Wonder Woman: Susan Eisenberg on That Batman Kiss and Other Tales From 15 Years With an Icon
Seventy-five years ago Friday, Wonder Woman made her debut and would go on to become one of the most important comic book characters ever — a feminist icon and a cornerstone of the DC Universe.
This year, the character has been more visible than ever — being named an honorary U.N. ambassador, hitting the big screen in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and igniting San Diego Comic-Con with a trailer for her solo film starring Gal Gadot.
Heat Vision breakdown
Heat Vision caught up with Eisenberg in honor of Wonder Woman's 75th birthday to look back at her time with the character (so far).
Wonder Woman seems bigger than ever these days. How has her awareness changed since you first voiced the character?
The movie changes everything. If you think about Wonder Woman, there's always been a huge fan base, but I don't know if there have been people in positions of power acknowledging that fan base like there are today. You didn't have that many ways to celebrate her since Lynda Carter [and her live-action Wonder Woman show ended its run in 1979]. You had Super Friends [1973-86], which was absolutely groundbreaking for its time. You had Shannon Farnon [who voiced Wonder Woman in Super Friends], and then there's a huge gap between that and [the animated] Justice League. And from Justice League to Gal's movie, that's a really long dry spell. When you look at Superman and Batman and how much affection they've received — it's something to see Diana get her due.
How has playing her changed for you since you started?
What was so interesting about the Justice League was I've never had to play her again like I played her in the beginning, when she was leaving Themyscira and going to this man's world and adapting to that. That young, innocent voice hasn't been revisited all that much. If it's DCU Online or Injustice, or Justice League: Doom or Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, I wasn't called on to do that innocent girl like I was in Justice League again.
What was a typical day like on Justice League?
I was always excited as could be and super nervous to go in and have to perform in that company, even though it was a company I knew quite well by the end. In the beginning, they were more or less strangers.
You had plenty of fun guest stars on Justice League too.
Patrick Duffy played Steve Trevor. It was just crazy. I grew up on Dallas! It was ridiculous. He was there, and I’m just looking at him. And then Fred Savage. I grew up on the Wonder Years. Ed Asner — practically no show in history has mattered to me more than Mary Tyler Moore. and there I am with Ed Asner as Granny.
Fans go crazy for the romance between Batman and Diana. How do you feel about that?
It wasn't a full-blown storyline, but it was hints of a romance between Batman and Wonder Woman. I love it. I saw [director] Dan Riba at a Comic Con in Long Beach. I have a picture when I do signings, and one of the pictures I sign is Wonder Woman kissing Batman, and he has this amazing expression on his face, like Scooby. It's just so adorable. Dan was telling me about how that relationship evolved, and even that moment. He had an argument with [producer] Bruce [Timm] about leaving that kiss in. Bruce was like, "No, we don't need a kiss." And Dan was like, "Yes! We do need the kiss." And it was great. I have this great photograph of me and Dan holding up the picture. So I will forever have that little story in my mind. Being able to play that, it gave me a different dimension of her other than this princess and this warrior. It gave me this romantic, flirty thing to play, which was a third piece of her.
Update: Riba offered more on the backstory of the kiss (see below).
— Susan Eisenberg (@susaneisenberg1) October 22, 2016
It seems like Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot's version has a potential for flirtation too. Would you like to see that or keep it for the animated show?
There are so many people who put them side by side. There will be a picture from the animated show of me and Batman and then there will be a picture of Gal and Ben from the movie. There's really a lot of connection between the two. I'm sure that's intentional. I would love it. But I don't see them in a full-blown romance. I never imagine them having children and choosing schools and going to parent night. No one wants to see that, but there was something quite fun and endearing about seeing Batman in that light. Kevin [Conroy]'s voice and my voice, there just was something. It was quite sweet. The only thing I've not been a fan of is I don't love her and Superman together, but just because I'm a huge Lois Lane fan, and I just think Lois belongs with Superman. There's so much going on with the Rebirth series and her sexuality and things like that, so who knows how that will be explored.
Comic writer Greg Rucka spoke about Wonder Woman's sexuality, confirming she is queer. Did you ever think of her sexuality in that way?
I wasn't voicing Diana through my own interpretation, but rather through the lens of the television, video game and film creators I worked for. But when I heard what Greg Rucka said about her sexuality in DC Rebirth, it made all the sense in the world to me. Having said that, so did her having a flirtation with Batman in Justice League. Love is love is love is love.
You've done so much for the character. Where would you like to go next?
I'd love to do a video game that's hers. I think that'd be awesome. It's such a void that they don't have it. There's such a hunger for something like that. I do the DCU Online game and I get to play her in that. That's been really exciting, because the writer of that game, S.J. Mueller, was a huge, huge Justice League fan. So much of my Diana in DCU Online is similar to Justice League Diana. That's a treat to be able to do that again.
Oct. 22, 4:05 p.m. Updated with comment from Dan Riba on the backstory of the Batman kiss.
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