After a brief 3-minute taster in “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” followed by a wait that has felt like aeons, CBR has never been more ready for the new “Wonder Woman” flick, which is set to hit the big screen on June 2. We reckon it’s about time a female superhero was given the limelight in the DCU (or in any cinematic universe, really. We’re looking at you, Marvel!), and who better than everyone’s favorite Amazonian princess?
Despite being such a well-established and iconic character, many of Wonder Woman’s powers have been overlooked in popular culture in favour of her super-strength, bulletproof bracelets and Lasso of Truth… but not anymore! We know this gal has got a hell of a lot more to offer, and that’s why CBR has put together a list of the 15 superpowers you (probably) didn’t know Wonder Woman has. Enjoy!
15. ACCELERATED HEALING
Thought Wolverine and Deadpool held the monopoly on super-fast healing? Guess again! Turns out the girl with the golden lasso can do it too. Canon originally stated this ability derived from drinking water from the Fountain of Eternal Youth on Paradise Island (as confirmed in “Wonder Woman” Vol.1 #159), although she relinquished its gifts when she decided to leave Themyscira. However, after the 1985-1986 “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover erased the original Earth-Two Wonder Woman’s history and sent her on permanent vacation to Mount Olympus, George Pérez and co. refined her Earth-One counterpart’s origin story and altered the source of her powers.
In the post-“Crisis” universe, Wonder Woman was modelled from clay and blessed by the gods. As a result, she can draw strength from Gaea and thus heal from pretty much anything so long as she’s in contact with the planet; she can even merge with the earth to mend near-fatal injuries or expel poisons, but this sacred act is rarely performed. Her healing factor even extends to her weaponry: in “Wonder Woman” Vol.2 #4, Diana manages to defeat the villain Decay because her lasso can “renew itself as Gaea renews the Earth,” making it invulnerable to Decay’s life-draining powers.
14. SUPERHUMAN SPEED
Blink and you’ll miss her, she’s really that fast! Thanks to Hermes’ blessing, Wonder Woman is able to move at incredible speeds, making her a formidable opponent to man and god alike. In “Sensation Comics” #46, WW is seen running at 80 mph without even breaking a sweat, but that’s only the beginning of what she can do. Post-Crisis Wonder Woman got a serious upgrade, meaning she can move, think and react at near-lightspeed. In “Justice League of America” #27, Diana boasts that she’s even quicker than Superman, presumably making her second only to the Flash. And if you think she’s all talk, check out her superior skills in “Wonder Woman” Vol.2 #219, in which a mind-controlled Superman fails to land a punch when the two go head-to-head!
WW retains the reflexes and speed of a god in the “New 52” (although arguably it’s Zeus’ power, not Hermes’, that’s fuelling her) and is easily able to defeat the goddess Artemis in “Wonder Woman” Vol.4 #12 with a series of carefully-times and well-positioned counterattacks. Similarly, in the “Year One” story arc, she uses her lightning-fast skills to prevent a terrorist attack. It’s a wonder the other heroes can keep up!
13. COMMAND OVER ALL SOLDIERS
Being blessed at birth isn’t the only way to power up, as “New 52” Wonder Woman proved when she killed the God of War and acquired his abilities. Although she and Ares were sworn enemies prior to the 2011 reboot, Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang reimagined War in the “New 52” as a mentor and brother to Diana (they’re both offspring of Zeus now, after all) who aided her development as a warrior (confirmed in standalone issue “Wonder Woman” #0). As such, when she’s forced to kill him, “Wonder Woman” Vol.4 #23, in order to acquire his powers so she can stop her psychotic half-sibling the First Born, it’s cause for mourning rather than celebration.
However, this act of fratricide does come with benefits: Wonder Woman becomes the new God of War and inherits divine abilities such as wielding command over all military personnel, meaning she always has an instant, readymade army at her fingertips! Although Diana hasn’t really used this ability to its full extent, she’s seen in “Superwoman/Wonder Woman” #5 taking control of a soldier telepathically and alludes to her new status by explaining “I am War. I know all soldiers, and they know me.”
Everyone always goes on about Superman’s frost-breath, but what about Wonder Woman? Ol’ Kal-El isn’t the only hero in the DC Universe with a mean set of lungs! Diana of Themyscira also has the power of super-breath, but unlike her male counterpart, it doesn’t seem to be capable of freezing anything (Perhaps Super-Suave just overdid it with the breath mints?). It can, however, blow a birthday cake into orbit!
