- "Ah! You know your Ancient Greeks? They understood that war is a God. A God that requires human sacrifice. And in exchange, war gives man purpose, meaning, a chance to rise above his petty, mortal little self and be courageous, noble, better!"
"Only one of the many gods believed in that. And he was wrong."
"You know nothing of the Gods."
- ―Erich Ludendorff and Diana[src]
General Erich Ludendorff was a World War I general of the Imperial German Army, an ally of the nefarious Dr. Poison, and an enemy of Wonder Woman. He gained metahuman powers by inhaling a special gas developed by Dr. Poison, who was secretly influenced by Ares into creating it. It is likely that Ares inspired Dr. Poison to enhance him, so as to create a decoy "God of War" for the Amazons and Wonder Woman to target.
Ludendorff visits a German military base in the Ottoman Empire. Unbeknownst to him, one of his pilots is the American Spy on the British service, Captain Steve Trevor. Trevor soon realizes that the Germans are building chemical weapons in the base. While Ludendorff meets with his chief scientist Doctor Poison, Maru unleashes her newest gas in a chamber where a test subject is located. The subject is affected by the poison gas but does not die from its effect resulting in Maru to pull the collar string to hang the test subject to death in frustration. Afterward, Maru has a conversation with Ludendorff in which she begs him for more time to complete her formula. However, she then realizes that her notebook has been stolen. Trevor, who has taken the notebook, escapes via plane while Ludendorff and Maru enter a car. Although Trevor sweeps back over the camp and attempts to shoot their car, Ludendorff and Maru escape successfully.
Preventing an Armistice
Ludendorff next heads to Belgium, where the newest base for Doctor Maru's research is located. There, he is greeted by one of his captains who welcomes him at the camp. While they are entering the base, Ludendorff asks how long the captain will need to fulfill his mission. When the captain replies that they will need two days, Ludendorff interrupts him and states that he and his men have until tonight. When the man tries to argue, claiming that his man had neither food nor sleep, Ludendorff coldly replies that he had neither food nor sleep as well and that the captain does not hear him complaining. Ludendorff claims that the captain's men are weak and seem to have forgotten that an attack can take place anytime, from any corner. To remind them of that fact, Ludendorff shoots the Captain in the head to intimidate the rest of the troop.
Ludendorff then enters the base which is the new main base for Doctor Poison. He asks Maru whether she has made any progress but she reveals that it was not enough. Poison also reveals to Ludendorff that the war is over; Germany has given up. Von Hindenburg has recommended that the German emperor signs the armistice and the fighting will be over soon. Ludendorff claims that the emperor will not sign the armistice if he sees Poison's newest weapon. Although Maru seems to have lost faith since her notebook was stolen, Ludendorff tells her that he believes in her, not her book. Maru then reveals to Ludendorff that she had fabricated an additional gas for Ludendorff himself, which will restore his strength. Ludendorff inhales the gas, which gives him enhanced strength and endurance. While he is recovering from the shock, Maru suddenly has an idea which might perfect her gas.
Ludendorff returns to Germany where he enters a meeting of the German commanders. He is aghast that a peace treaty is to be negotiated but the commanders assure him that it is the wish of the emperor. Ludendorff claims that with the absolute assistance of the assembled leaders, Germany could easily win the war if they only had a little faith in him. However, the leaders reveal to him that they do not have the required faith in him anymore. The leaders are unwilling to sacrifice any more German lives but Ludendorff argues that only one more attack is required to crush the enemy. When he attempts to reveal to them how Doctor Maru created a new gas weapon, the leaders interrupt him and reveal that they have no faith in him or his witch anymore. One of the men states that the war will end in twenty-four hours and that it is essentially over. Ludendorff angrily claims that the war is only over for all of them. He then storms out of the room and signals Maru, who is waiting outside. Maru tosses a grenade containing her gas and Ludendorff locks the room - trapping the German High Command inside. When Maru asks him why he left the High Command one gas mask, claiming that it will not work against the gas, Ludendorff sadistically states that the High Command does not know that. While the members of the High Command gruesomely perished inside the room, Ludendorff inhales another dose of the gas Maru fabricated for him.
Staging a Presentation
After the death of the High Command, Ludendorff and Maru plan to stage a presentation of the efficiency of Maru's gas for the German emperor as to convince him not to end the war.
Ludendorff is said to be hosting a gala shortly before the signing of the armistice. Even the German emperor is said to be there and Steve and Diana believe that this will be the best opportunity to take down Ludendorff. Diana also comes to the conclusion that Ludendorff is the human form of Ares, the God of War. Believing that killing Ares would end the war, Diana is now even more convinced to take down Ludendorff.
Steve and Diana infiltrate the castle Ludendorff is hosting his gala at. While Diana is walking through the crowd, searching for "Ares", she sees Ludendorff approaching her. However, when the music starts playing it is revealed that Ludendorff merely wants to dance with her and while they are dancing, Ludendorff asks whether she is enjoying the party. Diana replies that she is not sure what exactly they are celebrating and Ludendorff tells her that they are celebrating the victory.
