Credit: Warner Bros.

For over three-quarters of a century, Wonder Woman has been a beacon of strength for so many people. Since her debut in 1941, Wonder Woman has been a beacon of strength for so many people. Learn about her history and the live-action films starring Gal GadotWonder Woman.

Wonder Woman

Credit: Clay Enos/Warner Bros.

Wonder Woman is arguably the most famous female superhero out there—one with a colorful history through the years. Making her debut in the 1941's All Star Comics No. 8, the character was created by William Moulton Marston, who envisioned her as the ideal love leader and the type of woman who should rule the world with the strength of Superman and the appeal of a good and beautiful woman. The comic book has been published by DC Comics for its entire run, apart from a brief hiatus in 1986.

Created in response to the prominence of male superheroes at the time (Superman, Batman, Captain America) Marston hoped his female hero would inspire young kids to become leaders through articles and features celebrating female empowerment. There were stories about the career paths of famous and accomplished ladies called the Wonder Women of History.

Wonder Woman is viewed as a feminist icon, though her appearance is just as noteworthy. Her red, white, and blue star-spangled suit is among her most striking characteristics—though her beauty does not serve to downplay her strength—as well as one of the most famous costumes in comic books ever. The famous getup includes gauntlets of Atlas which increase the strength of the wearer by ten—these sometimes cause Diana trouble when it comes to controlling the sudden increase in strength. Another item in her weaponry repertoire is the Lasso of Truth: a lasso that forces people to tell the truth; can restore memories; get rid of or cause illusions to those it holds; heal the holder of insanity; and protect those in close proximity from magical attacks. A non-combat version can also be used to change Diana's clothing.

Wonder Woman tells the tale of Princess Diana of Themyscira. Her original origin story says she was formed out of clay by her mother, Hippolyta, and had life bestowed upon her by the Greek gods—making her the only Amazon not conceived by a man. She grows up free of men on Paradise Island where the Amazons teach her warrior skills as well as lessons of love and peace. The gods also gift Diana with powers including strength, wisdom, courage, a hunter's heart, beauty, sisterhood, speed, and flight.

Original Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman Costume Evolution
Credit: Illustration by LÆMEUR for EW

After making her debut in All Star Comics No. 8, Wonder Woman graced the cover of Sensation Comics No. 1 in 1942.

Her original story sees her leave behind her home on Paradise Island after an American pilot named Steve Trevor crash lands on Themyscira and the islanders compete to determine who will travel to the "Man's World" to return him. Wonder Woman wins and also has the honor to act as an ambassador of the Amazons' values on a mission of peace and diplomacy.

Once in America, Wonder Woman meets an army nurse who wants to leave for South America, but can't due to money problems. Since the nurse and Wonder Woman look identical, they decide to switch identities, and Wonder Woman takes on the nurse's position at the hospital, which happens to be the same hospital where Steve Trevor has been admitted. The nurse reveals her name is Diana Princess and thus Wonder Woman's secret identity as an army nurse is created. She quickly attains the ranks of lieutenant in Army Intelligence—a position rarely obtained by women at that time. During this Golden Age of the comic book, Diana was certainly interested in fighting crime, but she also took on more stereotypical female desires as she pursued marriage with Steve Trevor.

In the Silver Age of the comic, Wonder Woman gives up her powers and title to her mother in order to stay in the "Man's World." Though she no longer holds the title of Wonder Woman she meets and trains under a blind martial arts mentor and resumes her crime-fighting ways.

The Bronze Age saw Diana's powers and costume return as she is reinstated as Wonder Woman in issue No. 204 of Volume 1. In the last issue of the same volume, Diana and Steve Trevor profess their love for one another and are married.

As Wonder Woman embarked on the modern age, her history and backstory were further revamped. Wonder Woman took on the role as an emissary and ambassador for Themyscira, whose mission was to bring peace to the outside world. In a distinct change from the methods of her male counterparts, Batman and Superman, Diana was willing to use deadly force when she judged it necessary. Another notable change in this era was that Diana's marriage to Steve Trevor was removed from her story and he was introduced as a much older man instead.

In September 2011, DC Comics rebooted its entire publication line, naming the relaunch New 52. Written by Brian Azzarello, New 52 sees Wonder Woman's origin story altered once more—this time she becomes the love child of Hippolyta and Zeus and is no longer born from clay and earth. She also becomes romantically involved with Superman.