Robert Kanigher adapted several gimmicks previously used for Superman during his Silver Age reign over “Wonder Woman” in the ‘60s, which perhaps explains how this ability migrated over to the super-powered Themysciran. It’s wavered in and out of continuity in the years since then, most notably appearing in the “Wonder Woman” TV series starring Lynda Carter in 1967, but didn’t really make a full comeback until Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s relaunch of the character in the “New 52.” In “Wonder Woman” Vol.4 #3, she lights a series on bonfires by super-blowing on a single torch. Granted, it’s not all that impressive a feat compared to the other incredible things she’s capable of doing, but it might prove useful in a fight every now and then — just ask Superman!
Like most powers on this list, the extent of Wonder Woman’s ability to communicate telepathically has differed significantly over the years. Throughout the Golden Age (beginning in “Sensation Comics” #3), Wonder Woman utilized a Mental Radio (which is pretty much identical to Skype or FaceTime, apart from the fact that it’s, y’know, psychic!) to maintain contact with her relatives in Themyscira. She also gave her human allies, Steve Trevor and Etta Candy, similar devices so they could alert her in times of great need. However, “Wonder Woman” Vol.1 #105 implies Amazonians already have limited telepathic abilities which are then honed by their training, so Mental Radios can perhaps be better understood as amplifiers of a pre-existing mental signal.
References to Wonder Woman’s telepathic abilities became rather sparse in her later pre-Crisis adventures, as the emphasis placed on her skills as a warrior princess became more prominent. Consequently, the Mental Radio tech became just another feature of her mod-tastic Invisible Jet. However, as noted above, thanks to the efforts of Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang, this power made a comeback in the “New 52” after WW kills Ares, although its limits haven’t really been tested yet.
10. CONVERSION OF BRAIN ENERGY INTO MUSCLE POWER
Whoever said “mind over matter” was apparently onto something. On those rare occasions when super-strength isn’t enough, Wonder Woman has the power to unleash super-duper-strength, charging her muscles with pure mental energy in order to make herself stronger, faster and even tougher than before (and that’s pretty damn tough!). Want to hear the best news of all? It’s a skill that theoretically could be learned through a strict regime of Amazonian training… even by average mortals.
This ability was first showcased in “Sensation Comics” #6 and appeared several times during the Golden Age; however, although Wonder Woman retained this ability in the Silver Age as the newly-appointed “Chosen One,” it was retconned into being another element of her Herculean strength rather than a power in and of itself.
This proficiency for energy conversion shouldn’t be confused with the removal of Wonder Woman’s bracelets, which sets off a whole different kind of power boost (she uses them to hold her natural power levels back), but can make her go insane with rage in true Hulk style (as seen in “Wonder Woman” Vol.1 #166, Vol.1 #229 and Vol.4 #12), only without all the green skin and clothes-ripping.
9. SHE CAN SPEAK ANY LANGUAGE
Omnilingualism (the ability to speak any language) is another of Wonder Woman’s lesser-known traits. “Wonder Woman” Vol.1 #105 revealed that the wisdom gifted by Athena to pre-Crisis Wonder Woman gives her a heightened proficiency for languages which, when channelled through Amazonian training, enables her to communicate in every language known to man including, erm, caveman (in case you were wondering, if you shout “Oorngh Lln Rhgggn!” at a Neanderthal, you might make a friend!). Her vocabulary was later expanded in “Wonder Woman” Vol.1 #115 to include Martian.
When Diana was reinvented post-Crisis as an emissary of peace, she remained multilingual but actually learned each dialect rather than relying on a god-given ability. No small feat, as there’s about 6,500 languages on our little planet alone! Her abilities were therefore understandably limited, demonstrated by her need for a translator when addressing the U.N. in “Wonder Woman” Vol. 2 #8.
It’s unclear whether WW lost her language abilities as part of Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott’s “Rebirth” retcon or whether they’ll resurface when needed. CBR is hoping she’ll rediscover her omnilingual gifts. After all, knowledge is power, and (super)empowering women is something we can all get behind!
