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  1. #1

    Default Wonder Woman & the World Wars

    I was going to post this as a reply somewhere, but I figured it could be its own topic: I really hate Wonder Woman being involved with World War II (or WWI). And I don't think her first adventures should be in the distant past.

    As a start, it makes a mess of her supporting cast. Mainly Steve, but Etta is she's one of the first friends Diana makes when she leaves Themyscira.
    But more importantly, it creates a lot of issues with her character that, while admittedly could make an interesting Elseworld story, won't be treated with the gravity they deserve.

    Regarding World War II itself...for one, I just don't understand the obsession with keeping her origin there. Hey, guess what, Superman and Batman also fought Nazis because that was the thing back in the 40's, but we don't see an insistence of keeping their origins there, do we?

    More importantly, Diana's stated purpose, her mission, is to bring peace and improve the world. So if Wonder Woman participated in WWII...she failed. She failed as a peacemaker. She failed as a hero.
    As much as we (as a country--the United States) love to mythologize WWII because it was the last "good" war with clearly defined "bad guys" that were defeated...there's still the attempted extermination of the Jews, the atrocities the Germans and Russians committed against each other during their fighting, the (arguably) unnecessary bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Among many other things 'cause, you know, it was a freaking war.

    Captain America in WWII kind of gets by because he's just a soldier fighting battles and he's not as powerful. But, again, Wonder Woman's stated mission is to bring peace. I can't imagine Diana allowing that stuff to happen, nor do I see them letting politics stop her.

    But then comes the bigger question of what the hell she's been doing in the decades since. Because if you have Diana first appear in one of the World Wars (or earlier) you then have to get her to modern times so she can interact with the characters we care about. And surprise, it winds up being a cheap hand-wave that doesn't consider the long-term ramifications of Diana being Wonder Woman that long.

    If creators are going to make her hundreds of years old and/or active since one of the World Wars, they do need to acknowledge the toll it would take on her. But it seems like writers wish for a Captain America type of thing where she fought in a World War and we just jump to modern day, but Diana obviously doesn't have the frozen in ice bit...so they just gloss over the fact living for a hundred years and watching friends and loved ones age and die around her should affect Diana.

    Then there's the question of what Diana's been doing in the decades since the war, because you have to reconcile how/why a lot of nasty crap happened despite her presence. And, guess what guys, there is no good answer. There's a reason WW84 didn't even acknowledge what Diana was doing (or not doing) after World War I ended.
    She either tried to improve things and failed consistently, or felt it wasn't her place to interfere and limited their actions to punching bad guys, reducing her to a milquetoast defender of the status quo.

    I don't like the idea of her going back to Themyscira for a couple of decades and then becoming Wonder Woman again in modern day. Because, again, that should be treated with actual gravity. Diana quitting or just packing it up to go home should be a big deal. Something making her decide to be Wonder Woman again should also be a big deal.

    There are potentially compelling questions to confront Diana with. How long does she really plan on being Wonder Woman? If enough time went by, would the job or watching her friends and loved ones age wear on her, and if so, what would she do?
    As it stands, the only stories off the top of my head to even come close to addressing this is New Frontier and (to an extent) Kingdom Come. Should either of those be the "main" Wonder Woman? Remember how a key part of Diana's arc in that story is how she gets burned out and frustrated with everything to the point where she considers quitting?

    Again, that can make for a compelling Elseworlds take on Diana. But I think it's a bad idea to make it the mainline Wonder Woman.

    And, finally, at the end of the day, what is gained by this? Why is it so important to have Wonder Woman around in World War II? Yeah, we all love watching her beat up Nazis, but newsflash: they haven't gone anywhere! White supremism and neo-Nazis still exist today!
    So she can have the "bragging right" of being the "first superhero"...as if that makes any damn difference? Hooray, more meaningless lip service that won't make DC treat her any better!
    So we boast about her unparalleled battle experience...as if it's going to stop her from getting jobbed out like a chump in any given issue of Justice League?

    I just don't understand the insistence on anchoring her to the 1940's. If Wonder Woman must fight in World War II for nostalgia or whatever, keep it confined to Earth-2 or an Elseworld. The "main" Wonder Woman should be in the modern day like everyone else.
    "Never place your trust in us. We're only human. Inevitably, we will disappoint you."


  2. #2
    Beyond Good. Beyond Evil. Gaius's Avatar
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    I agree. It's fine for a limited Elseworld series like New Frontier where you can go full alternate history but it doesn't really make sense to be her origin in an ongoing continuity where we're expected to believe the world history, has mostly, been the same up until superheroes arriving in whatever the modern day is at the time of publication.

    I suppose that applies to the larger JSA also but that comes with writers trying to have their cake and eat it too by trying to shove everything into one Earth.

  3. #3
    Fishy Member I'm a Fish's Avatar
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    DC thinks she has to be first in cannon to be important.
    Well, in cannon as of now, the JSA are all heroes before Superman and it doesn’t diminish what he means to people. Being “first” in cannon is an empty title.

    Perez run wasn’t a hit because she was punching Nazi’s. People didn’t like her in BvS because she was around for a century.

    WWII is just a setting, it’s not Wonder Woman.

    Edit: Plus, all of her supporting cast and most of her villains still work for the modern age and in fact have already been updated, so it’s not like her mythos is dated to WWII specifically.
    Last edited by I'm a Fish; 06-01-2021 at 11:14 AM.

  4. #4
    Mighty Member Psy-lock's Avatar
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    Yup, 100% agreed. An Elseworlds series akin to Superman & Batman: Generations about Diana debuting in one of the world wars would be pretty cool. But for the mainline Wonder Woman it's a ridiculous idea.

  5. #5
    Invincible Member MajorHoy's Avatar
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    I loved Wonder Woman active during WWII back in the pre-CoIE days, when the JSA was on Earth-2 / Earth-Two. (And for those of you who weren't already aware of it, the first season of the Wonder Woman TV show starring Lynda Carter was set during WWII.)

    After CoIE, during the late 1990s John Byrne run on Wonder Woman, I enjoyed when Byrne had Hippolyta (as Wonder Woman) travel to the past and retroactively become the "Golden Age" Wonder Woman.

    But to make the "current" version of Diana fill that role by being active in the "regular" world back in WWI and WWII is not something I like. To me, it's another way that separates Wonder Woman from Superman and Batman, and not in a good way. I always prefer the idea of them being contemporaries of each other and being among the earliest costumed heroes during the modern age. Diana should be the 21st Century Wonder Woman and not the 20th Century version as well.

  6. #6
    Leftbrownie Alpha's Avatar
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    DC's recent push for Diana to be a World War hero is certainly a superficial way to make it seem like she has an important role in the DC universe, and it's a poor substitute for investing in her Lore. And it is certain that Diana could debut at the same time as Batman and Superman without losing a step.

    But it's disengenuous to say that Superman and Batman have as much of a connection to World War 2 as Diana. They obviously had plenty adventures in that era, but Diana has a much greater thematic connection due to Steve being a fighter pilot and the idea that she chose to leave paradise in order to spread peace in our world.

    While I am totally fine with her debutting in the present, I still find a lot of potential with her being from World War 2. For one thing, I don't see why the DC universe has to have the exact same history as our world. Why would Diana's efforts destroy the fabric of continuity? For decades we recognized the existence if the Justice Society and the universe went on without any major issues. Maybe there were supervillains during the Vietnam War that needed to be fought along with the actul events of the war.

    And at the same time, I don't see what's wrong with Diana's long path to improving our world also having dark periods. Maybe Diana was unable to stop humanity from hurting each other at times, and maybe she even abandoned western society in the 50s after having her values rejected, instead choosing to help out in Asia and Africa.

