As Wonder Woman makes her live-action, big screen debut, brand awareness for the character is at an all-time high. Interest in Diana, Princess of Themyscira has exploded in the wake of the critically praised and commercially successful film. However, that does not mean that the heroine does not have a few deep dark secrets.
Over the course of 75 years, countless comic book runs, a popular television show, several animated series, and the recent big-budget film have given us a good look at the superhero in her many forms. Several writers behind the character have each made an attempt to give Diana a unique spin that would separate one iteration from another, and, while most were generally successful, a small handful are not remembered all that fondly today.
Today we will take a look at the these lesser-known aspects of Wonder Woman. Between the character’s controversial creator and various Wonder Woman storylines that retrospectively highlight the changing times, Diana has more than her share of skeletons in the closet – and this is precisely what we plan to explore in this countdown.
Here are the 15 Darkest Secrets Behind Wonder Woman.
15 Zeus’ Infidelity
For those unfamiliar with comic book lore, Diana being the daughter of Zeus in the hero’s big-screen debut is a storyline taken from DC Comics’ The New 52 run. What the live-action film does not explore, however, is the scandal between the god and Wonder Woman’s mother, Hippolyta.
In an effort to protect her daughter as well as the island of Themyscira as a whole, Hippolyta hides the details of Diana’s origins. At the time of Hippolyta’s relations with the god, Zeus was married, and his wife would not likely take the news of her husband's infidelity all too well.
Not to mention, sexual relations between gods and humans were frowned upon, to say the least. For much of this modern comic book run, these details have been kept from Wonder Woman herself, making this a dark secret that even our beloved protagonist does not know.
14 Suprema, The ‘Submissive’ Wonder Woman
The name “Wonder Woman” rolls right off the tongue, but this fan-favorite crime fighter could have been referred to by a much more complicated moniker – Suprema, The Wonder Woman. Suprema, The Wonder Woman was the original superhero title of Princess Diana, but, fortunately, it was streamlined before the character's debut in All Star Comics #8 over 75 years ago.
However, Diana’s superhero alter-ego was not the only aspect of the character that was altered before her origin story was penned. Wonder Woman was rumored to be much more submissive prior to her debut. According to Wonder Woman creator and popular psychologist William Moulton Marston, submissiveness is a trait that all women possess and even desire.
Regardless of his belief, this characteristic was also left on the cutting room floor – for the most part, at least.
13 Creator Marston’s Questionable Psychology Concerning Women
While William Moulton Marston’s psychological beliefs are a bit too comprehensive to cover in one entry, his various views on women are easier to sum up briefly. Marston theorized that women are mentally more capable than men, but he also asserted that women are happiest when submissive.
While these beliefs are certainly controversial, Marston maintained that he was a feminist. These beliefs were almost more prevalent themes on the pages of Wonder Woman comics, but they were mostly cut before the first issue.
That being said, Marston had many well-documented ties to the early progressive-era suffrage movement, feminism as a whole, and the birth control movement. Additionally, the psychologist and Wonder Woman creator was involved with the Harvard Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage.
12 Diana’s Familiar Resemblance
As a Harvard graduate, a notable psychologist, and the credited inventor of the modern lie detector as well as the most iconic female superhero of all time, William Moulton Marston is certainly a fascinating figure. However, as interesting as these notable endeavors are, he is also known for his unconventional family dynamic.
In public, Sadie Elizabeth Holloway was known as Marston’s wife, but this was not the whole story. Olive Byrne, a former student of Marston, was his private domestic partner – not private from his wife, however. The three happily lived under the same roof; Marston fathering children with both women.
It is said that Wonder Woman is inspired by both Sadie Elizabeth Holloway as well as Olive Byrne, with Diana reportedly resembling the latter physically.
11 Sorority Hazing
Another area of interest for Wonder Woman creator Marston was sorority hazing. The rituals of sororities and the psychology behind dominance and submission were points of interest for the academic, and, like most of his ideas, they bled through to the pages of the Wonder Woman series.