Diana asks why they are celebrating victory when peace is said to be so close. Ludendorff replies that peace is merely an interval in an everlasting war. When Diana seemingly agrees, Ludendorff claims that this concept is from the ancient Greeks which he noted that the Greeks understood that war is a god, a god who needs sacrifice and that in exchange, war gives men purpose. Due to this answer referring to the god Ares, Diana is strengthened in her belief that Ludendorff is actually Ares incarnate. She states that only one of the many gods believed in this theory of war and that he was wrong. Affronted, Ludendorff replies that Diana knows nothing of the gods but the two are then interrupted by a German officer who reveals to Ludendorff that the presentation is ready to start. As Ludendorff turns to leave, he tells Diana to enjoy the fireworks. When Ludendorff's back is turned to Diana, she attempts to draw her hidden sword to strike her down but she is stopped by Steve.
Due to Steve's interference, Ludendorff is able to launch the missile carrying Maru's gas. The missile strikes a nearby village, the one Diana and Steve saved earlier, and kills every inhabitant - most of them civilians. After heading to the village and finding the corpses, Diana vows to pursue Ludendorff and kill him, and by extension Ares.
Directly after launching his gas, Ludendorff heads to a nearby military base where he oversees his troops load a plane with his poison gas bound for London. While he is in a watchtower, he is suddenly confronted by Diana who grabs Ludendorff's companion and throws him off the tower. Ludendorff recognizes Diana and admits his surprise. However, he then states that he has a more important matter to attend to and swiftly draws his gun and fires it at Diana's face. However, Diana blocks the bullet with her bracelet and deflects it back on Ludendorff. The bullet hits Ludendorff's gun and knocks it out of his hand. In pain, Ludendorff asks Diana what exactly she is. Diana replies that Ludendorff will soon find out and draws her sword. Ludendorff, powered by Maru's drug, rips a boiler from a nearby wall and thrusts it into Diana. It comes to a battle between the two and Ludendorff manages to disarm Diana and pick up her sword. He throws her to the ground and states that she is no match for him. However, when he thrusts his sword down, Diana blocks it with her bare hands. She gets back up and continues the fight.
Ludendorff flees to the roof but Diana pursues him. She jumps up and ensnares him with the Lasso of Truth. She violently smashes him into the floor and, claiming that she will full fill the mission of the Amazons, rams her sword into Ludendorff's chest, executing what she believes to be the ancient enemy Ares. However, after Ludendorff has died, she soon comes to the conclusion that Ludendorff was not Ares after all, as the Germans keep loading the plane when, according to her, they should have been freed of Ares' influence.
- "Peace? There's only an armistice in an endless war."
- ―Erich Ludendorff, quoting Thucydides[src]
General Ludendorff is as an extremely megalomaniacal, ambitious, ruthless and relentless individual, seeking to win World War I at any cost with Dr. Poison's chemical weapons, and not hesitating to shoot his own men or officer peers at the slightest disagreements with him, thereby being an even more sinister and malevolent militaristic supervillain than General Zod. Indeed, Lundendorff was charismatic enough as a leader to instill immense loyalty in Dr. Poison, who ultimately refused to abandon him for Steve Trevor (who was undercover, posing as a ruthless German officer interested in her). Despite being usually calm, Ludendorff occasionally displays fierce wrath and rage when frustrated, such as when confronted and thwarted by Wonder Woman's sudden arrival.
Ludendorff sadistically romanticizes war (unknowingly thus worshiping the God of War Ares), believing that it serves a purpose of bettering individuals, and claiming that it demands human sacrifices. Due to this mindset, personality and enhanced physical condition, Wonder Woman originally believed him to be Ares in disguise, though she later finds out that this is not the case. Also, in spite of being used as a pawn by Ares, it was revealed that Ludendroff is more than capable of waging war against his enemies even without Ares' influence; this was shown when Ares stated that while he may have inspired Ludendroff and Poison to create formulas and weaponry for their plans, he doesn't force them wage war to take down the enemies as they are capable of doing it themselves due to their free will. This implies that Ludendroff was power-hungry from the very beginning even before Ares came to the picture.
Ludendorff was also quite intelligent and well-read, notably reading quite a bit of Ancient Greek literature, and being impressed when Diana Prince quotes him an author of that era. Indeed, he was an excellent military scientist, tactician and battle strategist, scouring both himself and the Imperial German Army multiple victories during the 4-year duration of World War I, being all the more effective due to his ruthlessness, as when several other high-ranking German officers opposed his views, Ludendorff unexpectedly wiped them out on the spot with a chemical weapon, and when Wonder Woman managed to free a Belgian village from a year of German occupation on the Western Front, Ludendorff promptly wiped the village out with the same chemical weapon. His intelligence, however, was occasionally undermined by his extreme arrogance and overconfidence, with Ludendorff even going so far as to claim that even Wonder Woman, while a magnificent warrior, was no match for him. This would prove to be Ludendorff's undoing, as Wonder Woman promptly proceeded to defeat and kill him.
