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Wonder Woman is a DC Comics superhero created by William Moulton Marston, first appearing in All Star Comics #8 (December 1941). Including Superman and Batman, she is also one of three characters to have been continuously published by DC Comics since the company's 1944 inception (except for a brief hiatus in 1986).

Wonder Woman is a member of an all-female tribe of Amazons (based on the Amazons of Greek mythology) who was created by Marston as a "distinctly feminist role model whose mission was to bring the Amazon ideals of love, peace, and sexual equality to 'a world torn by the hatred of men.'" Her powers include super strength, super speed, stamina, and flight. She is highly proficient in hand-to-hand combat and in the art of tactical warfare. She also possesses an animal-like cunning and a natural rapport with animals, which has in the past been presented as an actual ability to communicate with the animal kingdom. She uses her Lasso of Truth (which forces those bound by it to tell the truth), a pair of indestructible bracelets, and an invisible plane, which was later replaced with an ability to fly unaided.

Created during World War II, the character was initially depicted fighting the Axis military forces, as well as an assortment of supervillains and supervillainesses. In later decades, the World War II setting was often maintained, while other writers updated the series to reflect an ongoing "present day." Wonder Woman has also regularly appeared in the team books Justice Society (from 1941) and Justice League (from 1960). Arguably the most popular and iconic female superhero in comics, Wonder Woman is also considered a feminist icon and is informally grouped with Superman and Batman as one of a "trinity" of DC characters, regarded as especially important. Diana is regarded as extremely physically attractive even by the standards of the superheroine. She was named the twentieth greatest comic book character by Empire magazine.

In addition to the comics, the character has appeared in other media—most notably the 1975-1979 Wonder Woman TV series starring Lynda Carter, but also in cartoons such as the Super Friends and Justice League. Although a number of attempts have been made to adapt the character to live-action film, none have yet emerged from "development hell." An animated film was released in 2009, with Keri Russell doing voice acting on the title role.

History

Wonder Woman's first cover, Sensation Comics #1 (January 1942)


Creation

In an October 25, 1940 interview conducted by former student Olive Byrne (under the pseudonym "Olive Richard") and published in Family Circle, titled "Don't Laugh at the Comics", William Moulton Marston described what he saw as the great educational potential of comic books (a follow up article was published two years later in 1942). This article caught the attention of comics publisher Max Gaines, who hired Marston as an educational consultant for National Periodicals and All-American Publications, two of the companies that would merge to form the future DC Comics. At that time, Marston decided to develop a new superhero.

In the early 1940s the DC line was dominated by superpowered male characters such as the Green Lantern, Batman, and its flagship character, Superman. According to the Fall 2001 issue of the Boston Universitymarker alumni magazine, it was his wife Elizabeth's idea to create a female superhero:

Marston introduced the idea to Max Gaines, co-founder (along with Jack Liebowitz) of All-American Publications (Marston's pseudonym, Charles Moulton, combined his own and Gaines' middle names). Given the go-ahead, Marston developed Wonder Woman with Elizabeth (whom Marston believed to be a model of that era's unconventional, liberated woman). Marston was also inspired by Olive Byrne, who lived with the couple in a polygamous/polyamorous relationship. Both women served as exemplars for the character and greatly influenced the character's creation. Wonder Woman debuted in All Star Comics #8 (December 1941), scripted by Marston and with art by Harry G. Peter.

Marston was the creator of a systolic-blood-pressure-measuring apparatus, which was crucial to the development of the polygraph (lie detector). Marston's experience with polygraphs convinced him that women were more honest and reliable than men, and could work more efficiently.

"Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world," Marston wrote. Although Gloria Steinem placed Wonder Woman on the first standalone cover of Ms. in 1972, Marston, writing in an earlier time, designed Wonder Woman to represent a particular form of female empowerment. Feminism argues that women are equal to men and should be treated as such; Marston's representative of femininity is a 6-foot-tall Amazon wielding a golden lasso that forces obedience of those encircled. In Marston's mind, women not only held the potential to be as good as men: they could be superior to men.

In a 1943 issue of The American Scholar, Marston wrote:

During this period, Wonder Woman joined the Justice Society of America as the first female member; albeit as the group's secretary (the custom was for characters with their own books to hold honorary membership only).

