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Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman is a fictional character, a DC Comics superhero created by William Moulton Marston. First appearing in All Star Comics #8 (December 1941), she is one of three characters to have been continuously published by DC Comics since the company's 1944 inception (except for a brief hiatus in 1984).

Wonder Woman is a member of a fictional, all-female tribe of Amazons (based on the Amazons of Greek mythology) who is sent to "man's world" as an ambassador. Among the Amazons she is known as Princess Diana (being the daughter of Amazon queen Hippolyta); in "man's world" she takes the secret identity of "Diana Prince." Her powers include super-strength, hand-to-hand combat ability, and sometimes (during the 1980s and 1990s) flight. She also makes use of her Lasso of Truth (which forces those bound by it to tell the truth), a pair of bullet-deflecting bracelets, and an invisible plane.

Created during World War II, the character was initially depicted fighting the Axis military forces, as well as an assortment of supervillains and villainesses. In later decades, some writers and their editors preferred to retain the World War II setting, while others 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 superheroine in comics, she is informally grouped with Superman and Batman as one of a "Trinity" of DC characters who are regarded as especially important, both within their fictional universe and without.

In addition to comics, the character has appeared in other media — most notably the 1975-1979 live action Wonder Woman TV series starring Lynda Carter, but also in cartoons such the Super Friends and Justice League animated series. Although a number of attempts have been made to adapt the character to film, none have yet emerged from "development hell".

History

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 University alumni magazine, it was his wife Elizabeth's idea to create a female superhero:

William Moulton Marston, a psychologist already famous for inventing the polygraph (forerunner to the magic lasso), struck upon an idea for a new kind of superhero, one who would triumph not with fists or firepower, but with love. "Fine," said Elizabeth. "But make her a woman."

Marston introduced the idea to Max Gaines, cofounder (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.

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 adversaries to tell the truth. 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:

Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don't want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. 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.

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 States 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 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 super-powered 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 and Greg Potter relaunched the character and wrote Wonder Woman as an emissary and ambassador from Themyscira to Patriarch's world. The four part "Sacrifice" storyline leading into the 2005 series Infinite Crisis ends with Diana breaking the longstanding do-not-kill code.

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 best.

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 and agility (Sensation Comics #46, Oct. 1945); this was later reconfirmed by writer Robert Kanigher in the Silver Age (Wonder Woman v1 #160, Feb. 1966). The TV series show 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 gods by Athena - "beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, swifter than Hermes, 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.

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.

Post-Crisis

Diana possesses a host of superhuman powers granted to her by the gods and goddesses of Olympus, gifts which have been stated to be nearly the equal to their own abilities. Primary among these are superhuman strength and stamina, which she draws from a mystical link to the Earth itself granted by Demeter.

Diana is one of the strongest and most powerful female superheroes in the DC Universe. Her strength is prodigous, and her stamina affords her an incredible degree of resistance to blunt force trauma. However, Diana's skin is not invulnerable and can be pierced by sharp projectiles.

Diana has heightened resistance to magical attacks and manipulation. She is experienced in battling foes who use sorcery as a weapon. She heals at an accelerated rate due to her superhuman metabolism. She is a master of armed and unarmed combat, proficient with nearly every weapon of her culture, especially the bow and the javelin. She has at times engaged in battle with beings of great strength such as Superman, Darkseid, or the Olympian Gods and held her own against them.

She has enhanced senses, as well as being able to communicate with all forms of animals.

The God Hermes gifted Diana with the powers of superhuman speed and unassisted flight, the full extent of these abilities have yet to be realized. Though in theory, since she has complete access to Hermes gift of speed, Diana can achieve the same speed level as Hermes and as fast as Superman. She also possesses the "sight of Athena", and the gift of increased insight, allowing her to see anywhere she desires and sense others' emotions. She is now fully immune to mind control.

Diana possesses great wisdom and intelligence, giving her heightened proficiency with languages, being able to speak her native Themysciran, Ancient and Modern Greek, English, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese (she expressed "difficulty" with the tones of Cantonese during an interview with Lois Lane), Egyptian, Russian, and Hindi.