Lundendorff also appears to have a sadistic sense of humor, as when he has Dr. Poison kill disagreeing German officers with her extra-lethal mustard gas, Ludendorff tosses in a gas mask, gleefully laughing at the prospect of the doomed officers not knowing that the mask would be useless against the horrific gas.
Powers and Abilities
- Enhanced Metahuman Physiology: General Ludendorff inhaled regular doses of a gaseous drug developed for him by Dr. Poison (under Ares' secret tutelage), resulting in his impressive metahuman powers.
- Superhuman Strength: General Ludendorff has incredible superhuman strength, seemingly on par with that of Wonder Woman, though she notably had still not yet reached her full potential at the time. Nonetheless, this allowed him to easily crush a pistol with his bare hand, and to go blow for blow against Wonder Woman, even briefly knocking and pinning her to the ground.
- Superhuman Durability: General Ludendorff is incredibly durable to blunt force trauma, with him withstanding mighty blows from even Wonder Woman herself, though he could still be pierced by the Godkiller sword.
- Gifted Intelligence: General Ludendorff is quite intelligent and well-read, notably reading quite a bit of Ancient Greek literature (and being impressed when Diana Prince quotes him an author of that era), with his intellect mainly extending to his superb understanding of warfare and military science (to the point of him sadistically romanticizing war, much to Ares' delight), as well as his considerable tactical, strategic, and leadership skills.
- Expert Leader: Ludendorff, as a general of the Imperial German Army, was a highly skilled and experienced leader, having lead his troops though almost the entirely of World War I. Indeed, Lundendorff was charismatic enough as a leader to instill immense loyalty in Dr. Poison, who ultimately refused to abandon him for Steve Trevor (who was undercover, posing as a ruthless German officer interested in her).
- Expert Tactician: General Ludendorff, despite his arrogance, is an excellent tactician and battle strategist, scouring the Imperial German Army multiple victories during the 4-year duration of World War I, being all the more effective due to his ruthlessness. Ludendorff notably took over and occupied of a Belgian village (leaving Allied troops stationed at the Western Front unable to break through for almost a year, until Wonder Woman unexpectedly showed up), later fully wiped out the aforementioned village with an unexpected attack after it was freed (utilizing Dr. Poison's extra-lethal mustard gas), wiped out a group of disgruntled fellow German officers with another unexpected chemical weapon attack after they meet together, and almost succeeded in winning the war with his mustard gas-filled plane strategy (only thwarted by the last minute valiant efforts of the Wonder Men, as well as Steve Trevor's self-sacrifice).
- Bilingual: General Ludendorff, apart from his native German, also fluently spoke English (albeit with a mild German accent).
- Master Combatant: General Ludendorff is an extremely skilled hand-to-hand combatant, to the point that he managed to hold his own against Wonder Woman herself in their fight, dodging or countering many of her attacks, though he was ultimately defeated and killed by the Amazon warrior.
- Expert Marksman: As a seasoned soldier, General Luendorff is a highly skilled gunman. He killed one of his own men for irritating him, with a single shot from his pistol.
- Regular Drug Doses: General Ludendorff's greatest weakness is that in order to maintain his metahuman powers, he needs to inhale regular doses of Dr. Poison's gaseous drug every so often, or else they will fully wear off.
- Beings of Equal Power: General Ludendorff, when fighting beings of comparable or greater might, like Wonder Woman (even though she was not yet at her full potential), is more vulnerable, as they are powerful enough to injure and even kill Ludendorff, with Wonder Woman promptly killing him after a brief fight.
- Magic: General Ludendorff is vulnerable to magic-based attacks and weapons, so he can therefore be cut and wounded by Wonder Woman's Godkiller sword, as well as restrained by the Amazonian Lasso of Hestia (which is magically rendered unbreakable). As a result, Ludendorff is ultimately stabbed to death by the Amazonian blade.
- Arrogance: General Ludendorff's main psychological weakness is his overconfidence and arrogance (stemming from his megalomania), with him even going so far as to claim that even Wonder Woman, while a magnificent warrior, was no match for him. This would prove to be Ludendorff's undoing, as Wonder Woman promptly proceeded to defeat and kill him.
- Gaseous Drug Vials: General Ludendorff always had vials of this drug on him, in order to temporarily enhance himself whenever necessary.
- Luger P08: General Ludendorff used his pistol to shoot down one of his own men when the latter began complaining.
Behind the scenes
- Erich Ludendorff was a real-life senior German military official during World War I. Unlike his film counterpart, the real Ludendorff lived another nineteen years after the war, becoming a hard-line nationalist, blaming Jews and Marxists for Germany's defeat, and advocating a "total war", of devoting Germany's entire physical and moral force against other nations. He died in 1937, less than two years before the outbreak of World War II.