Wonder Woman: The Warrior Princess Who Changed Television History Forever

Wonder Woman was the first heroine on television. Report by Santiago García for Infobae.

Today we live in a world where superheroes are synonymous with total success and female leads are common, either genuinely or because they are fashionable. It is the ideal time to remember and value how a 1975 series anticipated all this and in its own way broke many barriers that seemed impossible to break down. Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman, 1975-1979) it was a highly successful Warner series and a mark on popular culture. Today it is available to be seen in its entirety and valued in its fair measure in HBO Max. its protagonist, Lynda Carter, it remained forever as the image unsurpassed by anyone of the great character.

Wonder Woman’s history in comics is as great as that of the most important characters, but today there is no doubt that she got her worldwide fame from the series. A TV show with a female comic book heroine doesn’t seem very original today, but in the 1970s only a very few superhero-based series had been successful and none of them with a female lead.

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Lynda Carter brought Wonder Woman to life in the 1970s. (Courtesy photo)

The superhero genre was still far from the 21st century phenomenon we all know. But it was not all as easy as it seems. A year before, a Wonder Woman pilot was filmed and it didn’t work at all. Cathy Lee Crosby she was the protagonist of the failed project that perhaps marked the way. In 1975 a new pilot, starring Lynda Carter, would bring Wonder Woman closer to the comic, something viewers weren’t aware of, but worked much better on screen. The character created by William Moulton Marston in 1941 he finally found his television image.

The initial season of Wonder Woman It takes place in 1942, in the midst of World War II. An air force pilot Mayor Steve Trevor (Lyle Waggoner), falls with his plane on Paradise Island, a place that does not appear on the maps, although it is located near the Bermuda Triangle. There lives an ancient civilization of Amazon women, living in harmony with nature and away from the dangers of the world.

Princess Diana, daughter of Queen Hippolyta (played in the pilot episode by Cloris Leachman), decides to help Trevor, still injured, and takes him to the United States in the legendary invisible plane. Like all superheroes, Diana will have a dual personality. It will be Diana Prince, Trevor’s assistant, and Wonder Woman, who will fight for the allies in the war, fighting in almost every episode of season one against the Nazis.

Like all superheroes, Diana has a dual personality: Steve Trevor's assistant, and Wonder Woman.  (Courtesy photo)
Like all superheroes, Diana has a dual personality: Steve Trevor’s assistant, and Wonder Woman. (Courtesy photo)

If we count the pilot, the initial season is fourteen episodes, all set in the forties. The narration is simple, but the start is very good and it shows that there are many ideas. Wonder Woman’s costume is the one known from the comics and although throughout the sixty episodes it will show other versions, the design of the series is what gave us the immortal image of the character forever. She has her bracelets, her belt, the tiara and the lasso of truth. A combination of the United States flag plus gold elements.

His accessories give him the necessary strength outside of Paradise Island and in the first episode, like many other heroes, he uses his powers to earn some silver, before getting a job. Wonder Woman’s costume is, for 1942, a bathing suit. For 1975 it is not scandalous, just flashy, but the series still shows how rare it is for the 1940s.

The first season takes place in 1942, in the middle of World War II.  (Courtesy photo)
The first season takes place in 1942, in the middle of World War II. (Courtesy photo)

The main enemies of the initial season are the Nazis. There are many traitors infiltrated among the allies and in the opening chapters there are several fights between Wonder Woman against the villains. There are no recurring supervillains in the series and with the passing of the seasons the enemies are more and more everyday and common. In episode 5 appears Drusilla, Diana’s younger sister, played by Debra Winger. Drusilla also has a dual identity, she is Wonder Girl. The actress did not enjoy the experience and is only seen in three chapters. Winger did the impossible to get out of the series. When this occurred, she was not replaced. Hippolyta, Diana’s mother, did have three actresses: Cloris Leachman, Carolyn Jones (remembered for being Morticia in the Addams series) and finally Beatrice Straight.

The initial tone installed in the pilot was quite borderline humorous. If you look at the casting, it is made up mostly of great comedians: Red Buttons, Stella Stevens, Henry Gibson, Kenneth Mars y Cloris Leachman. After that introduction the series has a little less nonsense, but the entire first season is hilariously absurd.

