Who’s the Most Similar Character to Wonder Woman in the Marvel Universe?
On her 75th anniversary, can anyone in the MU compare?
No single Marvel heroine has the longevity, historical cachet, and power that Wonder Woman does. The character turned 75 recently and it is a tall order to be a character created in the Golden Age of Comics and still be an icon known the world over 75 years later. She is truly a wonder of the comic world.
This doesn’t mean Marvel doesn’t have heroes who are as significant, but Wonder Woman hits a sweet spot in terms of lasting longer, with a higher degree of visibility, and having established a spot in the cultural consciousness, primarily due to her being one of the only successful superhero women to ever transition to television.
Diana’s role is of an outsider, raised on an island of women, she is aware of the significance of the female perspective, capable of defending herself, protecting others, maintaining a sense of fairness and parity in a harsh world. Unlike Superman, she is from this world and has a connection to it’s magic and a relationship to the divine beings who draw their power from it. Unlike most of those beings she gives more to the world than she takes.
In the DC Universe, she is the ultimate warrior, gifted with incredible superhuman strength, speed and durability, and the capacity to discern the truth in a world filled with deception. As a member of the DC Trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, she stands as a paragon and as a symbol of justice, particularly for those who are traditionally forgotten by men: women and children. Rarely has a character been able to say so much, about the state of the real world and have it be so relevant.
Recent versions of the character have become more martial and less civic-minded, as if the writers were more interested in having her bash monsters than protect society, but the current Rebirth may equalize her again emphasizing hope and charity as primary aspects of her character again.
With that said: Marvel has had plenty of heroines who have something in common with Wonder Woman and the irony is, DC having Wonder Woman has failed to create other singular female characters of note, perhaps because Wonder Woman has proven to be so iconic, she is hard to stand next to.
I am going to approach this from a number of perspectives: historical, homages/lampoons, and thematic/power similarities of characters in the Marvel Universe. These will be characters who embody some aspects of Wonder Woman’s character, whether it be in the design, the thematic flair or the incredible powers of DC’s favorite Amazon.
Characters who may have shared an origin or theme from the Golden Age of Comics, e.g., Miss America (I)
Wonder Woman is a character appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Wonder Woman was created by the American psychologist and writer William Moulton Marston and first drawn by H. G. Peter. The character first appeared in All Star Comics #8 in December 1941 and first cover-dated on Sensation Comics #1, January 1942. The Wonder Woman title has been published by DC Comics almost continuously except for a brief hiatus in 1986.
Miss America: The first Miss America was Madeline Joyce Frank, debuted in Marvel Mystery Comics #49 (Nov. 1943), and was created by writer Otto Binder and artist Al Gabriele for Timely Comics, the 1940s precursor of Marvel, during the Golden Age of Comics.
- Wonder Woman and Miss America had debuted within a few months of each other, had similar powers and were two of the first women to appear in an almost all male lineup of superheroes.
- Both were super-strong, fast and capable of flight by various means. Wonder Woman’s magical lasso was part of her signature appearance and the device has remained part of the character for decades except during a brief period where she was depowered and operated as a super-spy.
- Miss America suffered from a number of historical retcons and the character’s star had faded by the Silver Age. Her patriotic appearance and historical timing makes her the closest thing to a sister to Wonder Woman during the Golden Age.
Characters made in the spirit, positive or negative of Wonder Woman, e.g., Power Princess/Warrior Woman
Power Princess: There is some historical difficulty with this character since the superteam she is a member of starts off as a throwaway Avengers story with a team of supervillains called the Squadron Sinister in Avengers #69–70. These villains would be Justice League analogues created by the Grandmaster.
Making a number of appearances after their debut, the Squadron Sinister would get a a chance at redemption, making more heroic versions of them (assuming you can call the creation of a despotic utopian super-state, heroic) were featured in a self-titled 12-issue miniseries (Sep 1985 — Aug 1986) called the Squadron Supreme by writer Mark Gruenwald.
- Princess Zarda was created as a homage/lampoon to DC’s Wonder Woman as part of a team which resembled the Justice League. This team included analogues of Batman (Nighthawk), Superman (Hyperion), Green Arrow (Golden Archer), Green Lantern (Doctor Spectrum) as well as a few unique faces. Her origin is very similar in tone but based in science fiction rather than fantasy.
- Princess Zarda of Earth-712 lived on Utopia Isle, a small island in the southern sea, untouched by outside civilization. The Utopians believe themselves to be the result of genetic experimentation conducted upon Homo sapiens by the alien Kree; they are, indeed, the equivalent on the Squadron’s Earth of the Inhumans.
- While the rest of Homo sapiens were making flint spearheads, the Utopians developed an advanced culture based on peace, fellowship and experience or learning. On their little island community, people knew no poverty, injustice, war, crime, or sexual discrimination.
- Power Princess is almost a direct emulation of Wonder Woman, only missing the Golden Lasso. Her powers were the result of advanced technology and her culture was similarly advanced past the Humans who lived on her world.
Unfortunately, Power Princess/Warrior Woman would have multiple incarnations from various Earth’s (none of which were the main timeline of the Marvel Earth initially.) Later, when writers tried to realize the Squadron’s unique storytelling options, their popularity soared and there have been multiple versions of the super-team both heroic and anti-heroic. Hyperion and Nighthawk have had reasonably decent success in the Marvel Universe, Power Princess has not. (Look at her costume in this more recent story. Ugh.)
Heroes whose behaviors were reminiscent of Wonder Woman in terms of style or appearance or whose powers may resemble in tone or tenor that of the Amazonian Princess; ; e.g., Thundra, Miss America (II) — America Chavez and the Asgardian goddess, Sif.