Wonder Woman is an accomplished strategist and tactician, leader, and diplomat. She has been shown to astrally project herself into various lands of myth. In some cases, she has shown the ability to place individuals into a state of sleep while under the power of her golden lasso. Queen Hippolyta used this technique on Diana herself during the Our Worlds at War event.

During the events of Final Crisis, Wonder Woman's immunity to illusions and mind control have been erased due to the Anti-Life Equation.

Weapons

Diana has numerous powerful weapons at her disposal, but her signature weapons are her indestructible bracelets and the Lasso of Truth. The Bracelets were formed from the remnants of Zeus's legendary Aegis shield, and Diana's superhuman reflexes and senses allow her to deflect or reflect projectiles and bullets, including automatic weapons fire, as well as energy blasts, including multi-vector attacks.

The Lasso of Truth is absolutely unbreakable and has restrained beings as powerful as Superman, Captain Marvel, and the gods Ares and Hades. The Lasso burns with a magical aura called the Fires of Hestia, forcing anyone within the Lasso's confines to be truthful. The Fires can restore lost memories, dispel illusions, renew the wielder's body, protect those encircled by it from magical and nonmagical attacks, and even cure insanity.

Wonder Woman's golden tiara has also doubled as a throwing weapon, used for long-distance attack or defense. It was crafted from Apollo's discus, which returned to him whenever thrown, like a boomerang.

Diana used the Sandals of Hermes to cross the dimensional impasse between Themyscira and the outside world, but they were passed on first to Artemis, and later to Wonder Girl. Diana also once wielded the Gauntlet of Atlas, which magnifies the physical strength and stamina of the wearer by a factor of ten.

The Golden Age and Silver Age Wonder Woman used an invisible airplane that could be mentally controlled. It was variously described as being either a creation of Amazon technology or 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 Wonder Woman has at her disposal a small lightweight disc of alien (Lansinar) technology that, when triggered by her thoughts, transforms into a transparent version of whatever object or vehicle is appropriate for her needs. However, following the One Year Later continuity jump, Diana was given a new invisible plane, created by Wayne Industries.

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. Her deadliest piece of battle-gear is a magically forged sword (again a gift from Hephaestus), so sharp that it can "carve the electrons off an atom".

In other media

See also: Justice League in other media

TV series

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

Animated film

A direct to video animated film adaptation of Wonder Woman is currently in production as a part of the DC Universe Original Animated Movies series released by Warner Brothers. The film, which will be released in February 2009, stars Keri Russell as Wonder Woman and will be directed by Lauren Montgomery. It will also feature Russell's Waitress costar Nathan Fillion as Steve Trevor, as well as Alfred Molina, Rosario Dawson, and Virginia Madsen.

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 Mariah Carey, Sandra Bullock, Rachel Bilson, and Catherine Zeta-Jones to the role of Wonder Woman. Leonard Goldberg, speaking in a May 2001 interview, named Sandra Bullock as a strong candidate for the project. Bullock claimed that she was approached for the role, while Lucy Lawless and Chyna both expressed interest. Lawless indicated that she would be 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 being handed the role of script-writer for close to two years though, Whedon still had not managed to write an actual script. "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 made clear that he purchased the script because he didn't want it floating around in the industry; although it has good ideas, he doesn't wish for the Wonder Woman film to be a period piece. By April 2008, Silver hired Jennison and Strickland to write a new (modern day) script 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 29 October 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 passed on it, while Missy Peregrym, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anne Hathaway, Teresa Palmer, Shannyn Sossamon, and Christina Milian expressed interest. It had been reported that Australian supermodel Megan Gale was cast as the heroine. In early January 2008, it was reported that 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 said that they are interested in doing a Justice League film, but confirmed that the project that had been in development had been shelved. They are currently focusing on solo films for their DC properties.

See also

Bibliography

References

External links

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