Right now, Wonder Woman is in the midst of a huge popularity surge, with Gal Gadot’s cinematic take on the Amazing Amazon rightly wowing moviegoers and giving us our first great entry in Warner Brothers’ DC Extended Universe. In fairness, you could even go as far as to say that the Patty Jenkins-directed effort has given us our first DCEU picture that’s not a steaming turd, but that’s a topic for another day.
Regardless, Wonder Woman has rightly been embraced by fans and critics alike, and the movie has laid down a major marker for the DCEU, which in turn has amped up excitement for what could lay ahead in this shared cinematic realm for the likes of The Flash, Aquaman, and… well, maybe not Cyborg… but you get the idea.
Now while Diana – or Diana, Princess of Themyscira, Daughter of Hippolyta, to use her full title – is finally getting some time in the spotlight, her history is most certainly a mixed one. Since debuting back in 1941’s All Star Comics #8, Aphrodite’s Agent has had her fair share of moments that DC, and now Warner Brothers, would like us all to forget. From sexualization, to the pretty female who stays behind while the men go out to save the world, to bizarre bondage tones, to brutal murder, there’s plenty to sink your teeth into where Diana’s past is concerned.
So, with that in mind, here’s 15 moments that DC would rather you forget about when it comes to their Amazonian.
15. The JSA’s Secretary
Whilst Wonder Woman is often revered as one of the Holy Trinity of the Justice League and the greater DC world, that hasn’t always been the case for the Amazing Amazon.
Where the Justice League’s precursor team, the Justice Society of America, was concerned, they did indeed bring Diana into their ranks, although they had a slightly sexist and controversial role in mind for her: they made her their secretary.
So, Wonder Woman, the Invincible Enemy of Injustice, Aphrodite’s Agent, and hands-down more powerful than near-enough any of the JSA roster… was reduced to staying behind to do paperwork, answer phone calls, and make tea while her male cohorts were out fighting the good fight and trying to save the world.
14. The TV Show That Never Was
Titled simply Wonder Woman, there once was a planned TV show that would see Adrianne Palicki as Diana Prince. Given the fond memories tied to the Lynda Carter show of the 1970s, the hope was to recapture that fan base while bringing the character to a whole new audience.
This series managed to make it to the pilot stage, with NBC ordering said pilot, but unfortunately a full season was never given the green light and the whole thing was scrapped after just that one unaired episode. And for any of you out there who were ‘lucky’ enough to have seen this pilot, you’ll fully understand why there was never any follow-up.
From the Wonder Woman outfit looking like some sort of stripper’s costume, to the relative lack of any sort of origin tie to Diana’s comic book roots, to some dud performances, the pilot for Wonder Woman was pretty much a stinker of monumental proportions on all fronts.
13. Earth-Shattering Intercourse
Considering that this year’s Wonder Woman is looking to draw in plenty of young moviegoers, it’s likely that Warner Brothers and DC will want to sweep Diana’s role in The Dark Knight Strikes Again under the table.
Now, obviously sex is a part of life, and something that we all become aware of as we get older, but in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Strikes Again, we see Wonder Woman and Superman bump uglies throughout a multi-page romp in the skies. So intense was this, err, special moment, the pair’s actions actually caused volcanoes to erupt, oceans to anger, Hawaii to be completely evacuated, and countless lives lost across the globe due to the coming together (no pun intended!) of these two legendary DC heroes.
Even worse, neither of these iconic figures seemed at all bothered by the carnage that they caused. Rumours of Superman falling asleep instantly while Wonder Woman smoked a cigarette remain unconfirmed.
12. The Bondage Element
There’s no getting away from it: there’s a certain element of bondage in play at times where Wonder Woman is concerned.
This is something that was prevalent more in the early decades of Diana’s comic book existence, particularly as it pertains to her weakness. While Superman has Kryptonite, and Batman will go teary-eyed over the mention of his parents, and Green Lantern has… well, Green Lantern has yellow… the way to neutralize Wonder Woman is to chain her up by her famed bracelets.
