Despite the inclusion of many female creations, comic books and the action adventure pulps that inspired them are mainly a man’s world. However, that’s not to say that there is not an audience that is entertained and inspired by woman heroes. The role of the superherone is firmly established today, but once upon a time that was not the case.
The most popular and successful superheroine has to be Wonder Woman, a creation by William Moulton Marston, also inventor of the lie detector. Marston felt that young men needed a strong female role model to protect them. Princess Diana of Themyscira was created by Queen Hippolyta of the Amazons from the very clay of the island itself. Her desire to have a daughter in a society populated entirely by women was granted by Athena. One of the few characters of her ilk, Wonder Woman was on a mission of peace, yet also a trained warrior princess. Earning her place as an ambassador to the ‘world of men,’ she left Paradise Island for a n unknown world of danger.
Popularized in print, Wonder Woman is one of three superheroes to remain in circulation from her inception (alongside Batman and Superman). She has also been adapted into other mediums. appearing in the Super Friends cartoon series and in the live action Wonder Woman program.
From 1975-1979, Lynda Carter starred as the Amazon Wonder Woman. Rather than simply an exciting TV series full of action and skimpy outfits, Carter injected some positive messages of female empowerment and peace. It was a bold move, and one that the studio was reluctant to pursue (it was dropped later on), but the mere presence of a strong woman who more often than not saved her male companion rather than the other way around made an impact on young viewers.
Strangely, no modern version of Wonder Woman has appeared since her TV program aside from a stellar animated feature and as part of the Justice League animated series. Nevertheless, the superheroine is a vital part of Western popular culture and one that continues to inspire and empower people fro, various backgrounds. A PBS documentary explored the phenomenon to a great degree which I highly recommend.
The full documentary can be ordered here.