Every superhero has to have a weakness -- when a character is invulnerable, there's no melodrama. If you couldn't fill a room with white noise to throw off Daredevil's senses or put Kryptonite under Superman's pillow to murder him in his sleep then there wouldn't be a point to superhero comics. Wonder Woman too has a weakness, but it's one that's not explored in modern media too often: In the early comics, she's rendered powerless whenever a man welds or binds her bracelets together. It's a long-standing, particularly nasty trope that is supposedly part of "Aphrodite's Law," -- in this case, "Aphrodite" is the horndog behind the typewriter. The reasoning behind the vulnerability is... kind of complicated.
See, Wonder Woman creator William Marston based the character partly on 1920s suffragettes, whose movement was often depicted by a woman in chains. Originally, this was meant to represent the freedoms females still lacked (you know, like voting). But since this metaphor was baked into her backstory, there were tons of early Wonder Woman stories involving her being tied or bound. It sort of defeats the purpose of having a kickass demi-goddess if they're going to be dominated by mortal men every month.
At some point even DC saw what Marston was doing and suggested "Hey, maybe we should cut back on the chains? It's a little much." That was 1943. And yet, the humiliation somehow continued for decades.
Bondage is an unavoidable aspect of Wonder woman -- she does have a lasso she uses to tie people up, after all -- but the way it's been warped and abused over the years has ensured that the imagery stayed less about kinky subtext and more about demeaning the world's most popular female superhero. You could say some of the newer stuff uses chains to address and reject the old notions, and maybe you do have to be restrained before you can break free. But at some point we've gotta ditch that baggage and start over fresh.
Blame it on the Super Friends. Wonder Woman's invisible jet is an inexplicably goofy aspect of an otherwise serious hero, but that hasn't changed the fact that it's one of the character's most well-known features. Hot Wheels was banking on that when they released a goofy April Fools joke on Facebook featuring a mockup of a new toy.
Like a lot of awesome "fake product" pranks, fan demand swelled to a point where it just had to be made real. And so Mattel actually produced a bunch of Invisible Jets to sell at Comic-Con. Thing is, there's nothing actually inside the box itself -- just the plastic mold to make it look as though that's the case. The sneaky bastards even snuck some weights into the packaging to make it FEEL as though the toy was real. It's hard not to appreciate a diabolical move like that.
The Smithsonian pulled a similar prank for April Fools Day, except on a much larger scale.
For one day in 2015, Wonder Woman's Invisible Jet was "on display" at the National Air and Space Museum. We'll have to take their word for it.
Outside of their recent movie iterations, Batman and Superman usually hold to a "no killing" rule. That hard line exists for several reasons, probably including marketability to children. And hey, if Batman murdered the Joker 75 years ago, comics would have been a lot more boring.
Wonder Woman isn't exactly The Punisher, but she's been shown to be more willing to make exceptions when it comes to murder. The situation depicted above would take a bit to explain properly, but basically she's killing that old guy so that she can become Goddess of War, mostly because she doesn't want the other guy on the end of the spear to get those powers. So there's at least a reason there -- Wonder Woman was out of options, and she had to make a move. Just like when she chopped Medusa's head off.
Since Medusa has kind of a hateboner for the Gods, she was always going to have it in for Wonder Woman. From WW's perspective, it was either let Medusa keep turning civilians into stone or face her enemy in single combat in a coliseum baseball stadium. The event was supposed to be televised thanks to Medusa's sisters, the idea being that Medusa's gaze would turn every viewer into stone -- there wasn't much of a way around doing what had to be done.
Though Princess Diana is at least hesitant to kill most sentient beings, she feels no such remorse when it comes to demonic creatures.
Ah, the old neck snap move. Where have I seen that before? Oh right, when Wonder Woman killed the (very human) Maxwell Lord.
In this case, Max had a mental hold over Superman. Though Max's most recent plan was foiled, he made the point to Wonder Woman (while under the influence of the Lasso of Truth) that he'd eventually escape and put Supes under his influence once more. When asked what could possibly stop him, Max said "Kill me." And Wonder Woman obliged, believing that he was right.
Everything so far is more or less main continuity -- you can bet that WW is even more murder-happy in alternate universes.
This one's from another timeline where Batman and Superman were both raised by supervillains and terrorized the world, Injustice-style. Before everything is erased and the world is corrected, Wonder Woman manages to run Batman through with her sword. Yeah, it didn't really happen, but you know, it could.
You read that right. Wonder Woman had been in TV shows and direct-to-video movies before, but it took over 70 years for one of the world's most iconic superheroes to make it to theaters. We live in a world where Jonah Hex, The Phantom, Meteor Man and Howard the Duck all beat her to the punch.
Even casual fans usually have a good grasp on the superpowers of popular heroes. The Flash has super-speed, Ant-Man has size-changing ability and Batman is rich, etc. Wonder Woman has an established set of abilities as well, but there are a few oddities in her arsenal that haven't been showcased that often. Mostly because they're just too danged weird.
Above you can see Wonder Woman using "super breath" in a modern comic. Despite questions regarding lung capacity and the laws of physics, this is easy to accept since Superman can do it too. A bit more baffling, however, is Wonder Woman's "mental radio."
