Wonder Woman has been a fixture in the comic book world for more than 75 years. She was one of the first female superheroes to grace the pages of a comic book, and her hyper-popularity has remained fairly steady over her long history. Until now, she’s never had her own theatrical live-action movie, but even the most casual of comic book fans know that Wonder Woman’s name in the real world is Diana Prince, that she has a Lasso of Truth, and that she can easily take on Superman or Batman all on her own.
Wonder Woman spends so much time outside in the “world of man” during the majority of her most well-known stories that many superhero fans might not be quite as familiar with where she comes from. Batman has his cave, Superman has his fortress, but Wonder Woman has an island. What do we know about Wonder Woman’s island home? Themyscira is a land typically cut off from the outside world where the Amazons can live in peace, which means it isn’t exactly like any other superhero home base, and it isn’t exactly an open book.
If you’re looking to get more familiar with Wonder Woman on her journeys in the outside world, we’ve got you covered with these 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Themyscira.
15. Wonder Woman’s Home Wasn’t Called Themyscira Until The Mid-80s
Wonder Woman made her comic book debut in 1941 in issue #8 of All-Star Comics, but she wasn’t the only one making her first appearance. The issue also debuted many of her fellow Amazons and Steve Trevor in the Amazonian homeland of Paradise Island, created by William Moulton Marston.
Paradise Island was the name used for the land that was isolated from the rest of the world for more than 40 years. It was the same name that was used when the island appeared in the Lynda Carter starring television series, as well. It wasn’t until 1987 that the name would change.
The ’80s were a time of reboots and rebirths in DC Comics, and as Wonder Woman got a new lease on life after a (very brief) 1986 hiatus, her home got a new name as well. Themyscira was chosen as the name that would replace Paradise Island, though there are still plenty of nods to the home of the Amazons being an “island paradise” after the change occurred.
14. Themyscira Has Roots In Greek Mythology
DC didn’t decide to rebrand Paradise Island as “Themyscira” because it sounded cool. The city was the home to Greek mythology’s Amazons, just as it is to the Amazons of DC Comics.
Depending on the myths (and the ancient Greek writing them), just where the ancient city was located varies. Nearly every myth placed the city near a body of water, though – whether on the coast of Greece where seafaring adventurers could see the Amazons on the shore, or near the mouth of a river where the women were spotted swimming or bathing. Because it is a town of myth, no ancient ruins to corroborate any of its stories have been found.
Two common threads amongst the stories? Themyscira was known for having bees that produced the best honey, and many heroes of Greek myth paid a visit to the city. Hercules (or Heracles, depending on the translation) went to Themyscira during the story of his labors, sent to retrieve the belt of Hippolyta. He also visited the city in DC Comics, but he did so with decidedly more nefarious intentions.
13. Paradise Island Was An Allegory For The Workforce
William Moulton Marston was a psychologist who believed in and practiced a lot of radical ideas for the 1940s. In addition to his to his polyamorous relationship with two women (who remained together for 40 years after his death) inspiring many of his female characters, and his not-so-secret love of bondage contributing to the practices of many of Wonder Woman’s early fights, his invention of the lie detector made the Lasso of Truth her most powerful weapon, and Paradise Island became Marston’s allegory for women being able to succeed in the workforce without the male dominated politics of it.
Marston was fascinated by the suffragette movement and believed women should be on equal footing with men. Using the story of Heracles coming to Themyscira for Hippolyta’s belt as inspiration for the home of the Amazons, the story of Paradise Island followed that Hercules invaded and made the Amazon women his slaves. He shackled them, and when they were aided by a goddess in their escape, they broke their bonds, but kept the silver bracelets provided by their chains.
12. Themyscira Is Always A Battleground
It doesn’t matter on which of DC’s Earths the story takes place, or whether stories are set Pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths or Post-Crisis; if an enemy wants to get to Wonder Woman or take power, they look to Themyscira to do it.
In addition to the origin story for the island featuring Hercules invading the Amazon sanctuary, the Themysciran residents have also fought one another to determine who would lead the island, and a series of villains have also entered the land for their own nefarious purposes. Darkseid invaded, but he didn’t just slaughter Amazons, he turned the survivors of the battle to stone. He wasn’t even out for Wonder Woman and her friends, but he wanted to precide over the location of the Olympian gods. Another storyline featured a Hydra turning most of the population to stone as well. OMAC once even wiped out more than half of the Amazons when he took on Themyscira.
Of course, Ares, Wonder Woman’s most famous villain, has manipulated many to go up against the Amazons over the years, including Hercules in the original story. While Ares leading Heracles against them made some Amazons appreciate their island paradise and remain hidden from the outside world, it led others on a quest for revenge.
11. Antiope’s Lost Tribe Of Amazons Leaves Themyscira
Despite Themyscira being the home of the Amazons, not all of them always choose to live there. Antiope (who is played by Robin Wright in the upcoming movie), the sister of Queen Hippolyta, left Themyscira because she wanted to strike back against Hercules for what he did to her people.
