SPOILER ALERT: This article contains SPOILERS for ‘Wonder Woman’ and the DC Expanded Universe. Proceed with caution!
One challenge that Wonder Woman has faced over the years is that her origin has never been as succinct as some of her male counterparts’. Everyone knows Kal-El was rocketed from the doomed planet Krypton, raised by a kind Kansas farm couple, the Kents, to grow up to be Superman, the Man of Steel. And by this point, Martha Wayne’s pearl necklace has appeared in almost as many movies as James Bond and Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben has been killed on screen more times than Kenny from ‘South Park’.
But Wonder Woman’s mythological origin– not to mention the fact that she was molded by clay– are not as familiar. So director Patty Jenkins had her work cut out for her with this movie. Not only does she have to explain her hero to a mainstream audience, but had to explain her entire backstory involving the gods of ancient Greece.
Select insiders were shown some footage that fleshed out their history. Here are some highlights:
- Zeus creates humanity to serve as companions to the gods, but his son Ares, the god of war is jealous and infects humanity with the plague of war. In response, Zeus turns to the other Greek gods and Aphrodite, the goddess of love, raises the Amazons from the sea to challenge Ares.
- The Amazons succeed against Ares… for a while, but are eventually enslaved. Zeus creates two last safeguards against Ares. One is the hidden island of Themyscira and the other is the powerful God Slayer sword which is concealed on Themyscira. You may remember the God Slayer as the artifact that Diana Prince was searching for in ‘Batman V Superman’. Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) frees her sisters and they retreat to Themyscira, where they are hidden from Ares’ view.
- There is no mention of Diana being molded from clay, but she is the only child on Themyscira– eight years-old when she is first shown on screen. (The molded-from-clay origin doesn’t really add anything to her as a character, so I don’t really care if they left that out entirely.) Her mother, Queen Hippolyta has decreed that she not be trained as a warrior, but Hippolyta’s sister General Antiope (Robin Wright) sees potential in Diana and trains her in secret only to make a shocking discovery– Diana is much more powerful than any of the other Amazons. Eventually, Hippolyta learns of Antiope’s action and declares that if Diana is to be a warrior, “Let her be unconquerable.”
- Diana grows to become the mightiest warrior among the Amazons and as such feels unfulfilled… until Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash lands on Themyscira, bringing word of World War I which is engulfing the outside world. Diana senses Ares’ hand in this and that it is her destiny to stop his plan.
Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when an American pilot crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside man in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers…and her true destiny.
It doesn’t sound like a lot of time will be spent on the Amazon’s epic backstory– because honestly, that could make up an entire movie by itself. It will be interesting to see how they explain just where Diana came from. A recent attempt in the comics to cast her as the natural daughter of Hippolyta and Zeus himself met with derision from longtime fans.
But the real attraction to this movie is to see Gal Gadot as the fully-grown Wonder Woman as she battles the forces of evil. If they need to gloss over some details to get to that, maybe that will be for the best.
What do you think of this simplified origin? Does it do justice to Diana? Will you be upset if she is not a clay sculpture brought to life?
‘Wonder Woman’ storms theaters on June 2, 2017.