The Superman vs Batman: Dawn of Justice movie out this week features Wonder Woman’s big screen debut. The Amazing Amazon has been around since 1941 and has a complex and varied history.There’s a lot of things you might not know about her, from her time in the service industry to her time as a goddess. So if you want to brush up on your Wondy history, here’s the place to do it. If you have any favorite Wonder Woman facts to add, be sure to chime in on it in the comments!
It’s not exactly obscure knowledge that Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston, was considered eccentric for his time, but many are surprised just how many unique things there are about him. Marston was a psychologist and he, in collaboration with his wife Elizabeth, created the systolic blood pressure test, which is a big component of the modern lie detector.
Marston was also, unsurprisingly, a feminist, though his brand of feminism was fairly unique (and in many ways, fairly limited- it’s apparent he was racist, for instance). He believed women were inherently purer and more honest than men and would rule the world someday.
He was also very into bondage, which appears as a theme in early Wonder Woman comics again and again. Its particular apparent with the early version of Wonder Woman’s lasso, which compelled people to obey her.
Bondage was not simply a fetish to Marston, but a political idealogy. He believed the “submissiveness” and “tenderness” he considered inherent to women should be practiced by all. He believed allowing the “enjoying being bound” and “giving control of [yourself] to others" would lead to a more peaceful society. He often believed that it was women who should be the dominant ones though, stating that men should want to submit to an alluring woman who is stronger than them.
He was passionate about Wonder Woman being a positive influence on young girls, stating “Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power (…)The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman."
However, we would have never gotten Wonder Woman if it weren’t for two very important women in Marston’s life. The first is Elizabeth Holloway Marston, his wife, who was responsible for Wonder Woman being, well, a woman. Reportedly, Marston told Elizabeth he wanted to create a hero who triumphed with love rather than force, and she replied “fine, but make it a woman”, pointing out that there were very few female superheroes.
Olive Byrne was another woman important to Diana’s creation. Olive lived with Elizabeth and William and was in a relationship with both of them. Marston modeled Wondy’s bullet-deflecting bracelets after the ones Olive wore.
Both of these women were amazing even outside their contribution to Wonder Woman. Elizabeth was a career woman during a time where this was very much frowned upon and financially supported both William and Olive. And this was by no means an easy feat- she was rejected from Harvard Law on the basis of her gender, so she went to Boston University instead. Her father refused to support her, wanting her to stay in the kitchen, so she paid her own way. She was by all accounts even brainier than her husband, finishing the bar exam well before him and also being the one to suggest the connection between anxiety and raised blood pressure to him.
She was a lawyer, psychologist, editor, professor and chief executive with three degrees. Elizabeth asked to be Wonder Woman’s editor after Marston died, but despite her high editorial qualifications and intimate knowledge of the character, DC rejected her. She sent the editor they chose instead, Robert Kanigher, all the information she had on the character. He ignored her too.
Olive agreed to take care of the kids so Elizabeth could work, and supported her faithfully in all her pursuits. They lived together for the rest of their lives.
These women were not the only ones instrumental to Diana’s creation- Marjorie Huntley, another lover of Marston’s, often helped him. Marston’s assistant, Joyce Hummel Murchison, co-wrote stories with him and later wrote the stories herself when Marston’s health was failing. Alice Marble wrote the “Wonder Women of History” backup that ran in the comic and Dorothy Woolfolk was the comic’s assistant editor (and the first female editor at DC Comics). You can find out more about women’s contributions to WW’s creation here.
Many think that Wonder Woman’s earliest outfit was a knee-length skirt, but they’re wrong! When Wonder Woman debuted, she wore culottes, an article of clothing that hangs like a skirt but are actually loose short pants. This garment was commonly worn by women in the 40’s when they wanted to do active work, like riding horses or athletics. As the comic went on, the culottes changed to bike shorts and then eventually shrank to the briefs she wears today. I kind of prefer the culottes honestly.
Steve Trevor, Wonder Woman’s early love interest, was always pretty pushy about marriage, while Diana was pretty uninterested. One time he gave himself super strength because he thought it would make Wonder Woman marry him, only to find out the opposite was true- Diana told him she’s NEVER marry a man as strong as her or stronger than her because that would just be weird. (Which proves Marston would think of Superman x Wonder Woman as a notp. I’m just saying.) Steve saw no point in having super strength after discovering this.
Diana’s typical response to Steve begging to get married? “Not until I’ve ended all evil.” Talk about a brush off!