Wonder Woman, as one of the most powerful superheroes in the history of the comics, had plenty of enemies, but rarely are her villains as notable as God of War, Ares. Inspired by a mythological Greek deity, Ares has been a thorn in Wonder Woman’s side ever since she was born, and although his role has changed greatly since his introduction, he pretty much always walked on the side of chaos more than on the side of justice. Today, we will explain Ares’s origin story, powers and abilities, and current status in the DC Universe.
Ares was first introduced as Mars and one of the chief villains of Wonder Woman
Ares was introduced for the first time in ‘Wonder Woman’ #1, released back in 1942. He was depicted as a ruthless God burning with hatred and had a small cult dedicated to his own worship. His daily worship included beating and suffering, and his cult members often treated weaker people and women as chattel. Often selling them into slavery, Aphrodite, goddess of love, was fed up with Ares’ antics and created a race of powerful women who would be known as Amazons over time. Amazons were created to combat Ares’ men and were, by default, stronger than them, with Hippolyta being their champion.
Ares, at that time, mostly referred to Mars as the real-world Roman equivalent of the God of War, established a base on Mars, enslaving the planet’s current population and supplying it with dead souls of warriors that fell in various battles that took place on Earth and Saturn. Ares eventually kidnapped Steve Trevor, the notable love interest of Wonder Woman, and this is what initially pitted them together as Wonder Woman did everything in her power to thwart Ares every step of the way until she eventually managed to rescue Trevor.
As both hardcore and occasional readers of DC comics know, they practically reset the universe every few years, meaning that Ares’ origin story has been retconned several times, and new elements have been added.
In Post-Crisis stories, Ares was re-introduced as Zeus’ son but felt out of place until he established his own realm, the Areopagus. Aphrodite, patron of the Amazons, vows to save the world from Ares’ hatred and warfare through love. Ares manipulates his way to depose Hades and rule the underworld. Ares plots to destroy the Amazons, employing Hercules, but Diana emerges just in time to confront him. Ares uses a puppet to crash a plane into Paradise Island, attempting to spark a nuclear war. Diana traps him with her magic lasso, revealing the consequences of his plan. Ares tasks her with saving mankind, promising to return if she fails.
Post Flashpoint, During New 52, Ares was presented to the stories in a different light altogether. In this new continuity, Ares is called “War.” He is revealed to be Diana’s half-brother due to her demigoddess status. War’s feet are permanently smeared with blood. A stand-alone issue, ‘Wonder Woman’ vol. 4 #0, portrays Ares as Diana’s former mentor, fostering a father-daughter relationship. They part ways when Ares asks Diana to slay the Minotaur, and her mercy disappoints him because she refuses to kill the creature to prove a point.
As you can see, Ares and Diana share an incredibly long history of animosity, and he is known to be among Wonder Woman’s most notable and most persistent villains.
Ares is in the new continuity both half-brother and grandfather to Wonder Woman
In the new continuity, Ares was born to Zeus and Hera, which makes him Wonder Woman’s half-brother through Zeus. He eventually fell in love with Aphrodite and had several children with her, including Phobos and Deimos. Over time, Ares went insane, and the gods decided to imprison him in shackles forged by Hephaestus, and Aphrodite willingly binds him. Ares is confined to a pocket dimension on Themyscira, guarded by the Amazons, with access through a hidden tree. Only those Ares wishes to see it can find the tree, ensuring he remains imprisoned and his wrath contained.
What’s interesting is that Ares, in this continuity, is also a grandfather of Wonder Woman, due to being the father of the Amazon race and the father of Hyppolita. Despite being introduced as a mad and savage being, Ares attempted to work alongside Wonder Woman and make amends but had difficulty understanding justice and mercy.
How powerful is Ares?
Ares is one of the most powerful Olympian gods in the DC Universe. This goes without saying: he is even more powerful than your average god due to coming from a line of ancient and powerful beings known as the Old Gods.
Among other godly abilities, Ares is capable of seeing and understanding what took place before his time or while he wasn’t present. He has cosmic awareness, can summon extremely powerful lighting, and can create various constructs out of pure energy.
Ares can also fly and has immortality and unprecedented durability. His superhuman durability enabled him to survive attacks from unimaginably powerful beings like Wonder Woman unscathed, and his almost infinite strength allowed him to fight against cosmic opponents and handle active missiles effortlessly. Ares also has telepathy to absorb the memories of others, causing significant harm, and can cast illusions to conceal his identity from both mortals and gods.
It goes without saying that Ares is also the master of any weapon known to man and gods and is quite skilled in tactical analysis and warfare in general.
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