In December Warner Bros. announced that they had cast Israeli actress Gal Gadot to play the iconic Wonder Woman in the upcoming Superman/Batman movie. Since then there have been a few details here and there, but once the release date approaches you just know there will be a lot of new interest in the mighty Amazonian. One question that may come to many people’s minds is: how the heck did Wonder Woman, an Amazonian Princess warrior from the sovereign island of Themyscira come to don a costume based on Old Glory?
In the beginning there really was no need to explain why Wonder Woman’s costume was designed to look like the American flag. Princess Dianna was introduced to American comic book readers in 1942′s Sensation Comics #1 when the world was engulfed in war against the Nazi’s. Wonder Woman was enlisted to combat the Axis forces along side other Golden Age heroes like Superman, Batman, and the Justice Society of America. There was no need to invent a story to explain why an Amazonian would adopt the American standard, the world was at war and she was doing her part. Oh, and also because: ‘Murica.
The Costume Design Explained.
After the war Wonder Woman maintained her Amazonian heritage and her stories began to delve into the world of Greek mythology during the Silver and Bronze Age of comic books. This made her American themed costume make less sense. It’s unclear if fans really considered this an issue, or even questioned it having been the hallmark of the character for decades. However, in 1987 DC Comics was barely a year out from its continuity streamlining “Crisis on Infinite Earths” and was actively building a more coherent universe for its heroes to live in. As part of this exercise the creative team of Len Wein and George Pérez decided it was time to fill in this hole in the character’s mythos.
Wein and Pérez made significant changes to Wonder Woman’s history fully engulfing her world with that of the Greek Gods. Now Diana was created from the clay of Themyscira by the original Diana Trevor, mother of Steve Trevor, and brought to life by the Gods. Her role as warrior was implied, but she became an ambassador to the United States on behalf of her people.
Just why an ambassador of Themyscira would wear the colors of a foreign nation is somewhat confusing, and so in issue #12 it, and her deep connection to the United States is explained.
During the war Wonder Woman’s mother Diana Prince married American solider Ulysses Stephan Trevor, and two weeks after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour Diana gave birth to their son Steve. While Diana and Ulysses fought in the war Steve was cared for by family until they were reunited after it’s conclusion. Life returned to normal for a short time, but before long Diana was tasked with testing an experimental new jet.
It would turn out to be a fateful trip. Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean Diana flew into a great thunder and lightening storm which disabled her plane and sent both spiraling into the ocean. The Gods intervened and carried Diana safely to the shores of Themyscira. When she regained consciousness Diana was thrust into a fevered battle alongside the Amazonian warriors that lived on the island against an evil dark entity trying to enter the human plane. Several Amazonians lost their lives in the battle, and so did Diana, although not before saving one of the warriors and being instrumental in achieving victory.
Given her sacrifice, the Amazon Queen Hippolyta decreed that she would be given a warriors burial, and two suits of Amazonian armor were crafted using the insignias emblazoned on her bomber jacket and the wreckage of her plane. Thus one suit of armor was donned by Diana Trevor as she was laid upon a funeral pyre, and the other was inherited by Wonder Woman as a mark of deep respect. As an Ambassador to the United States Wonder Woman’s costume became a homage to the sacrifice of a great female American warrior that helped safe the Amazonian nation.
The More You Know …
That’s the story behind Wonder Woman’s American flag themed costume, or at least it was. Since DC launched the New 52 much of Wonder Woman’s history has been revamped again. Much of the Wein/Pérez canon has been replaced with a simpler origin. She is no longer born from clay, but rather she is the biological daughter of the Amazon Queen Hippolyta and the Greek God Zeus. Twenty five issues into Wonder Woman volume four and there has been no hint of explaining the flag themed costume.
I’ve always felt the story of Wonder Woman’s costume in 1987 was a major character milestone. It was rich and compelling, and added a deep, emotional back story for fans to dig into. The theme would rarely – if ever – come up again after the issue was published, and so many have forgotten this important part of Wonder Woman’s story.
What do you think? Does the New 52 Wonder Woman lose something for not having kept this story as part of her history, or no? Will this make it into the upcoming Wonder Woman appearance in Superman/Batman, or her rumored solo movie?