Why Wonder Woman's Bisexuality Matters

 

For the past few years, American culture has been dominated by a craze of superhero-themed media. From TV shows and movies, to a boom in the creation and production of comic books, it’s almost impossible to look around and not see the influence that superheroes have had on the media. Despite this boom in superhero-themed content, only one film has been recently made with a superheroine in the title role. This film, in particular, made a splash at the box office: it was the 2017 summer blockbuster Wonder Woman, which starred Gal Gadot as the main character, Diana Princess of Themyscira a.k.a. Wonder Woman. The film set numerous box office records, including the highest-grossing live-action film directed by a woman, the biggest domestic opening for a film directed by a woman, the highest-grossing superhero origin film in the United States and worldwide, and the largest opening for a female-led comic book film. Whew! The outstanding success of this film speaks volumes about the desire for gender equality not only in Hollywood and the media we consume, but also in every aspect of American culture. Needless to say, Wonder Woman set a standard and a precedent for the way female superheroines are to be depicted on the silver screen.

It was recently announced that Wonder Woman 2, a sequel to the first film, is set to be released on November 1, 2019. It’s incredibly exciting to think about being able to see another movie that features a complex female character, but it also brings up an important question: what new nuances will be added to Wonder Woman’s character? Earlier this year, Greg Rucka, writer of the comic book series Wonder Woman: Rebirth, confirmed that “Diana has been in love and had relationships with other women.” Although this came as a surprise to some fans of the heroine, others were not as startled by the reveal. The likelihood of Wonder Woman being bisexual or queer has been alluded to in the comics throughout the more than 75 years since the character’s first solo release. Before venturing into the “World of Man,” Diana resided on the Amazonian island of Themyscira, which is inhabited exclusively by women. Rucka alluded that the Amazonian women living on Themyscira are able to have fulfilling romantic and sexual relationships with each other, and that Diana is no exception. Any relationship that Diana might have had before meeting Steve Trevor must have been with a woman. Some people might be wondering why this is important to mention, but it’s more important than it seems. It confirms that Diana Prince isn’t necessarily straight, making her one of the first and only superheros to belong to the LGBTQ+ community.

 

Hollywood has a notorious history for a lack of representation of minority groups, including those among the LGBTQ+ community. Many characters in popular media are “straight washed,” meaning they are either misidentified or their character is mislabeled as having a sexual orientation they don’t actually have. Although it may not be a conscious effort, the media that we consume on a daily basis influences how we think about ourselves, including the way we address and understand the role that sexuality plays in our identities and social lives. What we are exposed to on Netflix, Twitter, and even in movie theaters correlates to the way that we handle the real world around us. So, when we see media content that portrays minority groups in a negative light, or when the media neglects a group entirely, it makes the statement that these groups are not important or valued enough to be depicted. This is incredibly harmful, especially to those who identify as Queer or Bisexual. There are many misconceptions and stigmas surrounding bisexuality and being queer, and the negative portrayals of these characters in media only serve to aggravate the issue.  It is crucial that people in the LGBTQ+ community have characters they can relate to in the media, as it is an important element in embracing and accepting your sexual orientation.

The reveal of Wonder Woman’s identity as a member of the LGBTQ+ community is not only a remarkable step forward towards inclusivity in popular media, but also serves as a unique opportunity for Warner Brothers and the DC cinematic universe. The new question at the forefront is how DC will address Wonder Woman’s sexuality on the big screen. This question is especially important in the wake of the first film and the announcement of the second. The first film did not seem to explore her bisexuality, instead focusing on her budding relationship with Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine), and her first venture into the human world in the midst of the first World War. Now that Diana Prince’s origin story has been established, there is ample time to flesh out the complexities of her character and other aspects of her life, such as her sexual orientation, which have previously only been depicted in comic books.

Gianna Collier-Pitts, a GLAAD Youth Campus Ambassador, created a petition on Change.com to have Warner Brothers make Wonder Woman bisexual in the second film. She cites the reason for the petition as for “Warner Bros. to directly acknowledge Diana Prince for who she is, who she has always been (regardless of her current love interest), and what her character could potentially represent for millions of people.” The petition, which was started only two months ago, already has 10,125 signatures toward it’s goal for 15,000. This petition signals a turning point as Hollywood and our media culture goes through a period of reflection and radical change regarding the lack of representation and respect for minority groups on screen. The creative team behind Wonder Woman have the perfect opportunity to depict her sexual orientation in a way that is respectful to the LGBTQ+ community and truthful to her story. Making Wonder Woman openly bisexual or queer in the movie would make her not only the first openly LGBTQ+ superhero in both the DC and Marvel movie franchises, but also would allow her to become the symbol of equality and inclusivity that she champions.

 

 

Once more, here's the link to the Change.com Petition to #MakeWonderWomanBisexual

 

Image Credits: 1 / Drew Johnson: Words by Greg Rucka / Courtesy of Taylor Anderson