Though this may surprise you, Friday, June 2nd will mark the domestic release of Wonder Woman’s first feature film. Yes Wonder Woman, one of the most popular comic book characters of all-time has never had her own feature film.
Wonder Woman first appeared in All Star Comics #8 in 1941 and created by William Moulton Marston and artist Harry G. Peter. Since getting her own title in 1942, Wonder Woman has been published by DC Comics continuously (apart from a short break in 1986). So we’ve got this ultra-popular character who has successfully and seamlessly crossed over into other media like cartoons and a live action television series, yet why has it taken 75ish years to receive her own movie? I don’t have the answer to that question. I just know Wonder Woman finally getting her own film is a really big freaking deal.
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Marston wanted to create a new kind of hero, “one who would triumph not with fists or firepower, but with love.” He then credits his wife Elizabeth with replying “Fine, but make her a woman.” So, after receiving the go-ahead from his superiors, Wonder Woman was born. From her inception Wonder Woman was meant to be a feminist role model, breaking away from many Golden Age comics tropes found in male-led books.
Most notably was the damsel in distress motif. Being the actual hero in her stories, when Wonder Woman was bound and captured by a villain, she had to rescue herself, which contrasted with other books of the time where the hero’s motivation was often to rescue the captured woman.
Outside of comics there have been attempts to put Wonder Woman on the big and small screens since 1967. A made-for-TV movie meant to act as a pilot for a series was released on ABC in 1974. The film followed an era of Wonder Woman’s comic history when she was more of a spy than a superhero and, even though it received decent ratings, ABC passed on the pilot.
The following year another series was developed that followed the more popular and marketable superhero aspects of Wonder Woman starring Lynda Carter. This series lasted for three seasons and received respectable ratings for the first two. However, when it was cancelled in 1979, it would mark the last live action on screen appearance of Wonder Woman for 37 years until the release of Batman V Superman in 2016.
Technically, this Wonder Woman film has been in development since 1996 when Ivan Reitman was hired to write and direct it. It then spent the next 20 years being passed around by very talented writers and directors, but failed to find one that stuck.
Finally, Patty Jenkins was in a position where she could take on the job. This is notable because Patty Jenkins is not only the first woman to direct a summer tentpole superhero movie, but also the first woman to direct a superhero film with a female protagonist. Just a little trivia to fuel the fires of interest and importance for this film.
Wonder Woman’s origins and powers have changed throughout the years, but one thing has remained constant, she is a powerful feminist role model fighting for justice, mostly with her weapons of love and compassion (and the occasional neck snapping—looking at you, Maxwell Lord).
Notable runs that are absolute must-reads for Wonder Woman fans are listed below. All make for excellent jumping-on points for reading, but for those looking for something more current, try Greg Rucka’s work with Wonder Woman Rebirth. All should be available at your local comic shop and online retailers.
- George Perez (Wonder Woman Vol. 2 1987-2006: #1-45)
- Gail Simone (Wonder Woman Vol. 3 2006-2011: #14-44, #600)
- J. Michael Straczynski (Wonder Woman Vol. 3 2006-2011: #600-614)
- Brian Azzarello (New 52 Wonder Woman Vol. 4 2011-2016: #1-35)