The Wonder of Wonder Woman

The first-ever Wonder Woman movie is now in theaters. Here’s a look back at seven decades of the character’s rich history.

The History of Wonder Woman

The character of Wonder Woman, princess of the Amazons, debuted in comics in the 1941. She’s the creation of William Moulton Marston. Marston didn’t have a long background in comics. He was actually an esteemed psychologist who had worked as a consultant to comics publishers and film studios. His aim was to create a strong, powerful female character to counteract the violent, male-dominated comics of the era.

Marston was inspired by two of his favorite historical subjects: the late 19th century/early 20th century women’s suffrage movement, and birth control activist Margaret Sanger, who just happened to be the aunt of his mistress. (Marston lived a colorful life. He resided in New York with his wife, his mistress, and the children he fathered with both women.) Be that as it may, he got the idea for Wonder Woman’s skimpy, American-flag inspired costume from WWII-era pin-up posters, particularly the “Varga Girls” created by Alberto Varga for Esquire

Among Wonder Woman’s various powers depicted over the years: She could run incredibly fast, she could communicate with animals, she could fly, she could establish a mink-link with all of Earth’s soldiers at the same time, and she had super-strength— she’s one of the few who could lift the mighty hammer of Thor.

Lynda Carter starred as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman on the hit ‘70s TV show The New Adventures of Wonder Woman. She wasn’t the first or only ‘70s TV Wonder Woman, however. Actress Cathie Lee Crosby starred in the 1974 made-for-television movie Wonder Woman. When the movie became a series, Crosby was offered the part, but she turned it down. Carter then got the role, which she kept from 1975 to 1979.

A Wonder Woman movie has been a long time coming, with several iterations coming and ultimately failing over the years. In the mid-1990s, Hollywood producer Joel Silver almost got a Wonder Woman movie into multiplexes, and he’d reportedly signed Sandra Bullock for the title role. (TV’s Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter, publicly approved of the choice.) It didn’t get made, and neither did a version ten years later written by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator and The Avengers director Joss Whedon. He’d planned to cast in the lead role either Sarah Michelle Gellar of Buffy, or Mad Men star Christina Hendricks.

In the traditional Wonder Woman canon, Wonder Woman’s age was said to be in the thousands. But when D.C. Comics “rebooted” and restarted its characters and storylines with a program it called “New 52” in 2011, Wonder Woman is now officially 23-years-old.