Wonder Woman debuted in All Star Comics #8 in 1941, in stark contrast to her heroic contemporaries. According to Wonder Woman co-creator, William Moulton Marston, “Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.”
Although Marston had incredibly progressive ideas for the time, not all writers who have tackled the Amazon princess – nearly all of them male – have followed in his footsteps. As a result, Wonder Woman’s history hasn’t always been consistent, with much of the knowledge that people have about her stemming from the campy, but beloved Lynda Carter TV series from the ‘70s. Just imagine for a moment if the Dark Knight was still viewed through the lens of his 1960s television show.
Whatever the reason, there are a great many misconceptions about Diana of Themyscira. Hopefully, with Wonder Woman now finally getting the big screen adaptation that she deserves, perhaps people will get to know the real Diana. If you’re already a fan of the amazing Amazon then you probably know that the character deserves way more credit than she gets. Here are 15 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Wonder Woman.
15 That she only has one creator
William Moulton Marston was a fascinating man who firmly believed that women should rule the world… at a time when they were only recently granted the right to vote. He was a psychologist who created the systolic blood pressure test, which led to the modern polygraph, so he basically invented the lie detector test. He lived with Sadie Holloway and Olive Byrne, in a polyamorous relationship with both. He was also pretty obsessed with bondage. As captivating as Marston may be, he wasn’t the only person responsible for creating Wonder Woman.
Despite the fact that comics are a visual medium, artists often get the shaft as far as creative credit goes. In this case, that artist was Harry G. Peter. He had to “draw a woman who’s as powerful as Superman, as sexy as Miss Fury, as scantily clad as Sheena the jungle queen, and as patriotic as Captain America.” That’s a pretty tall order and when Peter turned in his original sketch, Marston approved of everything but her shoes.
The takeaway here is that William Mouton Marston may have come up with the idea of Wonder Woman, but the way that Diana looked was almost entirely due to Harry G. Peter.
14 That she has a single origin story
It’s understandable that the casual fan struggles a bit with Wonder Woman’s origin story, or should we say, stories. Diana’s origins have been changed countless times over her seventy-six year history.
In the Golden Age, she was an Amazonian champion who won the right to return Steve Trevor back home and in the process, fight some Nazis. Her roots in Greek Mythology were explored in the Silver Age when it was revealed Diana was molded from clay and that the gods blessed her to become “beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, as strong as Hercules, and as swift as Hermes.” Let’s also not forget about Diana later surrendering her powers and opening a mod boutique – at least she learned martial arts!
George Perez most famously expanded Diana’s origin after Crisis on Infinite Earths. Diana was fashioned from clay and bonded a soul by the Greek gods, who also blessed her with their gifts, which were different than those of the Silver Age. As an adult, she was sent to man’s world as a peace ambassador from Themyscira.
The New 52 reinvented Diana’s origin, this time as a demigod born to Hippolyta and Zeus. This has since been altered yet again by DC Rebirth.
13 That her invisible jet makes no sense
At first glance, Wonder Woman’s most famous mode of transportation might seem a bit silly. However, much like Superman’s earlier incarnations, Diana couldn’t fly originally. Her many travels necessitated the plane and in 1941, what would be more mind-blowing than making it invisible? Aside from the coolness factor, Marston felt that the plane symbolized the need for women to remain compliant in order to survive the patriarchy, to “fly under the radar”, so to speak.
There have been several versions of the invisible jet. Although the plane – it didn’t become a jet until the ‘50s – has a couple of Golden Age origins, the most well known is that it was created by advanced Amazonian technology. Not only had Diana worked on the plane herself, but she was able to communicate with it telepathically as well.
Eventually, Wonder Woman’s powers had increased to the point where she no longer seemed to need the jet, so it was reinvented once again. This time, it was an alien creation that was an actual living organism, capable of changing its form. The Lansanarian Morphing Disk not only acted as a stealth jet, but also as a base of operations and later, even sacrificed itself to save thousands.
