Wonder Woman’s appearance in the early golden age of comics made her the first prominent female superheroine. The psychologist William Moulton Marston created Wonder Woman somewhat as a counter reaction to the presence of prominent male superheroes (at this time Superman, Batman and Captain America), as well as a counterbalance to the "blood curdling masculinity" that was dominant at the time, with the hopes that the character could serve as an inspiration for young children (though in certain ways it was geared more towards female readers.) Marston had been partially motivated to create this character because of the accomplishments of his own wife, who was also an accomplished academic at a time when it was difficult for women to fulfill this role. As a result, the first Wonder Woman series contained many complementary articles and features which sought to highlight the inner power of women. There were articles for instance on the different career paths that women could pursue (according to the standards of the 1940s) as well as a series of stories on famous and accomplished women, called the Wonder Women of History. Marston introduced the character in All-Star Comics #8 in 1941. She became the lead character in Sensation Comics in 1941, and got her first solo book in 1942.
In a 1943 issue of The American Scholar, Marston wrote: "Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don't want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women's strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. 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."
Following the 2016 DC Rebirth continuity relaunch, Wonder Woman's outfit was redesigned to resemble the one worn in the film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. This outfit is a red bustier with a gold eagle, a blue leather skirt with gold edges with two stars, and knee-high red boots with gold knee guards and accents. Her tiara once again is gold with a red star. She occasionally wears a red cape with a gold clasp and edges.[volume & issue needed] She continues to wear this updated outfit in DC Universe, the continuity established after Rebirth.
During the 25 bi-monthly issues of the "new" Wonder Woman, the writing team changed four times. Consequently, the stories display abrupt shifts in setting, theme, and tone. The revised series attracted writers not normally associated with comic books, most notably science fiction author Samuel R. Delany, who wrote Wonder Woman #202–203 (October and December 1972).
The return of the "original" Wonder Woman was executed by Robert Kanigher, who returned as the title's writer-editor. For the first year he relied upon rewritten and redrawn stories from the Golden Age. Following that, a major two-year story arc (largely written by Martin Pasko) consisted of the heroine's attempt to gain readmission in the Justice League of America – Diana had quit the organization after renouncing her powers. To prove her worthiness to rejoin the JLA, Wonder Woman voluntarily underwent twelve trials (analogous to the labors of Hercules), each of which was monitored in secret by a member of the JLA.
Wonder Woman made her debut in All-Star Comics at the end of 1941 and on the cover of a new comic book, Sensation Comics, at the beginning of 1942, drawn by an artist named Harry G. Peter. She wore a golden tiara, a red bustier, blue underpants and knee-high, red leather boots. She was a little slinky; she was very kinky. She’d left Paradise to fight fascism with feminism, in “America, the last citadel of democracy, and of equal rights for women!”
The story then centers on Apollo trying to take over as King of Olympus due to his father Zeus' absence and Wonder Woman's efforts to protect Zola from him, as it is prophesied that one of Zeus' children will be his downfall which Apollo considers to be Zola's child. Wonder Woman receives the power of flight by one of Hermes' feathers piercing her thigh and Zola's baby is stolen by Hermes at the end and given to Demeter. The issue's last page shows a dark and mysterious man rising from the snow, taking a helmet and disappearing. Issues 7–12 are collected in a hardcover titled Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Guts, scheduled for release in January 2013.
In the 1910s, Peter was a staff artist at the magazine Judge, where he contributed to its suffrage page called “The Modern Woman,” which ran from 1912 to 1917. More regularly, the art on that page was drawn by another staff artist, a woman named Lou Rogers. Rogers’ suffrage and feminist cartoons very often featured an allegorical woman chained or roped, breaking her bonds. Sanger hired Rogers as art director for the Birth Control Review, a magazine she started in 1917. In 1920, in a book called Woman and the New Race, Sanger argued that woman “had chained herself to her place in society and the family through the maternal functions of her nature, and only chains thus strong could have bound her to her lot as a brood animal.” In 1923, an illustration commissioned by Rogers for the cover of Birth Control Review pictured a weakened and desperate woman, fallen to her knees and chained at the ankle to a ball that reads, “UNWANTED BABIES.” A chained woman inspired the title of Sanger’s 1928 book, Motherhood in Bondage, a compilation of some of the thousands of letters she had received from women begging her for information about birth control; she described the letters as “the confessions of enslaved mothers.”
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In 1911, when Marston was a freshman at Harvard, the British suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst, who’d chained herself to the gates outside 10 Downing Street, came to speak on campus. When Sanger faced charges of obscenity for explaining birth control in a magazine she founded called the Woman Rebel, a petition sent to President Woodrow Wilson on her behalf read, “While men stand proudly and face the sun, boasting that they have quenched the wickedness of slavery, what chains of slavery are, have been or ever could be so intimate a horror as the shackles on every limb—on every thought—on the very soul of an unwilling pregnant woman?” American suffragists threatened to chain themselves to the gates outside the White House. In 1916, in Chicago, women representing the states where women had still not gained the right to vote marched in chains.
