The former Miss America first slipped into the slinky costume of red, white and blue back in the 1970s for a TV movie called The New Original Wonder Woman, a wordy title designed to distance it from a terrible first effort a year or so earlier in which a blonde, tracksuited Cathy Lee Crosby played the super heroine but lacked superpowers, the iconic costume and screen presence (and the famous, catchy theme tune). Even earlier than that, the producers of the campy 60s Batman series sought out fresh TV gold from the pages of comic books and commissioned a short pilot film where Wonder Woman was played as a clumsy, single woman still living at home with her mother in 60s suburbia – the main joke appearing to be that as Wonder Woman she wasn’t nearly as attractive as she thought she was. A distinctly insulting approach for an iconic character. Both these curiosity pieces are available on YouTube if you want to lasso them down.
So, thank Hera (as Wonders would say) for Carter who remains one of the most perfect and iconic pieces of superhero casting ever, alongside Christopher Reeve. She played the Amazing Amazon in one season of period shows, battling Nazis and spies in World War II Washington, before the show switched networks and eras, with Carter racing around the woodlands and backstreets of 1970s Los Angeles for two more seasons. Unsurprisingly, they are the episodes which have dated the most, revealing the show’s silliest aspects when the fun comic book pacing and tone was dropped. Still, it gave dads a justifiable reason to sit and watch a TV show with their kids long before Baywatch arrived! But the highlight was always Carter herself playing the whole thing wonderfully straight, no matter how much her co-stars hammed it up.
The show may be over, and a live action version of Wonder Woman still seemingly a long way off from the Hollywood starting blocks (Joss Whedon was all set to go several years back but the project fell apart – looking at Avengers Assemble, I am heartbroken we’ll never see his take on the character) but even when another actress finally does don the bullet proof bracelets, Carter will always remain linked with the role which has defined her career. And surprisingly, she still revels in the love and adoration both her and the character continue to receive. Wonder Woman, and Lynda Carter, have been role models for a generation of women and girls (and many boys and men – ahem), who secretly wished they could twirl into their secret, slightly more fabulous lives and they will go on being inspired by Wonder Woman and Lynda Carter for many years to come. And isn’t that what a superhero should do?