Wonder Woman is easily the most recognized female superhero out there, and yet how many people can tell you anything about her except that she was protrayed by Lynda Carter in the 70s TV show? The producers of Justice League were clearly aware of this when initially developing the show, as Superman and Batman, the other two members of DC Comics’ “Big Three” heroes, were much more familiar to audiences and had already headlined animated shows by the same creative team.
The Wonder Woman of Justice League is much closer to that of George Perez’s 80s revamp than the Wonder Woman portrayed by Carter or found in current comics. Diana, Princess of Themyscira, is fundamentally an outsider. In her homeland, she has no peers, being in her early twenties while surrounded by millennia-old Amazons, she has no peers in age or rank. She leaves Themyscira against the queen’s orders to help defend Earth against an alien invasion and joins up with five established heroes and one other newcomer (Martian J’onn J’onzz).
During the first season on Justice League, Diana is presented as unfamiliar with the customs of the new cultures that she encounters, but this is never played for laughs at her expense. (When she appears oblivious to the Flash’s initial flirtation, it is Flash who becomes the butt of the joke – as usual.) Instead, she is always shown as learning and adapting quickly.
Diana’s major flaw is not naivete, but instead a quick temper with a tendency towards violence. Nonetheless, she is repeatedly shown to be one of the best fighters on the team, taking part in brawls just as much as any of the others. Since she has flight, superspeed, massive super-strength and invulnerability along with her Amazon fighting skills, she normally acts as one of the front-line combatants along with Superman.
One welcome element is that Diana is not at the center of the show’s romantic relationships. During the first two seasons, she does flirt with Batman, but it remains background until the third-season episode “This Little Piggy,” in which she evidently loses patience and makes her intentions fairly clear. Batman naturally starts listing reasons why getting involved would be a bad idea – teammate relationships cause trouble (to put it mildly – see the next article, on Hawkgirl), she’s a princess from a immortal society of warriors why he is “a rich kid with issues – lots of issues.” But his third reason is pretty spurious – the “my enemies would try to get at you through me” rationale. Diana rightly calls him on this one, since realistically he is in more danger from her enemies given the respective power levels.
The surprising part is what follows Batman shutting down Diana’s advances. She respects his wishes. No mooning over the guy she can’t be with. No analyzing his words for indications that he might change his mind. Where audiences would be expecting angst (I’m sure Stargate SG-1 fans know exactly what I’m talking about), we instead just get a friendship and professional relationship where the UST remains in the background and doesn’t hinder either person’s judgement.