Wonder Woman is a unique character in DC Comics and comics in general. She is an icon with a history that’s as complicated as her world view; she is both an arbiter of peace and a fearsome warrior. Superman is the embodiment of the American creation story—an immigrant who is distrusted and eventually embraced by his adoptive home. Batman is the tragedy of a man who cannot cope with loss; it’s at once about noble sacrifice and a warning about obsession. As mythic as DC’s characters are, no one quite embodies myth itself quite like Wonder Woman. She is the Princess of Themyscira and the Queen of DC Comics.
By embracing, adopting, and cannibalizing Greek mythology and building upon it with Diana as its focus, Wonder Woman becomes stranger and immediately more complicated. She has to deal with the gods of Greece often, and if you know anything about the Greek gods, you know that they’re often unpleasant. This is a real problem, considering that when Wonder Woman isn’t being a well-trained diplomat, she’s usually kicking people’s heads off. She’s definitely killed her fair share of people, and some of them were almighty in nature. These are 15 Times Wonder Woman had to Fight a God.
15. The First Born & War
The First Born (who was Zeus’ first child, if this wasn’t clear) wanted to destroy heaven and earth, and to do so, he raised an army of bipedal hyenas. Ares (AKA War) resurrected thousands of soldiers from across human history to fight against him. Wonder Woman showed up with her forces, and tried to take down the First Born herself. Trust us, this is about as “normal” as this list is going to get.
In the end, Wonder Woman had to kill Ares to stop The First Born from killing them all. This moment made Diana the God of War and even more disgusted with the necessity of killing. The First Born was then kidnapped by Apollo and Dionysus, who cooked his flanks and then mocked him. At some point, Doc Brown should come out of a DeLorean and yelled to Zeus that something needs to be done about his kids.
14. Wonder Woman vs. The New Gods
That’s right, not even Jack Kirby’s New Gods are safe from Wonder Woman’s pointed boots striking their immortal posteriors. Except on Earth-2, that is, where an alternate universe Wonder Woman was stabbed to death by General Steppenwolf (in a similar manner to Diana’s killing of Ares). On Earth-2, the General and a horde of Parademons invaded and occupied the planet. The Justice League was able to send them packing, but not before Steppenwolf kills Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.
In the regular continuity, Wonder Woman and Orion (this time cast as a sexist for some reason), fought several times. This was part of Orion’s second-grader-like attempt at wooing Diana. You know, throw dirt at the girl you like so she’ll notice you sort of stuff. For some reason, that made sense at the time. Wonder Woman bested Orion each time; once by knocking him unconscious and the other time by threatening him with castration. Oh, you could hear those church bells chime.
On Earth-3 (DC’s answer to Star Trek’s mirror universe), all of the DC heroes you know and love are villains. In the animated Crisis on Two Earths, Wonder Woman’s counterpart is the drug supplier (and possible Renaissance Fair employee), Olympia. The villain isn’t developed at all—Olympia doesn’t even have dialogue—but it’s made clear that she’s physically equal to Wonder Woman, but always has a knife ready for the cheap advantage.
Their fight starts out the way you’d expect: Diana tosses an eighteen-wheeler at her. They fight mostly in the air—lots of strikes, blocks, and counters. There’s a fluidity in motion that’s well demonstrated here. After all, Wonder Woman is basically fighting herself.
It’s a short battle, but it manages to have better choreography than Man of Steel. Watch this movie if you haven’t already.
When your name is Strife, there’s a good chance you aren’t the god of rainbows and winning lottery tickets. She’s another one of Wonder Woman’s half-siblings, and, living up to her name, she literally causes strife wherever she goes. Looking like a cross between Sinead O’Connor and a raver, regular people automatically devolve into paranoid chaos around her. Also, she instigates problems for fun whenever she feels like it. From something as simple as popping a baby’s balloon to playing Diana’s team against each other and then outdoing herself by instigating a multiple kidnapping and using the Amazons as a personal chew toy, Strife is a troublemaker, even though she’s actually kind of neutral, alliance wise. She just wants to see what happens when she drops a stone into a lake.
Wonder Woman doesn’t usually fight Strife physically. Rather, she has to distract Strife or offer her up a more interesting target. Considering Diana’s fighting skills are underlined more often than her diplomacy, getting to see her outsmart rather than outfight an enemy (especially one so capricious and powerful) is always a welcome change of pace.
