Wonder Woman’s about to hit UK cinemas, and we couldn’t be more excited. It’s been a long road to the big screen, but if early reviews are to be believed, Patty Jenkins’ action-packed superhero adventure is set to finally do the character justice, and give her an origin story worthy of her comic book peers. While she popped up in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (and stole the show along the way), her official debut is yet to come - and there’s every chance you’re not familiar with the superhero icon.
Here’s your handy primer for what’s set to be one of the superhero movies of the year…
She’s one of DC’s big three
While you’re more than likely very familiar with Batman and Superman (who have had around 901 different TV shows, movies and actors portraying them combined), there’s been a serious lack of Wonder Woman in the mainstream over the years.
In DC’s comic universe, it’s a totally different story, as she’s long been considered one of the publisher’s ‘Big Three’ superheroes alongside Supes and Bats. She’s as strong as Superman (if not more so, depending on how nerdy and canonical you want to get), boasts her own secret identity (Diana Prince), and she’s a founding member of the Justice League of America.
Throw in a Golden Lasso of Truth, bad-ass sword, silver bullet-deflecting bracelets made from the remains of Zeus’ shield, and an invisible aeroplane, and she has more than enough power, gizmos and gadgets to rival the Caped Crusader and Big Blue Boy Scout.
Her backstory’s a liiiiiittle bit confusing
Numerous reboots in the comics have meant that her backstory’s shifted and evolved over the years. When she debuted in 1941, her origin story established that she had no father, and that her mother formed her out of clay, before being brought to life and imbued with superpowers by Greek Gods.
During DC’s 2011 ‘New 52’ relaunch, the publisher rebooted Wonder Woman’s origin story, and established that she was the daughter of Hippolyta, and Zeus, King of the Gods.
She was raised on Themyscira (AKA ‘Paradise Island), a female-only home to the warrior race the Amazons. She’s also officially Princess of the Amazons, what with her mother being Queen and all.
She’s a feminist icon
Creator William Oulton Marston was inspired to create the character from a desire to find a female role model that could uphold ideals he associated with femininity such as fairness, loving and peace, all the while possessing power to rival Superman’s strength. He was also inspired by his wife Elizabeth, as well as Olive Byrne, who lived with them both in a polyamorous relationship, both of whom represented to him female liberation and independence.
That said, the character’s been victim to misogyny more than a few times throughout the decades - she was banned by the National Organisation for Decent Literature in 1942 for not being ‘sufficiently dressed’, while shifting socio-political trends (and a host of different writers) mean that when she joined the Justice Society she was relegated to the role of secretary, while the boys went off on adventures.
Times have thankfully changed, and she’s yet again a champion for change and progression. In 2015, she officiated a same-sex wedding, while in 2016 writer Greg Rucka confirmed she’s bisexual and has fallen in love with other woman in the past.
Numerous attempts have tried (and failed) to bring her to life
1967 saw a failed campy TV pilot called ‘Who’s Afraid of Diana Prince?’, 2011 had an aborted NBC TV series, while Joss Whedon fought valiantly (but ultimately in futile) to create a movie back in the early noughties.
Batman v Superman cameo aside, her most successful on-screen appearances have come via the 1975-1979 TV series starring Lynda Carter.
This is the first (proper, modern) female superhero movie
Sure, Supergirl, Catwoman and Elektra have all given it a shot in the past, but Wonder Woman marks the first proper, modern female superhero movie since the massive box office boom of Marvel and DC’s cinematic universes. Considering there have been 21 DC and Marvel movies since Batman Begins (and that doesn’t even take into account all the Sony/Fox Marvel X-Men/Spider-Man spin-offs), we are more than due a strong, female-led action adventure.
We have no doubt that Wonder Woman will not only smash box office figures, but pave the way for a much more inclusive, balanced and bad-ass future for female superheroes on-screen.