'Wonder Woman' Turns 46! See All the Stars Who've Played the Action Icon

Lucy Lawless, Gal Gadot and Maggie Q are among the actresses who have played the role since Lynda Carter's iconic turn

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Lynda Carter, Wonder Woman (1975)

wonder woman
CBS/Getty

She's easily the most famous female superhero of all time, and she's doing it on her own. She's Wonder Woman, and she's been a solo superhero since her first DC Comics appearance in 1941. Though Gal Gadot took her to the big screen in Wonder Woman, until then, the best-known depiction of Wonder Woman had to be the Lynda Carter TV version, which first premiered on Nov. 7, 1975.

That theme song! It's enough to make you want to spin around and see if maybe this time you'll magically change into her very same star-spangled costume. Carter's performance as Wonder Woman was everything a '70s superhero should be, and years later she's still fielding questions about the character. In 2014, shortly after Gadot challenged her to the ALS ice bucket challenge, Carter spoke to Nerdist about what made the TV show version so beloved.

"It wasn't about brawn. It was about brains. And yes, she happened to be beautiful, she happened to be kind of extraordinary in some way, but she wasn't a guy," Carter said. "And I think that, often times, they try to put out a female hero, and all they are doing is changing the costume from a man to a woman. It's really a man who could be doing the same part; they're not showcasing any of the tremendous dichotomies than women possess in term of softness and toughness, sweetness and grit, and inner and outer strength."

A TV movie titled The New Original Wonder Woman segued into the TV series simply titled Wonder Woman, which ran for three reasons beginning April 21, 1976. However, Carter wasn't actually the original Wonder Woman. Today, we're looking at her notable incarnations so far – and some of the more famous actresses associated with the character.

02 of 11

Jane Webb, The Brady Kids (1972)

Jane Webb; Wonder Woman
CBS via Getty Images; ABC

Believe it or not, this story begins with The Brady Bunch – specifically The Brady Kids, the animated spinoff to the sitcom that had the siblings going on magical adventures with talking animal characters. (No, really. Just watch that intro in the above clip.)

It was here that Wonder Woman appeared for the first time in 1972 off the comic page, and she was voiced by Webb, who'd already voiced Batgirl on The Batman/Superman Hour. Shortly thereafter she appeared on the Saturday morning series Superfriends and subsequent cartoons, where she was voiced by a series of actresses, but it's just too weird not to mention that Wonder Woman got her showbiz start with The Brady Kids.

03 of 11

Cathy Lee Crosby, Wonder Woman (1974)

Wonder Woman -Cathy Lee Crosby
ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

Carter also wasn't the first live-action Wonder Woman. A brief 1967 pilot, titled Who's Afraid of Diana Prince?, had Ellie Wood Walker playing the title character, who'd in her imagination turn into Planet of the Apes star Linda Harrison to become Wonder Woman. In 1974, Crosby, who's today best known now for hosting That's Incredible!, played a blonde Wonder Woman in an ABC TV movie that ultimately helped bring about the Carter TV series.

04 of 11

Lucy Lawless, Justice League: The New Frontier (2008)

Justice League: The New Frontier Wonder Woman - Lucy Lawless
Warner Bros.; Getty Images/Bob Riha, Jr.

Wonder Woman, voiced by Susan Eisenberg, persisted as a character on the Justice League animated series for years, but it wasn't until all the way in 2008 when a household name played the character again: Lawless. And it's funny, because if anyone could have played a live-action Wonder Woman in the meantime, it would have been Xena herself, but we had to settle for Lawless voicing the character, even if she did so pretty awesomely.

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Keri Russell, Wonder Woman (2009)

Wonder Woman; Keri Russell
Warner Bros.; Paul Morigi/Getty Images

Years before she played a Soviet agent on The Americans, Russell honed her tough girl voice as Wonder Woman in a 2009 animated movie – her first feature-length solo adventure in years. (For the record, we'd have been cool with Russell playing a live-action Wonder Woman, too.)

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Maggie Q, Young Justice (2010)

Wonder Woman; Maggie Q
Warner Bros.; Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

The Cartoon Network series focused on the younger counterparts to the Justice League, but Wonder Woman was a prominent character nonetheless. And in 2010 she was voiced by Russell's Mission: Impossible III co-star, Maggie Q, of La Femme Nikita fame.

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Adrienne Palicki, Wonder Woman (2011)

Adrianne Palicki
Justin Lubin

Ally McBeal creator David E. Kelley filmed a 2011 Wonder Woman pilot for NBC, but the network ultimately opted not to pick it up. It leaked online, and fans were a bit puzzled by how much the pilot departed from the traditional Wonder Woman backstory. However, most agreed that Palicki had the chops for the role. Years later, it was Supergirl who eventually got her own show on a major broadcast network. However, Palicki ended up joining the Marvelverse with a recurring role on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..

08 of 11

Michelle Monaghan, Justice League: War (2014)

Wonder Woman; Michelle Monaghan
Warner Bros.; Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Monaghan, yet another Mission: Impossible III co-star, lent her voice to the role in 2014, and she did it well. She sounds every bit as strong and battle-ready as we'd want her to, and you know what? We could actually see her in the tiara and bracelets, too. It's almost like the producers of these animated movies were working from a list of actresses who could have played Wonder Woman in non-animated form, almost like they'd been pushing for a live-action version this whole time. Hmm ...

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Cobie Smulders, The LEGO Movie (2014)

Wonder Woman; Cobie Smulders
Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock; Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

There doesn't seem to be a handy clip of the Lego version of Wonder Woman talking, but trust us: How I Met Your Mother star Cobie Smulders provided the voice in 2014. The casting wasn't arbitrary, either: For a period, Joss Whedon was considering a live action Wonder Woman movie and casting Smulders in the role. (Can't you picture it?) This role in The Lego Movie was a small way of making good on that idea. Smulders, meanwhile, joined the Marvel cinematic universe, playing Maria Hill in the Avengers movies.

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Rosario Dawson, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (2015)

Rosario Dawson in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War
Warner Bros.; Cindy Ord/Getty Images

And wouldn't you know it? Just like Smulders, Dawson managed to find a home in the live-action Marvel universe: the Netflix series Daredevil.

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Gal Gadot

wonder-woman1.jpg
Gal Gadot/Warner Bros.

By the time the Man of Steel sequel Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hit theaters, it had taken nearly 36 years for Wonder Woman to be realized again in live action. The film also marked the first time ever that Wonder Woman appeared in an official, theatrical movie – though only a supporting role. She got her turn in the spotlight thanks to Gadot and director Patty Jenkins in the wildly successful 2017 Wonder Woman, reprising the role that year in Justice League and again in 2020's Wonder Woman 1984. She joined the crew yet again in 2021's Zack Snyder's Justice League, and is on deck for a third Wonder Woman feature in the near future.

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