For over 75 years, Wonder Woman has been one of the world’s most iconic superheroes. Shortly after her creation in 1941’s All Star Comics #8, by William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter, Wonder Woman quickly became one of DC Comics’ defining characters. Between her solo tales and her adventures with teams like the Justice League, Diana Prince’s exploits have thrilled fans over thousands of comics and hundreds of hours of TV. With the new film, Wonder Woman, director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot have finally given the Amazon princess her solo cinematic debut.
While all of these things have made Wonder Woman a world-renowned feminist icon, DC’s Amazon Princess still has a deeply weird history. Influenced by high fantasy and classical mythology, Diana’s adventures occupy a fairly unique space within the wider world of superheroes. While her earliest World War II-era tales pushed the boundaries of the newly-formed superhero genre, her more modern adventures have embraced the inherent oddness of the ever-changing DC Universe. Now, CBR is counting down some of the most mind-blowing things about Wonder Woman. For this list, we’ll be looking back at some of the most surprising versions of the character and some of the strangest moments in Wonder Woman’s history.
15. FIRED BY THE UNITED NATIONS
To coincide with Wonder Woman’s 75th anniversary, the United Nations named her an Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls on October 21, 2016. While Diana has been Themyscira’s ambassador to mankind for decades in comics, this highlighted her symbolic value in the real world. Although the UN honored her with a ceremony featuring Gal Gadot and Wonder Woman star Lynda Carter, her ambassadorship ended prematurely after two months.
While the UN has used fictional characters like Winnie the Pooh as ambassadors before, Wonder Woman’s tenure was plagued by protests. After a small protest at that initial ceremony, several UN staffers started an anti-Wonder Woman petition that garnered almost 45,000 signatures. Citing the character’s “overt sexualization,” the objectors argued that Wonder Woman wasn’t a “culturally encompassing or sensitive” figure. Although the UN did not officially address the petition, Wonder Woman’s ambassadorship ended unexpectedly early on December 16, 2016.
14. LIFTING THOR’S HAMMER
In the world of Marvel Comics, Thor’s hammer Mjolnir can only be lifted by the most worthy individuals. Over the years, a few dozen of Thor’s closest allies like Odin, Captain America and Jane Foster have all been able to wield the hammer. In 1996’s Marvel vs. DC #2, by Peter David, Claudio Castellini and Dan Jurgens, Wonder Woman added her name to that illustrious list.
In that landmark crossover, the heroes of the Marvel and DC Universes were forced to fight one another by feuding cosmic deities. After Mjolnir was mysteriously teleported to the DC Universe, Wonder Woman picked it up. Although Diana briefly wielded the power of Thor, she relinquished it for a subsequent fight with Marvel’s Storm. Since the winner of that fight was determined by a fan vote during the X-Men’s most popular era, Diana ultimately fell in combat against the weather-controlling mutant.
13. WONDER WOMAN’S CREATION
Years before he co-created Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston’s psychological research with his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston and their partner Olive Byrne formed the partial basis for the invention of the lie detector. After publishing an article about the untapped potential of comics in 1940, Marston was hired as an educational adviser by publisher Max Gaines. Heavily influenced by his wife and partner, Marston approached Gaines with the concept of a feminist, pacifist female superhero with the strength of Superman.
Working with the 61-year-old artist Harry G. Peter, Marston initially called the character Suprema before settling on the name Wonder Woman. Marston filled Wonder Woman’s earliest adventures with elements of his psychological theories, specifically those regarding submission and female dominance. Marston continued to write the character until his death in 1947. Peter’s final Wonder Woman work was published in 1957, shortly before his death in 1958.
12. WONDER WOMAN VS. JACK THE RIPPER
Throughout the 1990s, DC published drastically different versions of familiar characters in alternate reality tales called Elseworlds. In William Messner-Loebs and Phil Winslade’s 1997 Elseworlds graphic novel Wonder Woman: Amazonia, “Diana the Amazon” led a revolution against Jack the Ripper, who was also the King of England.
After committing his famous Whitechapel murders, Jack the Ripper killed the Royal Family and claimed the British throne for himself. During his reign, an evil Steve Trevor kidnapped Wonder Woman from her home, Paradise Island. After being forced to perform as a stage actress, she escaped, led the resistance that toppled the mad king and eventually took his place. In 2007, this version of Wonder Woman was drafted into an army of alternate reality heroes led by the villain Monarch as part of the much-maligned crossover “Countdown.”
11. WONDER WOMAN FOR PRESIDENT
While Wonder Woman’s time with the UN didn’t last long, her adventures in politics had a considerably better ending in one of her earliest adventures. In 1943’s Wonder Woman #7, by William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter, Wonder Woman was elected as President of the United States in the year 3004.
