Wonder Woman is a character who is so iconic that the idea of her often outweighs the real thing. She has the crown, the lasso, the invisible airplane, and a cute little outfit, but there's a lot more to her than that. Did you know, for example, that her creator was psychologist William Moulton Marston, who espoused principles of free love? Or that Wonder Woman was partially inspired by birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger? Read on for a list of facts to impress your fellow moviegoers (and for more, check out Jill Lepore's excellent book The Secret History of Wonder Woman, especially if you're interested in additional information about William Moulton Marston's "nonconformist" lifestyle).
1. William Moulton Marston, who created Wonder Woman, also invented the lie detector test. Lie detector tests then appeared in early Wonder Woman stories, but more importantly, Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth was originally a kind of lie detector — it compels those wrapped in
2. Wonder Woman’s iconic bracelets were directly inspired by one of Marston’s wives. Marston was only legally married to one woman (Elizabeth Holloway Marston), but he also had two children with Olive Byrne, who lived with him until his death. Olive wore a bracelet on each wrist to symbolize their relationship. Wonder Woman’s, unlike Byrne’s, were capable of stopping bullets.
3. In 1942, Wonder Woman was banned for not wearing enough clothes. When the National Organization for Decent Literature blacklisted Wonder Woman’s book Sensation Comics, the publisher wrote a letter to the bishop in charge of the organization, asking why Wonder Woman had been banned. “Practically the only reason for which Sensation Comics was placed on the banned list of the NODL was that it violates Point Four of the Code,” the bishop replied. “Wonder Woman is not sufficiently dressed.”
4. Wonder Woman was the first female member of the Justice Society, a precursor to the Justice League. However, Marston did not write the Justice Society stories; a man named Gardner Fox did. Fox made Wonder Woman the secretary of the Society and always had her stay behind while the men flew off to fight the bad guys.
5. She was very nearly called Suprema. Editor Sheldon Mayer convinced Marston to just call her “Wonder Woman” instead.
6. Early issues of the comic featured a section called Wonder Women of History, edited by tennis champion Alice Marble. Marble, who won 18 Grand Slams, was named associate editor after suggesting that Wonder Woman add a section on real superwomen. Her first pick was Florence Nightingale; other featured icons included Sojourner Truth, Nellie Bly, Marie Curie, Joan of Arc, and Sacagawea.
7. The original Wonder Woman had pretty radical politics. After World War II, Wonder Woman became much less powerful, but while Marston was in charge, he had her fight on behalf of striking textile workers, abused wives, and families who can’t afford milk for their children.
8. Margaret Sanger, the famous birth control activist, also served as one of the inspirations for Wonder Woman. Sanger’s niece was Olive Byrne, one of Marston’s partners. Byrne introduced Marston and his wife to Sanger’s ideas when she brought the book Woman and the New Race to one of the “non-conformist” gatherings at Marston’s aunt’s house.
9. Wonder Woman used to be really into bondage. Leaving aside the fact that Wonder Woman’s own weapon is literally a rope, there are many instances in early comics where she and other women find themselves tied up and/or chained. Despite repeated requests from his editors that he tone it down with the bondage, Marston kept it up because he felt that it was a good way to illustrate Wonder Woman’s ability to free herself.
10. Dr. Psycho, one of Wonder Woman’s original nemeses, was inspired by a professor of Marston’s who felt that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote. Hugo Münsterberg didn’t even think women were fit to serve on juries; Dr. Psycho at one point tried to stop women from contributing to the war effort.
11. Wonder Woman’s homeland is an island where men aren’t allowed. Originally, this island was called—get ready—Paradise Island (it’s now called Themyscira). Diana’s mother Hippolyta brought the Amazons there after Hercules stole her magic girdle, and Aphrodite told them that they’d be safe so long as they wore bracelets and didn’t talk to men.
12. Wonder Woman covered the first issue of Ms. magazine. Radical feminists later attempted to use Ms. co-founder Gloria Steinem’s affection for Wonder Woman (a government operative herself) as evidence that she was a CIA operative whose magazine was actually a capitalist attempt to destroy feminism from within.
13. Superman and Wonder Woman dated for a while in 2012. Wonder Woman’s traditional love interest is Steve Trevor, the army officer who crashes on Paradise Island/Themyscira and ruins the perfect matriarchal situation they have going on there, but in a 2012 issue of Justice League, Wonder Woman and Superman took things to the next level.
14. In 2015, Wonder Woman became the first DC hero to officiate a same-sex wedding. When Clark Kent expressed confusion that Wonder Woman would be supportive of same-sex marriage, Wonder Woman replied, “Clark, my country is all women. To us, it’s not ‘gay’ marriage. It’s just marriage.”
15. And in 2016, writer Greg Rucka confirmed that Wonder Woman is bisexual. She lives on an island with only women, remember? “You’re supposed to be able—in a context where one can live happily, and part of what an individual needs for that happiness is to have a partner—to have a fulfilling, romantic and sexual relationship,” Rucka said of Wonder Woman’s life on Themyscira. “And the only options are women. But an Amazon doesn’t look at another Amazon and say, 'You’re gay.' They don’t. The concept doesn’t exist. Now, are we saying Diana has been in love and had relationships with other women?... The answer is obviously yes.”
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the