October 22, 2016

WONDER WOMAN 75TH ANNIVERSARY



            This year, Wonder Woman celebrates her 75th anniversary. Created by William Moulton Marston and Elizabeth Holloway Marston, Wonder Woman became a symbol for peace and feminist empowerment. This past Friday, the United Nations recognized that and named her a Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls.

Wonder Women Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot attend the United Nations ceremony.

            To celebrate this event, and Wonder Woman’s anniversary as well, we’re going to take a look back at her incarnations outside of the comic page.



Diana Prince, her alter-ego, and her...delusional alter ego.

            While Wonder Woman has been around just as long as Superman and Batman, she wasn’t adapted as quickly as the rest of the DC Comics trinity. Superman and Batman had radio shows, animated shorts, film serials and live-action television series in the two decades since their creation. Wonder Woman’s first foray out of the comic page wouldn’t come until 1967. William Dozier, producer (and narrator) of Adam West’s Batman, commissioned the production of a pilot for a proposed Wonder Woman series. The show would have been a comedy, and Diana Prince (Ellie Wood) would have been the focus. A five-minute portion of the pilot was filmed and showed that when Diana donned her Wonder Woman costume she appeared as a different person to herself (played by Linda Harrison). The project was ultimately abandoned.






            Wonder Woman’s first televised appearance came on Saturday mornings (see, there IS a point to this!) as a guest-star in Filmation’s The Brady Kids when the kids ended up back in ancient Greece. Wonder Woman (Jane Webb) helped the kids avert changing history and eventually return home. Filmation had previously introduced Wonder Woman’s spin-off character/sidekick Wonder Girl in their Teen Titans cartoon shorts, and had planned to produce a Wonder Woman show until they lost DC Comics rights to Hanna-Barbera.



Super Friends franchise (1973-86)
Hanna-Barbera Productions

Original Wonder Woman character model (above) and her later appearance.


            Wonder Woman finally achieved a starring role as one of the principal members of the Justice League in every incarnation of Hanna-Barbera’s Super Friends franchise. Shannon Farnon voiced Wonder Woman up until The Legendary Super Powers Show where she was replaced by Connie Cawlfield, who in turn was replaced by B.J. Ward for Galactic Guardians. The series largely focused on the heroics of the characters, rather than their overall lives. While some mention of Wonder Woman’s origins was made, her life before joining the League and alter ego weren’t a central focus.



Wonder Woman (1974)



            Another live-action attempt came in 1974. During the 1970s, Wonder Woman had lost her abilities and entered a mod/espionage phase inspired by Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) of the British television series The Avengers. ABC commissioned a pilot movie for a proposed series and it stuck fairly close to this interpretation of Wonder Woman, while also letting the character maintain some enhanced physical abilities. Other differences included the fact that Wonder Woman (Cathy Lee Crosby) was blonde and had a concealed golden cable that used for grappling and capturing fleeing enemies. Although ABC ultimately passed on the concept, they had enough interest to commission another attempt at the pilot.



Warner Bros. Television



            The next pilot resulted in a more faithful adaptation and became the lead-in for the well-known 1970s Wonder Woman series. Initially set during World War II (when the comics first debuted), Wonder Woman (Lynda Carter) fought against Nazi plans alongside Colonel Steve Trevor (Lyle Waggoner) and the United States military. Although the series achieved solid ratings, being a period piece made it expensive to produce and ABC ultimately did not renew it. CBS picked up the show and it was retooled to take place in the modern day to allow for greater story potential as well as reduced costs, earning the name The New Adventures of Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman didn’t age due to her Amazon roots and Waggoner became his character’s son, Steve Jr. As members of the IADC, Diana Prince and Steve would investigate various crimes and encounter some super powered foes. With this format, the show ran an additional two seasons before receiving its final cancellation. While the show was mostly faithful to the source material, it did manage to make its own contribution to the comics via how Diana changed into Wonder Woman by spinning. Before then, in the comics, she would either change at super speed or spin her lasso around her.