Appearing in the first years of Wonder Woman comics, the mental radio that, according to the DC Wiki, could allow users to "mentally communicate across great distances." This is the same tech that enabled Wonder Woman to psychically call down her invisible jet. It's also, you know, FaceTime. It's just FaceTime with a stethescope tied around your head and a screen inside a Greek pagoda on a nightstand. It's kind of neat to see (somewhat) modern technology in such an old comic but uh, they also had phones back then.
WW's telepathy got a bit more impressive after she became the Goddess of War. As it turns out, having that title allows you to psychically communicate with the world's soldiers.
It seems dangerous to keep stacking power after power onto a superhero like this. After all, there's a reason you haven't seen that weird clingwrap "S" on Superman's chest come back into play. Then again, the invisible jet and mental radio aren't around too much these days, so this might be a more practical replacement.
Back in the innocent, Spice Girlsian summer of 1996, Marvel and DC did what is now unthinkable: They actually allowed their characters to fight each other, on the same page. These epic battles between Superman and the Hulk or Green Lantern and Silver Surfer may have been overblown and more than a little ridiculous, but back then they actually had the gall to declare winners. Thor actually won his battle with Captain Marvel for instance, but his hammer was lost in the chaos.
That's when Wonder Woman picked up Mjolnir.
Diana grabs the hammer and lifts it easily in part because she has no idea that it's a big deal at all. For a brief moment, she is transformed into an even more powerful being -- but unfortunately, her sportsmanship gets the better of her. This all happened in the middle of a battle with Storm, and Wonder Woman decided that she didn't want to win by cheating. This has never been confirmed, but I assume Diana also turns off items in Smash Bros.
For an entire generation and probably more, Wonder Woman was defined by Lynda Carter in the 1975 TV show. It was a little campy for sure, but it took itself a bit more seriously than something like Adam West's Batman. The special effects were cheesy here and there (like every time Diana spun around to transform into Wonder Woman), but some episodes had genuinely impressive stunts.
As the story goes, that is the real, actual Lynda Carter holding onto the bottom of that real helicopter. Apparently the use of a stunt double was embarrassingly clear for the intial takes, so Carter stepped up and performed the dangerous stunt herself. Producers flipped their shit when they found out and nothing like this happened again, but it does show you how committed Carter was to her job.
While we're on the topic of Lynda Carter, we should probably mention all the popular video games she's been in lately. If you're an RPG fan, chances are you've come across a character she's voiced. In Fallout 4, Carter played Magnolia, the lounge singer in the seedy Commonwealth town of Goodneighbor. Carter even went so far as to produce and sing five unique songs for the game.
You might have heard her voice in Skyrim as the Daedric Azura, or fought alongside Gormlaith Golden-Hilt.
In addition to those named characters, Carter has also played "Nord Woman" in every Elder Scrolls game since Morrowind. I'm not saying that if you see her on the street you should bug her about the sequel to Skyrim, but someone should.
Back in the early 90s, DC and Mattel teamed up in an attempt to create a Wonder Woman cartoon aimed squarely at the My Little Pony market. "Wonder Woman and the Star Riders" was like Sailor Moon and Jem made a baby inside a Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper. As you can imagine, Mattel was in it mostly to sell toys.
A host of magical teammates backed up this sparkly new wonder Woman, and each were designed to (you guessed it) get girls to buy more dolls. If Wonder Woman was sort of the group's Captain Planet, the supporting members were set up like Planeteers with their own elements; Dolphin is tied to water, Solara is the Latina with a stereotypical hot temper and the marketing meeting ended before they could think of a better name for Ice. Poor Star-Lily's power is being "in touch with nature," which allows her to make people fall asleep. In other words, she's like that Planeteer with the worthless power of "Heart."
Neither the dolls nor the cartoon ever made it to production, but a comic was produced, shipping with the diabetes capsules known as Kellogg's Cinnamon Mini-Buns.
Even for a cereal comic, it was pretty simplistic. The evil Purrsia plans on stealing the Star Riders' magical gems, but Dolphin as made sure it's in a safe hiding spot... in her unlocked dresser drawer. Wonder Woman eventually shows up and uses the power of puns to defeat her nemesis and retrieve the gem, tying her up and forcing her to give away her motivations and dispel any mystique behind the character that was just introduced. If this comic had a moral to the story, it'd be "Maybe don't hide your Infinity Stones in the first place your mom would look for a pot stash."
William Moulton Marston put a lot of his own life into creating Wonder Woman. Case in point: The same guy who came up with the superhero with a magic truth-telling lasso is also considered the "father of the lie detector." Though some work was done on the polygraph machine beforehand, Marston helped shape those ideas and promoted the use of the machine, going so far as to write a book about the technique long before its use became commonplace.
As it so happens, Marston's work on the polygraph was partially inspired by his wife, Elizabeth, who noted her own change in blood pressure during stressful moments . As a self-professed feminist, it makes sense that he'd base Wonder Woman on the females in his life. Going by the obituary of his wife, Marston married his own Amazon warrior. But Elizabeth wasn't the only basis for Princess Diana.
Simply put, Marston was a polygamist. With Elizabeth's consent, William welcomed a second companion into their home. Olive Byrne was technically Marston's mistress, but functionally she was more or less a second wife. How does she factor into Wonder Woman? Look closely at her picture on the right. Do those bracelets look familiar? That's because they were the direct inspiration for Wonder Woman's famous bullet-reflecting bands. Don't say polygamy never did anything for anyone.