The modern Wonder Woman is known as the greatest warrior in the DC Universe. But for Wonder Woman: Earth One writer Grant Morrison, there's a more interesting take on the character that stems from her earliest appearances.
"I decided to go back to the original version of Wonder Woman written by her creator William Moulton Marston with art by H.G. Peter," Morrison explained to The Daily Beast. "I thought there was a lot of material there. In recent years, Wonder Woman’s been portrayed as a kind of warrior woman, but in Marston’s direction, she’s much more a diplomat and an ambassador. She uses weapons for peace, she uses the bracelets to deflect missiles and bullets, and she uses the lasso to capture people and, basically, make them obey her loving command."
"I was kind of trying to capture the original essence of this counterculture, feminist heroine and put it in a modern context," he continued, before clarifying that, while that is a component of the story, it's not the central theme. "It’s not a book about feminism, it’s a book about Wonder Woman, but I felt it was important to have the voices of intelligent women throughout history in my head while I was writing it. So I read a bunch of stuff, from Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Women to Gloria Steinem and Andrea Dworkin and a whole bunch of feminist writers."
Morrison is also going back to the roots of the Amazons, returning them to a sci-fi influenced secret culture rather than an island of warrior women.
"A lot of recent portrayals of Amazons focused on the Greek culture aspect, with them trapped in a kind of pre-industrial world. But in Marston’s story - which, again, was my inspiration - the Amazons do have technology. So we just kind of made a point of that: of course these women who’ve been [on the island] for 3,000 years would develop and share ideas. And naturally, they’d have their own technology. And in some cases, their technology is way more advanced than ours."
"We wanted to make it 'here’s a culture that’s advanced and developed,' but at the same time, these women have known each other for 3,000 years," he continued. "I mean, they’ve done everything, they’ve had every conversation…they feel as if they’ve had these interactions over and over again. And that’s what Diana’s escaping from—that kind of ritualized, formalistic [society]. They’re very advanced, but at the same time, it’s like they’re frozen in place."
Morrison is also bringing some of the subtext of the older Wonder Woman stories to the forefront, developing lesbian relationships among the Amazons.
"I can’t imagine that these women, after deciding to cut off from men and form their own society for the past 3,000 years, would stop having sex. It’s kind of obvious in the subtext [of older runs] and all we did was kind of make it explicit. We made it a fact: of course they have relationships. Of course they have lovers."
Morrison's script also embraced the themes of bondage and submission that are prevalent in William Moulton Marston's early comic books.
"The bondage is based on Marston’s ideas of love and submission, which were quite strange at the time because he believed that women were superior to men, and that men should basically be dominated by women. Our whole story’s about ropes and snares and chains and lies and deception, so we wanted to include some of Marston’s original ideas."
One thing that will be different in Morrison's Wonder Woman is that he's embracing the idea that Diana has a father, but his identity may surprise some fans.
"I wanted Diana to have some kind of masculine element because I thought, well, most girls have a dad. [Laughs.] It is quite important," Morrison explained. "But this is my big tradeoff, because I love the idea that Hippolyta just created her out of nothing, that Diana is a solely female creation. But at the same time, I wanted a lot more tension and drama and a kind of struggle…Hippolyta is the true rebel of the story. She’s the one who fights back and overpowers and strangles Hercules at the start of the book. So really, she’s the one who gives Diana her fire. But she doesn’t want to admit this to Diana. In a kind of genetic experiment, Hippolyta is the one who’s taken Hercules and used his blood and genetic material as a weapon by creating a woman who will subjugate man’s world in the name of women. So [Diana’s creation] was an act by Hippolyta to get her ultimate revenge on Hercules."
Wonder Woman: Earth One by Morrison and artist Yanick Paquette is available now.