With her movie surpassing Deadpool‘s domestic box office record and already establishing itself as one of the most financially successful movies ever directed by a woman, DC is heralding Wonder Woman as their saving grace for the DCU, a figurehead for a new wave of comic book cinematic excellence. To reinforce this, DC mentions Wonder Woman as the most famous female superhero of all time. From her comic debut in 1941 to the classic Lynda Carter television show to Susan Eisenberg’s beloved voiceover performances, DC would love for you to remember just how important and historic their female icon is.
Unfortunately for them, Wonder Woman has more skeletons in her closet than she does pantsuits and it’s a lot more fun to talk about failure than it is about success. Like with most comic book creations, Wonder Woman has had her ups and downs, and while we’re all very aware of her highest of ups, it’s fun to take a look at the downs that DC has worked hard to make sure would never surface again. We’ve uncovered the darkest secrets that DC never wanted you to know about Wonder Woman and compiled a list of the 15 juiciest and most controversial ones.
15. SHE’S NOT AFRAID TO GET DARK
The DC Holy Trinity follows a fairly simple formula: Superman is hopeful and kind, Batman is dark and brooding, and Wonder Woman is peaceful and reserved. For the most part they stick to these archetypes with an almost slavish devotion, with a little variation to allow for character development. But Wonder Woman has been known to drift deeper into Batman’s signature gothic territory than even the Dark Knight.
At various points and through different continuities, she’s threatened to mutilate Cheetah during an interrogation, willingly killed her fellow heroes, started an apocalyptic world war, urged Superman to become a despot, and murdered several gods. Though all of these demonstrated her power and authority, the macabre idea of DC’s peacekeeper being a malevolent force of darkness is something they’d kindly ask you to keep under wraps.
14. THE U.N. DROPPED HER AS A REPRESENTATIVE
In October of 2016, the United Nations declared they were naming Wonder Woman as an Honorary UN Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls as part of a campaign for just that. DC responded enthusiastically and hyped up Wonder Woman comics at the time to reflect her 75th anniversary and new promotion from a fictional character to global politician.
However, less than two months later, Wonder Woman was released from her honorary position in response to a popular petition which stated that a voluptuous white woman, constructed in Barbie-levels of impossible measurements, and wearing an America-themed stripper uniform was not a suitable spokeswoman for gender equality. DC was so excited to celebrate Wonder Woman’s brief run in politics that they’d probably not want you to remember just how brief it was.
13. SHE WAS MADE A SECRETARY
These days, DC likes to hold up Wonder Woman as a feminist icon and rightly so. In the comics now, she’s just as complex and compelling a character as any of her male counterparts and her creator, William Moulton Marston, was very vocal in his intentions for her to be a female role model. Things were different in 1942, though, when Wonder Woman was introduced to the Justice Society. As their secretary. And she considered it an “honor” to serve them in this way.
She was left out of their adventures, occasionally offering to join them “in spirit.” This isn’t necessarily DC’s fault as apparently Marston was too burdened by other works to keep her as an active member of the Society’s roster, but considering the company wants to maintain Wonder Woman’s iconic status, it would hurt considerably to remind people she used to be benched behind a desk.
12. ALL OF HER ORIGINS
As overplayed as they are in films, superhero origins are an important part of their mythos. They help to establish powers and personality for new characters. DC knows this and hasn’t changed the origin stories of most of their biggest properties. Wonder Woman is the exception. Originally, she was molded out of clay by her mother, Hippolyta, and given life and powers by female Greek gods.
That origin stuck for a while, but then it was revealed that she was actually the daughter of Hades. But that turned out to be a lie and for a while she was the daughter of Ares. Eventually, Zeus revealed himself as her true father and the source of her powers. Not only do all of these changing origins hurt Wonder Woman as a character, but the fact that her powers now come from an entirely male lineage undermines her feminist message.
