Wonder Woman is not an archetype. Actually let me rephrase that by saying her current origin of being Zeus’s (Greek God and serial cheater) progeny via an affair with Queen Hippolyte (Diana’s mother and hereafter referred to as Hippolyta) is not archetypical. Now several readers of this article may be confused by that last sentence, specifically why this origin can dictate such a radical difference. For that I will need however long it takes you to read the next several paragraphs.
We first look at the simple fact that Zeus like many god figures has bastard children. This leads into the fact of how by being Zeus’s progeny Diana is supposedly now a demigod. However, her level of godhood is not important to the primary subject of whether she is an archetype. What is important is what most fail to learn, or think about, or even mention which is that the “New 52” origin causes Diana to be a product of incest. You see Hippolyta is known in the classic myths as the daughter of Ares (including during John Bryne’s run on Wonder Woman) and thus she is Zeus’ granddaughter as well. Ares himself is also a product of incest via Hera and Zeus being brother and sister. Thus while clay blessed by various Greek/Roman gods and/or goddesses may seem simplistic it is slightly less disturbing and disgusting. Now one could argue the point that incest being part of Wonder Woman’s history just means she is like a classic Greek/Roman myth. And while this is true for both origins, the Zeus origin is still not archetypical.
That said there are still other problems with the Zeus origin that cause it to be the more generic of the two. Said problems are: Justice League Unlimited, Cassandra Sandsmark/Wonder Girl, representation via weapon, Donna Troy, the iconic 1970s television show Wonder Woman, and feminism.
Oddly the easiest issue of the above to address is the 1970s television show due to the simple fact that the gods had very few, if any, major references in the show. The show also heavily relied on the lasso, which like Lynda Carter’s portrayal is heavily tied into the public image of Wonder Woman. Speaking of the lasso we have the fact that it represents truth as well as power and restraint. While the “New 52” incarnation relies on a sword, sometimes a shield, and the lasso. Thus there is more reliance on violence and anger which is represented by the sword. Plus lies are represented by both the sword and the shield. In the case of the sword it metaphorical represents lying via backstabbing. The shield is equivalent to covering up or being blinded to the truth.
Next we go back to the idea of Wonder Woman having a father figure, but this time via a slight change to her clay origin in Justice League Unlimited. Also instead of Zeus or a literal father we have Hades simply suggesting that he (Hades) is her father by means of helping design her clay form. (Whether he was telling the truth or not is never delved into as far as I know.) Of course even this story has a predecessor in terms of the idea that Wonder Woman may have a non-literal father due to the concept of “The Well of Souls.” Said “Well” was heavily referenced during the John Byrne era as the supposed origin point for Hippolyta, Diana, and the other Paradise Island Amazons. It essentially suggests that Diana’s soul is that of Hippolyta’s original body’s unborn child. Thus Diana technically was resurrected in clay and had a biological father. (Due to how confusing that sounds is the reason I tend to disagree with it as an addition to her clay origin.)
We now come to the two longest holders of the title of Wonder Girl, Donna Troy and Cassandra Sandsmark. Like most heroic figures both have had multiple changes to their origins. Though for this article I will be pointing out only three of Donna Troy’s many origins, and the two major origin-related connections Cassandra Sandsmark has to Zeus. The first of Donna’s origins that has significant impact is (again) during John Byrne’s run on Wonder Woman. During the last bit of said run John Byrne established that she was a mirror image copy of Diana brought to life, and later through various events gained an identity of her own. However, in the “New 52” series Demon Knights the Paradise Island Amazons were technically rapists due to how they used men to create new Amazons. Thus this version of Donna’s origin where she is a playmate would have never have been needed if the Zeus father origin had been in place at the time. Nor would the previous “empowerment by the Titans of myth” origin be the same from the “Total Chaos” crossover of the 1990s. But you may be asking what of the clay origin’s standing with Donna Troy. As of this writing Donna has been given the clay origin and Wonder Woman is searching for her own origin. Yet, as shown in this article Donna Troy’s origin seems up for grabs a lot of the time no matter what Wonder Woman’s origin happens to be.
As for Cassandra Sandsmark, her origin was until the “New 52” connected to both Zeus (her Pre-New 52 father) and Wonder Woman (her mentor). While I do not know what is currently going on with the character I do know that the “New 52” connected her to Zeus as a grandchild via another bastard of Zeus’s loins named Lennox. (Like Diana he is not a classic mythological character.) However, they disconnected her connections to Diana, and changed the rest of her origin. In my opinion the Zeus origin of Wonder Woman and the overly grim and extreme nature of characters during the “New 52” would have made Diana a lesser mentor to Cassandra. Also them being half-sisters would make Diana even less of an archetype due to Captain Marvel…er…SHAZAM!
Finally we come to the conclusion in that Wonder Woman is considered by many a character representing hope and the ideals of feminism. Thus Diana not having a father due to originally being a clay statue is not just archetypical for a super heroine it is also a great example for women that they can grow up strong without a father being needed. So while Wonder Woman’s origin is clay to be molded it is, in my opinion, best left in its natural state.
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