the world. It shows the Amazons as the fearsome warriors they are, under a new leader, Hessia.
4. They Are Based On Real Women
Throughout history there have been mentions of a tribes of warrior women who have come to be known as Amazons. They first appeared in Greek mythology, where they fought heroes like Hercules, Theseus, and Achilles. Over the years, the myths and stories around them grew, turning them into a barbaric horde of man-hating women who cut off their breasts to better shoot a bow, and who killed all their male children.
There is recent archeological evidence that such women really did exist, although not exactly the way they have been depicted throughout time. These women were warriors who were trained in weaponry, horseback riding, and fighting. In the artwork, they are depicted as beautiful and brave, engaging in feats of valor and heroism.
As times have changed, the idea of the “Amazon spirit” has taken less of a negative connotation and has stood for any group of women with courage, strength, and wisdom. That’s something Wonder Woman surely won’t be lacking.
3. Supergirl Is An Honorary Amazon
Despite their generally closed off nature, the Amazons do allow a few select women, and even some men, to come live and train with them on Themyscira. Some of these women are given the title of honorary Amazons for their heroics or for embodying the Amazon spirit. The list includes Diana’s first mentor in man’s world, Julia Kapatelis; both Wonder Girls, Donna Troy and Cassie Sandsmark; and Supergirl.
Supergirl was trained by Artemis, one of the Amazon’s most skilled fighters and gifted teachers. In the animated film Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, Artemis and Wonder Woman help teach Kara how to use her powers as well as how to fight. In that version of the story, her time with the Amazons is what convinces Kara to take on evil as Supergirl.
2. Their Culture Is Extremely Diverse
The Amazons may be a society of just women, but they are extremely diverse. The comics, cartoons, and even the upcoming film have shown the Amazons as different races, with a variety of skin and hair colors (although most have similar body types). Their world is one where racism, sexism, and inequality do not exist.
Diana must confront these problems head on when she visits Man’s World. She does not understand the way things are in 20th century society because it is not the way her world is run. She lives in a land populated and governed solely by women. Her ideas of what women can and cannot do clash with the ideology of the day. Her (sometimes funny) confusion at the sexism she faces is one of the ways director Patty Jenkins wanted to use the character to comment on these issues and bring about an awareness.
1. Steven Trevor’s Mother Was The First Outsider To Visit Paradise Island
Wonder Woman will tell the story of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash landing on Paradise Island and how his arrival will set her on a course of heroism. However, Steve wasn’t the first Trevor to visit Themyscira. In the Golden Age comics, Steve’s mother, Diana Rockwell Trevor, got there first – and in the same way. As a pilot during World War II, she was on a secret test mission when her plane was hit by lightning and crashed on Themyscira.
Diana Trevor is where Wonder Woman gets her name. After her arrival, she helped the Amazons fight the monsters behind Doom’s Door and was subsequently killed in battle. The Amazons considered Diana Trevor one of them and were honored by her sacrifice and bravery.
The color and logo on Wonder Woman’s armor is based off of the jacket and America flag Diana had with her at the time of her crash. The “W” originally stood for Women Airforce Service Pilot or WASP, the female branch of the United States Air Force.
Do you have any other trivia to share about the Amazons from Wonder Woman? Drop it in the comments!