11. Nemesis (Futures End)
In a possible dystopic future, Wonder Woman has taken over all the living and undead armies of the world to fight against Nemesis—the personification of hate, death and fear (enter DMV joke here). She targets Wonder Woman, who seeks to eradicate all war; without that, Nemesis fears she’ll cease to exist, so she decides to make the entire planet a battleground. She ravages the world and makes Diana wear really dumb-looking capris. Understandably, Wonder Woman goes off the deep-end and embraces being the God of War. She goes on to wipe lots of bad guys out, but the war never ends.
With the help of Superman wearing a polka-dot space suit (of course), Diana realizes she can’t win war with war, but with love. Wonder Woman then gets really badass angelic armor and…oh, wait…we don’t actually see the final battle? Oh. Well. That’s kind of a gyp.
This handsome fellow is Deimos, the God of Terror. He has the power of persuasion that he uses to sow discord on a planetary level (he can sew buttons too, but nobody ever focuses on that because there are bigger things at stake here, guys. Deimos has incredible fighting skills he inherited from his father, Ares, and can induce fear by emitting it through his hair. Deimos is so dangerous that—in numerous continuities—Wonder Woman has had no choice but to kill him.
But the coolest thing? He possessed the Joker. Together, they caused such a colossal mess that Wonder Woman, Batman, and the Justice League couldn’t stop it. Ares, disgusted with Deimos’ actions, sent him back to the underworld.
Now, how awesome would it be if Deimos was drafted into the Sinestro Corps? Someone get their recruitment division on the horn!
9. Hercules (et al)
There have been many version of Hercules in the DCU, and none of them are good guys. This even caused a problem for Marvel when the two companies crossed over and Wonder Woman decided to tune up their Hercules, but that’s another story.
The DCU Hercules was a depraved animal. He and his soldiers raped and subjugated the Amazons; Hercules took Dian’s mother Hippolyta for himself and stole her golden girdle. Herc had a particular distaste for Wonder Woman, though. She would outsmart and outfight him on numerous occasions until he finally left Earth permanently. Using one of Greek lore’s greatest heroes as a villain—and depicting him as being every bit as powerful as he originally was—is a provocative and clever way to build up your own mythic character, and it makes Wonder Woman and the Amazons look ever-stronger.
Grail is the daughter of Darkseid and the Amazon assassin Myrina. She can also deduce the Anti-Life Equation, which could enslave the entire universe. She’s a problem.
After obtaining the Equation, the entirety of the Green Lantern Corps tried and failed to stop her. The Justice League, who had all gone through conversions to become gods at this point, all failed. Grail even managed to enslave her own father and destroy Diana’s unbreakable bracelets with her Omega Beams.
It came down to Wonder Woman vs. Grail. God vs. God, with the entire universe on the line. Physically outmatched, Wonder Woman defeated Grail, but not by force. The strength of Wonder Woman comes from her compassion. Reminded of the love Myrina gave her, Grail stopped herself, and Diana saved the universe.
7. Donna Troy
Donna Troy was reintroduced in Meredith Finch’s New 52 run on Wonder Woman. Here, Donna was a weapon created to be Wonder Woman’s equal, and eventual killer. Actually, it’s not all that different of an origin from Nuclear Man in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace—take what you will from that. While fan reaction to this new version of Donna was poor (so much so that it was retconned before the trades came out), the fight between the two was some of artist David Finch’s best work…even if his facial work made characters look more like porcelain dolls than people.
When you break the fight down—the God of War versus the living weapon created solely to kill her—you want something epic in scope. It delivers. It was like it was made for comic book fans who argued which of the two would win in a fight, and while the resolution is, well, non-existent, the battle itself is worth the trip.
6. Wonder Woman vs. Thor
Strangely, this never happened in the JLA/Avengers crossover in the ’90s, which has only fueled fan speculation about who would win. We do know from the crossover that Wonder Woman is capable of picking up Thor’s hammer. Both have thousands of years of combat experience. Both have ichor running through their veins (though Diana is admittedly only half-god). Both can exponentially increase their strength—Thor with his berserkergang and Wonder Woman by either embracing the power of the god of war or by releasing her bracelets. Thor’s hammer is incredibly powerful, but without it, he can’t fly and doesn’t have much access to his magical powers. Thor is a bruiser, Diana is a warrior. He’s durability, she’s agility.
