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Wonder Woman: 80 years young and still a star – The Straits Times

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Wonder Woman has been turning heads, beating up bad guys and saving lives since 1941. To mark the 80th anniversary of her debut, The Sunday Times looks at her creation and showcases some of her iconic transformations.
Wonder Woman was created by Dr Marston (1893-1947), who was greatly inuenced by two women: his wife Elizabeth Holloway and their polyamorous life partner, Mary Olive Byrne. His pen name was Charles Moulton.
Marston’s wife was an attorney and psychologist. She had three college degrees in elds including law and psychology, at a time when it was unusual for a woman to even have one
The daughter of Ethel Byrne, a women’s rights activist, was a writer known professionally as Olive Richard. She penned an October 1940 article on Marston, who spoke of the educational potential of comics. It caught the eye of comics publisher Max Gaines, who asked Marston to create a new superhero.
Women were encouraged to take on traditionally masculine roles while the men were at war.
It took activists and reformers nearly 100 years to win the ght (1840-1920) for the right for women to vote in the United States
In 2016, the United Nations named Wonder Woman as an honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls. However, this was dropped two months later due to complaints about the character being overly sexualised
Two other comic-book characters hold the claim to being the first female superhero. Fantomah was the first female superhero with superhuman powers and The Woman in Red is the first masked and costumed superheroine. Both appeared in 1940.
Wonder Woman (2017) was the first female-led superhero film directed by a woman – Patty Jenkins. She is the second female director to helm a movie with a budget of more than US$100 million (S$135 million). The first was Kathryn Bigelow, with K-19: The Widowmaker, in 2002.
Besides Wonder Woman, many other female-fronted films have been hits at the box office.
Here are some notable ones:


Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games, Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman and Brie Larson in Captain Marvel. PHOTOS: LIONSGATE, WARNER BROS, DISNEY

US$771m worldwide gross 
The franchise, starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, grossed more than US$2.9 billion across its four films, with an average of about US$742 million a movie.
US$822m worldwide gross 
Gal Gadot played Diana Prince/ Wonder Woman.
US$1.13bn worldwide gross.
Brie Larson starred as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel.
First Appearance: Wonder Woman #298 (1982) Friend of Diana’s mother, Queen Hippolyta
First Appearance: Wonder Woman #131 (1998) Diana’s mother
First Appearance: Wonder Woman #1 (2006) Diana’s protege
First Appearance: Wonder Woman #204 (1973) Diana’s twin sister
First Appearance: Wonder Woman #90 (1994) Separate faction of the Amazons, challenged Diana
First Appearance: Wonder Woman #4 (2007) Villain who stole Diana’s power
First Appearance: Wonder Woman #250 (1978) Fellow Amazon who challenged Diana
First Appearance: DCeased #4 (2019) Better known as Wonder Girl

The signature elements of Wonder Woman’s get-up, such as the colour scheme, stars, bracelets and tiara, have remained unchanged. Her chest emblem starts off as a literal American bald eagle, symbolising patriotism, and what appears to be a skirt is actually owy culottes. She also rocks 1940s curls, a popular hairstyle for women then. 

The boots are replaced with lace-up gladiator sandals in line with Greek mythology. This evolved into heels in the 1950s. The culottes get shorter and the eagle takes on a simplified design.

The iconic costume is ditched in favour of contemporary trends. Superpowers are traded in for martial arts and Wonder Woman becomes a street hero who fights crime in style. Many fans are alienated by the changes.

Wonder Woman has her powers restored in the comics and boosts her credentials as a feminist icon by appearing on the cover of Ms Magazine. She gets a gold belt and the pants become high-cut briefs. The superhero is defined by American actress Lynda Carter’s portrayal.

In the 1980s, the emblem is redesigned into a stacked double W. Wonder Woman’s hairdo is updated with a big, flowing curly style. Her costume gets skimpier through the decades.

Having lost the title and tiara to a rival, Diana changes her outfit to a blue biker jacket over a black sports bra with bike shorts. Her signature emblem and stars are retained. The changes do not sit well with fans and last less than a year. 

Millennium Wonder Woman’s get-up is a throwback to the classic costume. The emblem resembles an eagle once again and her signature tiara and red boots are back.

Wonder Woman has a redesign along with The New 52 reboot of the DC Comics universe. Her costume retains its classic appearance, but the embellishments are silver instead of gold and the colours are more subdued with a deeper red and darker blue.

Wonder Woman returns to the big screen in Wonder Woman 1984. The costume stays true to the essence of the classic version, minus the stars. It has a metallic sheen reminiscent of Greek armour and reflects Diana’s identity as an Amazon warrior princess.
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MCI (P) 031/10/2021, MCI (P) 032/10/2021. Published by SPH Media Limited, Co. Regn. No. 202120748H. Copyright © 2021 SPH Media Limited. All rights reserved.
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