Etta Candy may have served the role of Steve Trevor’s secretary in Wonder Woman’s critically acclaimed big screen adventure, but the character was originally much different when she debuted in the comics. Etta Candy, a vivacious and outgoing woman in the comic universe, was known as the leader of the fictional Beeta Lambda sorority at Holliday College for Women.
Numerous issues of the various comic runs depict the girls of Beeta Lambda spanking each other and other characters with sorority paddles. One issue, in particular, portrays newer members of Beeta Lambda dressed head to toe as a baby as a sort of initiation ritual.
10 Egg Fu, the Racist Supervillain
Egg Fu is arguably the most head-scratching, stereotypical villain design of all time. As a Chinese supervillain, Egg Fu (later redesigned and renamed to Chang Tzu) is a giant egg-shaped genius who utilizes a mechanical exoskeleton and walks around on spider legs that contain countless weapons. However, at the time of his inception, it was the villain's stereotypical oriental facial features, speech pattern, and name that was incredibly offensive to fans.
If Egg Fu can teach us anything, it is that the ‘60s were a much different time, to say the least. This communist mustache-clad supervillain was successful in defeating Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor for a brief moment, but was unsuccessful at being a fan-favorite character for years to come – which is lucky for DC Comics, because this is the one character they would rather you forgot about.
9 Wonder Woman Mysteriously Loses Her Multicultural Cast of Supporting Characters After Just 3 Issues
During a brief arc in the comics – and we mean truly brief – Diana was inflicted with amnesia. Fortunately, the Amazons were able to restore both her memories as well as her powers, and it was during this period that readers were able to learn a few new details about the character.
Most notably, fans learned that Diana had a sister, a black woman named Nubia. Also, she gained two roommates: one black and one Asian. The addition of three women of color was likely part of an attempt to add more diversity to DC Comics, but this initiative was quickly abandoned as the three all disappeared a few issues later.
In fact, readers never even learned the names of Diana’s new roommates, as these women are destined to remain obscure characters buried deep within Wonder Woman lore.
8 Diana as a "Biker Stripper" and Other Weird Stories
Wonder Woman has endured her fair share of WTF moments over the decades, but fighting crime while dressed in a "biker stripper" style is easily one of her more unforgettable stories.
Upon being warned about her daughter’s untimely demise in a premonition, Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, decided to disguise one of her people as Diana in order to spare her life.
Now, this is disturbing on several levels. First, Hippolyta’s willingness to sacrifice one of her own and Wonder Woman’s cooperation with her plan are both very unheroic. Not to mention, while this is all taking place, Diana becomes a street-level hero who dresses in weird leather gear for some unknown reason.
Over the years, Diana has worked in fast-food restaurants, battled Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse, and fought Batgirl for the Caped Crusader’s heart, but this story is still arguably the strangest of all.
7 Failed TV Pilot
The recent big budget Wonder Woman film has been a smashing success for Warner Bros. and DC, but not many know that a live-action television series was in the works back in 2011. Or, at least the pilot was slated to debut in 2011, but NBC decided not to buy the series after all.
While the series was very much a Wonder Woman story, this iteration of Diana was a different take than the one fans are likely familiar with. Diana Themyscira, as she was known in the series, was the CEO of Themyscira Industries as well as a superhero crime fighter.
Frustrated with her countless responsibilities, Diana desired a third alter-ego as a normal woman. As you might suspect, the pilot did not go over too well and the series never saw the light of day.
6 Wonder Woman Ditches Her Powers
A highly controversial take on Wonder Woman came in the form of O’Neil and Sekowsky’s relaunch of the character in Wonder Woman #178. This iteration featured a more modern-looking Diana, with the cover claiming that “the new Wonder Woman” had arrived.
During this arc, she chose her one true love, Steve Trevor, over her family, her people, and her responsibilities of being Wonder Woman. This move ended up being all for naught, as Steve Trevor was soon murdered.