As such, longtime comic book fans will have lost count of the amount of times Diana was left scantily clad and chained up until even the 1980s. Of course, Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston often talked about his dabbles into bondage and sexual experimentation, and these themes were eerily present in early Wonder Woman tales.
11. Who’s Afraid Of Diana Prince?
Whilst many of us will be more than familiar with the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman show of the ‘70s, some may not be all that familiar with the first attempt to bring Aphrodite’s Agent to a live-action setting.
Following the success of the Adam West and Burt Ward-headlined Batman show, 1967 saw a pilot ordered for a Wonder Woman show. 5 minutes of that pilot were put together for a presentation titled Who’s Afraid of Diana Prince?, but the 5 minutes were far from enough to garner any positive response from decision makers.
What was so bad about this attempt to bring Diana to the small screen? Well, how about a good portion of it saw the character being looked down upon by her mother because she didn’t have a husband… because clearly a woman must have a husband in order to get any sort of parental acceptance. That’d be the primal thinking of ye olden days, kids.
10. Taco Whiz
What do you do when trying to solidify one of your characters as a genuine big deal who’s as much of a top-level player as her peers? Why, you have her making tacos.
As bizarre as it sounds, that’s what happened to Wonder Woman at one point in time.
After the Justice League’s ever-wise computer thought that Diana was deceased, it meant she was cut off from any JL funding schemes, and so she took a job at Taco Whiz to make ends meet. There’s no shame in working in such a place, but you’d think that the Amazonian’s super strength, ridiculous reflexes, and vast intelligence would have seen her land something a little better than putting together lettuce, onions, green pepper, black olives, taco meat, and refried beans.
9. Wonder Tot
Like something from Muppet Babies, Wonder Woman had a pretty random and bonkers spell of being shown as Wonder Tot.
Who’s that, you say? Why, Wonder Tot was a younger version of Wonder Woman who talked as if she was from the Stone Age. All brief, blunt sentences with various words missing, Wonder Tot sounded like a cross between a Flintstones extra and Grimlock of Transformers fame.
Even more bizarre was when Wonder Tot was pictured alongside Wonder Girl and Wonder Woman – all of which were supposedly the same person at that point in time. Yep, you’re right, this was all a bit silly and totally, totally doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.
8. Her Ever-Changing Origins
Urgh! There’s nothing worse when you think you know all about a character and their roots, only to then have said roots and origin completely thrown up in the air and reworked. And that’s one of the more annoying aspects of Wonder Woman.
Granted, we’ve seen slight tweaks to the likes of Batman and Superman over the years depending on who’s been writing them, but Bruce Wayne’s parents were always killed that night, and Kal-El always landed in a corn field in Smallville. Well, unless you count alternate worlds or ‘what if?’ tales – I’m looking at you Flashpoint and Superman: Red Son.
With Wonder Woman, the standard continuity take on Diana has seen her merely being a ‘regular’ Amazon woman, to her being made out of actual clay, to some creepy threesome-esque creation, to more recently (and still just about the current canon) her being the daughter of Zeus.
7. Kicked Out Of The United Nations
In 2016, the United Nations made the bold choice to make Wonder Woman an ambassador. Yes, as in the one and the same Wonder Woman who is a fictional character.
To make a bit more sense of this situation, the logic behind the move was that the Wonder Woman character could be used as a symbol for empowering women and for tearing up old hat stereotypes based around gender inequality. Despite the well-meaning nature of this, though, the campaign backfired when over 44,000 people signed a petition to remove Diana Prince from anything to do with the UN.
The argument against Wonder Woman was based around how her appearance and oft-scantily-clad appearance was culturally insensitive to many parts of the globe. And so, after merely 2 months as part of the United Nations, Diana was given the boot.
6. The Brutal Flashpoint Version
Let’s be honest, as much as we shouldn’t, there are certain times when you can’t help but enjoy a particular hero losing their sh*t and going on a killing spree. For someone like Superman, Captain America, and most of the other big hitters, this clearly wouldn’t fit in with their characters, but seeing someone like The Punisher or Jason Todd pushing their moral compass to its limits can be brilliant.