Superman (1988)



            Ward reprised the Wonder Woman role for a guest-appearance on Ruby-Spears’ Superman series. This appearance was notable as being the first for the Post-Crisis version of the character. The event series Crisis on Infinite Earths was an attempt by DC to consolidate and simplify its long and complicated continuity, while also leading to some modifications of their characters. Following the event, during George Perez’s acclaimed run on her solo title, Wonder Woman gained through the Greek gods the ability to fly without her invisible jet as well as super speed; made her stronger than Superman; mastery of languages and strategy; kinship with animals and enhanced senses; stunning beauty and a kind heart; and resistance to fire that ties into her Lasso of Truth ability.






            Wonder Woman’s first video game appearance came with Sunsoft’s Justice League Task Force. The game was a 2-D fighting game which saw the Justice League pitted against each other and three foes, including frequent Wonder Woman foe, Cheetah.






            Because the rights to the character were tied up in various movie and television deals, Wonder Woman wouldn’t return to television until Justice League debuted in 2001. The series was a continuation of the original DC Animated Universe established with Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series with the first introduction of the Justice League to that world. Once again, Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg, and Dakota Fanning once voiced her when she was reduced to a younger age) was new to man’s world which caused some culture clashes between her and her teammates. This version of the character was again largely influenced by Perez’s run and was shown to have some kind of mutual attraction with Batman (Kevin Conroy). When the show switched to Unlimited in order to incorporate additional DC characters, Wonder Woman’s role was reduced along with the rest of the original team, but she still had a prominent presence.






            A Game Boy Advance game based on the Justice League animated series that pitted the League against Lex Luthor and his Injustice Gang. The player was given two Leaguers each level that could be alternated during gameplay.






            Also based on the Justice League animated series, the game featured various members of the League teaming up for each of the game’s three levels. For the final level, Wonder Woman was teamed with Superman and Martian Manhunter.






            Wonder Woman’s first video game speaking portrayal came in Justice League Heroes, courtesy of Courtenay Taylor. Developed by Snowblind Studios, players were assigned two of the roster of heroes (largely influenced by the Justice League cartoon) to play with each level. Experience could be gained to increase a hero’s stats, as well as boosted by any combination of orbs collected. Over the course of the game, additional heroes and costumes could be unlocked. Wonder Woman’s costumes included a Themyscria toga, her biker outfit, and her Amazonian battle armor.



Warner Bros. Animation



            A direct-to-video adaptation of Darwyn Cooke’s DC: The New Frontier mini-series, which was set in the 1950s and featured the Golden Age versions of the Justice League characters (with some elements from later years thrown in). In a bit of inspired casting, former Xena star Lucy Lawless was cast in the Wonder Woman role.






            It was a match-up years in the making. Warner Bros. Games and Midway Games came together to bring the fighters of Mortal Kombat in a face-off with the Justice League and several of their foes. The plot centered around the simultaneous defeat of Shao Khan (Patrick Seitz) and Darkseid (Perry Brown) in their own universes causing a cosmic collision that brings the two worlds together. Believing each world responsible for the schism, they fight while being subjected to moments of rage outbreaks brought on by the fused being Dark Khan (also Brown & Seitz). Tara Platt voiced Wonder Woman in this outing.



Wonder Woman (2009)
Warner Bros. Animation



            Part of the DC Universe Animated Films line, the direct-to-video Wonder Woman was the animated origin of the character based largely on Perez’s run. The film was produced by Bruce Timm, one of the driving forces behind the DC Animated Universe, and starred Keri Russell as Wonder Woman.



Warner Bros. Animation



            Wonder Woman appeared in a non-speaking cameo in the Silver Age-inspired Batman: The Brave and the Bold in 2010. The following year, she appeared in the cold open for another episode voiced by Vicki Lewis and accompanied by an arrangement of the 1970’s show theme song, and more prominently in a third episode teaming-up with Batman and Superman. Wonder Woman’s design was largely inspired by her appearance in the comics from 1965-68, before entering her above-mentioned mod phase.



Warner Bros. Animation



            A direct-to-video movie featuring the Justice League facing off against their evil alternate universe counterparts, the Crime Syndicate of America, first introduced in Justice League of America #29-30 (1964). Wonder Woman (Vanessa Marshall) was seen engaged in a rivalry with Superman (Gina Torres) despite the fact her identity was changed from being Wonder Woman’s counterpart to that of Mary Marvel’s.