It’s a tough call.
Personally, we think Wonder Woman would come out on top here. After all, Superman defeated Thor in the JLA/Avengers crossover and Wonder Woman defeated Supes when he was under the control of Maxwell Lord.
In the New 52, Apollo was the master manipulator; a suave, charming sadist who wanted the throne of Olympus in the wake of Zeus’ disappearance. He also has skin like marble, the powers of the sun, and the drinking habits of William Holden. Apollo preferred to have others do his dirty work, and one of the few times we saw him and Wonder Woman fight, she lost.
Apollo is one of the few to truly beat Wonder Woman. He was too clever, too strong, and had too many resources at his disposal. Diana and co. stayed alive by being just smart and just lucky enough to stay a step ahead. In the end, Diana never defeated him. Instead, Apollo’s arrogance (and being crushed to death by the First Born) was what destroyed him. The real tragedy? We never found out who his tailor was.
4. The Demi-Gods
Besides drinking and killing, the Greek gods sure did love to procreate. Ares, particularly. A few of his sons—the Duke of Deception, the Earl of Greed, and Lord Conquest (man, what if they wanted to become poets and art majors with these names?)—were his active generals and frequent antagonists in the early days of Wonder Woman comics. For the most part, the brothers weren’t a physical threat; rather, they were operators and manipulators who instigated and escalated World War II, forcing Wonder Woman to try to undo the damage Ares’ generals had wrought.
Deception was the most dangerous of the group, easily outsmarting the others, and has remained a complicated villain for Wonder Woman to encounter…except for that time he was foiled by the combined efforts of Diana and Scooby-Doo. Honest to Zeus, look it up.
One of the most impressive beatings Wonder Woman ever took was at the hands of her half-sister Artemis (not to be confused with her fellow Amazon also named Artemis). With her fighting talent, unbreakable flesh, and bizarre half-moon Batarang things, she kicked the ever-loving crap out of Diana. And, naturally, Wonder Woman got back up and started another fight with her. Only this time, we got something new out of it.
Diana tossed away her bracelets, allowing her to embrace the ichor in her veins—essentially tapping into a well of godhood. Wonder Woman and Artemis had a rematch, and well, Diana dissected her half-sister so decisively that an unprepared reader might break out in cold sweats. This unexpected addition to Wonder Woman’s power set is obvious in hindsight, but it was handled so cleverly—and the results beautifully/barbarically rendered—you can’t help but giggle like a young fan again.
2. Wonder Woman vs. Darkseid
Is there a more natural enmity than this? Wonder Woman, a strong, compassionate god. Darkseid—a god who thinks free will was an accident. There isn’t a bigger, truer evil in the DCU than Darkseid, and in the animated Justice League: War, that becomes literal. Yes, for some reason, Darkseid’s rendered as a giant. It’s not explained why, but, whatever, look, we’re here for the fight.
While the Justice League does play a factor throughout, the focus is on Wonder Woman. She strangles Darkseid with her lasso and then stabs Darkseid in the eye. Seeing a wave of blood gush from the now empty socket, Wonder Woman smirks. How cool is that?
Ares has come up a few times already, but he definitely needed an entry all to himself. He’s a go-to Wonder Woman villain because he’s so antithetical to who the heroine is. Ares revels in violence; Wonder Woman champions peace. In the insanely-underrated-oh-man-see-it-right-now animated film, he’s the main villain. This Ares is a force of nature. He’s everywhere. For millennia, he’s been subverting the Amazons and the world of man. He has a cult of human followers and an army of demons led by Deimos, and he did all this without his powers. Now that’s a villain we can count on.
Ares also appeared in Justice League Unlimited, where he was selling god-weapons to both armies of a war-torn country. It’s a classic plan and one that was again foiled by Wonder Woman—after she literally had to fight her way through the underworld.
Look, people might say that using Ares as a Wonder Woman villain is too expected (along with Doctor Poison, the god of war will be in the live-action film), but the man knows how to put others through literal hell. Consider us psyched to see how he translates to the big screen.
Which of these battles did you love the most? Did we miss any of your favorite showdowns against the gods of Mount Olympus? Let us know in the comments.