Greg Rucka caused a stir in the comic book community this week after revealing that Diana of Themyscira, aka everyone’s favourite corset-wearing, truth-lassoing superhero Wonder Woman, is in fact queer.
Speaking to Comicosity’s Matt Santori-Griffith, Rucka confirmed that as part of the Year One narrative arc currently unfolding in Wonder Woman: Rebirth, Diana will be shown to be romantically and/or sexually attracted to members of the same gender as well as those of the opposite sex. Speaking plainly on the subject for the first time, Rucka says, “Are we saying Diana has been in love and had relationships with other women? As Nicola [Scott] and I approach it, the answer is obviously yes.”
Rucka’s affirmation of the status of Diana’s sexuality simply confirms what many of those already familiar with canon have long since reasoned: that the Amazonian society in which Diana grows up is exclusively composed of women, and so it naturally follows that the vast majority of the romantic and/or sexual feelings Diana and her fellow Amazonian women experience will be about other women. “When you start to think about giving the concept of Themyscira its due,” Rucka states, “the answer is, ‘how can they not all be in same sex relationships?’ Right? It makes no logical sense otherwise.”
As Rucka notes in his interview, the concepts of gender and gender-specific behaviour are “very different” in Themyscira, a society exclusively composed of one gender in which hunting, fighting and strategy are taught from a young age and women are raised to be warriors and philosophers (all of which your garden-variety misogynist would argue are ‘male’ pursuits).
However, rather than falling into the trap of inverted heteronormativity – making gay the new straight, and female the new male – Rucka and Scott have thus far managed not to turn Wonder Woman’s sexual identity into her defining narrative quality; instead, her queerness is not treated as any bigger a deal than a heteronormative character’s inclinations would be. In fact, it’s arguably even less of a deal, as homosexuality and polygamy are so normalised that the Amazonians don’t even have words to describe them! As Rucka puts it, “an Amazon doesn’t look at another Amazon and say, ‘You’re gay.’ They don’t. The concept doesn’t exist.”
So why is it so important to point out something which was already pretty obvious, and which has little impact on the story itself? Firstly, in the canonical sea of superheroes and villains, it is far more difficult than it should be to pick out characters which represent marginalised groups within our society. Sure, there are a fair number of female superheroes/villains, but very few occupy the spotlight and so are often reduced to attractive sidekicks, dangerous but well-dressed distractions, or straight-up booty calls for the white cis males of DC and Marvel. When was the last time we had a disabled superhero, or a Muslim one, or someone identifying as transgender take the lead?
It’s been 10 years since Batwoman’s alter-ego, Kate Kane, came out of the bat-closet, and apart from Sara Lance (Arrow/Legends of Tomorrow), there aren’t really any other LGBTQ+ superheroes out there at the moment. Even where fan followings plead for greater diversity, these calls are often ignored – the recent debacle with Captain America becoming a Nazi rather than admitting to his Bucky crush left shippers wondering just how far writers are willing to go to avoid the obvious.
That’s why Rucka and Scott’s reimagining of Diana’s origin story is a breath of fresh air. Not only does it clear up the ambiguity surrounding Wonder Woman’s sexuality once and for all, it also takes steps towards normalising her same-sex relationships and manages to complicate a few gender binaries, something which the LGBTQ+ community sorely needs right now.
Furthermore, by creating a dynamic in which Diana is not motivated by heterosexual desire, her decision to leave with Steve Trevor cannot be reduced to a longing to initiate a romantic relationship with him. As Rucka rightly says in his interview, this would only “hurt the character and take away her heroism.” Her romantic relationship with Steve is thus portrayed as merely a consequence of, rather than the motivation for, leaving paradise – a move I thoroughly applaud.
So what does this mean for the DCEU? We already know that the Wonder Woman movie scheduled for released sometime in 2017 will feature Steve Trevor as Diana’s love interest, but it is unclear as of yet whether or not her bisexuality will be referenced.
It’s likely the writers will pillage Diana’s new origin story (if only to avoid the whole bizarre virgin-birth, made-of-clay-and-then-magically-brought-to-life-by-Athena thing), but they may avoid explicit references to her queerness for fear of provoking the trolls. Worse still, her sexuality could just as easily be reduced to a few half-hearted one-liners about her past experience with women -which is the last thing anyone needs. I for one will be keeping my fingers, toes and other extremities crossed in the hope that this doesn’t happen (and, of course, listening at least once a day to that badass theme song).
So that are your thoughts on the Year One narrative arc of Rucka and Scott’s Rebirth series? Do you agree that it’s high time that the wielder of the Lasso of Truth finally came clean about her sexuality, or did you prefer it when Diana’s sexuality was still a bit of a mystery? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
(Images: Comic Alliance)