Wonder Woman TV show

WONDER WOMAN, Lynda Carter, 1976-1979
Credit: Everett Collection

After an unsuccessful attempt at bringing Wonder Woman to the screen via a TV movie in 1974, ABC took another stab at it in November 1975, when they produced a television movie entitled The New Original Wonder Woman starring Lynda Carter. Due to its success, ABC ordered two more one-hour episodes to air in April of 1976. That additional success led to an order of an additional 11 episodes airing on the network weekly in 1976-77. Despite the positive reception and solid ratings for the first season, the network wasn't keen to renew the series for another season due to the cost of production. When ABC chose not to renew, Jerry Leider (the president of Warner Brothers at the time) took the series to CBS with the idea of shifting the series from a 1940s setting to present-day; this would not only make it cheaper to produce than the previous period setting but also allow for more expansive and varied storylines. CBS was on board and picked up the show in 1977 for another two seasons.

The show's scripts were written by Stanley Ralph Ross who, after being advised to stay close to the comic book, originally set the series in World War II era. Lynda Carter was cast after an intensive talent search. At the time she only had minimal acting experience and the title of 1972 Miss World USA. When it came to casting Steve Trevor, the producers dismissed the comic hero's blonde hair and instead chose to cast black-haired heartthrob Lyle Waggoner as Diana's love interest.

The televised portrayal of Wonder Woman influenced the comics—the ballerina-style spinning transformation become part of the comic book series.

Wonder Woman appearances

Credit: Warner Bros.

In 2016,  Warner Bros. Pictures brought DC Comics characters, Batman and Superman, to the big screen. The movie was the first live-action cinematic outing for a few other DC Comic heroes including Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot was cast as the female superhero. Her outfit varied from her comic portrayal: she wore an armband on one arm, a strap over her corset, and a blue bottom similar to that of a Roman war skirt.

Before taking the role, Gadot went through an intense training regime, practicing different martial arts, including swordsmanship, Kung Fu kickboxing, capoeira, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and gaining 17 pounds of muscle. A former Israeli army combat trainer and Miss Israel pageant winner, Gadot embraced the character. Her first role was in Fast & Furious, in which she performed her own stunts. She then had a small role in 2010's Knight and Day before returning to the Fast & Furious franchise to reprise her role in Fast Five and later in 2013's Fast & Furious 6. In 2016, she played parts in crime-thriller Triple 9, Criminal with Ryan Reynolds, and the comedy Keeping Up With the Joneses.

Due to the success of Gadot's performance in Batman vs. Superman—which was viewed as the best part of the movie by many—she was chosen to star as the lead in 2017's live-action solo film Wonder Woman. She also stars in its 2020 sequel Wonder Woman: 1984, and in Justice League with other DC characters including Batman, Superman, Aquaman, the Flash, Cyborg, and more.

Wonder Woman movie

The 2017 movie from Warner Bros. Pictures was directed by Patty Jenkins (Monster), making it the first superhero movie with a female protagonist directed by a woman. The screenplay was written by Allan Heinberg and Geoff Johns. While Gal Gadot stars as Wonder Woman, Chris Pine plays the American military pilot, Steve Trevor. Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, and Danny Huston also star. Shooting for the film began in late 2015 and the movie wrapped in May 2016. It was released on June 2, 2017.

The story sees the Amazon princess living among her people on the island of Themyscira where she meets the military pilot Steve Trevor after his plane goes down and he is washed ashore. When Trevor informs Wonder Woman of the war raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home convinced she can be of use in ending the fighting. She chooses to fit in alongside man, and in doing so, discovers the full extent of her powers and more of her true identity. Changing up the setting from the Second World War to the First, the film will act as a prequel to Batman vs. Superman. The movie also follows the changes to Diana's origin that were introduced in the New 52 reboot, where Diana is the daughter of Zeus rather than made out of clay by the gods.

Justice League movie

Released on November 17, 2017, Justice League served as the fifth installment in the DC Extended Universe after Wonder Woman. The film sees Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman assemble a team consisting of Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to take on the forces of Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) and his army of Parademons.

Directed by Batman vs. Superman's Zack Snyder with a screenplay by writer Chris Terrio, the movie began shooting in April 2016 and wrapped in October 2016. After Snyder exited the DC Extended Universe in 2017, Warner Bros. released his four-hour cut of the film in 2021. Its plot focuses on Batman's restoration of faith in humanity. Inspired by Superman's selfless acts on Doomsday, billionaire Bruce Wayne enlists his new ally Wonder Woman as he faces an even more threatening enemy. Together the new superhero team work to recruit other metahumans in their quest to stop Steppenwolf—the herald and second in command to alien warlord Darkseid, who is charged by Darkseid with hunting down three artifacts hidden on Earth. Despite the formation of this league of heroes, (Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg, and the Flash) the group struggle in face of catastrophic destruction.

Wonder Woman
  • Movie
  • 141 minutes
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