    The best thing about her having existed for so long is that humanity did have big moments of change during the second half of the 20th Centurt, and the one thing I want the most is to see Diana as a champion of counter culture in the late 60s and 70s. This is the greatest benefit of her having existed since World War 2. I wanna see Diana having an adventure with Ziggy Stardust. It would make me overjoyed because it's the exact type of thing that Marston was doing with her in the 40s.

    And while I understand your frustation that Diana would be present in our world even though women went on without power for decades, I find it surprising that you don't have the same complaint about us not seeing Diana fight for feminism in the middle east and try to create peace and respect in Israel-Palestine. I mean, the same reasons why Diana isn't fixing the world of today also apply to the 20th century if she existed back then.

  7. #7
    Invincible Member Digifiend's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MajorHoy View Post
    I loved Wonder Woman active during WWII back in the pre-CoIE days, when the JSA was on Earth-2 / Earth-Two. (And for those of you who weren't already aware of it, the first season of the Wonder Woman TV show starring Lynda Carter was set during WWII.)

    After CoIE, during the late 1990s John Byrne run on Wonder Woman, I enjoyed when Byrne had Hippolyta (as Wonder Woman) travel to the past and retroactively become the "Golden Age" Wonder Woman.

    But to make the "current" version of Diana fill that role by being active in the "regular" world back in WWI and WWII is not something I like. To me, it's another way that separates Wonder Woman from Superman and Batman, and not in a good way. I always prefer the idea of them being contemporaries of each other and being among the earliest costumed heroes during the modern age. Diana should be the 21st Century Wonder Woman and not the 20th Century version as well.
    There's an easy fix to this which they've implemented in the past - Hippolyta being the World War II Wonder Woman in the JSA and All-Star Squadron like you mention, and Diana appearing around the same time Superman shows up. But instead they seem to be pushing Diana starting in wartime. Which makes one wonder how Steve Trevor and Etta Candy are even still alive, as if they're in their 20s in 1940, they'd be over 100 in 2021.
    Last edited by Digifiend; 06-01-2021 at 12:42 PM.
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  8. #8
    Invincible Member MajorHoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digifiend View Post
    There's an easy fix to this which they've implemented in the past - Hippolyta being the World War II Wonder Woman in the JSA and All-Star Squadron like you mention, and Diana appearing around the same time Superman shows up.
    But if they did that, it would mean Diana wasn't the original "Wonder Woman" and is instead a legacy character.

    Diana really needs to be the original Wonder Woman.
    John Byrne having Hippolyta traveling back to the 1940s in its own strange way kept Diana as the first one, though if you think too much about it things gets really screwy in a "chicken-or-the-egg" kind of way.

  9. #9
    Extraordinary Member HsssH's Avatar
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    I don't think that her not being able to stop WW1 or WW2 is a problem. Sure, you can say that she failed, but bad stuff is happening all the time currently as well so I guess WW, Batman and Superman are still failing all the time? To me it is same as some modern writers writing stupid stories about how superheroes aren't solving "real problems".

    As for the idea itself, to me main problem is that for it to work and actually mean something DC would have to invest lots of time and human resources. Most likely what is going to happen is that DC is going to show that she is older than Batman/Superman and thats that. It means nothing and it screws up continuity.

    For it to mean anything DC would basically have to restructure their entire continuity around WW. You know, so its not just that she was first one and thats how the story ends. No, she was first one and she inspired entire WW1-WW2 generation. She was instrumental in creating JSA. Entire superhero business in DC universe flows from her. She is not playing around in world created by Batman and Superman, they are playing in Diana's world. And thats never going to happen.

  10. #10
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    The thing is with Wonder Woman, there have been several times in her history when they went back to the "Golden Age"--whereas you rarely get that with Batman and Superman (usually it's a one-shot Elseworlds story). So it never became something that was done away with long ago--it's always been one of their approaches to the character, especially when they want to recharge the series.

