Wonder Woman arrived on newsstands in December 1941 with a secret mission from her creator, William Moulton Marston: represent “psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world,” as Marston himself put it.
Marston believed women to be inherently superior to men and his Amazon creation lived up to that view — but not for very long. Marston moved on and his creation quickly became a symbol for numbing sexism in a puerile forum — a woman in hot pants written and drawn by men for a medium aimed at boys.
The contradictions of the character are at the core of Wonder Women! The Untold Stories of American Superheroines, which is airing this week on PBS. EW talked recently with one of the filmmakers behind the documentary, Kristy Guevara-Flanagan, and with her help, we went back through vintage Wonder Woman comics and found 10 jaw-dropping moments of surreal sexism. Here’s how we would describe each of them if we were caught in the golden loops of Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth.
All-Star Comics No. 12, 1942: The mighty Wonder Woman is invited to join the Justice Society… as the club secretary. She accepts, and Hawkman, Dr. Mid-Nite and the guys serenade her with “For she’s a jolly good fellow…” How thoughtful. Later the mightiest Amazon dutifully waits behind while the men go off to fight. Those men include Al Pratt, a.k.a. the Atom, a 5-foot-1 tough guy who has no superpowers and wears a weightlifting belt as part of his costume. READ FULL STORY