11. SHE GAVE UP HER POWERS FOR A MAN
Wonder Woman is one of the most physically powered members of the DC Universe. She uses her incredible powers to fight for peace and justice and to show women everywhere the latent potential they naturally hold at all times, whether they know it or not. Except for that one time she gave up her powers for a dude. In the late ’60s, Wonder Woman stories were focused less on her being a hero and more on her romantic life.
Writer Denny O’Neil’s first idea for her was to force her to choose between her relationship with Steve Trevor and renewing her magic power on Paradise Island. Diana chose Steve, but not in a “love-conquers-all” way, but more in an “I’ll-be-in-the-kitchen” way. She continued being a protagonist without her powers, but she wouldn’t return to her full grandeur and purpose until writer Robert Kanigher returned with Marston’s original vision in mind.
10. SHE GOT STOMPED BY STORM
The DC versus Marvel crossover comics were an interesting interaction between the two companies. On the surface it was a playful boon for the fans, giving them the comic book dream matches they’d always longed to see. Behind the curtain, it was a stern-faced debate between licenses to decide which had more value. Batman beat Captain America, Thor beat Captain Marvel, and Storm absolutely squashed Wonder Woman.
Their fight begins with Wonder Woman tossing aside Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, which she is worthy of, in order to make it a fair match. She talks some trash and a melee ensues where Wonder Woman manages to get in some offense before Storm hits her with repeated lightning bolts. After only a few strikes, Wonder Woman yields. Storm ends the fight by analogizing for being the winner and cradling Diana’s broken body, leaving no doubt who the better hero really was.
9. WHEN SHE WAS WRITTEN BY FRANK MILLER
Frank Miller is one of the best comic book writers alive today. Comics like 300, Sin City, and The Dark Knight Returns have proven that when he’s on the mark, he can hit bullseyes. But The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Holy Terror, and his depiction of Wonder Woman in All-Star Batman & Robin show that when he misses the mark, it’s always far off. Miller thought that Wonder Woman would look best as a jaded, man-hating brooder.
Her sole appearance in the series was to try to kill Batman with a vengeful bloodlust and had to be brought down by the entire Justice League. It was an almost aggressive misinterpretation of the character which, ironically, could only have come from a man. As much as DC likes to hype up Miller’s involvement based on his past works, they certainly don’t want you to remember that this was ever a thing.
8. SHE BEEN USED AS A VILLAIN
Something DC likes to hold over Marvel’s head is the moral superiority of their heroes. Unlike Marvel characters, most DC heroes adhere to a strict no-killing code. Wonder Woman is one of the few who doesn’t entirely buy into Batman’s ethics. Though this doesn’t make her a flat-out villain, writers have more than once used this as an excuse to make her a villain by default.
Her murder of Maxwell Lord set off Infinite Crisis and turned the superhero community on its head. In the Injustice universe, she was the driving force behind Superman’s tyrannical regime. In Flashpoint, she leads one of the villainous factions that are tearing the world apart with war. DC wants you to remember these storylines for continuity’s sake, but not that Wonder Woman is consistently the easiest hero to turn villain.
7. THEY TURNED DOWN A JOSS WHEDON WONDER WOMAN FILM
Joss Whedon is unquestionably the most important name in superhero movies right now. Even the Russo brothers can’t match what Whedon does with film structure, group dynamic, and narrative flow. But with Whedon coming on to finish directing the Justice League movie and Wonder Woman being a smash hit, DC is tugging at its collar and praying you don’t remember that they could have had a Joss Whedon Wonder Woman movie back in 2006.
The manuscript he prepared for the company showed a basic but exciting Wonder Woman origin film which would take place in the modern day with Strife as the main villain. The script was negatively received despite nuanced writing and the project was dropped after two years because of that all-encompassing scapegoat: “creative differences.”
6. HER DEBUT IN THE DCEU
Wonder Woman’s stock has never been higher thanks to her wildly successful film directed by Patty Jenkins. The film is an origin story for the character and sets her up for future DCEU films. DC certainly don’t want you to forget how good her movie is, but would maybe like you to skip over the previous films in their world-building universe, including Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice where they first showed Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.