During a visit to her homeland, Paradise Island, Wonder Woman’s mother Hippolyta showed her the future in a Magic Sphere. By the year 3000, Diana’s friend Etta Candy had developed a formula that made humans practically immortal, and a woman named Arda Moore had been elected president. After saving Moore from the clutches of a vindictive senator, Wonder Woman ran for president with Candy as her running mate in 3004. Although her longtime beau Steve Trevor was manipulated into running against her in a rigged election, Wonder Woman prevailed and was elected president.
10. TROUBLE ON TV
In 1972, Wonder Woman made her unlikely TV debut on The Brady Kids, an animated spin-off of The Brady Bunch. In 1974, Cathy Lee Crosby starred in a live-action Wonder Woman TV movie, where she played a powerless, jumpsuit-wearing character. Although the film re-aired in syndication for years, it was eclipsed by Lynda Carter’s classic Wonder Woman series in 1975.
After that series ended in 1979, all subsequent attempts to give Wonder Woman another show ultimately failed. In 1993, Wonder Woman was supposed to lead a group of “sparkling super heroines,” including DC heroes Ice and Dolphin, in the cartoon Wonder Woman and the Star Riders. Although the show never aired, a promotional comic was given away in cereal boxes. In 2011, Adrianne Palicki starred in another highly-publicized Wonder Woman pilot that wasn’t picked up. In 2012, the CW’s proposed Wonder Woman prequel Amazon was dropped in favor of developing The Flash.
9. STAN LEE’S WONDER WOMAN
While Stan Lee will always be known as one of the chief architects of the Marvel Universe, he crossed company lines to write for Marvel’s rival DC in 2001. In the Just Imagine… project, Lee worked with some of the biggest names in comics to create bold re-imaginings of DC’s biggest heroes. While the effort was ultimately a mixed success, one of the line’s better titles was Just Imagine Stan Lee’s Wonder Woman, by Stan Lee, Jim Lee and Scott Williams.
In this surprisingly violent, action-packed alternate reality tale, Wonder Woman was a South American superhero based around Incan mythology. After a treasure hunter killed her family, Maria Mendoza was given powers and a transforming energy staff by the Incan sun god Manco Cápac. Despite a fairly intriguing set-up, this Wonder Woman has only made a few cameos along with the rest of the Just Imagine… heroes since her debut.
8. WONDER GIRL AND WONDER TOT
In the same way that Clark Kent’s early days were originally explored in Superboy, Wonder Woman worked as the hero Wonder Girl in her teenage years. Starting in 1959’s Wonder Woman #105 by Robert Kanigher and Ross Andru, Wonder Girl was inspired to fight evil after seeing visions of her adult triumphs. A few years later, Wonder Woman’s earliest days were explored through Wonder Tot, a precocious three-year-old Diana who debuted in 1961’s Wonder Woman #122, by Kanigher and Andru.
Thanks to Queen Hippolyta’s magic Amazonian technology, Wonder Woman, Wonder Girl and Wonder Tot all worked together with their mother as the Wonder Family in out-of-continuity “Impossible Tales.” After appearing fairly regularly for a few years, the last of these time-twisting tales was published in 1965, and a new Wonder Girl, Donna Troy, debuted around that same time.
7. SUPERMAN NO MORE
After DC’s 2011 New 52 reboot, Superman and Wonder Woman began a highly-publicized romance with each other. Although the idea had been teased some over the years, Superman’s longtime relationship and marriage with Lois Lane kept anything from happening between the two heroes. Untethered from their histories by the reboot, a newly single Superman and Wonder Woman began dating in 2012’s Justice League #12, by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee.
Their romance made headlines and blossomed throughout the pages of DC’s titles, including the newly-created Superman/Wonder Woman. After a few years, the relationship ran its course and the two parted as friends. Thanks to the reality-warping shenanigans of DC Rebirth and the crossover “Superman Reborn,” Superman’s pre-New 52 adventures were merged with the New 52 timeline. As confirmed in Action Comics #978, by Dan Jurgens and Carlo Barberi, Wonder Woman’s relationship with Superman was completely erased from this revised timeline.
6. WONDER WOMAN BREAKS BAD
While their romanced faded in the DC Universe, their relationship took a dark turn in the alternate reality of the hit video game Injustce: Gods Among Us. After being tricked into killing Lois Lane and nuking Metropolis, Superman took over the world, driven past the edge by his grief. While some heroes opposed him, Wonder Woman and several other heroes helped him conquer Earth.
As detailed in the long-running Injustice weekly digital comic series, Wonder Woman was one of Superman’s first supporters and most dependable allies. Over the course of the series, Wonder Woman snapped the Huntress’ neck with the Lasso of Truth and fought her father Zeus and the Olympians’ invasion of Earth. Although she and the rest of the Regime were eventually defeated by their heroic alternate reality counterparts, this Wonder Woman has a starring role in the game’s recently released sequel, Injustice 2.