Evolution of the character

Initially, Wonder Woman is an Amazon champion who wins the right to return Steve Trevor—a United Statesmarker intelligence officer whose plane had crashed on the Amazons' isolated island homeland—to "Man's World," and fight the evil of the Nazis and other crime.

During the Silver Age, Wonder Woman's origin was revamped, along with other characters during the era. The new origin story , increased the character's Hellenic and mythological roots, receiving the blessing of each deity in her crib, Diana is destined to become "beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, stronger than Hercules, and swifter than Mercury."

At the end of the 1960s, under the guidance of Mike Sekowsky, Wonder Woman surrenders her powers to remain in Man's World rather than accompany her fellow Amazons to another dimension. A mod boutique owner, the powerless Diana Prince acquires a Chinese mentor named I Ching. Under I Ching's guidance, Diana learns martial arts and weapons skills, and engages in adventures that encompassed a variety of genres, from espionage to mythology.

The character would later return to her superpowered roots and the World War II-era, (due to the popularity of the Wonder Woman TV series), in Justice League of America and the eponymous title, respectively.

Following the 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths series, George Pérez, Len Wein, and Greg Potter relaunched the character and wrote Wonder Woman as an emissary and ambassador from Themyscira to Patriarch's World, charged with the mission of bringing peace to the outside world.

Powers and abilities

Pre-Crisis

Originally, Wonder Woman owed her abilities to the goddess Aphrodite creating Amazons superior to men, with Diana being the best of their kind.

The Golden Age Wonder Woman was later updated by Marston to be able to will a tremendous amount of brain energy into her muscles and limbs by Amazon training, which endowed her with extraordinary strength. (Sensation Comics #46, Oct. 1945). (As such it was implied, and ultimately confirmed, that any woman who underwent Amazonian training would gain superhuman strength.) This was later reconfirmed by writer Robert Kanigher in the Silver Age (Wonder Woman v1 #160, Feb. 1966). The TV series took up this notion; "...  we are able to develop our minds and physical skills ..." ["Fausta: The Nazi Wonder Woman" 1976]; and in the first episode of Super Friends [1973] Diana states to Aquaman "...  the only thing that can surpass super strength is the power of the brain". In early Wonder Woman stories, Amazon training involves strengthening this ability using pure mental energy. Her powers would be removed in accordance with "Aphrodite's Law" if she allowed herself to be bound or chained by a male.

With the inclusion of Wonder Girl and Wonder Tot in Diana's back-story, writers provided new explanations of her powers; the character became capable of feats which her sister Amazons could not equal. Wonder Woman Volume One #105, reveals that Diana was formed from clay by the Queen of the Amazons and was imbued with the attributes of the Greek and Roman gods by Athena - "beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, swifter than Mercury, and stronger than Hercules." Wonder Woman's Amazon training also gave her limited telepathy, profound scientific knowledge, and the ability to speak every language known to man and beyond. She was even fluent in cavemanand Martian.

Although Wonder Woman's mythos was returned to its original interpretation between 1966 and 1967, new abilities were added: super breath (to blow jet streams or transform water into snow); ventriloquism; imperviousness to extremes of heat and cold; ride the air currents as if flying; mental telepathy (even to project images); microscopic vision; the ability to vibrate into another dimension, and others which are listed in the Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes, Volume Two (1976).

Depending on the writer, Diana's invulnerability and power varied greatly with the story needs. Throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s, Robert Kanigher, for example, portrayed Wonder Woman as being so strong that she, after standing atop her hovering plane and lassoing it with her magic lasso, was able to effortlessly lift Themyscira out of the way of an approaching tsunami using just one hand. Kanigher showed Wonder Woman as able to lift whales as a girl and blowing so hard on her birthday cake as a baby of two years old that she sent it into orbit.

Finally, while not a super power per se, Wonder Woman was able to increase her strength. In the Silver and Bronze ages of comics, she was unable to remove her bracelets without going insane. In times of great need, however, she would do just that in order to temporarily augment her power tenfold. However, with how she was a threat to friend and foe alike, she would use Amazonian berserker rage only as a weapon of last resort.

Post-Crisis

After a brief interrogation, Diana places the head of To-Choi Industries in a state of slumber.


