She’s the Amazonian superhero who changed the world when she first emerged in late 1941. Shirking the passive portrayal of women as typists, librarians, or young girls in love (at least most of the time), she was a butt-kicking, take-charge champion of justice who very quickly became a star and holds her place next to the likes of Superman and Batman as one of the longest-running superhero characters of all time. And she recently turned 75 years old. So Mental Floss asked DC Comics to dig deep into her history for some fascinating facts about the warrior goddess who deflects bullets with her gauntlets, wields the golden Lasso of Truth, and fights all manner of man and beast in her globe-spanning adventures. The woman who left her Amazonian home on Paradise Island to look after military officer Steve Trevor and aid him in his fight against the Nazis has grown through some amazing adventures since then.
Sure there's the ones we all know (and the powers everyone seems to have in DC after a while): super speed, super strength, invulnerability, and flight. Those would be cool enough, that's quite the power set, but there are more. Wonder Woman he also possesses: A healing factor, divine wisdom, super stamina/agility, and enhanced senses like sight, touch, and smell.
Once you realize that her creator was into the way, way into bondage, a lot of early Wonder Woman stories start to make more sense. William Moulton Marston, a psychology professor, had plenty of kinks, but his fondness for BDSM style shenanigans shines through brightest in the comics. Wonder Woman's main weakness for years was that she lost all of her power when a man tied her up. Only if a man did it, though. Yup, sounds like bondage to us.
In the classic Wonder Woman mythos, her main squeeze is Steve Trevor, a pilot who crashes on the Amazonian island of Themyscira. More recently in the pages of DC comics, though, decades of fan-fiction have gotten canonical. That's right, Superman loves Wonder Woman.
After sharing a kiss in Justice League #12 it's not long until their officially a couple in Superman/Wonder Woman #3 (yep, they even have their own title together). They've been dubbing them the "Power Couple."
Before that, they hooked up many times in alternate continuities, notably in Frank Miller's hyperactive The Dark Knight Strikes Again and (it's implied) the Elseworlds epic Kingdom Come.
When we think of female superheroes we think of Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, and Black Widow. If you're a comic book fan, you also probably think of others like Captain Marvel, Miss Marvel, Zatanna, and Hawkgirl. Either way, Wonder Woman is certainly the most iconic and with good reason. She predates the rest for years.
She debuted in 1942, just three years after Superman and two years after Batman. This was a time when superheroes weren't really a defined thing yet but were still separating themselves from their forerunners, pulp heroes like the Shadow, Conan, and Lone Ranger.
The next big female superhero didn't debut until Black Canary in 1947. Batgirl wasn't until 1967, then Captain Marvel in 1968.
When Wonder Woman first debuted in 1941 in All-Star Comics #8, she became an instant hit. The fans loved the concept and as a result, All-American Publications – the publication house that owned the rights to the superhero, decided to up the ante. She soon featured in her solo comic book arc in Sensation Comics #1, the third ever superhero to have her own comic book issue in 1942 – after Superman and Batman. During her first debut as an official solo superhero, Wonder Woman had a plethora of abilities. She could use telepathy, had mind control powers and could use astral projection to traverse dimensional planes. She also had immunity to fire based and electricity-based attacks.
Wonder Woman has the best attributes of the entire Greek Pantheon of Gods. Apart from the beauty of Aphrodite and the power of Zeus being bestowed on her, the Princess off Themiscira also has the speed and reflexes of Hermes. Wonder Woman is not just quick but crazy-quick. The Flash has commented on more than one occasion that Wonder Woman could keep up with him even when the Flash was tapping into the Speed Force. When Maxwell Lord mind-controlled Superman into fighting Wonder Woman, she managed to stay on top of that fight and even defeat Superman. After the fight was over, she claimed that she was voluntarily holding back so as to not hurt the Man of Steel.
In the comics and the movies, they show it as if Wonder Woman likes to flail around amidst gunfire in a skirt. You do not know how impractical a skirt is on the battlefield. What Wonder Woman wears is actually a culotte, pants that are split with lengths varying from knee to thigh. The culotte looks like a skirt because the writers make it so loose on the bottom that it waves around whenever Wonder Woman moves around. William Marston and his wife, actually wanted Wonder Woman to wear a proper culotte and sandals but the publications shot that idea down and then made the superhero wear high heels and a very skirt like culotte – how convenient to objectify women and rake in huge money!!
Queen Hippolyta, the ruler of the Amazons, wanted the perfect daughter. So she crafted Diana out of clay and asked the Gods to give her life. The Gods agreed. Wonder Woman was born after Hermes gifted his speed, Hercules his strength, Athena her Wisdom and Aphrodite her beauty to Wonder Woman and gave her the gift of life. That story was later ret-conned and the new origin story claimed that it was Zeus alone that granted Hippolyta’s request. The New 52 storyline revealed that her origin story was a lie and she is set to reveal the actual truth behind her birth.
While Batman and Superman try to maintain a No Kill Code, Wonder Woman has no such qualms when it comes to killing. She believes that if a guy has it coming, the guy has it coming. Period. After Maxwell Lord tried to use his mind control powers to make Superman kill innocent lives, Wonder Woman snapped his neck like a twig. She has also killed several other demonic creatures. When Medusa tried to turn the whole world into the stone using a globally televised program to broadcast her gaze throughout the world, Wonder Woman beheaded her remorselessly. She has also killed the God of War to usurp his throne and become the Goddess of War and stop evil men from taking the throne.
Only the purest of souls can lift the Mjolnir hammer and attain the power of Thor. It is not like Wonder Woman needs it that much anyways. She is already as powerful as a demi-goddess should be. But the 1990s were crazier times. In the summer of 1996, a Marvel/DC Crossover storyline pitted one DC hero against another. Wonder Woman ended up fighting Storm of the X-Men. During the middle of the battle, Wonder Woman picked up the Mjolnir hammer (left there from an earlier Shazam vs. Thor battle) and briefly transformed into the Goddess of Thunder. She let it go because she wanted her to fight with Storm to be a fair one.
Since the 1950s, Wonder Woman has switched carriers more than the Italians jumped sides in World War Two. She has been a waitress, a spy, the secretary of Steve Trevor in the OSS, as well as a successful singer. While there are too many jobs to list here, one incident to highlight is how sexist the golden age comics used to be. In All-Star Comics #11, a questionnaire was floated that asked whether Wonder Woman should be allowed to become a member of the Justice Society of America even though she is a woman. The response was overwhelming yes but then the publication house did the unthinkable by making her the official secretary of the superhero team, not a member!!
Wonder Woman is not an only child. In recent issues, it is revealed that Wonder Woman actually has a twin brother called Jason. When she swoops in to greet her own blood, it is revealed that Jason is actually evil and is far more powerful than Wonder Woman could ever be. He could control the sea, create tsunamis, generate lightning bolts and manipulate the weather. He could also fly and had superhuman physical attributes. But in the end, Jason reveals that he is not inherently evil but was a victim of circumstances when he realizes his faults and sacrifices his life to save the world from the Dark Gods.
The earlier comic book issues certainly were a tad bit strange. Superman and Batman were not the only ones that had a solution to every situation. Wonder Woman could keep up with the two as well. But while Superman had power for every occasion and Batman had a gadget for any problem, Wonder Woman relied on the ancient Amazonian Science to do her bidding. In one issue, one of her love interest was a mermaid called Merman. In order to be with him, Wonder Woman used Amazonian science to graft gills onto her body that allowed her to breathe underwater. If Aquaman is reading this, do not be jealous we still think you are the one true ruler of the seven seas.