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FIRST MEETINGS: How old were Steve & Diana? by Brett Jett
November 18, 2014 By Brett Jett
During my time interacting with WW fans, one curious little bit of detail that has sprung up here & there: the exact age of Princess Diana (Wonder Woman) when she first met Steve Trevor. Almost likewise, there has been assumptions about how old Steve was.
Many a WW fan believes that she is thousands of years old. Its a belief that stems mainly from the 70’s show version of WW, which has her at 2,492 years. However, this was only a retcon for that incarnation of WW. It did not represent Dr. William Moulton Marston’s original intent for his creation.
So this article attempts to show that Diana was meant to be younger than Steve, according to the original design by Dr. Marston, in the Golden Age. And hopefully by knowing this design can writers create more striking and relevant new incarnations that retain the spirit of the original.
Age differences of attraction.
In Dr. Marston’s original design, Steve was definitely older than Diana. As a psychologist well versed in gender dynamics, Dr. Marston certainly knew about the typical age differences that the genders are mostly attracted to. I suppose he could’ve made her as an older, “dominatrix” type. But the idea was to have his Wonder Woman retain her allure to “capture” the hearts of men in the Depression Era. Therefore he kept Diana fairly young and nubile to be “presented” to men like Steve. She was meant to be the young innocent in Man’s World. Not necessarily extraordinarily innocent, but at least partially.
Men tend to be more attracted to young women, and women tend to find older men sexier. Its evolutionary psychology at work. This real-life attraction dynamic has been reflected in literature everywhere. If you look just at the love lives of modern female champions–such as Buffy, Sydney Bristow, LFNikita, etc–you’d notice this trend too.
Determining Steve’s age.
To determine Steve’s age, we have certain real world clues to go by. We know that he was an Army Captain when he first met Diana, then was promoted early to Major after returning to America. Back in the Depression Era, a guy could only enlist in the military after finishing high school and reaching age 18. But Steve was an intelligence officer (in the Army’s Air Corps, which later became the Army Air Force, no less), so that additionally required four years of college before reporting to officer training as a 2nd Lieutenant. From there, he’d receive promotions that required at least a year in between…from 2nd Lieutenant to 1st Lieutenant, then Captain, then Major, etc. These rules were firmly set. It wasn’t until after Pearl Harbor did anyone make any exceptions, such as for high school students to enlist early. But the Steve-Diana encounter took place two months before Pearl Harbor. So let’s say Steve graduated high school at age 17 and then went straight to college before going through the military process. Well, that would place him at age 25, at the earliest. Then he was promoted to Major.
As the rules state, an officer must wait at least a year before promotion. But Steve was a dedicated warrior who was known for fast advancement. Plus, his promotion to Major happened after Pearl Harbor. So we can say its plausible that Steve could’ve been a Captain for less than a year before being offered that promotion to Major. Well even then, the youngest he would’ve been is 24 years old. Although, considering that when Steve was going through high school and college, no war was being fought yet, so there was no reason for him to feel a desperate need to start his military career so quickly.
Verdict: I place Steve Trevor, esquire, at age 27.
And by the above stipulations, that would put Colonel Darnell at age 30 at least, and 34 at likely. Which further shows the aforementioned attractive age dynamic, as he was smitten for the young Diana Prince.
Determining Diana’s age.
Many WW fans have come to me believing WW to be centuries old, using the theory that Hercules impregnated Hippolyta in Ancient times. I have scanned all of Dr. Marston’s written comics (magazines & newspaper strips), and the evidence points to Diana being, in fact, born sometime in the 1900’s. Which means she could not have been any older than 41 years when she first met Steve just before Pearl Harbor.
There wasn’t as many precise clues to narrow down Diana’s age as there was for Steve. But we can still come close to a range using the theory-based clues.
My further studies into Dr. Marston’s intentions for WW reveal that he was creating allegories based on the real life happenings during World War 2. Diana giving up her birthright of eternal happiness by leaving her home to go fight war & oppression is an allegory for young maidens of the Depression Era forgoing college and going straight to doing battle in the workplace. These maidens were typically ages 18-24. But Diana was also an allegory for his idea of a “love leader”–empowered women who were trained to gain economic power and reset the precedence in society’s infrastructure, thus affecting peace in the world. These love leaders would ideally get their training while in college, before being released into the workplace to carry out their mission. Therefore, in this pre-Pearl Harbor period, it would correspondingly suggest that Diana was 23 years old.
But then he retconned Wonder Woman’s origin story twice, after Pearl Harbor. And both of those versions stated that Diana reached adulthood (at least 18 years old) before meeting Steve. With the post-Pearl Harbor atmosphere, he very well could have reflected this into his retconned WW origin story. Its plausible that Diana now symbolized the young maiden who felt the need to rush off to the workplace to help with the war effort. Women, including young maidens, came into the workplace in droves during this period. Those maidens typically came straight out of high school or were just floating around, unable to afford college or make it in the workplace before answering the call to action, as this was a sudden event that took everyone by surprise. So correspondingly, all of this would suggest Diana was 19-21 years old.
So now we’ve established that Diana was at least 18, but more likely 19-23 years old. However, we must also consider that in her ‘Diana Prince’ identity, she had to be old enough to drink as she accompanied Steve to alcohol establishments. And when taking the identity of the real “Diana Prince”, they had to be at least very close to the same age in order to look identical to each other. That means WW-Diana more likely would’ve been 21-24 years old.
Verdict: I place Princess Diana at age 22.
So there you have it. A 27 year old Steve met a 22 year old Diana…the young maiden who fell in love with the older soldier that she sought psychological security from…how cute. Such a far cry from the 70’s show’s suggestion of a 2 thousand year old Diana who never really made Steve her love interest.
Now cue the Roberta Flack song. “The first time…….”
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