Wonder Woman's body is a mystical creation made from the clay surrounding Themyscira. Through divine means, her disembodied soul was nurtured in and retrieved from the Cavern of Souls. Once the soul was placed into the body it immediately came to life, and was blessed with metahuman abilities by six Olympian deities.

Demeter, the goddess of agriculture and fertility, blessed Diana with strength drawn from the Earth spirit Gaea, making her one of the physically strongest heroes in the DC Universe . She has been observed assisting in preventing large chunks of the Moon from crashing onto the Earth, supporting the weight of bridges,, hefting entire railroad trains, and she has even managed to physically overpower Supergirl.

While not invulnerable, she is quite durable , capable of shrugging off high-powered rifle fire with some pain but no injury, and even capable of surviving a warp-core explosion. She is even durable enough to survive the depths of space for a period of time before running out of breath. As noted, while her superhuman strength affords her great resistance to blunt-force trauma, her skin can be cut by weapons if they are sharp enough.

Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, blessed Diana with great beauty and a loving heart.

Pallas Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war, granted Diana great wisdom, intelligence, and military prowess. It is Athena's gift that has enabled Diana to master over a dozen languages (including those of alien origin), multiple complex crafts, sciences and philosophies, as well as her Amazon legacy of over 3000 years of leadership, military strategy, and armed and unarmed combat. More recently Athena bound her own eyesight to Diana's, granting her increased empathy.

Artemis, goddess of the hunt, animals, and the Moon, graced Diana with the Eyes of the Hunter and Unity with Beasts. The Eyes of the Hunter ability gives Diana a full range of enhanced senses. Unity with Beasts grants her the ability to communicate with all forms of animal life, as well as to calm even the most ferocious of beasts.

Hestia, goddess of hearth and home, granted Diana "sisterhood with fire, that it might open men's hearts to her." This power has been shown to control the "Fires of Truth," which Diana wields through her lasso, making anyone bound by it unable to lie. This ability also grants her some resistance to both normal and supernatural fire.

Hermes, the messenger god of speed, granted Diana superhuman speed and the ability to fly. Through the an act of concentration, Diana can mystically defy the laws of gravity and propel herself through the air to achieve flight. She is capable of flying at speeds approaching half the speed of light. She is swift enough to deflect bullets, lasers, and other projectiles with her virtually impenetrable bracelets.

Skills

All versions show Diana, even without her powers, as a superior athlete and acrobat. She has been trained since infancy in the 3000-year-old Amazon legacy of armed and unarmed combat. She is an accomplished military strategist. Some versions had her mother training her as a Wonder Girl for a future career as Wonder Woman. From the beginning, she is described as highly skilled in using her Amazon bracelets to stop bullets, and in wielding her golden lasso.

Weapons

Diana has an arsenal of powerful god-forged weapons at her disposal, but her signature weapons are her indestructible bracelets (vambraces) and the Lasso of Truth.

Her bracelets (though technically vambraces, they have only been referred to as such by Batman) were formed from the remnants of Zeus' legendary shield, the Aegis, at the request of Athena to be awarded to her champion. These forearm guards have thus far proved indestructible, and can absorb the impact of incoming attacks, such as deflecting automatic weapon or energy blasts. Diana can also slam the bracelets together to create a wave of concussive force capable of making Superman's ears bleed. Recently, she apparently gained the ability to channel Zeus's lightning through her bracelets as well. The exact nature of this new ability has yet to be fully explained.

The Lasso of Truth, or Lariat of Hestia, was forged by Hephaestus from the golden girdle of Gaea. It is virtually indestructible, The only times it was broken was when truth itself was challenged, such as when she confronted Rama Khan of Jarhanpur, and by Bizarro in Matt Wagner's non-canonical Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity. The Lasso burns with a magical aura called the Fires of Hestia, forcing anyone within the Lasso's confines to be truthful. It also at one time had the power to force anyone caught to obey any command given them. Diana wields it with great precision and accuracy, and can use it as a whip or noose.

At least as early as the 1950s, Wonder Woman's golden tiara has also doubled as a dagger and a throwing weapon, returning to her like a boomerang. Its sharpness and mystical nature proved enough to cut even Superman.

