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Wonder Woman is "the hardest mainstream character I've ever had to write," says Tom King

Tom King on Wonder Woman's central contradictions: "Her own success is her failure"

Wonder Woman #1
Image credit: DC

Wondering what to expect from Tom King and Daniel Sampere’s upcoming Wonder Woman run launching as part of the 'Dawn of DC'? The writer teased out a complicated, conflicted hero at the center of the new series during his recent appearance on Enter the Popverse.

“In looking at Diana, I think one of the problems is sometimes she’s put up on too much of a pedestal and treated as perfect, and a perfect person is hard to relate to. None of us are perfect, and it’s hard to have empathy with someone like that,” King told host Ashley V. Robinson. “I came up under Chris Claremont’s X-Men, where every character had a cool flaw.”

“She is someone who’s so for peace, but finds herself a warrior,” he went on. “She’s constantly failing; every time she punches someone, she’s failed at her job. I think that gives her some gravity and something that makes her humanity — that she does not want to be a superhero. She wants us to live in peace and love, but here she is, as a warrior, as a fighter. So her own success is her failure. I think that’s fascinating as a character.”

Elsewhere in the interview, King returned to the idea that Diana’s complications are what draws him to her as a writer.

“She is the hardest mainstream character I’ve ever had to write, for sure, for a lot of reasons,” King said. “Lots of people have different ideas about her, she’s been revamped so many times it’s hard to even find where she is as a character; her villains have been revamped so many times, it’s hard to figure out where they are as characters, her sidekicks are the same — so, her history is very convoluted. Most characters, you can take them back to their origin story. You can take Batman back to that first issue of Batman, you can take Superman back to that first issue of Superman… Wonder Woman, it’s harder to do that. She was created in a different time and place by a man who had a very specific agenda. Some of that agenda was absolutely wonderful, but some is a little dated by this point, so you can’t just take her back to her origins, which involve a particular man’s kinks. All of that combined make her difficult to write, which is why I wanted to do it. Who wants to do anything easy?”

So, who is Diana, to King? “What I found, in going in and reading stuff, and getting a lot from Gail [Simone]’s run, and [Greg] Ruckus run, is, she’s rebellious in a way that Superman and Batman aren’t. Batman enforces the status quo, he fights crime… Superman, he’s a guy from Kansas who believes in the American Way in some sense, he’s just like, ‘I just want things to be the way they are,’ and Wonder Woman’s not that. She’s the rebel against the system. She’s the one who says, ‘this is not working, no thank you, I’m not going to do that anymore.’ She should never be doing what everyone is telling her to do. She’s trying to create a better world.”

Wonder Woman launches in September. Watch the full Enter the Popverse episode right here.

Revisit King and artist Mitch Gerads talking about their collaboration on Batman: One Bad Day - The Riddler from last year.

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Graeme McMillan

Staff Writer

Popverse staff writer Graeme McMillan (he/him) has been writing about comics, culture, and comics culture on the internet for close to two decades at this point, which is terrifying to admit. He completely understands if you have problems understanding his accent.