    And the W.W. II events are a part of her origin, where they aren't part of Superman and Batman's origins. It's in the epic nature of the character. The stories are invoking gods and heroes and important struggles between good and evil on a global scale. This doesn't work as well, when the struggles are taking place in proxy wars. The epic nature of W.W. II suited the epic nature of the Olympian gods.

    It also makes sense why, when the lines between good and evil were so clearly drawn, Wonder Woman would adopt a costume that celebrates the country she has come to defend.

    In order to make Wonder Woman work in times far removed from that era, the writers and artists have had to change too much about her origin and her motivation.

    Of course, in the 1940s, Wonder Woman was not so super-powerful, so you didn't expect her to end the war overnight. Hitler had gods working on his side, too. And Wonder Woman's philosophy prevented her from forcing people to become good. They had to come to understand what was right for themselves.

    Marston established her as having had a very long life and other versions have said the same thing. So it's possible for her to have been active in the 1940s and not to have aged since then.

    And her supporting cast has been stripped away from her so many times that the only other supporting character that remained for most of the time was Queen Hippolyte/Queen Hippolyta (and even she has been taken out of the comics at times). And the Queen is also an immortal.

    So unlike Batman and Superman, there aren't that many mortal cast members to account for. There's been Steve Trevor, who's been dead and rebooted several times. And Etta Candy was taken out of the comics for decades and when she returned she was always different from the original version.
    Themyscira is the island home of Wonder Woman, according to the comic books.
    Themiscyra is the mythological city of the Amazons, according to the Ancient Greeks.

  11. #11
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Is it possible to tell a compelling story of Diana entering Man's World in the First or Second World War? Yes, the movie most certainly did manage to do so. (And I want to note that while WW84 largely glossed over the 1920-1983 period, they did not ignore it entirely. We did get to see the photo of Diana and Napi rescuing people from a German concentration camp.)

    But I nevertheless think it's a mistake to place Diana's origin there. One is the mess, already pointed out, that it makes of her supporting cast. But perhaps more importantly, most super heroes are made to be set in the present day as they were written. That was true of Superman, Batman, Captain America, Spider Man, Hulk, and also Wonder Woman. The original Wonder Woman wasn't set in the Second World War, rather it was published during the Second World War, if that distinction makes sense.

    The later mythologisation of the war kept her being returned there, but how many of the present Wonder Woman creators and readers have a real tangible connection to the war? And for the readers that DC ought to reach right now, the Second World War is as long ago as the American Civil War was during the Second World War.
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  12. #12
    Extraordinary Member John Venus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digifiend View Post
    There's an easy fix to this which they've implemented in the past - Hippolyta being the World War II Wonder Woman in the JSA and All-Star Squadron like you mention, and Diana appearing around the same time Superman shows up. But instead they seem to be pushing Diana starting in wartime. Which makes one wonder how Steve Trevor and Etta Candy are even still alive, as if they're in their 20s in 1940, they'd be over 100 in 2021.
    Only problem is that Wonder Woman fans hated the idea of Hippolyta being the 'first Wonder Woman'. I was fine with it and thought the backlash went against the 'any woman could be a Wonder Woman' ethos of Marston but that's just me.

    The best fix was Earth-2 where you could have a Wonder Woman who appeared during WW2 and Earth 1 where you can have a Diana who appeared closer to our time. Just say that on Earth 2, America tried to war with Themyscira after WW2 but Diana was against this. Hippolyta died and Diana became the new Queen while pregnant with Lyta and then hid Themyscira in another dimension where time passes differently. Decades later, Hector Hall crash lands on the Themsyciran beach where Lyta finds him.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kelly View Post
    The thing is with Wonder Woman, there have been several times in her history when they went back to the "Golden Age"--whereas you rarely get that with Batman and Superman (usually it's a one-shot Elseworlds story). So it never became something that was done away with long ago--it's always been one of their approaches to the character, especially when they want to recharge the series.
    It being done over and over again doesn't mean it must be done. Especially when most cases are of rather low quality.