8. EXTREME DURABILITY
As well as being as wise, strong, swift and beautiful as the gods (although CBR’s not sure why that last one’s a superpower!), Wonder Woman is also a pretty tough cookie: she’s resistant to extreme temperatures, electricity, fire, and can also withstand most magical attacks. Being able to repel bullets with your bracelets is handy, but in the world of bizarre comic book villains, it’s always good to come prepared!
Wonder Woman’s resistance to fire was retconned in post-Crisis to embellish her origin story and bring elements of relevant Greek mythology into greater focus; thanks to Hestia’s intervention, Diana benefits from a “sisterhood” with fire. She can even withstand Superman’s heat vision! When she became Zeus’ daughter in the “New 52,” she inherited a resistance to magical assaults (although she’s not totally invulnerable), and these abilities survived DC’s “Rebirth.”
Her immunity to electricity doesn’t come from the gods though. Far from it. It’s actually the result of a blunder by her Golden Age opponent Dr. Psycho! When the villain tried to fry WW using his Electro Atomizer in “Wonder Woman” Vol.1 #18, he inadvertently made her more resilient to attack and ensured his own defeat.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Well, sometimes it’s the latter, but mostly it’s just Wonder Woman soaring unassisted through the skies! Alright, granted in the early days, Diana of Themyscira couldn’t fly per se, but instead was able to ride air currents (as seen in “Wonder Woman” #98) and fall from great heights without hurting herself. In “Sensation Comics” #5, she jumps from a multi-storey building and lands on the balls of her feet, and in “Wonder Woman” Vol.1 #105, she shows off by using this ability to pluck a colored feather from the air and present it as a gift to her mother, Hippolyta. Also, let’s not forget that Golden/Silver Age Wonder Woman had a friggin’ Invisible Jet.
The post-Crisis Earth-One Wonder Woman made the debate a whole lot simpler: the messenger god of speed, Hermes, gifted Diana with the power of flight, allowing her to propel herself through the air at speeds approaching that of light. Although she subsequently lost this power as part of DC’s “New 52” relaunch, she soon got it back in “Wonder Woman” Vol.4 #12 thanks to a quick tickle from Hermes’ feather (yes, really!) and retained it during the “Rebirth” retcon.
6. ANIMAL RAPPORT
That’s right, Wonder Woman is a bona fide Doctor Dolittle! As well as being able to speak human languages, she’s also gifted at conversing with the local fauna, which is handy when you’re in the habit of riding around on a giant Kanga (as seen in “Wonder Woman” Vol.1 #33 and various other issues). This “unity with beasts” is another gift from the gods (this time from Artemis, the goddess of the hunt), but it’s rarely used to its full potential and instead just pops up every now and then, often in laughable circumstances.
In “Wonder Woman” Vol.1 #90, WW uses her animal-whisperer skills to babysit a collection of ferocious creatures including a T-Rex, which she pushes around the streets in a carriage to general astonishment (apart from anything else, how does it even fit?!). Her affinity with dinosaurs comes in handy in the post-Crisis era too, as seen in issues such as “Wonder Woman” Vol.2 #184. Her skills do range beyond supposed-to-be-extinct creatures, though. In Gail Simone’s “Wonder Woman” Vol.3 #34, she befriends a family of polar bears. We might be biased, but CBR reckons that rolling with dinos, kangas and bears is way cooler than Aquaman’s underwater posse!
5. ENHANCED SENSES
Sometimes it all comes down to good genes. As “Wonder Woman” Vol.2 #104 explains, the senses of all Amazonian women are already heightened to superhuman levels, although some of the women of Themyscira are more powerful than others, with Diana, of course, being the most talented of all. In the Golden Age, Wonder Woman’s superior senses are explained simply as her being straight-up better than everyone else in Themyscira, but in the post-Crisis continuity there’s a more plausible explanation: godly intervention (yup, them again. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving!).
Diana initially receives the “Eyes of the Hunter” from Artemis, granting her telescopic vision as well as extremely sensitive hearing. Then later, after she blinds herself to gain the upper hand on Medusa during Greg Rucka’s “Eyes of the Gorgon” story arc (in “Wonder Woman Vol.2 #210), she once again receives enhanced vision as a gift from the gods, this time from Athena, who is so moved by Diana’s willingness to sacrifice her sight to save a child that she gives her “Athena’s Sight” as a reward. Although, it’s kind of Athena’s fault she was blinded in the first place, so, y’know, it’s all relative!
