Muse of the Month: Wonder Woman

A classic feminist icon


By Rachel Au

Muse of the Month: Wonder Woman

The first Disney Princess appeared in the form of Snow White in 1937. While she was a kind hearted character, she also needed rescuing from a Prince whom she briefly met and probably didn’t even know his favourite colour. Born more than a century earlier, Elizabeth Bennet from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is one female protagonist that has stood against the test of time to represent strong-willed, intelligent women. But a heroine who saves the world? No one has lived up to that name except Princess Diana of Themiscyra, also known as Wonder Woman. 

wonder woman

In a time when gender equality was far from where HeForShe started working towards to today, DC Comics’ Wonder Woman proved to the world, and especially to the female folk, that women are just as capable as men, that women are not just mere damsels in distress, and that women have power. Interestingly, Wonder Woman was the brainchild of a man who wanted a new kind of superhero who wins battles with and out of love; his wife liked the idea but told him to make his new character a female. An already avid supporter of women’s rights, William Moulton Marston—who incidentally is the inventor of the lie detector—went with that idea and debuted her in December 1941 under the pen name Charles Moulton and hired cartoonist Harry G. Peter to do the artwork. 


Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.  


Wonder Woman’s first origins had her being birthed out of clay by the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta and was granted gifts of power and life by the ancient Greek Gods: superhuman strength from Demeter, wisdom and courage from Athena, ability to communicate with animals and enhanced senses from Artemis, beauty and a loving heart from Aphrodite, sisterhood with fire from Hestia and, speed and the power of flight from Hermes. It’s the complete package of beauty, brains and brawn but her greatest strength, which is also her weakness, is her compassion. 

wonder woman diana prince

Her story begins when army pilot Steve Trevor crashes his plane on the Amazons’ secluded island paradise. She found him, had him nursed back to health and eventually falls in love with him. When it was time, her mother Hippolyta held a competition to determine who was worthy to escort him home but forbade Diana from participating. Defying her mother’s wishes, Diana entered the competition while wearing a mask to conceal her identity and won. Having no choice, Hippolyta allowed Diana to go but not before entrusting her with what will be her signature uniform and weapon—the Golden Lasso or Truth. 


Like most comic book superheroes, Wonder Woman’s story, including the character that takes on the title of Wonder Woman, has been altered several times. At one point, she was stripped off her powers and at another, she was degenerated back into clay. She had a brief romance with Superman which they both later decided it was better to stay friends; but in the new reboot, they are currently dating. And when Superman died to defeat Doomsday in one of the series, she took over as the leader of Justice League. There was also a time when Batman and Superman lost their trust in her because she killed a villain who was mind-controlling Superman. In reality, she saved their lives but in their eyes under the control of the villain, she was murdering a Justice League associate. 

Wonder Woman Gal Gadot

Despite the varying personalities due to different writers, one thing about Diana always remains the same—the core value of her character, her humanity. She has a strong compassion and is always able to love without discrimination. The complexity of her character has also made it difficult to translate her story into a media form and to find a suitable actress to play the part. Animated films were usually easier but attempts to turn Wonder Woman into a live action adaption often failed. Pilots were shot and released but none weren’t picked up for a regular series with the successful exception of the TV series that starred Lynda Carter from 1975 to 1979. 


Although in brick form, The Lego Movie in 2014 marked Wonder Woman’s first film appearance and was voiced by Cobie Smulders. But the honour of representing the image of Wonder Woman after an immensely long time currently goes to Gal Gadot who marked her first appearance in the recent Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Not much is known about her version of Wonder Woman but a solo live-action movie is slated for June 2017 with Chris Pine starring opposite Gadot as Steve Trevor; and that’s one story everyone is excited to watch unfold. 


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