12 That her lasso is nothing more than a lie detector
The Lasso of Truth, which made its first appearance in Sensation Comics #6 in 1942, is best known as being just that: a rope with a noose at the end that forces anyone ensnared by it to be completely honest. Most likely inspired by both Marston’s part in the invention of the lie detector and his affinity for bondage, the lasso has become one of the most iconic aspects of Wonder Woman. The original was made from Aphrodite’s girdle and in Post-Crisis continuity Hephaestus forged it from the Golden Girdle of Gaea.
Aside from the fact that the lasso is both infinitely elastic and forever unbreakable, it is capable of more than forcing truth from those unwilling to tell it. The lasso can also break mind control, hypnotize and protect those encircled from magical attacks.
Before Diana was able to fly, she used the lasso to create air currents that allowed her to float. It has also proven capable of disrupting powerful spells. All in all, the Lasso of Truth is one of the most powerful weapons in the DC Universe.
11 That her bracelets do little more than deflect bullets
Based on Olive Byrne’s own jewelry, the Bracelets of Submission have been around as long as Wonder Woman herself. While just about everyone knows that Diana’s famed bracelets can stop bullets, not everyone realizes that they are basically indestructible. They can repel just about anything, with the exception of certain magics.
The bracelets have also proven to be a weakness. Until the Modern Age, Wonder Woman would lose her strength if bound by a man. There’s a whole lot to unpack there. It’s no secret that Marston’s fetish made its way into the pages of the comics. However, there’s more to it than kink. Much of the suffrage movement included imagery of women in chains and Marston was most definitely influenced by that. Wonder Woman’s raison d’être was to fight the patriarchy on behalf of women everywhere.
According to Marston they were a symbol of love. Taking them off would drive any Amazon insane, because Marston felt that people lose their minds when they don’t have love in their lives.
In the New 52, the bracelets aren’t to keep Wonder Woman from losing her mind, but rather to keep her power in check. Another more recent development is the ability to summon lightning bolts and create shockwaves or even weapons using her bracelets.
10 That she only speaks one language
This one isn’t touched upon too much in the comics, but Diana is actually omnilingual. She has the ability to speak and understand literally any language. Diana can communicate with cavemen, aliens, and even animals. She has, however, expressed difficulty with Cantonese. This power can be traced back to her Amazonian training, which enabled her to have limited telepathic abilities, vast knowledge of science and her language skills – the Silver Age was a crazy time in comics. Later, the gift came from the wisdom granted her by Athena.
While certainly not the most impressive ability Diana possesses, as far as being a peace ambassador goes, it’s pretty important. She is able to understand everyone that she comes into contact with and make herself understood as well. With Athena’s wisdom also came empathy, which is something that Diana feels for all living creatures.
9 That she eats meat
Remember when we said that Diana could talk to animals? During Greg Rucka’s seminal run on Wonder Woman, he controversially chose to make Diana a vegetarian. Some fans were angered by this characterization. After all, Diana grew up on an island, where she assumedly had to hunt for food. However, in Post-Crisis continuity, one of the gifts granted her by Artemis was the ability to communicate with animals. She can even talk to dinosaurs!
Aside from her ability to communicate with anyone, man or beast, Diana has an incredible capacity for empathy. She doesn’t just talk to all manner of creature, but also feels their pain. Because Diana can form such an intense bond with animals, it makes perfect sense that she wouldn’t necessarily want to eat them.
8 That her only powers are strength, flight and speed
As far as a power set goes, Wonder Woman kind of has it all. Sure, strength, speed and flight may be the big ones, but they are hardly the only weapons in Diana’s arsenal. As with many things about Wonder Woman, her power set changed after Crisis on Infinite Earths. Although her powers were altered again in New 52 and Rebirth, it was the Post-Crisis universe that really shaped Wonder Woman as we know her today.
