Everyone is looking forward to Wonder Woman's solo film debut in 2017 -- and why not? Gal Gadot completely nailed the Amazon warrior's characterization in "Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice" and was one of the few bright points in that movie. But where did Wonder Woman come from, how has she shaped women's issues, and what will she be like in her own movie? During the recent "Wonder Woman at 75" panel at Wizard World comic con, comics expert and former Marvel Comics editor Danny Fingeroth and founder of the Institute for Comics Studies Dr. Peter Coogan shared the heroine's exciting backstory and speculated about what Wonder Woman's film might include.
Wonder Woman Was A Feminist In The Comics... Sort Of
Wonder Woman absolutely was a feminist in the early days -- a "strong female character" in today's parlance. She was a tall Amazon woman who had bulletproof bracelets, an invisible jet and a magic lasso that forced people to tell the truth, and she usually was the one saving men instead of the other way around. In fact, in early Wonder Woman comics, creator William Moulton Marston (pen name Charles Moulton) often showed Wonder Woman breaking free of ropes and chains as a metaphor for the women's rights movement.
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But that strength wasn't always allowed to run free. In 1942, Wonder Woman became an honorary member of the Justice Society of America, the precursor to the Justice League that featured Hawkman, Sandman and more. The Justice Society was so impressed with Wonder Woman that they extended her a job offer -- to become the society's secretary. She didn't fight Nazis, as the rest of the members did. Instead, "she gave the boys the missions and took the phone calls," Danny Fingeroth, an author and former longtime Marvel Comics editor, told Wizard World crowds. Wonder Woman simply stayed at headquarters, with lines like "Unfortunately as secretary and honorary member, I'll have to remain behind." Girl power, eh?
She Ran For President... And Won!
Even a secretary can become president of the United States! In 1943, Wonder Woman viewed the year 3004 through the Magic Sphere (just go with it), noting that Steve Trevor -- the military intelligence officer who was stranded on Paradise Island and who became WW's love interest -- had been nominated and elected president unfairly. Through some believe-it-because-comic-books events, she campaigned and took over the presidency. In 1972 -- when the modern feminist movement took hold -- 'Ms. Magazine' took Wonder Woman's presidential nature a step further, putting her on the cover of the publication's very first issue and again on its 40th anniversary issue in 2012.
Wonder Woman Didn't Always Look Like Wonder Woman
Everybody knows that Wonder Woman typically wears red, white and blue, along with some stars and an eagle in some form, right? Well not in 1968! Writer Denny O’Neil and artist Mike Sekowsky stripped away everything recognizable about our heroine -- her costume, her powers, her bracelets, her lasso -- and gave her an entirely new identity. "The New Wonder Woman" series was the birth of Wonder Woman's alter-ego Diana Prince as a mod boutique owner, super-spy and martial artist who sported pop mini-dresses and handled machine guns. "This was in the late '60s, when 'The Avengers' and the Emma Peel character were on TV," Fingeroth told the Wizard World audience.
Not everybody was pleased with Wonder Woman's new identity, though, and many people voiced concerns that the heroine no longer identified with the lofty American values that led her to battle the Nazis in previous years. And who was most instrumental in returning Wonder Woman to her roots? "Gloria Steinem asked about it," Fingeroth said. "She was the founder of 'Ms. Magazine' and lobbied hard for the return." Steinem claimed that Wonder Woman's new identity was actual anti-feminist in that a previously strong woman now had no powers of her own, forcing her to seek a man's tutelage in martial arts and weapons usage. Wonder Woman, Steinem argued, now was everything that creator Marston was against. Steinem eventually won out -- Wonder Woman's traditional costume and characterization returned in 1973.
The New Movie Will Feature Some Recognizable Influences
Let's face it -- the only redeeming thing about "Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice" is Wonder Woman's film debut. Fans had begged for a suitable big-screen version of the heroine for decades, as she's been one of the most recognizable, long-standing superheroes without her own film. And while the movie itself was muck, actress Gal Gadot's interpretation of the character left everyone salivating for her 2017 standalone film. Details are scarce still, but the film will share Wonder Woman's early life and how she became the powerful warrior we know today.
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But the film definitely will bring in elements that viewers recognize, especially when it comes to costuming. Lynda Carter was the most famous live-action Wonder Woman, thanks to her television series that ran 1975-1979. From that, "Batman V. Superman" producers nabbed elements of her costume, including the eagle on her bustier. And in the "Entertainment Weekly" photo of the 2017 "Wonder Woman" film's cast members, you can see the precursors to our heroine's bracelets and costume shape. Viewers also will recognize "Xena: Warrior Princess" in Wonder Woman's costume and movements; the '90s series starring Lucy Lawless featured banded, overlapping armor pieces, shoulder protection, bronze shields and expert swordplay, and we'll likely see the same from the new film. What other influences do you recognize in the photo below?