In the Post-Crisis period of DC Comics, Antiope wasn’t a rival to rule Themyscira as she had been in the past. When Hercules and his band of soldiers invaded Themyscira, they not only stole from the Amazons, but they drugged and raped them before enslaving them. Hippolyta asked Athena to help them, and though she did, she also required that they never seek revenge as part of the deal. Antiope wasn’t satisfied with that, and when she was released from her bonds, she, along with many of the Amazons, attacked the men who had held them prisoner.
Though Hippolyta agreed that the Amazons would pay penance for their violence, Antiope left Themyscira with the half of the Amazons who sided with her. Their quest for vengeance lasted many years, and the “Lost Tribe” only reunited with their people when both groups had to go up against the villain Circe.
10. Themyscira Guards Doom’s Doorway
No, this particular Doom isn’t Doctor Doom of Marvel’s Fantastic Four, but instead a warning against the possible doom that could occur if the doorway is opened. The doorway leads to the domain of Hades, the Underworld, and the Amazons have been tasked with guarding it as long as they’ve lived in Themyscira. All that stands between the two worlds is a slab of rock, which is why the Amazons are tasked with preventing anyone (or anything) from escaping.
The stone that seals the doorway has at times become cracked, signaling that something is coming. Both Egeria, a guard on Paradise Island, and Consivia, the chief architect, sacrificed themselves to seal the doorway shut again when demons attempted to break through during a time when the Amazons didn’t even realize the doorway could be unsealed.
Diana Rockwell also later gave her life in a battle to stop a creature named Cottus from getting into the real world. Other-Diana, a member of the United States Air Force and Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, crashed on Themyscira and promptly joined the Amazons in battle, even though she didn’t know all that much about them. They honored her with a warrior’s funeral when she fell, and even created armor based on her clothing. Hippolyta named her daughter after her, and she was later revealed to be Steve Trevor’s mother. Diana would go on to wear the armor and become Wonder Woman – after running into her namesake’s son, of course.
9. Not Everyone On The Island Is An Amazon
Though Themyscira is home to the Amazons, and meant to give them a refuge from the outside world, sometimes, other folks call it home as well. Most of the people who find themselves on Themyscira don’t stay forever, but many of them do become honorary Amazons.
Supergirl trained with the Amazons in one version of her story, learning how to use her abilities, and especially her strength, to her advantage. The Amazons named her an honorary warrior for her commitment to justice. Sometimes, babies lost at sea wash ashore thanks to the goddess Thetis. Of course, she only brings female babies to the island, like Julia Kapatelis, who landed on the shores as a toddler and would grow to become a friend of Wonder Woman’s.
The general rule is that men cannot set foot on Themyscira, but a few exceptions are made. Batman and Superman have both stayed on the island for a short time when working with Diana on different conflicts. The most famous example is Steve Trevor crashing on the island, though Diana had to plead for his life in order for him to be allowed to stay and heal before returning home. One Earth-2 storyline also saw the World Army, which included men, being given refuge on Themyscira.
8. Julia Kapatelis Excavated Themyscira
While Themyscira is a mythical land where the Amazons live, in the comics, the name also belonged to an ancient civilization in Turkey, which was likely the original home of the Amazons before they were given the island by Athena.
Comic character Julia Kapatelis studied both geology and archaeology, and she was fascinated by history and languages. As a result, she excelled in almost any academic field she undertook, and she spent a lot of time exploring with her husband. Following his death, she became the head of the History and Geology department at Harvard, and she was eventually given a grant to excavate Themyscira.
Just what Julia would have found in the original dig, and how much it could have revealed about the Amazonians’ history, was left openended as she had to abandon her dig site for her daughter Vanessa. One of Vanessa’s friends committed suicide, leading Julia to leave someone else in charge so she could be there for her child.
7. Mythical Creatures Call Themyscira Home
Amazons aren’t the only ones from Greek myth to inhabit Paradise Island. Naiads, dryads, centaurs (including Chiron of the Greek myths), and winged horses have all been shown to be alive and well on the island. Whether this is because they’re connected to Greek myth, or if the Amazons have been charged with protecting them as they have been guarding Doom’s Doorway, is up for debate. The Amazons seem to be in charge of preserving ancient traditions, so it is a possibility that these creatures have been given safe haven in the hopes of preserving them. Common forest dwelling animals like deer and rabbits also reside on the island, but on occasion, more exotic animals pop up as well.
When the island was first introduced, the Amazons actually rode around on (and cared for) creatures called kangas. They were essentially giant kangaroos created just for the series. They haven’t been part of the comics for many years, though dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures have been seen on the island since its early 2000s depictions. Megalodons, as in the extinct species of giant sharks, also swim in the waters surrounding the island.
6. Martian Manhunter Helped Build New Themyscira
After having recovered from the many attacks the island faced over the years, Themyscira eventually fell. Following its destruction, the Amazons needed a new home, so they banded with several heroes to build a new one. Using alien technology and some of the brightest minds in DC Comics, New Themyscira was built as a series of floating islands.