Athena gifted Diana with both intelligence and wisdom, which also gave her incredible military expertise. These gifts have enabled Diana to master countless disciplines. Demeter granted her strength, which is drawn from the earth, making her not only super powerful, but also giving her enhanced healing abilities. Hestia made sure that she would have sisterhood with fire. Diana wields this through her lasso, but it also makes her resistant to fire itself. Wonder Woman owes her speed and flight to Hermes, and her kind-heartedness and unparalleled beauty to Aphrodite. From Artemis, Diana gained her enhanced senses, as well as her ability to communicate with animals.
7 That she's straight
Last year, current Wonder Woman Rebirth writer, Greg Rucka, confirmed what many have assumed for years: that Diana’s sexuality is fluid. Rucka, having reinvented the character in the early 2000s, in one of the book’s most celebrated runs, knows Diana better than most. Although he was the one to confirm Wonder Woman’s bisexuality, other writers have recently explored the topic as well.
Not only does the revelation of Diana’s sexuality make sense, but also, it really shouldn’t be much of a revelation at all. Diana grew up on Themyscira, an island comprised of only women. In a sheltered world so far removed from heterosexuality, it makes perfect sense that the Amazons wouldn’t define sexual identity in any way that even remotely resembles our own.
The women of Themyscira – originally known as Paradise Island – led happy, fulfilling lives. The assumption there has to be that for many of them, that included loving, sexual relationships with other women. While by our standards, this would make Diana bisexual, undoubtedly, the Amazons wouldn’t look at it that way at all, having come to define sexuality in entirely different terms.
6 That her allegiance is only to the U.S.
It’s easy to look at Wonder Woman’s star-spangled costume and assume that she’s All American, but that’s just not the case. First and foremost, Diana is an Amazon. In fact, the origins of her patriotic outfit have actually been retconned. Hippolyta made a garment by the night Diana was born: a red hunter’s moon, a blue starry night, and an eagle breastplate in honor of Athena.
There's also the fact that Diana came to this country as a peace ambassador and fights for freedom everywhere, not just in the U.S. Diana was always meant to be a loving and compassionate figure, promoting harmony for the entire world.
Last year, the United Nations chose Wonder Woman to be the Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. Unfortunately, this brought on a storm of controversy, claiming that regardless of Diana’s roots, “the character's current iteration is that of a large breasted, white woman of impossible proportions.”
Do women need to button up their sexuality in order to be heroes? The UN chose Diana for everything that she has come to represent to women all over the world, not for her wardrobe choices. Nonetheless, Wonder Woman was stripped of this title less than two months later.
5 That she can’t hold her own against her male counterparts
For reasons that we simply cannot fathom, many believe that Diana isn’t as powerful as Superman or even Batman – who, by the way, doesn’t even have superpowers. Depending on what you read, Diana either possesses gifts from the pantheon of gods or is a literal goddess. She has no one weakness, such as kryptonite or fire, and oh yeah, she’s already beaten the Caped Crusader and fought the Man of Steel to a standstill.
In the brilliant Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia, written by Greg Rucka and drawn by J.G. Jones, Diana made it clear that Batman had no chance in a fight against her. In fact, he has called her “the best melee fighter in the world.” Aside from that, during the “Sacrifice” story arc, she fought Superman when he was mind-controlled by Maxwell Lord, and it was a battle that she certainly didn’t lose.
Despite the fact that Wonder Woman has proven time and time again that she is an invaluable member of the Justice League who can hold her own against any member, many still see Diana as the weakest of DC’s Big Three. Anyone who has actually read Wonder Woman comics knows that Diana is more than a match for anyone in the entire DC Universe.
4 That she won't kill
Many people assume that because Wonder Woman runs with the Justice League of America that her worldview is the same as theirs. Nothing could be further from the truth. Diana grew up on an island of warrior women! She views all life as precious, however, she also understands that sometimes sacrifices must be made for the greater good. She doesn’t have a problem doing what is necessary.
The most famous example of this was when Diana killed Maxwell Lord. He was making Superman attack all of his friends and Wonder Woman was the only one who stood a chance. However, she couldn’t fight her friend forever. Compelled to honesty by Diana’s lasso, Lord admitted that the only way that she could stop him was to kill him. Without another thought, Diana snapped his neck. The worst part of all this was that her fellow JLA members had the audacity to judge her for killing a monster who was gleefully using Superman as a weapon of mass destruction.