Universal opinion was that the long-awaited film was an unstoppable disaster with only one or two moments that escaped outright failure. Many agreed that Wonder Woman was the best part of the film, almost by default, but revisiting her debut onscreen would involve rewatching the worst film of 2016 and DC wants you to believe that Wonder Woman started her cinematic journey in her own movie. And speaking of…
5. HER MOVIE CAN’T SAVE THE DCEU
Warner Brothers and DC’s DCEU has fundamental problems baked into its very core. Namely, it’s so focused on competing with the MCU in terms of a cinematic shared universe that it doesn’t prioritize making its films good. It also likes to champion itself as the home of auteurs disenfranchised by the Marvel corporate movie machine. The issue there is that directors like David Goyer and Zack Snyder take advantage of this to over-stylized their films and make them tonal opposites.
With the failure of its predecessors resting on its shoulders, Wonder Woman‘s success is supposed proof that the DC model can work. But Wonder Woman is good because it’s a self-contained origin film that has as little to do with the larger universe as possible. Unfortunately for DC, one good film doesn’t erase three consecutive terrible ones.
4. SHE WAS CRIPPLED BY INSECURITY
A symbol for the empowerment of women and girls was temporarily rendered useless because she thought she was ugly. Just let that sink in for a moment and realize how offensively out of character that is. In a 2014 story, Dr. Psycho, one of the oldest and creepiest of Wonder Woman villains, brainwashed her into believing that her many blessings had been rescinded, subconsciously preventing her from accessing her full powers.
Normally this would not have been much of an issue as Wonder Woman has lost her powers before and managed to remain a hero in spite of it, but among her gifts that she thought lost was her blessing of beauty from Aphrodite, leading her to completely withdraw in fear that she no longer looked pretty. DC don’t want readers to remember that they’d been so insensitive to one of their most valuable properties recently.
3. SHE WAS SAVED BY GLORIA STEINEM
Remember when a few entries ago when in the ’60s, Wonder Woman was depowered to be with her boyfriend and gave up her costume? Well after that she went through a few years of being a generic comic book damsel and it began to look like she would never return to her star-spangled days. Fortunately, feminist icon Gloria Steinem had her back.
Putting Wonder Woman in costume on the cover of MS. magazine, Steinem triggered a renewed interest in the character as a symbol of female empowerment. Within a year, DC let Kanigher return and he reverted Wonder Woman back to her super powered roots. DC would like you to remember that Wonder Woman had Steinem’s approval, but probably don’t want people reminding them that without her, today’s Wonder Woman might not exist.
2. SHE MADE BATMAN HER PERSONAL PUNCHING BAG
When two characters fight, it’s hard to make one look strong without the other looking weak. Batman is one of the single greatest combatants in the DC Universe and Wonder Woman is one of the most powerful entities in their world, so when they fought in the 2002 graphic novel Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia, writer Greg Rucka would have to carefully map their fight so that whoever lost wouldn’t look devalued.
Or Wonder Woman could just stomp on Batman’s head and generally treat him like a submissive. The story, which is about Batman hunting a woman under Wonder Woman’s protection, is never mentioned again in DC canon and the company definitely want to keep it that way so they can continue to hold up Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman as equal parts of a whole as opposed to two literal gods and a dude in a bat costume.
1. SHE WAS BASED ON BDSM
Wonder Woman was created by psychologist and writer William Marston and was meant to inspire feminism and equality. She was based on Marston’s wife and lover who were two different people. All three of them were polyamorous and believed that bondage was a critical aspect of any healthy relationship. For better or worse, all these aspects made their way into Wonder Woman.
Her primary weapon allows her to tie people up and force them to tell the truth and her first major weakness was that she lost her powers if she was tied up by a man. Many of her early comic adventures involved her being tied up or literally spanked. If nothing else, DC would like for people to think of Wonder Woman as anything but what she originally was meant to be, essentially a superhero version of 50 Shades of Grey.
Should DC be hiding these facts from Wonder Woman fans? Write us in the comment section and let us know!
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