Wonder Woman's bracelets
|Wonder Woman's bracelets|
Wonder Woman deflects bullets in
her live-action television series
|First appearance||All Star Comics #8 (December 1941)|
|Created by||William Moulton Marston|
|In story information|
|Element of stories featuring||Wonder Woman|
The Bracelets of Submission are a pair of metal bracelets or cuffs worn by Wonder Woman and other Amazons. They were an original creation by William Moulton Marston as an allegory for his philosophy on loving submission and the emotional control associated with it in order to balance out the strength of the human ego. These bracelets have thus far proven indestructible and able to absorb the impact of incoming attacks, allowing Wonder Woman to not only deflect automatic weapon fire, energy blasts and other projectile weaponry, but also to absorb forces from a long fall.
Symbolism of empowerment
Wonder Woman 
William Moulton Marston depicted the origin story the Amazons as Greek women who had been bound by the wrists by men, who at one point realized their power and broke free. They then moved to their own women-only island, where, in the absence of male oppression, they grew progressively stronger and longer lived. The "Bracelets of Submission" were still worn as a cautionary reminder: to forfeit one's independence by allowing male dominance over their will sapped them of their own power.
The inspiration to give Diana bracelets came from the pair of bracelets worn by Olive Byrne, creator William Moulton Marston's research assistant and lover. "Wonder Woman and her sister Amazons have to wear heavy bracelets to remind them of what happens to a girl when she lets a man conquer her," quoted Marston in a 1942 interview. "The Amazons once surrendered to the charm of some handsome Greeks and what a mess they got themselves into. The Greeks put them in chains of the Hitler type, beat them, and made them work like horses in the fields. Aphrodite, goddess of love, finally freed these unhappy girls. But she laid down the rule [Aphrodite's Law] that they must never surrender to a man for any reason. I know of no better advice to give modern women than this rule that Aphrodite gave the Amazon girls."
Marston used bondage as a symbol concept. As a psychologist, Marston believed that "kinky doesn't make something wrong or weak, abuse does". Central to feminism is the idea that women are systematically subordinated, and bad faith exists when women surrender their agency to this subordination. Marston was heavily influenced by his "marriage" with two women, one being the niece of Margaret Sanger and daughter of Ethel Byrne, both radical feminists and pioneering supporters of birth control.
In the Golden Age of Comics, the Amazons of Paradise Island were depicted wearing the bracelets as a symbol of submission to their patron goddess Aphrodite and, under the goddess's instruction, as a reminder to the Amazons of the folly of submitting to men and the resultant period when they were subjugated under the rule of the treacherous Hercules. The bracelets were magically made to be indestructible by Aphrodite. The bracelets were useful, as magically indestructible gauntlets they could be used to deflect bullets, energy weapons, and any murderous weapons in Man's World.
Originally portrayed as being bronze, in Wonder Woman #52, published in March 1952, it was first mentioned that the bracelets were composed of "amazonium."
In Sensation Comics #4 it was revealed that Amazons temporarily lost their super strength if a male welded chains to their bracelets together. Their strength remained unaffected if they were chained by females (Sensation Comics #10). They would regain their strength if their bracelets were unchained. In later stories Amazons lost their strength if males simply bound their wrists, rather than their bracelets, with chains or other forms of welding. In Comic Cavalcade #14, the bracelets were revealed to balance Amazon strength with loving submission to the positive aims of civilization.
The consequences of removing bracelets became simplified in later stories: if ever broken or removed, the Amazon would go into an uncontrollable destructive frenzy, as Dr. Marston's allegory for the unfettered destruction by the human ego. The bracelets were very rarely broken, and then only by magical weapons empowered by the gods themselves (such as Artemis's sword and Aegeus's dagger of Vulcan).
The Amazons were, as before, charged with wearing their bracelets as a constant reminder of their experience of enslavement. They also wore the bracelets as penance of failing in their mission to reform mankind. However, they did not lose their strength if males chained their bracelets together and were not cursed with madness should the bracelets be removed or broken. Additionally, the generic Amazon bracelet provides no special protection.
When Diana won the Contest to become Wonder Woman, she was given a pair of magical silver bracelets. The bracelets were later explained as having been forged from the remnants of the Aegis, a shield made from the indestructible hide of the great she-goat, Amalthea, who suckled Zeus as an infant. When crossed before her, the bracelets are able to generate a remnant of the Aegis, allowing Diana to deflect attacks far larger than the surface area of her bracelets. This remnant takes the form of a semi-visible spherical forcefield roughly twice the height of Diana.
Both Donna Troy and Cassie Sandsmark also have their own indestructible silver bracelets. When Hippolyta continued to operate as Wonder Woman after Diana's resurrection, she likewise wore her own silver bracelets. When John Byrne took over the writing and art duties, he depicted the bracelets as larger than usual and gauntlet-like, with extension pieces being semi-distinct from the original bracelets.
It was revealed during Gail Simone's tenure as the title's writer that Zeus had endowed the bracelets with the power to channel his divine lightning when they were struck together at will. Diana can also slam the bracelets together to create a wave of concussive force, which is capable of making strong beings like Superman's ears bleed.
It is revealed in the New 52 that Wonder Woman's bracelets help her control her divine powers as a daughter of Zeus, as shown when she removed them during a fight with Artemis.
In other media
On the live-action Wonder Woman television series, the two-part episode "The Feminum Mystique" establishes that the bracelets are produced from "feminum," a metal found only on Paradise Island. When Nazi agents learn the truth from Wonder Woman's sister Drusilla, they invade Paradise Island and force the Amazons to mine the feminum until the Amazons turn the tables on their captors. Removal of the bracelets leaves Wonder Woman vulnerable to attack but does not render her powerless or insane.
To create the bullet deflection effect, explosive charges were attached to the bracelets worn by Lynda Carter. She concealed triggering devices in her hands and, on cue, would trigger the devices to create the explosive effect.
The bracelets are depicted as gauntlets in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman, and Justice League. These films feature Israeli actress Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, where the gauntlets allow Diana to produce a powerful field of pure concussive force when brought together in a defensive brace position.
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- Wonder Woman Vol. 3 #39
- Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #219