Editor's Note: there are spoilers for Wonder Woman in this post—you've been warned!
After decades of waiting, Wonder Woman fans around the globe finally have their first big screen adventure for comics' #1 super heroine. Diana Prince's film debuted to huge numbers and incredible reviews for our new Amazing Amazon, Gal Gadot. This was a long, long time coming, after years of different media versions of the character that almost happened—almost all of which had little to do with the DC Comics character except in name.
Among these versions, there was a potential film meant to star Sandra Bullock, which would have had the character be the daughter of a retired secret agent (say what now?) and a terrible NBC pilot starring Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. star Adrianne Palicki as corporate CEO Wonder Woman, wearing a cheap looking costume, and having very, very few similarities to the comic book character.
But finally, our patience has paid off, as director Patty Jenkins delivered a film that took inspiration from many of the great Wonder Woman stories of the past. Here are seven elements from Wonder Woman's rich history which served to inspire her first big screen adventure.
The Golden Age Wonder Woman Stories of William Moulton Marston
Unlike her DC brethren Superman and Batman, a solid argument could be made for the original Golden Age stories from creator William Moulton Marston still being the best and most influential in the character's history, even 70 years later. Marston's brand of radical feminism and "love conquers war" philosophy — which was brushed aside for some forty years in the comics after his death in 1947 — was on full display in those early stories, and is all over Patty Jenkins' new film.
Of course, another obvious aspect from the Golden Age stories is Diana leaving home to join a war effort, something unique to the original stories. Sure, back then it was World War II and not World War I, but the sight of Diana fighting German soldiers while on horseback? This absolutely evokes images of Golden Age Wonder Woman comics, especially that iconic #1 issue. And the obscure character of Dr. Poison is another callback to the original Marston era. Patty Jenkins' film evokes more of the Golden Age adventures of Wonder Woman than any Superman or Batman movie evokes the earliest adventures of those heroes.
The George Perez 1980s Reboot
Aside from her "father" William Marston, no comic book creator has had as much of an influence of Wonder Woman than George Perez, who wrote and illustrated the character starting with a radical reboot in 1986, and guided her for adventures for five years. Perez removed several tropes Diana had for decades, like her invisible plane, her secret identity as the bespectacled Diana Prince, and more. But he boosted Wonder Woman's power levels, and amped up the Greek mythology aspect up several notches.
Other major contributions by Perez are that he renamed Paradise Island into Themyscira after the Amazonian capital in Greek mythology, and introduced the character of Antiope (Queen Hippolyta's more militant sister) into the comic book mythos. Most importantly, he made Ares, the God of War, into Diana's principal adversary: the symbol of everything she hopes to rid from the world. He became the Lex to her Superman, the Joker to her Batman. All these elements worked their way into the film.
The Amazons in the movie reflect a lot of the Perez idea of who they were as well. In the original Marston comics, the Amazons were more like a group of sci-fi gymnasts, but Perez really dove into Greek mythology for his version of the mythical warrior women. All of these things are elements used by the Wonder Woman movie to great effect. While many comic book creators get a special thank you in the credits, the name above all the others is George Perez — and there's good reason for that.
The New 52 Wonder Woman
Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang's run on Wonder Woman in the New 52 era was highly acclaimed, but not without controversy. The biggest change to the Wonder Woman mythology in this run is that the 70 year old origin story of Diana being sculpted from clay and given life by the Goddesses turns out to be a lie. This falsehood was told to Diana to protect her true parentage — she was really the daughter of Zeus, the product of a torrid affair between the King of the Gods and the Queen of the Amazons.
The film version seems to have used aspects of this origin story, while possibly keeping the original intact. In the movie, Diana believes she was sculpted from clay and brought to life by Zeus—as told to her by her mother since childhood. But by the end of the movie, she realizes she is Zeus' child and Ares' sister, and therefore a goddess herself. Now, it's never fully revealed that Zeus gave Hippolyta a child the old fashioned way, or whether the whole "brought to life from clay" part is still part of the equation. It is all left a mystery still. But Diana is definitely a child of Zeus in some sort of way, and that is straight from the pages of the New 52 run.
The Justice League Animated Series
Although the film version of Diana's origin story sticks pretty closely to the comics, there is one place where it deviated. In almost every version of the Wonder Woman origin story—from the comics to Lynda Carter to the animated DVD movie—once Steve Trevor crashes onto the island, Queen Hippolyta orders a contest to determine which Amazon shall accompany him home, a contest she refuses to let Diana participate in.
Of course, Diana disguises herself and handily beats the other amazons for the right to take Captain Trevor to Man's World and become the Amazon's representative as Wonder Woman. However, the film version forgoes the contest, and simply has Diana disobeying her mother by going to into the secret Amazon vaults and stealing the lasso, the Godkiller sword, and her armor. And while the comics never had Diana do this, the Bruce Timm-created Justice League animated series did. In that show, Diana steals the armor and lasso before journeying to the outside world to help the world's heroes defeat an alien invasion.
Considering that the Justice League cartoon is the way many younger fan's were first introduced to Wonder Woman as a character, it's only fitting some parts of it were used in the film.
Geoff Johns and Jim Lee's Justice League
It's a small moment in the film, but it is one lifted straight from the comics. In Geoff Johns and Jim Lee's New 52 reboot of Justice League back in 2011, we see Wonder Woman—newly arrived in our world—having a taste of ice cream for the very first time. For her, this new concoction is something to be celebrated by one and all (she's not wrong), and tells the street vendor he should be very proud of his achievement. This moment is lifted for the animated movie Justice League: War, and now its found its way into the live action movie too.
The Lynda Carter Era
wonder women in matching outfits pic.twitter.com/QHC3aJ1j3m
— edgelord allan poe (@haarleyquin) April 21, 2017
Although the most well known incarnation of Wonder Woman for general audiences prior to this new film was the 1975-79 Lynda Carter television series, the truth is, there are not a ton of direct references to that show in the movie. (At least, nothing that didn't appear in the comics first.) Although I must say, I was mildly shocked that the classic, kitschy theme song didn't show up somewhere. However, the film's costume designer might have snuck in a reference to the old show in a scene where we see Diana wearing a blue dress. You tell me, coincidence or homage? I'm going with homage.
John Byrne's Museum Curator Diana
Unlike Superman and Batman, who have held down the same jobs in their civilian identities since day one, Wonder Woman has had many a job. She's been a US Army Officer, a secret agent, an astronaut, an ambassador, and even worked in a Mexican fast food joint. (Yes, really). But at one point during writer/artists John Byrne's run in the '90s, Diana worked as the curator and special lecturer at the Gateway City Museum of Antiquities. It wasn't a super long lived career in the museum business, but it shows Patty Jenkins and the writers were doing their homework when it comes to showing how Diana Prince pays the bills.
Which Wonder Woman stories do you feel should serve to inspire the inevitable sequel? Chime in with your thoughts in the comments below.
Images: DC Comics / Warner Brothers