Wonder Woman – It’s all Greek: Why There’s No Excuse For The Movie Hold Up

Posted on: March 18th, 2012

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Wonder Woman is one of the most recognisable superheroes in the world. You show someone a picture of her and more likely than not they’ll know who it is, even if they couldn’t tell you what publisher she came from or name any of her villains. But, for a character so iconic and recognisable, DC seem to be having a helluva time with her origin story. Take Batman. In every canonical take on his character, he’s a billionaire driven to fight crime after witnessing the murder of his parents as a child. That never changes. Neither does Superman’s Last Son of Krypton origin.





But poor Princess Diana is all over the place. It’s almost as if DC are scared that her Greek myth origin will put people off, or that reading about Zeus and Hera will look a little too much like learning. Before the New 52, J. Michael Straczynski’s reboot cut her off from the destroyed Paradise Island and had her raised from childhood on Earth, with little knowledge of her heritage. And as for that failed pilot – Themyscira was demoted from island home of the Amazons to the name of Diana’s decidedly Earth-based company.

Over her decades in print, the weight given to her mythological heritage has ebbed and flowed. In the late sixties she was depowered and became a mod boutique owner called Diana Prince. In Gail Simone’s recent run the Amazons featured heavily and Simone was very interested in Diana’s spirituality and her feminism, but actual Greek gods featured sparingly and Diana herself was depowered in her human, Department of Meta-Human Affairs agent form.


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I'm a script writer and film maker who also writes for @starburst_mag and @badhaven. Occassionally I sleep, too.

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  • WoWed

    Wonder Woman is like aquaman. Most people didn’t follow their evolution into decent superheroes. They only remember the lame incarnations that first came out. It’s not going to be an easy sell to the majority of people.

  • MornLandazar

    ***Wonder Woman is one of the most recognisable superheroes in the world.***
    Really, now? :-/
    In US maybe, but the world? Definitely not.

    • http://www.facebook.com/rolf.hawkins Rolf Hawkins

      That may be more accurate than you want to believe. Comic books are essentially and American invention, and since WW II, have been circulated in many different languages around the world, spawning many different domestic superhero sagas. With the exception of heavily censored media in Communist countries, most people in the free world recognize the iconic Marvel and DC superheros even if they don’t follow them.

    • MornLandazar

      Iconic Marvel and DC superheroes – yes.
      But WW is not one of them.
      People here mostly know about Batman, Superman and Spiderman.
      Also, you must realise that Europe doesn’t care that much for American superhero comics (unlike superhero films) because:
      a) most of DC and Marvel comic rights seem to be too expensive, so their comics aren’t that often printed in the countries of Europe
      b) Countries of Europe often have their own ‘strong’ and popular comics, such as:
      - Asterix, Tintin, Gaston, Iznogoud… (Franco-Belgian, popular on the whole continent)
      - Bonelli comics (Italian, popular in Italy, Balkans and Turkey)
      - 2000AD (Britain)
      - etc.

      So, believe me when I say – Wonder Woman is not that recogniseable in Europe.

  • Blackbelt_Jones

    The bottom line is this…Wonder Woman was created for the sole purpose of being painted on the side of WW2 bombers….that’s her origin,and it really hard to make a back story for that…well,if you suck as a writer that is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joel.n.jones Joel Nathaniel Jones

    There is no definitive Wonder Woman story or origin. You cited numerous writers’ interpretations, and all of them are too varied to be source material for a film. If I were to ask anyone on the streets about an iconic Wonder Woman story, what answer would I get? Nothing comes to mind. If I were to ask what are the iconic Batman or Superman stories, I would probably get answers ranging from Batman Knightfall or The Long Halloween to Superman Red Son or All Star Superman. Do I think she is an interesting character? Yes, but I think she hasn’t been written with any sort of consistency. And it would be AMAZING if she could be the star of movie involving Greek mythology that didn’t have a plot that revolved around releasing the Titans or the Titans somehow avenging themselves against Zeus.

  • Rolf Hawkins

    While I have always enjoyed Wonder Woman in the comics, and her on again, off again relationship with Superman, I think the character herself is essentially unfilmable as currently represented in print. The very name is as iconic as it is silly (and before you get mad, so are “Superman”, “Spiderman”, “Batman” and the rest—how obvious can you get?!), but somehow, saying “Wonder Woman” in a sentence out loud is pretty…goofy. The costume will always be associated with Lynda Carter, and there will always be only one Lynda Carter, and unless someone of her assets and acting chops can be found/cloned/whatevered, the classic costume needs a serious rethink (as you pointed out with examples). Ditto for the Lasso of Truth, which belongs in an S&M film, and the invisible jet, which is right up there with anything Timothy Leary-inspired. In fact, both are so weirdly un-Amazonian, that I can’t help but believe that both tools of Wonder Woman were the product of an LSD trip. Seriously, how else do you come up with something as out of left field as those?