After Diana won the tournament and revealed her true identity, Queen Hippolyte relented and allowed her daughter to become Wonder Woman. Diana returned Steve Trevor to the outside world and soon adopted the identity of Army nurse Lt. Diana Prince (by taking the place of her exact double by that name) in order to be close to Trevor as he recovered from his injuries. Afterward, he became Wonder Woman's crime-fighting partner and romantic interest.
In her debut in All Star Comics #8, Diana was a member of a tribe of women called the Amazons, native to Paradise Island – a secluded island set in the middle of a vast ocean. Captain Steve Trevor's plane crashes on the island and he is found alive but unconscious by Diana and fellow Amazon, and friend, Mala. Diana has him nursed back to health and falls in love with him. A competition is held amongst all the Amazons by Diana's mother, the Queen of the Amazons Hippolyta, in order to determine who is the most worthy of all the women; Hippolyta charges the winner with the responsibility of delivering Captain Steve Trevor back to Man's World and to fight for justice. Hippolyta forbids Diana from entering the competition, but she takes part nonetheless, wearing a mask to conceal her identity. She wins the competition and reveals herself, surprising Hippolyta, who ultimately accepts, and must give in to, Diana's wish to go to Man's World. She then is awarded a special uniform made by her mother for her new role as Wonder Woman and safely returns Steve Trevor to his home country.
In August 2011, the third volume of Wonder Woman was cancelled along with every other DC title as part of a line-wide relaunch following Flashpoint. The series was relaunched in September with a #1 issue written by Brian Azzarello and drawn by Cliff Chiang. Wonder Woman now sports another new costume, once again designed by Jim Lee. Azzarello describes the new Wonder Woman book as being darker than the past series, even going so far as to call it a "horror" book.
At the time of her debut, Wonder Woman sported a red top with a golden eagle emblem, a white belt, blue star-spangled culottes, and red and golden go-go boots. She originally wore a skirt; however according to Elizabeth Martson, "It was too hard to draw and would have been over her head most of the time." This outfit was entirely based on the American flag, because Wonder Woman was purely an American icon as she debuted during World War II. Later in 1942, Wonder Woman's outfit received a slight change – the culottes were converted entirely into skin-tight shorts and she wore sandals. While earlier most of her back was exposed, during the imposition of the Comics Code Authority in the mid-1950s, Wonder Woman's outfit was rectified to make her back substantially covered, in order to comply with the Authority's rule of minimum exposure. During Mike Sekowsky's run in the late 1960s, Diana surrendered her powers and started using her own skills to fight crime. She wore a series of jumpsuits as her attire; the most popular of these was a white one.
Wonder Woman's supporting characters were altered as well. In addition to the introduction of the Kapatelises, Steve Trevor was changed into an Air Force officer considerably older than Diana, thus sidestepping the traditional romance between the two. Instead, Trevor became involved with Etta Candy, a mature military officer possessing a plump physique. The Greek war god Ares and the witch Circe eventually became two of Diana's greatest enemies. Her rogues gallery included the Cheetah, a woman who could transform into a ferocious feline-humanoid creature; and the Silver Swan, a once-deformed radiation victim granted beauty, wings and deafening sonic powers through genetic engineering.
In Challenge of the Gods, Diana is already accustomed to the “man’s world” she had been unaware of during her time at Paradise Island, and even happens to be a sort a celebrity, which is a factor that the character would deal with again and again as she is introduced to modern society. Wonder Woman has to fight a new villain, Cheetah; manage Zeus, who is assessing if Diana would make a good wife; and even pacify internal conflicts among the Amazonians.
Gloria Steinem also liked the film, stating that she felt it made the "Amazon origin story clear; [Wonder Woman] was stopping war, not perpetuating it." Steinem also noted that she knew "some women were disappointed by all the makeup, but I may be desperate—I was just happy that the Amazons had wild hair!" Her only complaint lay in the choice to eliminate the World War II setting as the Wonder Woman comic book developed in response to existing comics that were "so sadistic and racist that there was a congressional hearing on the subject". Steinem also gave Hillary Clinton the first Wonder Woman Award in October 2017 during the Women's Media Center's "Speaking Truth to Power Awards" (an organization created by Steinem, Jane Fonda, and Robin Morgan). Upon receiving the award, Clinton noted that she had seen Jenkins's Wonder Woman film and that she "loved the outfit". She also said that as her granddaughter was "really keen" on Wonder Woman, Clinton "thought maybe I could borrow something from her for the night. It didn't quite work for me, but I will say that this award means a lot to me because as a little girl, and then as a young woman, and then as a slightly older woman, I always wondered when Wonder Woman would have her time, and now that has happened." Clinton had previously praised Jenkins's film, in a public August 2017 message, stating that "it was just as inspirational as I'd suspected a movie about a strong, powerful woman in a fight to save the world from international disaster would be."
Hidden behind this controversy is one reason for all those chains and ropes, which has to do with the history of the fight for women’s rights. Because Marston kept his true relationship with Olive Byrne a secret, he kept his family’s ties to Margaret Sanger a secret, too. Marston, Byrne and Holloway, and even Harry G. Peter, the artist who drew Wonder Woman, had all been powerfully influenced by the suffrage, feminism and birth control movements. And each of those movements had used chains as a centerpiece of its iconography.
