While it’s true that the vast majority of comic book heroes are men – although recent decades have come a long way when it comes to addressing that lack of gender diversity – one female hero’s star has long shown just as brightly as any male’s: Wonder Woman. First appearing on the printed page in 1941, Wonder Woman – alternately known as Princess Diana of Themyscira – currently stands as one of the most popular superheroes in existence, and is commonly referred to as part of DC Comics’ “holy trinity” alongside Batman and Superman.
With Wonder Woman finally set to make her long-awaited theatrical solo debut via a self-titled DCEU entry next year, Diana has once again returned to the pop culture spotlight in a big way, and as such, so has an oft-raised question concerning her personal life. As any fan is well aware, Themyscira is an Amazonian society made up entirely of women. Even with only one apparent gender available, one logically assumes that as Themyscirans live their lives, they form pair bonds and enter into sexual and/or romantic relationships like anybody else would. With that in mind, wouldn’t this mean that Diana herself has had past relationships with other women?
Thanks to a new interview Comicosity conducted with DC Comics’ Greg Rucka – writer of Wonder Woman’s DC Universe Rebirth series – that question seems to now have a definitive answer. When asked about whether Diana is “queer” – here defined by the interviewer as “involving, although not necessarily exclusively, romantic and/or sexual interest toward persons of the same gender” – and thus has sexual interest in and/or has engaged in romantic relationships with other women of Themyscira, Rucka offered the following – rather thoughtful and complex – reply:
I think it’s more complicated though. This is inherently the problem with Diana: we’ve had a long history of people — for a variety of reasons, including sometimes pure titillation, which I think is the worst reason — say, “Ooo. Look. It’s the Amazons. They’re gay!”
And when you start to think about giving the concept of Themyscira its due, the answer is, “How can they not all be in same sex relationships?” Right? It makes no logical sense otherwise.
It’s supposed to be paradise. You’re supposed to be able to live happily. You’re supposed to be able — in a context where one can live happily, and part of what an individual needs for that happiness is to have a partner — to have a fulfilling, romantic and sexual relationship. And the only options are women.
But an Amazon doesn’t look at another Amazon and say, “You’re gay.” They don’t. The concept doesn’t exist.
Now, are we saying Diana has been in love and had relationships with other women? As Nicola and I approach it, the answer is obviously yes.”
In Rucka’s eyes, there is another important character reason why Diana needs to have had same-sex relationships on Themyscira, and it involves her commonly used male love interest Steve Trevor:
“It needs to be yes for a number of reasons. But perhaps foremost among them is, if no, then she leaves paradise only because of a potential romantic relationship with Steve [Trevor]. And that diminishes her character. It would hurt the character and take away her heroism.
When we talk about agency of characters in 2016, Diana deciding to leave her home forever — which is what she believes she’s doing — if she does that because she’s fallen for a guy, I believe that diminishes her heroism.
She doesn’t leave because of Steve. She leaves because she wants to see the world and somebody must go and do this thing. And she has resolved it must be her to make this sacrifice.”
While Rucka stops short of explicitly ascribing a label to how Wonder Woman sexually identifies, what seems crystal clear is that at the very least she is not strictly heterosexual, as has so often been portrayed in past takes on the character both in the realm of comics and outside of it.
This effectively adds Diana to the growing list of superheroes and villains whose sexual preferences go beyond the confines of attraction only to the opposite sex, and is likely to please those who think that its long overdue for comic books – and pop culture as a whole – to offer more character representation to the LGBTQPIA communtiy.