This has been rumored for quite a while now, but we finally have an official confirmation of which character Elena Anaya is going to play in the upcoming Wonder Woman. No big surprise here, she’s the Golden Age villain Doctor Poison, the spy who battled Wonder Woman during World War II (in the movie, this has been changed to World War I). We don’t know much about the character yet, apart from the fact that she’ll be an ally of General Erich Ludendorff and that she’ll work for him in some capacity. There’s also another rumor around, according to which Maru (Poison’s true identity) will be a rogue Amazon, thus justifying Wonder Woman’s presence in the world of men. Anyway, waiting to see what has been done with this old villain, created in the 1940s, let’s take a look at the original one, an inhabitant of Earth-Two.
Maru was born in the late 1920s, the princess of an unspecified country. Since she was a teenager, she studied chemistry and biology thorougly, becoming an absolute expert in her field, albeit most of the recognition she deserved was denied to her since she was a woman. When World War II engulfed the world, Princess Maru decided she would have made her part as well in the conflict, and agreeing with Nazi Germany‘s view on the need to perfect humanity through a genetic selection and a strong politics, she offered her unique services to the Axis. She soon realised she would have accomplished nothing by presenting herself as a woman, so she tailored a bulky costume and a mask to look like a man, and created the alias of Doctor Poison, claiming to be the world’s most accomplished expert in toxins, venoms and poisons (something that she actually was). Having impressed the Third Reich with her knowledge, she became a spy for the Nazis, planning a unique an potentially disastrous attack on the US Army: she managed to contaminate the enemy’s water supplies with one of her newest inventions, Reverso, a powerful drug that modified the brain’s chemistry, so that any intended action resulted in its opposite. As a result, the American soldiers started to do exactly the opposite of what they were ordered by their superiors, giving an incredible advantage to the Germans. With the American army a mess, she had two enemies kidnapped to obtain informations from them: officer Steve Trevor, who had an injured leg, and a nurse who was with him, Diana Prince. The latter managed to escape, but she didn’t warn the army, worried for Steve’s safety: she came back as Wonder Woman, accompanied by the Holliday Girls, the sorority led by her friend Etta Candy. While the Girls distracted the guards, Wonder Woman confronted Doctor Poison, and after exposing her as a woman (her “soft hands” betrayed her, apparently…), she freed Steve Trevor. Defeated, Princess Maru escaped, interrupting her poisoning of the American army.
Doctor Poison’s skills however were still required by the Axis, and in 1943 Maru (still disguised as a man) started working as the Chemical Research Chief of the Imperial Japanese Army. This time, she managed to ground every single American airplane on the Chinese Front thanks to her latest invention, the Green Gas, a special compound that reacted with the planes’ fuel making it inert. With no air force at disposal, the American Army was in great difficulty in the Pacific. Once again, it was Wonder Woman who came to the rescue, and recognising the style of her enemy, she identified and found Doctor Poison. This time, however, she didn’t want to let her escape, and she made sure to capture her with her Lasso of Truth; as soon as the American planes were able to fly again, Wonder Woman took Doctor Poison away from the battlefield and locked her up in the Amazonian prison in Transformation Island, a place in which she would have allegedly reformed. Actually, Princess Maru started to behave, becoming the spectre of the woman she was…until five years later one of the other inmates, the alien slaver Eviless, spurred her into coming back to her old self. Eviless selected some of Transformation Island’s inmates: along with Doctor Poison, she gathered the super-strong Giganta, the feral thief Priscilla “Cheetah” Rich, the freezing Byrna “Blue Snowman” Brilyant, the flaming priestess Zara, the Atlantean Queen Clea and the mesmerizer Hypnota, and formed a villainess-only team known as Villainy Incorporated. First, Eviless faked her death, managing to steal Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth when the Amazons came to check on her; later, using their male costumes, Doctor Poison, Blue Snowman and Hypnota tricked Queen Hippolyta into believing that men were on Paradise Island, and when she came out of her palace, the rest of the team ambushed her and captured her with the Lasso. Using Hippolyta as a human shield, the criminals were finally ready to leave the Amazons’ island: the world would have known the genius of Doctor Poison once more.
Princess Maru is an extremely intelligent woman, a brilliant scientist who puts all her wits and her knowledge at the service of…the wrong cause: lacking any kind of human empathy, she embraces the Axis’ ideals of a perfect race and of a strong leadership, wanting to crush all the inferior ones under her heels. As Doctor Poison, she’s the world’s most accomplished expert in terms of poisons and toxins, and she’s skilled enough to create new substances with the most incredible effects. Disguised to hide her gender in a world of men, Doctor Poison believes in the superiority of intellect, and she uses her own to turn the tides of the war.