Wonderful Wonder Woman

Wonderwoman.jpg

Dec 12, 2014 by Smart Insurance

In 2017, the first stand-alone feature film about Wonder Woman will be released. Although she is by no means the only 'superheroine', she is by far the most popular female comic superhero ever created and, after Superman and Batman, the third most enduring superhero of either sex, of all time.

Although she has never quite reached the heights of her male counterparts, this 73-year-old icon is still extremely popular. Most people know that she fights baddies and struggles for a better world. Fewer people, perhaps, appreciate her interesting beginnings.

 

Origins

The roots of Wonder Woman lie at the turn of the twentieth century, in particular the years immediately after World War One, when the movement for women's suffrage and a general support for greater rights for women, were taking hold in Europe and America. Although many imagine this time to have been oppressive, for women in particular, in fact it was a time of lively political debate and movement and saw considerable social change.

As time passed, the threats posed by Nazism and fascism became increasingly clear. As another war loomed, comic books became highly popular in the US, but dissenting voices began to gather, many claiming that they were corrupting the country's youth. Comic books were deemed too violent, too horrifying and dangerous. In particular, the popular adulation of Superman was compared by commentators with the rise of Nazism in Germany.

In response to this, a magazine writer called Olive Byrne interviewed leading psychologist, Dr William Moulton Marston, for Family Circle magazine. She wanted him to answer American mothers' concerns about the effects of comic books on impressionable young minds. The interview came to the attention of the publishers of Superman, who gave Marston a job.

 

Creation

Marston advised his new employers, DC Comics, that they should create a female superhero, superior to men but lacking the testosterone-fuelled aggression and egotism that characterised the male superheroes. It is possible that Marston's British-born lawyer wife persuaded him the character should be female. Interestingly, although DC Comics eventually went with the idea, and Marston saw her as being reflective of the increasing power of women, Wonder Woman was originally created, written and drawn by men.

The first Wonder Woman book was published in 1941.

 

The Legend

Wonder Woman has always been popular, and with good reason, but being at the same time scantily clad, pin-up girl beautiful and incredibly powerful she has divided opinion for seven decades. She has generally been anti-war (which is perhaps unsurprising given her origins amidst World War II), yet able to fight for democracy, patriotic and keen to work for the greater good. In the early 1970s, she appeared on the cover of feminist magazines and got her own TV show. In 2017, she will finally get her own film.

Wonder Woman may never have reached the iconic heights of her DC Comics stable mates Superman and Batman, but 73 years on she is still around, an icon in her own, inimitable way.