Diana once possessed the Sandals of Hermes, or talaria, which granted the wearer great speed and flight. They were passed on, first to Artemis and later to Wonder Girl. Diana also once possessed the Gauntlets of Atlas, which magnify the physical strength and stamina of the wearer. They too were passed on.

The Golden, Silver, and Bronze Age portrayals of Wonder Woman showed her using an invisible airplane that could be controlled by mental commands. It was variously described as being either a creation of Amazon technology, or alternately the legendary winged horse Pegasus transformed into an aircraft. Its appearance varied as well, originally having a propeller and later being drawn as a jet aircraft, resembling a fighter plane.

The Post-Crisis or Modern Age Wonder Woman has continued to use the Invisible Plane in the form of a small lightweight disc of alien (Lansinar) technology that, when triggered by her thoughts, transforms into a transparent version of whatever object or vehicle that is appropriate for her needs. This disc was later shown to be a sentient life-form. Following the One Year Later continuity jump, Diana was given a new invisible plane, created by Wayne Industries, because her original Invisible Plane was stuck on Themyscira.

Diana occasionally uses additional weaponry in formal battle, such as ceremonial golden armor complete with golden wings, war-skirt and chest-plate, and a golden helmet in the shape of an eagle's head. She also possesses a sword (also forged by Hephaestus) that is sharp enough to cut the electrons off an atom.

In other media

See also: Justice League in other media


Video games

Wonder Woman is a playable character in the video games Justice League Heroes (for the Sony PSP and PS2) and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe for Playstation 3 and X-Box 360, in the 1995 game Justice League Task Force for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. Wonder Woman is also playable in the Game Boy Advance games based on the Justice League cartoon Justice League: Injustice for All (2002), Justice League Chronicles (2003) and in the 2005 game Justice League: Heroes for Playstation 2, PSP, X-Box and Nintendo DS, while she appears as a summonable "striker" character in Justice League Heroes: The Flash for the GBA.

Wonder Woman will appear in the upcoming DC Universe Online in 2009.

Books

The character of Wonder Woman has also appeared in many books.

Archive Editions released All Star Comics. The series included 10 editions which featured Wonder Woman. Other titles include 'Seduction of the Innocent", "StarForce", "Star Log" and "Strangers in Paradise"

TV series

A television series based on Wonder Woman aired for three seasons from 1975-1979. The series starred Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman.

A Wonder Woman movie was produced in a made-for-TV adaptation of the comic book in 1974 (a year before Lynda Carter would popularize the role in a weekly series) and starred Cathy Lee Crosby. Although the telefilm was a ratings success, producers decided to retool the product to more closely resemble the comic-book version, resulting in Crosby being let go. Her incarnation of Wonder Woman has a one-panel cameo in the comic book Infinite Crisis #6 as part of an alternate Earth.

Animated film

A direct-to-video animated film adaptation of Wonder Woman was released on March 3, 2009 on DVD and Blu-ray disc as part of the DC Universe Original Animated Movies series produced by DC Comics animation veteran Bruce Timm and released by Warner Bros. The film stars Keri Russell as Wonder Woman and is directed by Lauren Montgomery. It features Russell's Waitress costar Nathan Fillion as Steve Trevor, as well as Alfred Molina, Rosario Dawson, and Virginia Madsen. The DVD sold 102,890 copies in its first week, and ranked number 5 on the DVD sales chart in America.

Undeveloped projects

Live action film

In January 2001, producer Joel Silver approached Todd Alcott to write a Wonder Woman screenplay, with Silver Pictures backing the project. Early gossip linked actresses such as Angelina Jolie, Beyoncé Knowles, Sandra Bullock, Rachel Bilson, Nadia Bjorlin, Megan Fox, and Catherine Zeta-Jones to the role of Wonder Woman. Leonard Goldberg, speaking in a May 2001 interview, named Jade Rester as a strong candidate for the project. Bullock claimed that she was approached for the role, while wrestler Chyna expressed interest. Turning down the part in the past, Lucy Lawless indicated that she would have been more interested if Wonder Woman was portrayed as a "flawed hero." The screenplay then went through various drafts written by Alcott, Jon Cohen, Becky Johnston, and Philip Levens. By August 2003, Levens was replaced by screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis.