5. DIANA’S CHANGING ORIGINS
Even with all the reboots and reality-warping inherit to a superhero universe, most superheroes’ origins remain fairly consistent. While Wonder Woman’s role as the Amazons’ ambassador to mankind has remained a core aspect of the character, some major details of her origin have changed over the years. As established in 1959’s Wonder Woman #105, Wonder Woman was originally created from clay by her mother Hippolyta and given powers by the Olympian Gods.
After DC’s 1986 reboot, Wonder Woman’s origin and connection to classical mythology was reaffirmed, but a shifting timeline erased her history with the Justice League. After the New 52 reboot, Wonder Woman’s history was changed, so that she was now the demigod child of Zeus and Hippolyta. As part of DC’s Rebirth event, the true nature of Diana’s origins is being explored through Greg Rucka, Liam Sharp, Nicola Scott and Bilquis Evely’s ongoing run on Wonder Woman.
4. DONNA TROY, WONDER GIRL
While Wonder Woman’s past remains generally recognizable despite some changes, Donna Troy, the second Wonder Girl, has one of the most convoluted backstories in comics history. In 1965, Donna Troy debuted as Wonder Girl in a Teen Titans story in The Brave and the Bold #60, by Bob Haney and Bruno Premiani. Originally, she was orphaned by a fire, rescued by Wonder Woman and raised on Paradise Island as Diana’s adopted sister.
After DC’s 1986 reboot, Wonder Girl was re-envisioned as an earthbound orphan of the mythological Titans with no relationship to the Amazons. Then, Troy was revealed to be a young Wonder Woman’s mystically-created playmate, who was abducted and forced to live out multiple lives defined by tragedy. After 2011’s New 52 reboot, Wonder Girl has been cast as Wonder Woman’s mystical twin who was raised by the mythological Titans and the Amazons as Wonder Woman’s sister, for now.
3. WONDER WOMAN: GOD OF WAR
With all of her connections to mythology and her occasionally Olympian parentage, Wonder Woman has occasionally attained godhood in the Greek pantheon. After being killed by the demon Neron, Diana joined the Olympians as the Goddess of Truth for most of 1998. More recently, Wonder Woman took Ares’ place as the God of War during the New 52 era in 2013’s Wonder Woman #23, by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang.
During Azzarello and Chiang’s acclaimed-but-divisive run on Wonder Woman, Diana’s adventures took on a darker tone that was made liberal use of classical mythology. After being mentored by Ares, Wonder Woman killed him in order to gain his power before the villain First Born could do the same. As revealed in 2016’s Wonder Woman: Rebirth, by Greg Rucka, Matthew Clark and Liam Sharp, her tenure as God of War was actually part of a larger deception that’s currently being unraveled.
2. STORM, THE AMAZON
In the middle of 1996’s Marvel vs. DC, the two iconic universes briefly merged together to form the Amalgam Universe. These strange and inspired combinations, like the Batman and Wolverine mash-up Dark Claw, took starring roles over 24 one-shot specials in 1996 and 1997. Shortly after their battle, Wonder Woman and the X-Men’s Storm were combined in John Byrne and Terry Austin’s Amazon.
In the Amalgam Universe, Ororo Munroe was lost at sea as a child and taken in by the Amazon Queen Hippolyta. After growing up alongside Amalgam’s Princess Diana, Ororo’s weather-controlling powers manifested and she became Amalgam’s Wonder Woman. After traveling to the United States, she settled in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and became the leader of the mutant team JLX. Amalgam’s Diana starred in John Ostrander and Gary Frank’s Bullets and Bracelets, where she had a child with Steve Castle, a combination of Steve Trevor and Marvel’s Punisher.
1. SECRET AGENT DIANA PRINCE
By the 1960s, Wonder Woman’s adventures had already made her an icon to a generation of readers. In a well-intentioned but ill-conceived effort to update the character in 1968, Wonder Woman renounced her powers and became secret agent Diana Prince in Wonder Woman #178, by Dennis O’Neil and Mike Sekowsky.
In this era, Diana lost her classic costume, opened up a hip clothing boutique and learned martial arts from the blind master I Ching. Several creative teams worked on this James Bond-influenced version of Wonder Woman, and these changes stuck around until 1973. After feminist icon Gloria Steinem celebrated the classic Wonder Woman on the cover of her magazine Ms., Wonder Woman’s powers and classic look returned in Robert Kanigher and Don Heck’s Wonder Woman #203. Although this era didn’t last long, it influenced the character’s 1974 TV movie and survives as an infamous footnote in Wonder Woman’s history.
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