Warner Bros. Animation



            Eisenberg returned to the role (as did several other actors from the DCAU) in this direct-to-video adaptation of “The Supergirl from Krypton” storyline from the Superman/Batman comic series, which was a new origin for the Kara Zor-El version of Supergirl (Summer Glau). Wonder Woman was tasked with keeping the newly arrived Supergirl on Paradise Island for training until she’s kidnapped by the forces of Darkseid (Andre Braugher). Wonder Woman joined Superman (Tim Daly) and Batman (Conroy) in her recuse and single-handedly took on Darkseid’s elite guard, the Female Furies.



Young Justice (2010-13)
Warner Bros. Animation



            Young Justice was a series that focused essentially on an updated version of the Teen Titans being trained to act as a covert action squad where a subtler approach than the Justice League could offer was needed. Maggie Q voiced Wonder Woman in her few appearances throughout the show, although she was largely absent the second season after the Justice League were imprisoned off-world for crimes they committed under mind control.






            The world-building video game featured multiple downloadable content packs, amongst them various skins that could be placed on the characters. One of them was Wonder Woman, voiced by Jules de Jongh.






            The massive MMORPG gave players the ability to create their own heroes or villains in order to stand side-by-side with characters from the DC Universe. Initially, Torres voiced Wonder Woman but was replaced by Eisenberg for later content.



Wonder Woman (2011)
Warner Bros. Television



            Warner Bros. Television partnered with David E. Kelley to bring a new Wonder Woman television series to life. Networks had passed on the idea until NBC reconsidered and ordered a pilot produced. The premise took great liberties with the source material, as all traces of Wonder Woman’s (Adrianne Palicki) Amazon heritage and mystical elements were omitted or not recognized. This version of Wonder Woman was a crime fighting entity of Themyscria Industries (using the name of the Amazons’ home island), which she ran as Diana Themyscria. Wonder Woman also had a third identity: that of Diana Prince, which allowed her to attempt to live and enjoy a normal life. Diana would struggle to balance the three aspects of her personality while dealing with the rising threat of an evil businesswoman and her designer drug. Wonder Woman’s costume took some inspiration from the Jim Lee redesign, which gave Wonder Woman pants along with her usual corset. The television show chose to make the pants blue instead of black in keeping with the classic design, which did eventually appear at the end of the pilot. NBC ultimately passed on the project and the pilot was never aired, however it managed to find its way onto the internet and bootleg DVDs.



Warner Bros. Animation



            Serving as a sequel to Crisis on Two Earths, the direct-to-video movie was an adaptation of the “Tower of Babel” storyline from the series JLA. Immortal villain Vandal Savage (Phil Morris) was able to get ahold of Batman’s (Conroy) contingency plans against the League if they ever went rogue and hired a team of villains with vendettas against each member to make use of them. Eisenberg again reprised her role.



DC Nation Shorts (2012-14)
Warner Bros. Animation

Wonder Woman protects Steve Trevor from Amazon sentries.

            In 2011, Warner Bros. began airing a DC Nation Block on Cartoon Network. The hour-long block featured two shows based on DC properties with some vignettes in between. One of those vignettes was a series of shorts that saw DC’s characters reimagined in various ways by a rotating line-up of creators. The three Wonder Woman shorts retold her origin in the style of a 70s action show with highly stylized character designs. Eisenberg reprised the role once again.






            Since their inception, the Lego videogames have become incredibly popular for both their humor and their faithfulness to whatever property they adapt. They also became infamous for the number of glitches that tend to occur. A sequel to Lego Batman, the game was expanded into an open-world format and included members of the Justice League. Wonder Woman (Laura Bailey) was accompanied by the 1970s theme every time she flew. Notably, this became the first Lego videogame to feature full voice acting, rather than the miming and mumbling from the previous ones.



TT Animation



            Bailey reprised her role for this direct-to-video movie. The film was largely comprised of the cutscenes from Lego Batman 2 intermixed with original content to replace the moments of gameplay.