    And the W.W. II events are a part of her origin, where they aren't part of Superman and Batman's origins. It's in the epic nature of the character. The stories are invoking gods and heroes and important struggles between good and evil on a global scale. This doesn't work as well, when the struggles are taking place in proxy wars. The epic nature of W.W. II suited the epic nature of the Olympian gods.
    People have been telling epic tales of good vs evil before and after any of the world wars.

    It also makes sense why, when the lines between good and evil were so clearly drawn, Wonder Woman would adopt a costume that celebrates the country she has come to defend.
    Except Diana isn't just defending America. Hell, she barely spends time in America in the first movie.

    In order to make Wonder Woman work in times far removed from that era, the writers and artists have had to change too much about her origin and her motivation.
    Um, like what? Perez, Rucka, the two animated movie and the live-action movie used the same motivation, with only one of them using a change in origin.

    Of course, in the 1940s, Wonder Woman was not so super-powerful, so you didn't expect her to end the war overnight.
    All the more reason why a World War isn't needed.

  14. #14
    Incredible Member wonder39's Avatar
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    Being soneone who grew up with the original Multiverse, the Diana that was connected to the War was the Golden Age/ Earth 2 version.
    The current Diana at the time ( Silver-Bronze Age/ Earth 1) had no connection to the War. Neither did the Post Crisis version.
    So while I enjoy that part of that specific Diana's story, it has never been a need of mine to shackle her to that part of history. You can still have her fighting neo- nazis in the modern day. Hate and inequality still exists in this world, if we have learned nothing in recent years.

    So this is where the concept of the original multiverse is so important, and why it needs to currently exist. It lets every version of Diana exist all at the same time, while allowing each Diana's history to be it's own thing.
    We can have an Earth 2 WW who fought in the war. We can read tales of her during the war, or during current times.
    We can have a Diana who renounced her powers to find Steve's killers, who lost to Orana, who rescued a child from a burning building and adopted her as her sister.
    We can have a Diana who came to the Patriarch's world after the Age of heroes began.
    We can have a Diana who's father was Zeus and who battled the First Born
    And we can have a Diana who is the current version

    But to have the current version be all of those versions is chaotic and insane.

  15. #15
    Extraordinary Member John Venus's Avatar
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    The question is how much does it benefit Diana to have been a WW2 heroine as opposed to a contemporary one?

    On one hand, it's a big enough event that justifies the attention of a civilization that's remained hidden for centuries. The 40's were the socio-political scene that created superheroes. You could still claim that a version of the old GA stories still happened to those characters. It showcases Ares power by having him involved in the biggest war ever fought and on the writers side, it's probably easier to work with a RL event than introduce the Amazons and somehow come up with something big enough to justify Diana leaving Paradise Island. The patriotic suit is also easier to explain if it was something she wore to gain the trust of Americans, otherwise it's just a 'huh?' moment that requires more exposition time. Plus, you can justify having Steve and Etta as her WW2 cast and then you can use other characters like Helena Sandsmark, Julia Kapatelis, Tom Tressor in her present day supporting characters. You can justify the multiple Cheetah's and multiple Silver Swans that has existed over the decades.

    On the other hand, having a hero as proactive and powerful as Wonder Woman fail to change the world in any meaningful way is almost excessively cynical. She wasn't meant to maintain the status quo, she was made to topple it. It opens up all kind of logic holes; how does she affect the war? If she failed during a key event then how did she fail? How did she react to certain events that happened in the war, because her reactions wouldn't be the same as her American counterparts. If she went to back to her island for another 70 years then what prompted her to do it or if she lived anonymously for another 70 years then what prompted that? What was so devastating that she stayed out of it for years (and please don't say it's because Steve Trevor died)? What brought her back to the fold?

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