Where Wonder Woman is concerned, the Flashpoint story (and subsequent animated adaptation) saw a take on Diana who was a total badass that thought nothing of killing anyone who catches her on a bad day. For instance, she brutally murders Aquaman’s bride, Mera, so that she can have the King of Atlantis for herself. Then there’s the poor Shazam Kids that make up the Flashpoint take on Captain Marvel – a bunch of kids who the Amazing Amazon clinically kills.
Now while it does make for fantastic reading, and the 2011 Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is must-see, don’t expect Warner Brothers and DC to be championing this version of the character any time soon.
5. She Beat The Crap Out Of Batman
Oh no, not the Dark Knight!
Where the DC comic book realm (and beyond!) is concerned, Batman is almost untouchable. Nobody really beats the Caped Crusader at anything, right? Well, that’s what DC would have you believe. One person who has bested Batman, mind, is Wonder Woman. And not just bested, but Diana made it a complete no contest when she handed the World’s Greatest Detective his ass during the Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia graphic novel.
Greg Rucka’s 2002 story saw the Amazing Amazon sworn to protecting a young woman who just so happened to have caught the ire of Batman due to the fact that she’d killed the dirty drug dealers and sex traders who had murdered her sister. With relative ease, Gotham’s famed protector was schooled when he found himself face-to-face with the Disciple of Peace and Love.
4. Kept Away From The Big Screen
Despite her long-held position as one of DC’s biggest and most prominent heroes, you can’t help but be puzzled by Wonder Woman’s absence from the big screen.
After all, if DC thought so highly of Diana, surely they’d have pushed for her to be brought to cinematic life way before Gal Gadot’s take on the character turned up in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Instead, Warners would churn out Bat-film after Bat-film, give the Man of Steel several big screen outings, and even delve into the world of Hal Jordan and the Emerald Knights of the Green Lantern Corps. with that poorly-judged Ryan Reynolds picture.
3. Nobody Cared!
As harsh as it may sound, for the longest amount of time, nobody really cared at all about Wonder Woman.
Whilst Warner Brothers and DC are now finally painting her as a huge deal by bringing Diana to cinematic life, she was always a perennial afterthought in the comic book realm. Sure, she has had her staunch fans over the decades, but on a more general level, the clamour to read a Wonder Woman comic wasn’t exactly far-reaching.
Much like Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor were, Wonder Woman was a long-time B or C-level hero when it came to comic book popularity. Obviously these days Marvel Studios have thrust Stark, Cap, and the Son of Odin into the public consciousness once more, but they were characters who had long lost their lustre and who people weren’t bothered about. And as much as you’re being told how great the Amazonian is these days, she’s been criminally underutilised and largely ignored for so many years.
2. The Brutal Murder Of Max Lord
When it comes to shocking comic book acts of recent memory, seeing Diana publicly snap the neck of Max Lord was a huge moment.
Sure, the evil criminal mastermind deserved some sort of punishment after he’d killed the Blue Beetle and completely manipulated Superman, but Diana’s brand of justice was something that saw the regular citizens of the DC world turn their backs on heroes as a result.
The public wasn’t supposed to see this – it was the Brother Eye system that amplified the murder out across the globe – but it was an act that tarnished the name of superheroes in the eyes of the world and even in the eyes of some of DC’s biggest heroes. Following that, DC’s heroes had to constantly prove their worth and do their best to once more earn the trust of the public.
Sexism! Sexism everywhere!
That was the order of the day at one point in time in comic books, at least. And that ‘one point in time’ just so happened to be a rather long point of time.
These days, the world is clearly a better and more balanced place when it comes to gender equality, in this case in the medium of comics, but the treatment of Wonder Woman – and females as a whole in comic books – over the decades has been cringeworthy, disrespectful, and outright sexist.
From constantly needing a man in their life in order to be happy, to being left in the shadows while macho male heroes take centre-stage, to the lack of female-driven comic book titles, to even the ridiculously curvy and overly-sexualised look and attires given to these ladies. This whole topic is one that the comics industry in general is quick to brush under the carpet, and DC are just as culpable as anyone else.