Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice features Wonder Woman in an extended cameo that has become one of the highlights of the critically panned movie. The female superhero will headline her own film in June 2017. DC comics and Warner Brothers have already started the build-up with a first look at Wonder Woman’s birthplace, the island of Themyscira, home to a tribe of Amazonian female warriors.
Gal Gadot will reprise her role as the crusader in a bustier in the origin movie, which will focus on the evolution of Diana Prince into a heroine with extraordinary powers and abilities. Wonder Woman is being helmed by Petty Jenkins, the acclaimed director of the Oscar-winning movie Monster (2003).
The pop culture obsession with Wonder Woman started soon after maverick psychologist William Marston created her in 1942. Marston wanted a heroic character who embodied the qualities of love and peace rather than conflict and machismo. The Wonder Woman comics initially had heavy undertones of bondage, which were gradually toned down as the comic character turned into a feminist icon.
The first Wonder Woman movie was made in 1974. The direct-to-home film, starring Cathy Lee Crosby, featured the superheroine as a super sleuth. The film, in which Crosby dons a demure version of the flesh-baring Wonder Woman costume, didn’t do well.
Then came the Wonder Woman TV series (1975-1979). Set during WWII, the show had Lynda Carter as the lead in a racier costume than the 1974 movie. Carter’s Diana Prince, who transforms into Wonder Woman by spinning, gained iconic status. The spinning trick was later incorporated into DC comic titles and animated appearances in the Justice League TV show.
Wonder Woman appeared more recently in The Lego Movie (2014), along with other superheros from the DC universe. The brilliantly animated movie has Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman (voiced by Cobie Smulders) as Lego crime-fighting figurines.
Wonder Woman’s influence has been far-reaching. In a skit from Jim Henson’s The Muppets, Miss Piggy appears as “Wonder Pig,” a spoof of Lynda Carter’s superheroine.
She is cited as feminist icon, so when MAC cosmetics launched a limited edition Wonder Woman makeup collection, activists were not amused.
DC Comics has been slow to make a full-fledged movie on the popular character, but it has moved swiftly to prevent her appropriation. A French organisation campaigning against AIDS came out with a public service advertisement in 2004 starring Superman and Wonder Woman. The superheroes were shown wasting away on a hospital bed in a bid to convey the message that everybody is susceptible to AIDS. DC Comics successfully filed a motion to have the advertisement removed, citing copyright issues.
We can expect many more gifs and mash-ups in the wake of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and then some when the movie featuring the popular heroine finally sees the light of day.