When reading the article here, they mentioned an interesting tidbit.

When William Marston passed away in 1947, he left behind a contract that gave DC Comics the right to exclusively publish Wonder Woman comics as long as they continued to keep the title going. If they ever stopped publishing it, the ownership would permanently revert to Marston’s estate, which made Wonder Woman one of the longest-running super hero comics in history.

Poking around, I've seen a few people claim that this is an apocryphal story, and all of the citations use very similar wording, which makes me wonder if they're all quoting the same story.

4 Answers 4


At one time it was true, but no more. Kurt Busiek clarified the issue (DC Comics Message Boards on 25 January 2005):

They are no longer true, but they were true for a long time — as I understand it, the terms were that DC had to publish at least four issues with "Wonder Woman" as the banner lead feature or rights would revert. That's why DC did the LEGEND OF WONDER WOMAN mini-series that I wrote and Trina Robbins drew — the Perez revamp was in development, but coming along slowly, and they had to publish something to fulfil the contract terms.

They specifically didn't want something that would be attention-getting, because they didn't want to undercut the revamp. So they wanted something gentle and nostalgic, and we had fun doing it.

In the intervening years, though, I'm given to understand that at some point DC bought the character outright, and thus those contract terms are no longer in force.


In an October 25, 1940, interview with the Family Circle magazine, William Moulton Marston discussed the unfulfilled potential of the comic book medium.This article caught the attention of comics publisher Max Gaines, who hired Marston as an educational consultant for DC. A publisher at DC told Marston to create a superhero.Marston went back home and told his wife that he wanted to create a superhero. She said that the hero should be a woman since there were too many male heroes out there. He then presented this idea to max Gaines. Max Gaines approved it. And then here’s what William Moulton said about Wonder Woman’s creation.

“Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don't want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women's strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman”

Wonder Woman was essentially created to be a feminine take on superman. She was strictly done on work for hire. A publisher at DC told Marston to come with an idea of a superhero. Marston did he presented it to Max Gaines. Max Gaines approved it and then voila that’s how we got Wonder Woman. And funnily enough Wonder Woman wasn’t originally called “Wonder Woman” but rather “Suprema”. She was called “Suprema the Wonder Woman” but then Max Gaines told Marston to just shorten it to “Wonder Woman”. But it doesn’t change the fact that she was a corporate property fully owned by DC comics since day 1,she was created. She has always just been in a dc publication. But then that ownership of her came at a cost. The contract was that before William Moulton Marston’s death in 1947, his heirs retain small royalties from all Wonder Woman related creations and merchandise. Also there is a reversion of rights clause that states if DC Comics does not publish for one month any Wonder Woman comic book, the rights to the Wonder Woman character and related merchandise, past, current, and future revert to his family. But then that deal didn’t really make any sense because why would someone get hired by a company and was now told by that company to create a character for them but then now make a contract that threatens the company’s ownership of a character (which was done on work for hire) it makes no sense. Because Wonder Woman’s creation was strictly work for hire. There is no way William or his family would win in a court case against dc if they got angry at DC because he literally created the character for the company. Characters created on work for hire strictly belong to the company. Neither William or his family should be able to get any over legal ownership over Wonder Woman and they never did a work for hire belongs to the company. But it’s a good thing that the Marstons had a decent relationship with dc William was paid very well before he sadly died. The royalties part of the contract was understandable because it’s understandable that William wants to secure a fair of money for himself and his family. but the ownership of Wonder Woman part wasn’t understandable in the slightest. And DC were pretty stupid to actually agree to that deal with Marston. The contract essentially put an insane amount of pressure on DC to publish their own character otherwise they would lose her. It would have been better if they agreed to just the royalties.

  • 4
    Can you break out the quotes and separate them from your own opinion (using the > symbol)
    – Valorum
    Apr 4, 2021 at 21:46
  • This is nothing but a proof by assertion, no source no evidence Apr 5, 2021 at 2:05

@David Siegel That link I sent should have confirmed the work for hire part. And it was done off an interview that said “ After DC pioneer Max Gaines asked William to write a comic himself, he brought the idea to Elizabeth. "She said 'Yeah, go ahead and do it, but it needs to be a woman, because there are enough men out there as superheros.' So Woman Woman started," Marston recalls.” And you should also take a look at the Wonder Woman family museum which is kind not only confirming the ownership of Wonder Woman but also the fact that the family has zero input and they always had zero input with Wonder Woman.

“Please note: This website is not a commercial site, nor is it authorized by DC Comics or Warner Bros. This site is strictly for the purpose of sharing the fun and spreading the joy that Wonder Woman creates. “Wonder Woman” and all of the related characters, logos, marks and elements are ™ and © by DC Comics, and we have no desire to ever step on their toes – they have kept Wonder Woman alive for all of these many years and we want them to keep up the good work! All additional contents of this site (i.e., those which do not fall under DC ™ or ©) are © 2009 Moulton Marston. Please contact [email protected] for permission if you wish to reproduce any element. We are, of course, very amenable to any person or organization who is a Wonder Woman supporter; we would just like to know that Wonder Woman’s good name will not be besmirched or misused. We offer links to numerous sites which appear like minded, but we are not affiliated in any way with the owners/operators of those sites, nor are we responsible for their content. Additionally, we reserve the right to refuse to provide or accept links from any site which we deem objection”


  • 1
    This seems to be a reply to a comment on one of your other answers. If you have something to add, please edit your original answers. Apr 5, 2021 at 9:32

Yes it was but DC always owned Wonder Woman from the beginning since her creation . Wonder Woman was made on work for hire were max gaines asked William Moulton Marston to create a superhero. Will went back home to his wife and he said to her that he wanted to create a superhero. His wife said that it should be a female superhero since they were too many male ones. He agreed and then he came up with an idea of Wonder Woman. He presented it to max Gaines. Max gaines approved the work. And then voila that’s how we got Wonder Woman. But then oddly enough before he died he made a contract where DC had to publish Wonder Woman for a certain amount of time to retain the full rights to the character. And that if they didn’t the rights of the character would permanently revert to the Marston Estate. But obviously DC didn’t kept to the promise. So yes Wonder Woman was always DC property but it came at a cost to fully own her. But then obviously that contract ceased fire decades ago. Now there is now deal or requirement to publish her for certain amount of time.

  • 2
    Can you offer any evidence to back up these bold statements?
    – Valorum
    Apr 4, 2021 at 20:14
  • @valorum I made a long reply to you in an answer Apr 4, 2021 at 21:38
  • 1
    I spotted that. It would have been far better to edit this answer than create a new one.
    – Valorum
    Apr 4, 2021 at 21:47
  • @valorum oh ye i just changed it so that you can see the quote. But I hope this is enough proof. Wonder Woman was always the sole property of DC comics. I mean how could she not have been? she was done on work for hire. Work for hires are always corporate owned.When I found out that Marston made a contract like this before dying I was shocked that dc could even accept that. He literally created her for all American publications yet he is threatening the ownership of the character done on a contract. The royalties part was understandable but the ownership of Wonder Woman part wasn’t. Apr 4, 2021 at 22:59
  • 1
    And just write one answer (edit the details in and deleted the others) unless you actually have three valid answers. :)
    – FuzzyBoots
    Apr 5, 2021 at 13:29

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