The Golden Age
The superheroine’s original incarnation might look a little quaint now (the cover shown here is from 1942). Yes, in her secret identity, she worked as a nurse. Yes, as the sole female member of the Justice Society of America, she was made the group’s secretary. Yes, she’s wearing a skirt. But Wonder Woman was invented by controversial feminist theorist William Moulton Marston, and he layered his creation’s mythology with all sorts of intriguing arcana. (Example: Wonder Woman’s friendship with a sorority called the Holliday Girls came under fire from anti-comics crusader Fredric Wertham for promoting lesbian themes. Suffice it to say, nobody was accusing Green Lantern of promoting lesbian themes.)
Diana Prince, Fashion Assassin
Listen, we all did some crazy things in the ’70s. Just look at Wonder Woman. She lost her powers, opened up a fashionable boutique, and ditched her superhero name for the much-sleeker-sounding ”Diana Prince.” She also traded in her vintage American-Amazon bikini-uniform for an assortment of era-appropriate miniskirts, unitards, bodysuits, and every other item of clothing that looked much better on Diana Rigg on The Avengers. The ”Mod” era lasted just a few years, and is generally regarded as one of the silliest reboots ever. But seriously, she looked awesome.
Two-Dimensional (At Best)
Wonder Woman’s first onscreen incarnation — no, we’re not counting The Brady Kids — came in the ’70s camp travesty Super Friends. This version of Wonder Woman was voiced by several actresses, including Shannon Farnon, Connie Cawlfield, and B.J. Ward (who later voiced Scarlett on G.I. Joe).
The New Original Adventures of Wonder Woman (Actual Title!)
The fondly remembered Wonder Woman TV series had to make do with a cheap budget — which explains the cheesy effect that saw Diana magically spin into her costume. But even if Wonder Woman couldn’t fly, the show still got an impressive amount of comic mythology on screen. And let’s give Lynda Carter some credit: She made that outfit look good.
The Ginger Tangent
Who can forget the brief period in the mid-’90s when redheaded Amazonian Artemis became the new Wonder Woman, forcing Diana to wear a new costume composed entirely of black — black shorts, black boots, black bra — and a white Members Only jacket? Or, rather, who can even remember this? Boy, the mid-’90s were weird.
Let's Try That Cartoon Thing Again...
The early-’00s Justice League was created by some of the brainiacs behind Batman: The Animated Series, which explains why it was roughly one million times better than Super Friends. The show’s version of Wonder Woman was a bit more naive than other versions of the character, but voice actor Susan Eisenberg found the quiet humanity in the iconic character.
The Modern Age
Wonder Woman has evolved in a zigzag fashion over the last 70 years, and most modern-day writers have tended to portray her as a ”soldier for peace,” with all the complexity that implies. The apex of this interpretation came in 2005, when Wonder Woman made the difficult decision to kill the villainous Max Lord in order to rescue Superman.
Let's Get Claymated
Robot Chicken: the show for people who will never get tired of hearing a Princess of Themyscira yell about men afraid of ”the Almighty Uterus”?
Is Wonder Woman Just a Scantily Clad Felicity?
The 2009 direct-to-DVD film Wonder Woman was surprisingly brutal for a cartoon, bringing the character’s warrior side to the forefront. Bonus points for featuring the voice of Keri Russell as the Amazonian princess, plus Nathan Fillion as friend/maybe-love-interest Steve Trevor.
Videogames: The Wave of the Future
There’s a reason you probably don’t remember any Wonder Woman videogames: There haven’t been any! And the few games to feature Diana as a playable character, like Justice League Task Force and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, have been less than inspiring.
Like all superheroes, Wonder Woman occasionally gets the alternate-universe treatment, allowing creators to play around with the character’s iconography without dealing with nearly seven decades of continuity. Our favorite example: DC: The New Frontier, which reimagined the superheroes in the politically charged ’50s, featuring a more militaristic Wonder Woman allying herself with the women of Vietnam. (New Frontier was later adapted into an animated film, with Lucy Lawless as the voice of Diana.)
Reboot: The Most Beautiful Word in the English Language
Because everyone loves reboots and they always work incredibly well, DC recently rejiggered Wonder Woman’s backstory. Now Diana’s an orphan raised on the streets of New York City, with a hipster’s preference for black leggings and leather jackets. It’s been a gritty reinterpretation of the character, but it’s further proof that, almost 70 years after her creation, Wonder Woman continues to change and evolve.
The Newer New Original Adventure of Wonder Woman?
David E. Kelley’s Wonder Woman Adrianne Palicki-starring 2011 pilot left us with many questions. Like, how is it possible that this outfit shows less skin, but is somehow oddly more suggestive? Are blue boots the new red boots? And when we die, can we be reincarnated as that golden eagle? NBC was perhaps equally baffled, and the reboot was canned before ever making it to air.
At Comic-Con 2014, Zack Snyder gave us our first official look at the next step in the superheroine’s evolution; click to see the first official photo of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.