Although it’s true that not killing is a tenant held dear by most superheroes, they have pretty much all broken it at some point, which made their harsh criticisms of Diana’s actions all the more egregious. Diana values all life more than most, but being raised a warrior has made her look at the world and its evils differently than her fellow superheroes.
3 That she’s boring
Of all of the misconceptions about Wonder Woman, this one might be the strangest. Diana’s history is built on a rich, albeit confusing at times, mythology that has been evolving and changing for decades. She is a fierce warrior and yet, one of the most compassionate figures in the DC Universe. Wonder Woman in an incredible humanitarian who cares deeply about all living creatures. She has fought social injustice at every turn, always defending those who cannot defend themselves. Also, she's incredibly badass.
We’re talking about someone who blinded herself in order to kill Medusa. Seriously, Medusa had ripped off her blindfold and was compelling Diana to look at her – which would turn the Amazon to stone – so Wonder Woman blinded herself with the venom of a snake that she had hacked off of Medusa’s head and then proceeded to decapitate the Gorgon.
Following that, a blinded Diana schooled the entire Justice League, because Batman wanted to make sure she was still battle ready. She then thanked Bruce for being the only one who didn’t hold back at all. There are many words that can be used to describe Wonder Woman, but boring just isn’t one of them.
2 That she wasn’t meant to become a feminist icon
Diana was a product of her time. The early progressive-era suffrage, feminist and birth control movements inspired Marston to create a superhero who could balance out toxic masculinity in comics. Make no mistake, Diana was all about smashing the patriarchy from her inception.
Marston wasn’t exactly a feminist, because he believed that women were actually the superior gender, as opposed to being equal to men. Marston imbued Diana with all of the qualities that he most admired, taking much of his inspiration from the two most important women in his own life, Sadie and Olive. Unfortunately, other writers weren’t quite as progressive as Marston. In a move that infuriated him, Diana joined the Justice Society of America in 1942… as their secretary!
Since that unfortunate development, Wonder Woman has had a slew of writers and some, such as George Perez, Greg Rucka, Gail Simone, and Brian Azzarello, have understood the Amazon better than others. Diana has been shown as an activist in several important issues from a woman’s right to vote to a woman’s right to choose.
Wonder Woman is more than an icon. She is one of the greatest superheroes ever created. Diana is a warrior, a humanitarian, and most definitely, a feminist.
1 That she can’t carry a film
It’s pretty ridiculous that in the last thirty years, we’ve had six Superman films, eight Batman movies, another, which starred both and yet, Wonder Woman is only just getting her big screen debut. Supes has been around since 1938, with Bats close behind in 1939, and Diana right on their heels in 1941. It’s not like they’ve been around so much longer. This isn’t just about Wonder Woman though. The MCU has given us fifteen films thus far, with five more on the horizon before Captain Marvel hits theaters in 2019. The Black Widow has been a fan favorite in several of these films and still, Natasha hasn’t gotten her own movie.
Sure, a Wonder Woman film almost happened in the mid-2000s with Joss Whedon at the helm, but that was scrapped – at least Whedon will be behind the scenes of DC’s upcoming Batgirl movie. It has taken until 2017 for the Amazonian princess to get the big screen treatment and every aspect of the film, from Gadot’s casting to Gadot’s armpits have been under a ridiculous amount of scrutiny, with everyone wondering if Wonder Woman can carry her own film. The real question is… why couldn’t she?
Diana is a fascinating, inspiring character, and Marvel and DC shouldn’t let past failures like Elektra or Catwoman – which just weren’t good movies – affect their judgment on the issue. Either way, we’re pretty sure that after Wonder Woman's release, people have realized that a female superhero is every bit as compelling as a male one.
What do you feel that people misunderstand about Wonder Woman? Let us know in the comments!