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So, Gal Gadot will play Wonder Woman in the still-officially-untitled 2015 follow-up to Man of Steel, meaning that the movie that many have been referring to as “Batman vs. Superman” may be more of a Justice League project after all — unless the movie hews close to Wonder Woman’s role in current DC Comics continuity.
Wonder Woman, created by psychologist and writer William Moulton Marston, first appeared in All Star Comics #8 back in 1941, and has long been considered one of DC Comics’ “trinity” of A-list heroes beside Superman and Batman. As such, she’s been a core member of multiple incarnations of the Justice League, and co-headlined two separate series titled Trinity alongside Clark and Bruce (The first was a three-part 2003 storyline , the second a yearlong thrice-monthly series from 2008 to 2009). She is, as Ron Burgundy would put it, kind of a big deal.
For the most part, Wonder Woman has been portrayed as an equal partner to Superman and Batman when it comes to fighting crime, although her role has changed throughout her history. In the less enlightened 1940s, her gender meant that she served as secretary to the Justice Society of America, the original incarnation of the better-known Justice League — an unfortunate trend that continued in the late 1950s and early 1960s Justice League of America stories, where she would take care of domestic duties in the JLA headquarters between missions.
In more recent years, the “warrior princess” part of her mythology has been played up more, making her into a hawkish (and arguably more honorable) counterpart to the almost pacifist Superman and suspicious, cynical Batman, albeit one who unifies both heroes by accepting the darkness within people while choosing to remain optimistic nonetheless. In the lead-up to the 2005 Infinite Crisis series, her actions shattered the partnership between the three heroes when she killed a supervillain, seeing it as the best solution to a particularly deadly problem, a definition that neither Superman nor Batman could agree with or condone. (Considering that the Man of Steel Superman did the same thing himself, it’d be interesting to imagine how he would have reacted.)
Wonder Woman’s place in current DC continuity is slightly more problematic, when it comes to Superman, however: She’s Superman’s girlfriend.
She’s not just Superman’s girlfriend, of course. In fact, in her own monthly series, she’s just taken on the mantle of the God of War from Ares, showing that she can still kick ass when necessary. The problem is, outside of the Wonder Woman title, she’s become increasingly defined by the men in her life. Even before she hooked up with Superman in Justice League #12 last year, it was her former relationship with Steve Trevor that drove the action in the Justice League series, and even in Superman/Wonder Woman — the first time the character has had a second ongoing monthly series in years — the storyline is entirely centered on her romantic relationship with the Man of Steel.
With this comic book focus on Wonder Woman’s love life — and the related emphasis on her as someone to fight over, as opposed to fight beside — it’s no wonder that some comic book fans are nervous about the idea of Wonder Woman being added to a movie that’s so far been described as “Batman vs. Superman.” That movie’s going to be pretty busy just with those two alpha male egos clashing. Will there be any space for Wonder Woman to show up and show off what she can do — or will she end up being reduced to the role of love interest for one (or both) of the more familiar male heroes?
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