Gal Gadot might be the first big-screen, live-action incarnation of Wonder Woman in DC’s Wonder Woman — but the iconic Amazon princess has been kicking ass and lassoing since her first appearance in comics in 1941. If you’re curious about the movie because of its rave reviews and central female character, but you’re not up to date on your Wonder Woman knowledge, here’s a spoiler-free primer.
What’s Her Deal?
The character first appeared in All Star Comics #8 in October 1941. However, the film’s basis is the DC Rebirth comics, which tweaks elements of the prior canon. Greg Rucka’s Wonder Woman Rebirth came out in 2016.
According to the Rebirth comics, Wonder Woman, also known as Princess Diana of Themyscira, is the daughter of the Greek god Zeus and Queen Hippolyta of the Amazons, which makes her a demigoddess. She was raised by her mother and her aunts, Antiope and Menalippe. Played by Robin Wright in the film, her Aunt Antiope encourages her training and fighting. In the comics, Wonder Woman [has a more fluid sexuality]((http://www.glamour.com/story/wonder-woman-sexuality). The movie only presents her male love interest Steve Trevor.
The fictional realm of Themyscira is the island nation home to the Amazons. Like Asgard in the Thor movies, it’s rooted in classical mythology. Unlike Asgard, however, it’s situated on Earth. It’s simply isolated and hidden from the rest of the world. The real world doesn’t know about its existence, and the Amazons have little interest in the outside world.
Of course — mild spoiler alert — this isolation does not last. When Diana enters the real world, the film makes a minor tweak to the comics: It changed the setting from World War II to World War I.
What’s Up With the Emails?
If you skipped Batman v Superman, you might be slightly confused by the beginning of Wonder Woman, but you’ll still get the gist. The film’s story is told through a framing device. It begins in present day Paris as Diana receives a photo from Bruce Wayne. The photo and an ensuing email exchange prompts her to reminisce about her life and experience in World War I, which is a movie-long flashback.
The photo also appears in Batman v Superman, when Bruce Wayne is looking through files.
He emails it to Diana with the message, “Is this you?” He’s clearly fuzzy on her exact identity — though in the trailers for Justice League, it’s clear that Wonder Woman and Batman are now on the same page with regard to each other’s identities.
If you’re a casual fan who doesn’t follow the DC Cinematic Universe and just want Wonder Woman as a standalone film, the photo is merely a storytelling device. If you’re an avid fan, the emails are the connective thread linking Wonder Woman to its predecessor Batman v Superman and Justice League.
Wonder Woman is currently in theaters.