            The fifth entry in the Scribblenauts series became the first to be based on a licensed property. The series’ protagonist, Maxwell, has the ability to manifest any object or person by scribbling it into his magical notepad. In this game, he was able to summon any of the over 2000 DC Comics characters, including the New 52 (see Justice League: War) Wonder Woman, to help him solve a puzzle. Additionally, he was able to summon an alternate version of those characters by adding an adjective to their names. You want a zombie Batman? You got a zombie Batman!



Warner Bros. Animation



            A direct-to-video adaptation of the “Flashpoint” crossover event, the film followed Flash (Justin Chambers) using his powers to go back in time to prevent his mother’s murder. As a result, the entire world had changed, the Justice League had never been formed, and a war was about to break out between the Atlanteans and the Amazons. Leading the Amazons was a fiercer, merciless Wonder Woman (Marshall).



Warner Bros. Animation



            In 2011, DC Comics decided that their comics had once again become too convoluted and overloaded with history and continuity, making them prohibitive to new readers. Following the “Flashpoint” crossover event, DC cancelled all of its titled and started publishing all-new #1 issues for their 52 planned series. The characters, while familiar, all had significant changes made to their origins and backstories in an effort to make them both accessible and more modern. The lead-in story showing the formation of the Justice League in Justice League was set five years prior to any of the other titles. War was a direct-to-video movie adapting that story, and was the inaugural title in a shared continuity called the DC Animated Movie Universe. This version of Wonder Woman (Michelle Monaghan) was no longer born of clay, but rather was the daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta. Wonder Woman’s costume was modified to feature long fingerless gloves under her gauntlets and a piece to cover her chest as part of her regular corset.



Warner Bros. Animation



            An original direct-to-video film saw Lex Luthor (Fred Tatasciore) stuck in suspended animation for 1,000 years until he’s accidentally awoken by members of the Legion of Superheroes. Raiding a future museum, Luthor discovers Superman’s (Peter Jessop) secret identity and a device allowing him to travel through time. Grey DeLisle portrayed Wonder Woman.



Village Roadshow Pictures, Lego System A/S, Vertigo Entertainment, Lin Pictures, Animal Logic, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, Warner Animation Group



            Lord Business (Will Ferrell) wants order, and seeks to attain it by supergluing the Lego world in which he lived. Only The Special (Chris Pratt) could stop his plans with the help of his friends and the Piece of Resistance. The comedic film became a massive hit, incorporating a good number of Lego’s then-current licenses and original concepts into one massive story. The DC Comics license, as well as the film being made by Warner Bros., allowed for the presence of several DC characters; chiefly Batman (Wil Arnett), but Wonder Woman (Cobie Smulders) got a few lines in her brief screen time. She was also featured in the video game adaptation.






            The next fighting game in the Justice League franchise by NetherRealm Studios saw the team splintered as the death of Lois Lane caused Superman (George Newbern, reprising his role from Justice League) to become a tyrant who wanted to bring peace to the world at any cost. Supporting him as both his lover and a member of his Regime was Wonder Woman (Eisenberg). Once again, alternate costumes were present for the characters involved taken from various points of their comics career. Here initial costume was similar to the 2011 pilot’s interpretation with some more severe and battle-ready details added. Other costumes included a more armored version of her classic look, the New 52 costume, Superman: Red Son, Flashpoint (see Flashpoint Paradox below), the above-mentioned Jim Lee redesign, and Ame-Comi Girls. The mobile versions would get an updated costume based on her appearance in Dawn of Justice (see that entry below).



Travellers Tales



            The sequel to Lego Batman 2 expanded on the original concept and added additional locations and characters from the DC Universe. Bailey reprised the role of Wonder Woman, who was made to resemble her New 52 incarnation.



Warner Bros. Animation



            An original TV movie featuring the Lego version of the Justice League. The movie follows Batman (Troy Baker) as he teams up with various members of the Justice League while resisting their invitation to join the team shortly before they—and the villains they fight—vanish. DeLisle voiced Wonder Woman again.



Warner Bros. Animation



            A sequel to War, this direct-to-video movie was loosely based on the “Throne of Atlantis” story that ran in the New 52 versions of Justice League and Aquaman books in which Aquaman (Matt Lanter) and the League had to prevent Ocean Master (Sam Witwer) form conquering Metropolis. Rosario Dawson took over the role of Wonder Woman for this outing.