A plot device set up the new Wonder Woman, who was trained by a blind martial arts master named I Ching and decided to open up a flower boutique. Understandably, this creative decision caught flack among the comic book community and thusly inspired an entire series reboot.
5 The Death of I Ching and Reboot of Wonder Woman
After the decision to strip Diana of her powers, kill Steven Trevor, and have the hero undergo martial arts training under the tutelage of I Ching, the writing team behind the Wonder Woman series decided to take the character in a whole new, yet familiar direction.
For a year, Wonder Woman comics relied on Golden Age stories that were both redrawn and rewritten in order to fully reboot the character. It wasn't until this reboot process was complete that entirely new Wonder Woman stories were finally told.
The subsequent arc consisted of Diana’s attempt to rejoin the Justice League of America – an organization that she helped establish – which concluded with a twelve-part story featuring superhero guest stars such as Superman, The Flash, Aquaman, and Batman, among others.
4 Wonder Woman Dropped by the United Nations
Numerous story arcs portray Diana as a member of the United Nations in the comics, but for nearly two months Wonder Woman was a United Nations honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls in the real world. However, her appointment was rather controversial among the UN, and thusly was terminated rather quickly.
The primary goal of the United Nation’s initiative to bring Wonder Woman on board was to reach her global fan base and raise awareness to achieve gender equality. The staffers behind the petition that ultimately removed the heroine from her honorary position stated that the character was “not culturally encompassing or sensitive.”
Fans of Wonder Woman were outraged by her removal, however, asserting that a strong and independent female role model is exactly what the United Nations, and world, needed.
3 Diana’s Bracelets of Submission
Wonder Woman’s iconic bracelets are as intriguing as they are powerful, as they serve a purpose other than deflecting bullets; they also keep Diana’s rage at bay.
Throughout the comics, Diana’s bracelets are taken off during dire circumstances, generally when she desperately needs to win a battle against a formidable foe. While Wonder Woman’s bracelets serve many purposes, their most important function is arguably their ability to restrain the Amazon’s power. Without them, she is at risk of losing control and potentially hurting innocent bystanders.
Diana’s rage was briefly teased in this year’s breakout live-action movie, but oddly enough, her bracelets remained on during her outburst. It is unclear as to whether or not the bracelets serve the same purpose in DC’s cinematic universe as they do in the comics at this moment, but if they ever come off in the future, we’ll be sure to watch out.
2 Lots of Bondage
Superman has kryptonite, Spider-Man has Mary Jane, and apparently, Batman has Martha; all heroes have a weakness, but Wonder Woman’s is a bit kinkier than most. That’s right, we are talking about bondage.
Throughout the comics-- especially in the early years-- when the heroine’s hands are tied and her bracelets are touching, Wonder Woman is virtually powerless. One would think that this would not be a major reoccurring theme in many of the character’s stories, but one would most certainly be wrong.
In line with Marston’s beliefs regarding dominance and submission within men and women, Diana’s hands were constantly tied by men in early Wonder Woman runs. It would seem as though modern writers have moved past this trope when it comes to Diana, but bondage ran rampant throughout many of the character’s early issues.
1 Wonder Woman: The Justice League’s Secretary
Wonder Woman is a character that demands respect. She is a powerful female protagonist and a strong role model. She has saved the world countless times and continues to be an inspiration with, not only her ability to fight, but also her fighting spirit and innate optimism.
However, despite all of her amazing qualities and ability to match wits and strength with some of DC’s greatest heroes, Wonder Woman once served as the Justice League’s secretary.
While Superman, Batman, and the rest of the boys traveled the world and the galaxy, protecting humanity from powerful and nefarious villains, Diana stayed behind to answer calls and make coffee, serving as a cheerleader who watched from the sidelines.
As sad as it was to see Wonder Woman away from the action, her stint as a secretary for the Justice League eventually came to an end and she was rightfully reinstated as a founding member of the superhero team.
What are some of your favorite Wonder Woman secrets? Make sure to let us hear your picks in the comments section.
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