Is Wonder Woman queer? It’s a complicated question. She’s one of the most popular and iconic superheroes of all time, but her history is a lot more muddled than brethren like Batman and Superman. Her origin has been reworked multiple times this year alone, and some of those new versions (Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette’s Wonder Woman: Earth One and Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott’s “Year One” storyline in the flagship Wonder Woman title) strongly imply that Diana has had romantic and/or sexual relationships with other Amazon women on their paradise island of Themyscira. Rucka was recently interviewed about this by Comicosity, and confirmed that the character was queer (a word that has many definitions, but used here to refer to romantic and/or sexual interest in people of the same gender). His thoughtful response deserves to be quoted at length.
“When you start to think about giving the concept of Themyscira its due, the answer is, ‘How can they not all be in same-sex relationships?’ Right? It makes no logical sense otherwise. It’s supposed to be paradise. You’re supposed to be able to live happily. You’re supposed to be able … to have a fulfilling, romantic and sexual relationship. And the only options are women. But an Amazon doesn’t look at another Amazon and say, ‘You’re gay.’ They don’t. The concept doesn’t exist. Now, are we saying Diana has been in love and had relationships with other women? As Nicola and I approach it, the answer is obviously yes. And it needs to be yes for a number of reasons. But perhaps foremost among them is, if no, then she leaves paradise only because of a potential romantic relationship with Steve [Trevor]. And that diminishes her character. It would hurt the character and take away her heroism … She doesn’t leave because of Steve. She leaves because she wants to see the world and somebody must go and do this thing. And she has resolved it must be her to make this sacrifice.”
This response is remarkable for a lot of reasons, not least because it seems to be at odds with DC’s upcoming big-budget Wonder Woman movie starring Gal Gadot as Diana and Chris Pine as Steve Trevor. Rucka, however, insists that he has never gotten any pushback from DC on this.
“I really don’t like the idea that there are people out there who might think DC is being mealy-mouthed about this. They’re not,” Rucka said. “No one wants to be taken out of context by ignorant people, but nobody at DC has ever said, ‘She’s gotta be straight.’ Nobody. Ever. They’ve never blinked at this … They would, I think, like any business, prefer this not be an issue to anybody. But most of us human beings would also really rather this not be an issue for anybody anymore. It is what it is. This is how the Amazons live.”
Wonder Woman’s queerness is not entirely a new concept. The original Wonder Woman comics, written by creator William Moulton Marston and illustrated by Harry Peter, feature many scenes evocative of bondage and lesbian erotica. Marston was an eccentric figure who spent most of his life in a polyamorous marriage, and his work on the character has inspired at least two recent book-length examinations: The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore, which dug into the real-life history of Marston, and Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics by Noah Berlatsky, a textual analysis of those themes in the comics themselves.
Read Rucka’s full interview here.