Forty-five years ago this week, Wonder Woman debuted on US television to rave reviews, watched by more than 12 million households.
Starring Lynda Carter as the titular character, who also did double duty as her civilian alter-ego, Diana Prince, the actress took to Twitter this week to celebrate the role, in light of Kamala Harris’s history-making win as the first female Vice President-elect.
“On this day 45 years ago, I appeared on television as Wonder Woman for the very first time,” Carter wrote on Sunday, November 7. “I am honoured to be a part of this legacy and everything that it represents, and so thrilled to celebrate the power of women on such an auspicious day!”
A brief history of wonder
The show originally aired from 1975 to 1979; the first season on US network ABC and the second and third seasons on rival network CBS, where its name was changed to The New Adventures of Wonder Woman.
However, the character dates back beyond the '70's to October 1941, when she first appeared in All Star Comics #8, before going on to become a regular character in Sensation Comics #1 in January 1942.
The character was created by US psychologist, William Moulton Marston, the inventor of the polygraph, with October 21 celebrated as Wonder Woman Day.
A veritable who's who of Hollywood has provided voiceovers for the character, including Kate Beckinsale, Maggie Q, Rosario Dawson and Keri Russell. And while she has been occasionally played by other actresses on the small screen, the stars most famous for portraying her are Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot.
Honouring a legacy of good
"It was important for me to bring something good to the world and to bring a character that matters," said Gal Gadot, who played the character in 2017's Wonder Woman. "I felt like the little girl looking at Mount Kilimanjaro and not sure how she's going to climb it."
With the release of the sequel, Wonder Woman 1984 currently delayed because of coronavirus, the 35-year-old Israeli star has said she feels the superhero's humanity is what makes her so relatable.
"For men, women, boys, girls, everyone, she wasn't this tough woman who had it all figured out," she said. "She had fears and worries, and we enjoyed exploring her imperfections and vulnerabilities. Those are the things that are truthful in humankind. We were able to make the character grounded this way and be accessible and approachable."
Symbol for the modern age
Upon its release, the Wonder Woman movie drew criticism from Titanic and Avatar director, James Cameron.
"All of the self-congratulatory back-patting Hollywood's been doing over Wonder Woman has been so misguided," he griped to The Guardian. "She's an objectified icon, and it's just male Hollywood doing the same old thing!" Adding: "I'm not saying I didn't like the movie but, to me, it's a step backwards."
His comments caused Wonder Woman director, Patty Jenkins to respond: "James Cameron's inability to understand what Wonder Woman is, or stands for, to women all over the world is unsurprising as, though he is a great filmmaker, he is not a woman," she told The Hollywood Reporter. "I believe women can and should be everything just like male lead characters should be. There is no right and wrong kind of powerful woman."
Jenkins's words were echoed by 69-year-old Carter, who said of the role: "She's the symbol of the extraordinary possibilities that inhabit us, hidden though they may be. And that, I think, is the important gift Wonder Woman offers women."
Having offered congratulations to her "friend" Kamala Harris, "who has fought for progress and justice for so long", Carter's hope for her character's legacy seem inextricably linked to the hope felt for Harris's history-making role.
“Perhaps our real challenge in the 21st century is to strive to reach our potential while embracing her values,” says Carter. “Wonder Woman is fearless. She sees the good in everyone, convinced they are capable of change, compassion and generosity. She’s kind-hearted and hopeful, and she has a great sense of humour.”