Wonder Woman is going to be getting her big screen debut this week. Diana of Themyscira has been around for many years and has always been a complex character. She’s often misunderstood, both by the general public and sometimes even by some of her writers. So I’m going to list some of the biggest misconceptions about her character and why they’re wrong. Here’s hoping that the Wonder Woman we see in the movies is written well and not based on any of these untrue assumptions about her character.
Many adaptations, or comics where the writer is clearly not a particular fan of Wonder Woman depict her as an angry person at heart, but this is not true. Wonder Woman has a temper, but not a huge or uncontrollable one. Anger is not her default emotion. The modern version of Wonder Woman officially works as a diplomat, and she’s a good one. A diplomat can’t be an angry person at their core or have a hair-trigger temper. Wonder Woman is someone who can debate calmly, who tries to steer a situation in the right direction and always tries to find the best solution.
She’s definitely not someone you want to piss off and injustice or a friend being harmed has been known to make her slip into a deep rage, but it’s not like she’s always angry or prone to overreaction.
Sadly, some comic book writers will deliberately ignore the “diplomat” element of the character, and sometimes adaptations will leave it out completely so they fall back on the “angry feminist” stereotype. I adored the Justice League cartoon, but it was definitely guilty of this.
Many people think of Wonder Woman as someone who is “kill first, ask questions later”. This stereotype probably comes from both the aforementioned “angry feminist” perception, but also the fact she’s one of the few major DC heroes who is willing to kill at all. But being willing to kill doesn’t mean she will kill if she can help it. Seeing Wonder Woman as ruthless and trigger happy goes against the very core concept her creator William Moulton Marston had for the character- he wanted a hero who solved things with love and compassion, rather than relying only on violence.
As stated before, Wonder Woman is a diplomat, and much of her comics history shows her reaching out to her foes and trying to understand them and help them, moreso than many other heroes do. In the early comics, she had an entire “reformation island” devoted to reforming her villians (in a…very bondage-y way, but still.”)
A panel from Gail Simone’s run on Wonder Woman captures Diana’s philosophy perfectly:
Diana will kill if she’s backed into a corner and has to do so to save the lives of many. She killed Maxwell Lord when he was mind controlling Superman because he told her, under the lasso of truth, there was no other way to stop him, and he would go on to use Superman to kill many more. Diana is pragmatic and there’s nothing wrong with that. But being pragmatic is different from being ruthless.