But the success, without a doubt, is the actress to play the protagonist. Lynda Carter is and always will be Wonder Woman. Chosen for her height and beauty, she also proved to have the exact acting style and unique charisma. The smile with which he closes most episodes was the hallmark of the series. Despite using stunt doubles, Carter did some tricky stunts herself, including hanging from a helicopter, which caused a scandal with the producers.

There are no recurring supervillains in the series.  (Courtesy photo)
There are no recurring supervillains in the series. (Courtesy photo)

As for her co-star, Lyle Waggoner, he is an almost comic-book heartthrob, the perfect complement to the leading lady. His career was not very important and the most notable thing outside of this series was that he was about to star in the Batman series a decade before. Waggoner amassed a fortune with his film trailer rental company, the largest in the Hollywood industry.

From the origin of the character, the feminist importance of Wonder Woman was discussed. Its author always considered it that way and over the years this was confirmed. She was a role model for girls all over the world and she still is. The Paradise Island, inhabited by women, also flirts with the idea of ​​the Island of Lesbos and over the years the character has always been taken with genuine ambiguity. In the series the romance never materializes and this is remarkable for a female character. Diana’s sister, Drusilla, quickly falls in love in every episode she appears in. Paradise Island is a space of friendship, communion and fraternity among women. Hippolyta refers in the pilot episode to the moments in history where the woman was enslaved. The underestimation of women is a theme that appears in many episodes and there are even villains who discover greater loyalty in Wonder Woman than in their own allies.

Wonder Woman is a role model for girls all over the world.  (Courtesy photo)
Wonder Woman is a role model for girls all over the world. (Courtesy photo)

If there were any doubts about this aspect, the double episode The mystique of femininity It is named after the book published in 1963 by feminist theorist and activist Betty Friedan. It is one of the most important texts of the second wave of feminism, which in 1975 was at a very high point. Many feminists have declared that they grew up with the Wonder Woman comic and others with the series, years later. A careful reading of the episodes clearly confirms this. Since the series’ premiere, girls – and boys, too – around the world have imitated the twist with which Diana Prince transforms into Wonder Woman. At the beginning of the series it was a few turns and he appeared with the civilian clothes in his hand, then they replaced that with a light to make the transition. Lynda Carter’s dance studios helped invent the device. Everyone can identify with the character they want, but Wonder Woman has been a heroic role model for girls in a world of male superheroes. It would be the absolute pioneer and over the years it would not be alone.

The initial season was the best, without a doubt. Fourteen episodes set in the Second War, the titles of the beginning in comic format, the posters on the image also copying that aesthetic for each new location. Although everything was very innocent, the magic was there.

Now HBO Max has all sixty episodes of the series.  (Courtesy photo)
Now HBO Max has all sixty episodes of the series. (Courtesy photo)

Season two changed channels and for budget reasons they decided to set it in the present. With the same actor playing him, Steve Trevor is replaced by his son, of the same name. Themes for teen audiences were added and the Nazis only appeared in one episode thereafter, albeit with Adolf Hitler himself brought back to life. Perhaps the Third Reich was the supervillain of the series. The South Americans saw several episodes set in impossible places invented or portrayed without any realism. Buenos Aires as a mountain city with a coast full of cliffs, despite the fact that the archive images showed that it was not so within the same episode. It was all a bit insane and lax. Unlike the current series, there were almost no visual effects, it was all special effects, that is, camera tricks.

Now HBO Max has all sixty episodes, in a quality that perhaps we did not even see when it premiered, with the option of English with subtitles or the original Latin American Spanish, the same with which the series was shown on television.

It is not easy to find classic series in streaming, that is why the recovery of Wonder Woman. A strong, independent, intelligent, brave, honest woman, a defender of freedom, with very clear ideas about the world, moreover. He was at least thirty years ahead of what we see today and he did it better. It was not a fad, it was first and advanced with conviction. Its cultural influence is very varied, reaching far beyond what was originally imagined. It is a cultural icon of the 20th century that is still valid today: Wonder Woman.


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