Upon William Moulton Marston's death in 1947, Robert Kanigher took up the writing duties on Wonder Woman. Diana was written as a less feminist character, and began to resemble other traditional American heroines. Peter produced the art on the title through issue #97, when the elderly artist was fired (he died soon afterward). During this time, Diana's abilities expanded. Her earrings provided her the air she needed to breathe in outer space, and she piloted an "invisible plane", originally a propeller-driven P-40 Warhawk or P-51 Mustang, later upgraded to a jet aircraft. Her tiara was an unbreakable boomerang, and a two-way wrist radio similar to Dick Tracy's was installed in one of her bracelets, allowing her to communicate with Paradise Island.
One of the most memorable aspects of the show that was developed during the first season was the transformation sequence that changed Diana Prince into her superheroine alter ego. The sequence in the original specials employed a slow fade between two synchronized shots, both filmed with an overcranked camera to create a slow motion effect. A twirling Diana Prince's hair would fall loose as the shot transitioned to a twirling Wonder Woman holding her Diana clothes, which she would stow nearby in a closet or locker. (How she changes back to Diana is never shown, although presumably she must return to the location to retrieve her clothes.) To ensure both segments transitioned smoothly the camera was locked off (secured in place) while Carter's clothing, make-up, and hair was altered between identities, a process Carter said on a DVD commentary typically took about 45 minutes. The spinning transformation was later incorporated into the comics and into animated appearances such as Justice League Unlimited. (At the time of the series in which Carter starred, the transformation was depicted in the comics by way of Diana spinning her magic lasso around her body, with the lasso changing her clothes, a move that was incorporated in 1973. The original character changed much the same as Superman, by simply changing at super-human speed, her costume under her clothing, and her boots and tiara in her handbag or desk drawer.)
Now a mod boutique owner, the powerless Diana Prince acquired a Chinese mentor named I Ching. Under I Ching's guidance, Diana learned martial arts and weapons skills, and engaged in adventures that encompassed a variety of genres, from espionage to mythology. During this time she fought villains such as Catwoman, Doctor Cyber, the hippie gang Them!, and the campy witch Morgana.
The American theme of Diana's costume was explained by Pérez in the Challenge of the Gods storyline in which Diana engaged in a series of trials arranged by Zeus as punishment for refusing his advances. Diana met the spirit of Steve Trevor's mother, Diana Trevor, who was clad in armor identical to her own. Trevor revealed that during World War II she had crashed on Themyscira while on duty as a U.S. Army pilot. She blundered into an Amazon battle against Cottus, a multi-armed demon, at the portal to the underworld. Trevor was drawn into the battle, although she was armed only with her side arm. She wounded the beast before suffering a mortal blow, allowing the Amazons to reseal the portal.
As a child, Steve Jr. had heard his late father's stories of adventures with Wonder Woman during World War II. It is essentially confirmed in the second season première that his father never introduced him to Wonder Woman and that he had never even seen her photographed. It is similarly implied that he and YN1 Diana Prince were unaware of each other. Diana is taken aback by the younger Steve's existence, implying that his father had never spoken of the boy to either Wonder Woman or YN1 Prince. This was particularly striking when she spoke to Steve Jr. about knowing his father well, from the j-shaped burn scar on his right shoulder, to the 20mm shell casing that he used as a paperweight.
Marston was also a writer of essays in popular psychology. In 1928, he published Emotions of Normal People, which elaborated the DISC Theory. Marston viewed people behaving along two axes, with their attention being either passive or active, depending on the individual's perception of his or her environment as either favorable or antagonistic. By placing the axes at right angles, four quadrants form, with each describing a behavioral pattern:
The series began at a time when violence on television was under intense scrutiny. As a result, Wonder Woman was less frequently seen punching or kicking people the way she did in the early episodes. She would usually be shown pushing and throwing enemies or using creativity to get them to somehow knock themselves out (such as jumping high into the air to cause pursuers to collide). Despite the wartime setting, she almost never resorted to deadly force. The only exception occurs in the pilot episode when she sinks a German U-boat by crashing an airplane into it, presumably killing everyone aboard. Wonder Woman herself was occasionally overpowered by chloroform and poison gas, but she always came back in the second half of the show to save the day. In some episodes, her enemies learn the secret of her superhuman strength – her magic belt – and temporarily steal it, leaving her with average human strength. Her indestructible lasso and bracelets were stolen or taken away in one episode (leaving her defenseless against gunfire), but Wonder Woman recovered them by the end of the episode. (In the comics, Wonder Woman would lose most of her strength if bound by a man.)
Wonder Woman grossed $412.6 million in the United States and Canada and $409.3 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $821.8 million, against an estimated production budget of $120–150 million. Estimates for the number the film needed to surpass internationally in order to cover its production and promotional costs and break even ranged from $300 million to $460 million. Deadline Hollywood calculated the net profit of the film to be $252.9 million, when factoring together all expenses and revenues, making it the 6th most profitable release of 2017.