            Infinite Crisis was a short-lived multiplayer online battle arena that brought together various alternate versions of DC Comics characters. Players fought other player teams comprised of “champions” and drones in order to achieve points. Marshall reprised the role for several versions of Wonder Woman.



Warner Bros. Animation



            Fisher-Price entered into a partnership with DC Comics to produce toys based on their characters as part of their Imaginext line. The figures are largely stylized and their giant feet are used to activate devices found on vehicles and playsets. In 2010, an original video was produced called The Joker’s Playhouse, which utilized the toys’ designs, as well as took a lot of inspiration from Hanna-Barbera’s Super Friends franchise, and was included on a DVD with the toys. In 2015, the animation returned with a 7-episode YouTube webseries later collected on DVD. For this series, Rachael MacFarlane played Wonder Woman.


Warner Bros. Animation




            As Batman (Baker) is elected the leader of the Justice League, Lex Luthor (DiMaggio) forms his own super team to combat them: the Legion of Doom. Delisle reprises her role as Wonder Woman.


Warner Bros. Animation




            A direct-to-video standalone sequel to Be-Leaguered, Bizarro League follows the deformed Superman clone Bizarro (both Nolan North) as he steals a device to create his own version of the Justice League while also dealing with an attack by Darkseid (Tony Todd). Kari Whalgren voiced Wonder Woman and her clone, Bizarra, in this outing.



Warner Bros. Animation



            In an attempt to appeal to a younger female audience, DC and Mattel launched a line of action figures that put emphasis on the women of the DC Universe reimagined as teenagers. To promote the toys, Warner Bros. Animation launched a series of short webisodes on YouTube that showed how the characters dealt with the awkwardness of growing up with super powers while attending Super Hero High School. DeLisle reprised her role for the series.



Lego Dimensions (2015- )
Traveller’s Tales

The (somewhat) invisible jet returns!

            The most ambitious version of the Lego videogame franchise yet, Traveller’s Tales took a good number of Lego’s licensed properties and assembled them together in a massive story. Unlike the other Lego games, Players had to buy actual, physical Lego minifigures that could be placed on a special game pad and transported into the game to use. Each figure came with either a vehicle to be built, a special device, or both, depending on the pack being purchased. Wonder Woman (Bailey) came with her invisible jet, despite still having her ability to fly (and the 70s theme).


Warner Bros. Animation




            The Lego Justice League finds themselves pitted against Brainiac (Phil LaMarr) who sends the various members through time. DeLisle reprises her role as Wonder Woman.


RatPac-Dune Entertainment, DC Entertainment, Atlas Entertainment, Cruel and Unusual Films



            A movie originally about an older and cynical Batman (Ben Affleck) taking issue with Superman’s (Henry Cavill) handling of the invasion of Metropolis from Man of Steel, the film quickly became a launching point for a Justice League movie in order to compete rival Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. Numerous League members were featured in cameo roles, with Wonder Woman’s (Gal Gadot) being more substantial. This version is an antiques dealer who used her position to steal data from Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) that revealed her Amazonian heritage. Gadot is set to reprise the role in a Wonder Woman solo movie and a Justice League film.



Warner Bros. Animation

Wonder Woman vs. Cheetah.

            The next entry in the DC Animated Movie Universe had Dawson reprising her role from Atlantis. The direct-to-video movie is an examination into the past and lineage of Titan member Raven (Taissa Farmiga) that draws in both the Titans and the Justice League.


Warner Bros. Animation




            This direct-to-video movie featured the Lego version of Batman (Baker) being convinced to take a vacation while the Justice League and members of the Teen Titans watch over Gotham City in his absence. DeLisle reprised her role as Wonder Woman.


Warner Bros. Animation

Wonder Woman and Cyborg.


            Wonder Woman is set to appear as one of the central Justice Leaguers in the new show, voiced by Rachel Kimsey. This version’s costume takes inspiration from the Gadot costume; featuring thigh-high boots with a more armored style, a sword and a shield.

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