William Marston's earliest works were notorious for containing subversive "bondage and sapphic-undertones" subtext. Among Wonder Women's infamous catchphrases, "Suffering Sappho", was a direct reference to lesbianism. Fredric Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent referred to her as the "lesbian counterpart to Batman" (whom he also identified as a homosexual). After Marston's death in 1947, DC Comics downplayed her sexuality and feminist origin. Wonder Women, without Marston's creative direction, become more "traditional" superhero fair; the lesbian relationships and sexual imagery disappeared from the "Wonder Woman" comic, along with Wonder Woman's super powers. During the Comics Code Authority-decades since, Wonder Woman's subversiveness had been gradually stripped away; subsequent comic book writers and artists either didn't know know what do with her or barely hinted at Wonder Woman's erotic legacy. Similar to whitewashing, Wonder Woman's queerness and feminist identity throughout the latter half of the 20th century was never discussed and rendered "invisible" in adaptations in favor of the dominant sexism portrayal of women in comic books.
As her injuries healed, Wonder Woman and her friends spent some time on New Genesis. She spoke to Highfather, who agreed to let her return to Earth. As soon as Diana and her friends returned to Earth, Orion decided to go with them. Arriving to London, they realized the First Born had wrecked the entire city and killed Lennox. The First Born summoned an army of hyena men to kill the intruders but Ares arrived to help Wonder Woman in the fight.
Wonder Woman breathed new life into Warner Bros.’ DC franchise, delivering an epic and entertaining origin story that showed the power of having strong women on the big screen—and behind the scenes. On June 1, Patty Jenkins and longtime DC Comics writer Geoff Johns both posted a black image that read “WW84” as their header images. The cryptic image may suggest that the film takes place in 1984 (after Jenkins previously said it would take place during the ’80s) or that it has the year 1984 in the film title.
In 1954, Dr. Fredric Wertham alleged that there were lesbian subtexts to Wonder Woman and claimed comics contributed to juvenile delinquency in his book Seduction of the Innocent where despite a very obvious heterosexual relationship with Steve Trevor, Wertham asserted that Wonder Woman’s association with the Holliday Girls could be interpreted as a lesbian relationship. The Comics Code Authority was then introduced in reaction to Wertham 's claims against the entire industry.
Gaines was hugely relieved, at least until September 1943, when a letter arrived from John D. Jacobs, a U.S. Army staff sergeant in the 291st Infantry, stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. “I am one of those odd, perhaps unfortunate men who derive an extreme erotic pleasure from the mere thought of a beautiful girl, chained or bound, or masked, or wearing extreme high-heels or high-laced boots,—in fact, any sort of constriction or strain whatsoever,” Jacobs wrote. He wanted to know whether the author of Wonder Woman himself had in his possession any of the items depicted in the stories, “the leather mask, or the wide iron collar from Tibet, or the Greek ankle manacle? Or do you just ‘dream up’ these things?”
Marston was sure he knew what line not to cross. Harmless erotic fantasies are terrific, he said. “It’s the lousy ones you have to look out for—the harmful, destructive, morbid erotic fixations—real sadism, killing, blood-letting, torturing where the pleasure is in the victim’s actual pain, etc. Those are 100 per cent bad and I won’t have any part of them.” He added, in closing, “Please thank Miss Roubicek for the list of menaces.”
Morgan appears and reveals himself as Ares. He tells Diana that although he has subtly given humans ideas and inspirations, using Ludendorff and Maru as pawns in the process, it is ultimately their decision to resort to violence as they are inherently corrupt. When Diana attempts to kill Ares with the "Godkiller" sword, he destroys it, then reveals to Diana that she herself is the "Godkiller", as the daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta. He fails to persuade Diana to help him destroy mankind in order to restore paradise on Earth. While the two battle, Steve's team destroys Maru's laboratory. Steve hijacks and pilots the bomber carrying the poison to a safe altitude and detonates it, sacrificing himself. Ares attempts to direct Diana's rage and grief at Steve's death by convincing her to kill Maru, but the memories of her experiences with Steve cause her to realize that humans have good within them. She spares Maru and redirects Ares's lightning into him, killing him for good. Later, the team celebrates the end of the war. In the present day, Diana sends an email to Bruce Wayne thanking him for the photographic plate of her and Steve and continues to fight and give on the world's behalf, understanding that only love can truly save the world.
Director James Cameron continued this debate, through his critique of the representation of female power in Jenkins's film. In an August 2017 interview with The Guardian, Cameron qualifies Jenkins's vision of Wonder Woman as "an objectified icon" and called the film "a step backwards". In contrast, he states, his character Sarah Connor (from his Terminator films) "was not a beauty icon. She was strong, she was troubled, she was a terrible mother, and she earned the respect of the audience through pure grit." Jenkins stated in response that Cameron's "inability to understand what 'Wonder Woman' is, or stands for, to women all over the world is unsurprising as, though he is a great filmmaker, he is not a woman". She further argued "there is no right and wrong kind of powerful woman" because "if women have to always be hard, tough and troubled to be strong, and we aren't free to be multidimensional or celebrate an icon of women everywhere because she is attractive and loving, then we haven't come very far have we." Reaction to this debate was mixed. Julie Miller sided with Cameron, whom she states refers to himself as "a pretty hardcore feminist" and who told Vulture that "I have no problem writing a script in which the males become subservient to the females, which is what happens in Aliens ... It's up to Ripley to win the day." In contrast, Miller argues that Jenkins and Gadot envisioned Wonder Woman as "a woman who exuded both femininity and strength, along with genuine confusion as to why men would treat women differently than they do other men". Susannah Breslin also agreed with Cameron, describing Jenkins's Wonder Woman as "a Playmate with a lasso" and "female power with no balls". Others were more critical of Cameron's critique. An article in Newsweek suggests that in contrast to his criticism of Jenkins, Cameron's own films include "lot of objectification" and quotes a few Hollywood celebrities who echoed this view. One of the quotes came from Jesse McLaren who states that "James Cameron's just confused there's a female hero whose motivations aren't centered around motherhood." Noah Berlatsky found areas of agreement between both Cameron and Jenkins, stating that while Cameron's objection is "an old point that's been made over and over for decades", Jenkins's film is not "solely focused on objectifying Gal Gadot for a male audience".