4. EXTRASENSORY PERCEPTION
As you may already know, Wonder Woman’s creator, Dr. William Moulton Marston, was an American psychologist-come-scientist with a few notable achievements to his name, not least the invention of the systolic blood pressure test (a vital component of the modern polygraph). With all that in mind, you might imagine he was a down-to-earth sort of guy. But as it turns out, he had a lot of pretty strange ideas, some of which made their way into his early comics.
Thanks to Marston’s fascination with “fringe” (read: pretend) sciences such as parapsychology, the Wonder Woman of the Golden Age had an array of mental and psychic abilities including extrasensory perception, as stated in “Sensation Comics” #1. However, she doesn’t ever seem to have used this ability, although it’s been used against her a fair few times, most notably by Circe, whose own clairvoyant abilities have made her a powerful opponent. When you’re smarter, faster, tougher, prettier and an all-around better fighter than your opponent, being able to foresee their every move is just straight-up overkill.
Wonder Woman has super-human speed, the power of flight and an Invisible Jet, but she doesn’t really need any of that to get around. Why? Well, it just so happens that everyone’s favorite Amazonian possesses another, even more incredible power: teleportation. Everyone at CBR agrees that if we had this power, we’d use it incessantly, but sadly its appearances in “Wonder Woman” and related publications have been pretty scarce. Plus, like many of her other abilities, the source and extent of her teleportation skills have differed drastically under the influence of different writers.
Golden Age Wonder Woman demonstrated the ability to dematerialize and rematerialize at will, and was even able to take others along for the ride if she wanted to. However, in both the post-Crisis and “New 52” Universes, her ability to teleport is apparently reliant on the Caduceus (a mystical artifact usually in the possession of Hermes). The Caduceus has come in very handy at times. In “Wonder Woman” Vol.2 #28, she and the messenger god use this object to escape the Chaos Void, which isn’t a place anyone wants to be. However, it isn’t technically hers, so it isn’t available whenever she needs it.
2. ASTRAL PROJECTION
So, what could possibly be cooler than the ability to teleport anywhere using the power of your mind? The ability to do it without leaving the comfort of your bed, of course! In addition to her other incredible abilities, Wonder Woman is also gifted with powers of astral projection. There’s a serious downside, though: any injuries that occur to her dream body are also inflicted in real life (sort of like the whole “if you die in the Matrix…” thing, but with superheroes).
It’s fair to say WW’s early usage of this supper-hippie power was a bit dodgy. In “Sensation Comics” #11, Diana takes her friend Etta Candy along for a midnight joyride into Steve Trevor’s bedroom to exchange jokes about his pyjamas and float around his bed in “gossamer wings.” How being a Peeping Tom helps WW defend the world from super-powered threats is beyond us! However, Diana’s ability to project herself into another plane of existence was retained and made less joke-worthy in the post-Crisis canon, most notably when she visits Hell to rescue Artemis in spectral form (as detailed in “Wonder Woman” Vol.2 #75-77 and “Artemis: Requiem” #1).
1. DOMINION OVER THE DEAD
Let’s be clear from the outset before the keyboard warriors wear out their digits setting us straight: Wonder Woman has never used this ability in any continuity to date, and there’s a chance she never will. However, that’s not going to stop CBR from speculating, as Wonder Woman became the new God of War in the “New 52,” and raising undead armies (through use of the command of all soldiers power we mentioned earlier in this list) is kind of what her predecessor, Ares, was best known for. Indeed, as part of his final battle alongside Diana in “Wonder Woman” Vol.4 #23, Ares summons an army of soldiers to help him take on the First Born after Wonder Woman is temporarily incapacitated.
Alright, so it’s a little hard to picture Wonder Woman, who’s all about the kindness and compassion, disturbing the rest of fallen soldiers and dragging them into a super-powered war. But hey, this is the DC Universe and anything’s possible. Are they really going to let Ares’ most spectacular ability go to waste for the sake of a few moral quibbles? CBR is holding out hope that this could still happen. Maybe as part of the ongoing “Rebirth?” We’re relying on you, Greg Rucka!
Can you think of any other powers wielded by Wonder Woman that are a little on the obscure side? Let us know in the comments below!