These three heroes are much less well known, have never had a title of their own but have a style and capacity which resembles modern versions of Wonder Woman in tone and substance. I might even dare to say in the case of Thundra and Sif, they may have helped to inform modern Wonder Woman’s increase in power and combat capacity making her even more formidable over time.
The Femizon, Thundra (Earth-715)
- Thundra comes from a world where men and women fought wars of dominance. Her Earth was struggling for resources and such battles left both sides seeking new ways to win their wars. Both sides cloned new members and used genetic engineering to improve their warriors.
- Thundra was the mightiest member of the Sisterhood and would lead her sisters to victory over men. But threats from beyond their world forced Thundra to seek out and stop threats to her timeline, she found herself on Marvel Earth-616 in what she believed was the past. Misled by the Wizard, she debuts as a member of the Frightful Four, and sought out to humble men of this era, preventing the threat to her timeline from ever happening.
- Thundra is an Amazon in every sense of the word. Powerful, beautiful and clearly convinced of the superiority of women over men. Using no weapons save a chain (or sometimes a long ball/chain weapon) wrapped around her wrist (instead of a golden lasso, get it?) she beats down metahuman males all across the Marvel Universe.
- I was a Thundra fan and could never get enough of her laying the smackdown to trash-talking members of the Marvel Universe, like Ben Grimm, for whom Thundra always maintained a particular affection for.
The Lady Sif — Warrior Goddess of Asgard:
- A character of the Silver Age, created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, the Warrior-Goddess Sif has been around since Journey into Mystery #102, (March, 1964).
- Loosely based on the mythological goddess Sif, she is the sister to Heimdal, Guardian of the Bifrost, and in the Marvel Universe, Sif is a formidable combatant and has received extensive training in unarmed combat and swordsmanship. Among Asgardian women, her fighting ability is second only to Brunnhilde The Valkyrie.
- Sif has always been a goddess who exemplified the warrior spirit. Her long history in the Marvel Universe started her off unfortunately primarily a love interest to Thor. As the writers embraced the character she began to have stories which showed her skills, her unquenchable spirit and battle prowess. Sif has even been for a time, the regent of Asgard.
- Recently Sif has been portrayed as a powerful engine of destruction, worthy of the title ‘Warrior Goddess of Asgard.’ Note to giants: Don’t step on Asgardians with swords!
- In the Modern Era of comics, Sif and Wonder Woman seem to have more in common than they would have during the Silver Age and I am certain the two would be fast friends if they lived in the same Universe.
America Chavez: A Latino new addition to the Marvel Universe, America Chavez comes from a parallel Earth, where she is bathed in the magical essence of a being called the Demiurge.
- This entity’s magical power gives her phenomenal strength, speed and stamina. She is capable of multiversal-dimensional galactic-level teleportation and the physical ability to be seen moving by Spectrum when she enters her lightspeed mode. Normally nothing moves when Spectrum moves near the speed of light. Nothing except America Chavez, that is…
- Normally things stand still when Spectrum is in light-speed mode, but America Chavez is moving, fighting and tearing alien metals apart with her bare hands at super-speed. Terrifying.
This monster-bashing theme, the inter-dimensional travel and her physical prowess, which gives even the unbelievably powerful Avenger, Spectrum pause, makes her feel like an homage to a more modern Wonder Woman. America Chavez is currently working with the trouble-shooting exploration team of Avengers called the Ultimates.
Spectrum: While the thematic aspect of her powers aren’t really a match, Spectrum’s (Monica Rambeau) recently reacquired energy powers and character longevity make her another fine contender to the power part of the Wonder Woman equation.
Marvel has quite a number of women in its lineup which are finally getting an opportunity to step into the light. All of them owe that opportunity to Wonder Woman’s persistence as a strong, passionate and amazing character that despite eras where writers were unwilling to portray her to her maximum potential, she has been able to find favor with artists and writers like George Perez whose run on Wonder Woman was considered legendary. Wonder Woman has paved the way for hundreds of characters in the DC Universe as well.
Wonder Woman’s star has begun to shine again as she appeared in the dubious debut of Batman v. Superman as one of the points of DC’s Holy Trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Gail Godot did an excellent job and will be reprising her role in the upcoming Wonder Woman and Justice League movies. I want to look this good when I turn 75! Comic Con’s recent Wonder Woman trailer has our favorite Amazon looking positively amazing.
Marvel’s answer to Wonder Woman’s movie debut will be the Oscar-winner Brie Larson as Carol Danvers portraying the superhero “Captain Marvel.” Larson will be cementing her place as the first woman to lead a Marvel superhero movie, as revealed at San Diego’s Comic-Con this year. “Captain Marvel” is slated for theaters on March 8, 2019.
- Carol Danvers is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer Roy Thomas and designed by artist Gene Colan, Major Carol Danvers first appeared as a member of the United States Air Force in Marvel Super-Heroes #13 (March 1968).
- Danvers debuted as the first incarnation of Ms. Marvel in Ms. Marvel #1 (January 1977) after a fusion of alien Kree and human genes gives her superhuman powers, which occurred in Captain Marvel #18 (November 1969). (Wikipedia, Carol Danvers)
Given the collection of amazing women still to be seen in the Marvel Universe, I am certain there will be more to come. All of them deserve movies and I can’t wait to see whose next. I will see myself to the door. No really ladies, don’t get up…
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Thaddeus Howze is a writer, essayist, author and professional storyteller for mysterious beings who exist in non-Euclidean realms beyond our understanding. You can follow him on Twitter or support his writings on Patreon.