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In 2010, Warner Bros. stated that a Wonder Woman film was in development, along with films based on DC Comics superheroes the Flash and Aquaman. Both Wonder Woman and Aquaman were still under consideration for solo film subjects as of June 2013. DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson said Wonder Woman "has been, since I started, one of the top three priorities for DC and for Warner Bros. We are still trying right now, but she's tricky." On October 5, 2013, WB chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara said he wanted to get Wonder Woman in a film or on TV. Shortly afterward, Paul Feig said he had pitched the studio an idea for Wonder Woman as an action-comedy film. The studio then began to search for female directors to direct the film. While Michelle MacLaren was the studio's initial choice to direct (and while she initially indicated interest), she eventually left the project due to creative differences.
Thus although by the modern depiction her accomplishments at the time seem ordinary, in that era they were more so. Diana Prince was originally an army nurse, but quickly attained the rank of lieutenant in Army Intelligence. This was partially a creative convenience so that she could be close to both Steve Trevor and received information which she needed to pursue her superheroics. In the real world though, this role in Army intelligence, even as the secretary to General Darnell, was still a rare position for a woman to hold in society. At this time as well, the character had her only real sidekicks in her history in the form of Etta Candy and the Holliday Girls. These characters gave the Wonder Woman a degree more of levity while also allowing the writers to focus on some issues which were more related to women. When Marston left the character, the strong driving force of the character to act as a strong moral guide and role model for female readers left as well and the character became more sensitive to the forces driving the industry as whole. Thus Wonder Woman changed somewhat to a more stereotypical woman. Her main interest was not always fighting crime, but for a time it became all in the interest of keeping Steve Trevor happy and interested in her for marriage. Also the backup stories featuring the Wonder Women of History were slowly phased out and replaced with features on marriage customs from around the world and trivial facts on random household objects.
As her injuries healed, Wonder Woman and her friends spent some time on New Genesis. She spoke to Highfather, who agreed to let her return to Earth. As soon as Diana and her friends returned to Earth, Orion decided to go with them. Arriving to London, they realized the First Born had wrecked the entire city and killed Lennox. The First Born summoned an army of hyena men to kill the intruders but Ares arrived to help Wonder Woman in the fight.
Wertham’s papers, housed at the Library of Congress, were only opened to researchers in 2010. They suggest that Wertham’s antipathy toward Bender had less to do with the content of the comics than with professional rivalry. (Paul Schilder, Bender’s late husband, had been Wertham’s boss for many years.) Wertham’s papers contain a scrap on which he compiled a list he titled “Paid Experts of the Comic Book Industry Posing as Independent Scholars.” First on the list as the comic book industry’s number one lackey was Bender, about whom Wertham wrote: “Boasted privately of bringing up her 3 children on money from crime comic books.”
Gaines didn’t know any of this when he met Marston in 1940 or else he would never have hired him: He was looking to avoid controversy, not to court it. Marston and Wonder Woman were pivotal to the creation of what became DC Comics. (DC was short for Detective Comics, the comic book in which Batman debuted.) In 1940, Gaines decided to counter his critics by forming an editorial advisory board and appointing Marston to serve on it, and DC decided to stamp comic books in which Superman and Batman appeared with a logo, an assurance of quality, reading, “A DC Publication.” And, since “the comics’ worst offense was their blood-curdling masculinity,” Marston said, the best way to fend off critics would be to create a female superhero.
Gaines decided he needed another expert. He turned to Lauretta Bender, an associate professor of psychiatry at New York University’s medical school and a senior psychiatrist at Bellevue Hospital, where she was director of the children’s ward, an expert on aggression. She’d long been interested in comics but her interest had grown in 1940, after her husband, Paul Schilder, was killed by a car while walking home from visiting Bender and their 8-day-old daughter in the hospital. Bender, left with three children under the age of 3, soon became painfully interested in studying how children cope with trauma. In 1940, she conducted a study with Reginald Lourie, a medical resident under her supervision, investigating the effect of comics on four children brought to Bellevue Hospital for behavioral problems. Tessie, 12, had witnessed her father, a convicted murderer, kill himself. She insisted on calling herself Shiera, after a comic-book girl who is always rescued at the last minute by the Flash. Kenneth, 11, had been raped. He was frantic unless medicated or “wearing a Superman cape.” He felt safe in it—he could fly away if he wanted to—and “he felt that the cape protected him from an assault.” Bender and Lourie concluded the comic books were “the folklore of this age,” and worked, culturally, the same way fables and fairy tales did.
The story behind the writing and editing of Wonder Woman can be pieced together from Bender’s papers, at Brooklyn College; Frank’s papers, at the University of Minnesota; and Marston’s editorial correspondence, along with a set of original scripts, housed at the Dibner Library at the Smithsonian Institution Libraries. In his original scripts, Marston described scenes of bondage in careful, intimate detail with utmost precision. For a story about Mars, the God of War, Marston gave Peter elaborate instructions for the panel in which Wonder Woman is taken prisoner:
Her tiara's signature star symbol is now an eight pointed starburst. According to designer Lindy Hemming and director Patty Jenkins, every design decision made for Themyscira came down to the same question: "How would I want to live that's badass?" "To me, they shouldn't be dressed in armor like men. It should be different. It should be authentic and real ... and appealing to women." When asked about the decision to give the Amazons heeled sandals, Jenkins explained that they also have flats for fighting, adding "It's total wish-fulfillment ... I, as a woman, want Wonder Woman to be sexy, hot as hell, fight badass, and look great at the same time ... the same way men want Superman to have ridiculously huge pecs and an impractically big body. That makes them feel like the hero they want to be. And my hero, in my head, has really long legs." This corresponds to the original intent by William Moulton Marston, who wanted his character to be alluringly feminine.
In London, a small group of reactionary terrorists took over the Old Bailey courthouse, taking several hostages including a school field trip. Diana storms the building, using the Lasso of Hestia to compel one of the terrorists to tell her their plans. He reveals that their leader has a bomb powerful enough to destroy several city blocks while the world media watches. Diana takes out the terrorists and neutralizes the bomb. The terrorist leader then tries to kill the hostages with a gun, but Diana protects the hostages by deflecting bullets with her bracelets.
Ares told Diana that he had been imprisoned by the other Gods of Olympus and bound in chains that were secured by Aphrodite through the power of her love. He also told her that years ago, Phobos and Deimos had implanted false memories of Themyscira into her mind, and these had caused her to imagine aspects of her past that had never happened in reality. Meanwhile, Phobos and Deimos entered Themyscira and battled with the Amazons. Diana knew what she had to do, and called Ares to unite her with Phobos and Deimos. He teleported them to her, and using her Lasso of Truth, Wonder Woman bound them through the power of her unconditional love for them, as Aphrodite had done to Ares. With the twin gods defeated, Diana attempted to leave Ares' prison along with Veronica and Izzy, however Izzy's essence had been attached to the realm and could not return to Earth. Izzy was forced to either live out the rest of her days in the prison or live in Themyscira as an Amazon for eternity. She chose the latter and Veronica said goodbye to her daughter. Diana was briefly reunited with her mother, for the first time since she left the island.