"Besides [Wonder Woman's] great origin story, there's nothing from the comics that felt right 100 percent, no iconic canon story that must be told. Batman has it made — he's got the greatest rogues gallery ever, he's got Gotham City. The Bat writes himself. With Wonder Woman, you're writing from whole cloth, but trying to make it feel like you didn't. To make it feel like it's existed for 60 years, even though you're making it up as you go along. But who she, and what the movie, is about, thematically, has never been a problem for me. But the steps along the way, it could be so easy for them to feel wrong. I won't settle. She wouldn't let me settle."
— Joss Whedon in November 2006, explaining the delay in developing a proper script.


In March 2005, Warner Bros. and Silver Pictures announced that Joss Whedon would write and direct the film adaptation of Wonder Woman. Whedon's salary was reported to be between $2 to $3 million. Since Whedon was directing Serenity at the time, and required time to research Wonder Woman's background, he did not begin the screenplay until late 2005. According to Joel Silver, the script would cover Wonder Woman's origin and include Steve Trevor: "Trevor crashes on the island and they go back to Man's World." Silver wanted to film Wonder Woman in Australia once the script was completed. While Whedon stated in May 2005 that he would not cast Wonder Woman until he finished the script, Charisma Carpenter and Morena Baccarin expressed interest in the role.

After nearly two years as script-writer, Whedon had not managed to write a finished draft. "It was in an outline, and not in a draft, and they [studio executives] didn't like it. So I never got to write a draft where I got to work out exactly what I wanted to do." In February 2007, Whedon departed from the project, citing script differences with the studio. Whedon reiterated: "I never had an actress picked out, or even a consistent front-runner. I didn't have time to waste on casting when I was so busy air balling on the script." Whedon stated that with the Wonder Woman project left behind, he would focus on making his film Goners.

"I would go back in a heartbeat if I believed that anybody believed in what I was doing. The lack of enthusiasm was overwhelming."


A day before Whedon's departure from Wonder Woman, Warner Bros. and Silver Pictures purchased a spec script written by Matthew Jennison and Brent Strickland. Set during World War II, the script impressed executives at Silver Pictures. However, Silver has stated that he purchased the script because he didn't want the rights reverting; while the script has good ideas, Silver doesn't want the Wonder Woman film to be a period piece. By April 2008, Silver hired Jennison and Strickland to write a new script set in contemporary times that would not depict Wonder Woman's origin, but explore Paradise Island's history.

According to an August 2008 article in The Wall Street Journal, featuring Warner Bros. president Jeff Robinov speaking about their DC property films, a Wonder Woman film is among other superhero films currently in "active development."

Justice League film

A Justice League film was slated for a 2009 release, before being put on indefinite hiatus in April 2008. It was based upon the DC Comics publication, the Justice League which has included a number of superheroes in the past including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Atom, Hawkman, Black Canary, and Captain Marvel. An October 29, 2007 article quoted Joel Silver as stating that due to the impending release of Justice League, the Wonder Woman film will be placed on moratorium:

'They're going to make the Justice League movie, and we're kind of pausing on Wonder Woman now [...] Let them go ahead and do that picture [first]' [...] The Amazon superhero from the DC Comics series will be a major part of the upcoming JLA. 'And if that comes together, Wonder Woman will be a part of that story,' Silver said. 'And then we'll see where we go from there. But we struggled with it for a while. I hope that we can solve it and make it one day.'


A number of actresses had reportedly been under consideration for the role of Wonder Woman in the Justice League film. Jessica Biel was approached for the role, but declined it, while Missy Peregrym, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Teresa Palmer, Shannyn Sossamon, and Christina Milian expressed interest. Eventually, Australian supermodel Megan Gale was cast. Beyoncé Knowles also takes an interest in the role. In early January 2008, production of the JLA film was delayed due to the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike. When asked if the film would still affect the solo Wonder Woman movie in April 2008, Silver said it would not as the Justice League film had been put on indefinite hold. In August 2008, however director George Miller as well as actress Megan Gale confirmed that the film was still on, with a plan to resume filming in 2009. In an article in The Wall Street Journal, Warner Bros. president Jeff Robinov expressed studio interest in the production of a Justice League film, but confirmed that the project that had been in development had been shelved.

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