Wonder Woman is arguably the most famous, celebrated female heroine in comic book history — and as a result, she’s often used as a symbol of female empowerment and agency. But in her origin story, she leaves her feminist island paradise, Themyscira, to follow the very first man she meets, Steve Trevor. That doesn’t sound very feminist, does it?
True, it’s not — but only if you assume that Diana is only pursuing Steve for a strictly romantic relationship. And according to current “Wonder Woman” writer Greg Rucka, she certainly doesn’t need Steve for that sort of thing, because she can have plenty of romantic relationships with other women on Themyscira instead.
In a new interview with Comicosity, Rucka discussed the queer subtext inherent in his version of Wonder Woman, and says that it simply wouldn’t make sense for Diana to be strictly straight, especially given her upbringing.
“It’s supposed to be paradise. You’re supposed to be able to live happily,” he told Comicosity’s Matt Santori-Griffith. “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. And the only options are women.”
Not that you’ll ever necessarily hear Wonder Woman call herself queer, bisexual, or pansexual (at least not until she’s off the island and interacting with the rest of human society) — not because she’s against labels or because DC Comics is attempting to downplay her sexuality, but because her culture is completely free from the shackles of heteronormativity in the first place so she wouldn't even any concept of gender roles in sex. Or in anything, actually.
“No Amazon is going to look at another Amazon and say they are Amazoning wrong. Because that wouldn’t be paradise. The society accepts everyone in it. The requirement is, you’re here and you’re female […] Nobody says a dress is inappropriate. Nobody says, ‘Why are you wearing pants?’ Nobody says you’re too heavy. Nobody says you’re too skinny, or not strong enough.”
This isn’t the first time that Wonder Woman’s been inferred to have had romantic or sexual relationships with other women, of course — although that hasn’t always been a good thing. In his 1954 anti-comic screed “Seduction Of The Innocent,” Dr. Fredric Wertham referred to her as the “lesbian counterpart to Batman” (whom he also identified as a homosexual).
In the decades since, comic book writers and artists didn’t do much more than hint at Wonder Woman’s sapphic legacy, especially in interviews where they could be more explicit — like Robert Kanigher, Gail Simone, and Phil Jimenez, who’ve all commented publicly on her queerness. Last year in “Sensation Comics,” Diana even officiated her first gay marriage (“My country is all women — to us it’s just marriage,” she tells Clark Kent when he questions her). And In Grant Morrison’s 2016 comic “Wonder Woman: Earth One,” which exists parallel to the current DC comics canon, Diana is depicted taking on many female lovers.
Of course, it’s a bummer that Rucka doesn’t find it necessary to explicitly state Wonder Woman’s sexuality within the comic itself, calling such a move “bad writing” (read the full Comicosity interview for more details on that). But after the New 52 version of Wonder Woman, who was a god of war from a violent man-killing society and was in a sexual relationship with Superman, any level of implied queerness is much welcomed by fans.
After all, it’s 2016. If we don’t have space in the pop culture consciousness for an inclusive feminine hero who can stop a war and steal your girl, then what’s the point?