Martian Manhunter teamed up with Doctor Light, Steve Trevor, Julia Kapatelis, and both a Canadian and Amazonian architect to make sure the islands were up to the standards of the women who would live there. The team’s hard work was almost destroyed when Hera nearly set the islands spinning in a jealous rage after catching Zeus watching Artemis bathe. Instead, the islands were dislodged from the floating location and set down in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, though that wasn’t the only time Themyscira did a bit of sightseeing.
5. Paradise Island Spent The 1970s In The Bermuda Triangle
Themyscira changes location depending on just who is doing the writing and just what the story involves. When Wonder Woman came to television in the 1970s, Paradise Island was in the Bermuda Triangle, just like New Themyscira.
While the live-action series never indicated that the island could be magically moved, the comics have embraced that idea. Sometimes, the island is in the Aegean Sea, just off the coast of Greece. Other times, it’s in the middle of whatever ocean suits the story best.
The explanation for the moving island is given by the goddesses who brought it to life. In the New 52 version of Wonder Woman’s story, the Amazons were resurrected by the goddesses. Made from clay, they were reincarnated versions of great warriors who had died. It’s those goddesses who gave them a sanctuary, and those same goddesses who can move it to keep it safe. When necessary, they can be called on to transport the island to a new hidden location.
4. There’s a Themyscira Easter Egg in Smallville
These days, comic book fans know to keep their eyes peeled for a good easter egg in movies and TV shows. Even though Wonder Woman wasn’t among the many heroes introduced on Smallville during its run, she definitely got a few shoutouts. In a wink to fans, Lois unknowingly dressed as the heroine during an episode that took her and Clark to a convention, but Diana’s island home actually existed within the world of the show.
How do we know? Thanks to a newspaper headline, interestingly enough. In the season three episode “Asylum,” a headline on an issue of the Daily Planet reveals the existence of Themyscira, reading “Themysciran Queen Addresses The Vatican.” Though Hippolyta and her slightly more famous daughter never appear on the show, they do get a spot in the series’ continuity when the stories continued in comic book form. In fact, Lois Lane and Wonder Woman actually teamed up for a fight in the Smallville comics.
3. Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe Visits The Island Paradise
The island was a playable area in the 2008 video game Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe. The game follows the DC and Mortal Kombat characters as they battle one another for the fate of their worlds, as a portal of sorts has opened between them, allowing them to cross over into each universe. The actual playable stage isn’t technically Themyscira, since it’s really an island between Themyscira and the Mortal Kombat character Shang Tsung’s palace. Close enough, though.
During the game, Wonder Woman and Kitana are considered equal characters, both dubbed the warrior princesses of their respective worlds. At the end of Diana’s version of the game, she returns to Themyscira, but finds new relics on the beach that allow her and her fellow Amazons to increase their powers. At the end of Kitana’s, she and the Edenian Resistance (who are mostly women) essentially become the Mortal Kombat version of the Amazons as they take over Shang Tsung’s island.
2. An Italian Ghost Town Stands In For Themyscira In The Movie
TV audiences who love Wonder Woman will have already seen versions of Themyscira on the small screen, even if the name wasn’t always the same. The Lynda Carter fronted series and many of DC’s animated series that have featured the Amazonian princess have included some version of Paradise Island, but it’s never appeared on the big screen.
For this year’s Wonder Woman movie, rather than create a set of a fantasy land in a studio with green screen-abled CGI, location scouts found Craco to stand in for the mythical city. Craco is a ghost town in southern Italy. Many structures are built right into the sides of cliffs, and it’s proven to be a popular filming site for the movie industry over the years. The ghost town features in several Italian productions, and international audiences might recognize it for appearing in Quantum of Solace.
1. There’s No Iced Mocha On Themyscira
Themyscira might have a lot of things for the Amazons that live there – safety, immortality, and rich history to name a few – but it doesn’t have something many people around the world consider a necessary component of survival, and that’s fancy coffee drinks.
In almost any country all over the world, a person can walk into their favorite coffee shop and order an incredibly complicated beverage in whatever flavor they want, but not in Themyscira. There are no coffee shops there. In fact, as long as the Amazons remain on Themyscira, they’re essentially immortal, with no need for food or drink. The Amazons still have ceremonial feasts and celebrations that appear to involve mostly fruit and game animals, like deer, on the menu, where they eat for enjoyment instead of nourishment, but non-essential foods aren’t a thing on the menu.
Dianna gets her first taste of an iced mocha in Justice League Unlimited, an animated series, after the Flash offers her one, and she remarks that it’s not something she can get back home. It becomes her beverage of choice on the show, and it’s one more thing linking her to the world of man and taking her a step away from Themyscira.
With the many retcons to portions of Wonder Woman’s story in the comics, we might have missed a few things about the home of the Amazons. Is there something else fans should know about Themyscira? Let us know in the comments!
Catch Themyscira in all its glory when the island paradise makes its big screen debut in Wonder Woman on June 2nd.