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This is why we can’t have nice things: Wonder Woman’s new costume.

July 1, 2010
by

[This article was originally posted at my blog Love is the Slug]

To say I am a fan of Wonder Woman is a pretty massive understatement. It’s like saying “Courtney Love has dabbled in drugs” or “”that Aretha Franklin has a pretty good voice, doesn’t she?” I’ve loved the Amazing Amazon since I was 4 years old and first gazed upon the stunningly beautiful Lynda Carter who personified her so perfectly in the iconic 1970s TV show. My step-brother likes to tell the story that he knew I was gay when he once commented “Wonder Woman has nice boobs” while watching the show with me and I bellowed back “DON’T TALK ABOUT WONDER WOMAN LIKE THAT!!!” But I loved her for more than the trivial reasons one might imagine a burgeoning fag would love her. It wasn’t just her gorgeous hair or her fabulous accessories or, as on the TV show, the spin that allowed her to transform from everyday to amazing. I loved her because she symbolized strength and righteousness and peace and equality – the things she fought for both on the TV show and in the comics that I soon began to devour after being introduced to her via the television. As a wee, sickly child I wanted to be able to spin around and transform into someone incredible who fought crime, lifted up the oppressed and “changed their minds and changed the world”, as the theme song so funkily put it. And yeah, okay, I dug the hell out of her costume. I currently have 4 images of her tattooed on my right arm as part of a sleeve in progress, so clearly, the visual presentation of Wonder Woman has a teensy tiny bit of resonance for me.


Since her introduction to the world in 1941, Wonder Woman has worn some variation of her iconic, instantly recognizable star spangled costume – except for a couple of stints in a white jumpsuit and a really horrible period where she wore a pair of cycling shorts, a cropped jacket and a bra. I was thankfully taking a break from comics during that dark era. But hey, guess which incarnations of her costume didn’t stick around for long? You guessed it. And there’s been lots of talk and debate about the costume – everything from it being sexist and exploitative to to it being totally unrealistic for someone to wear in combat. But hi, how on earth is Wonder Woman realistic in any way?! She’s from a hidden island full of immortal amazon women! She was made from clay by her mother and given life and powers by the gods of the Greek pantheon!!! SHE CAN FLY!!! She is not real. Sadly. And you know what? When Lynda Carter portrayed her on TV she managed to wear that costume with so much dignity and made it as natural as if she were wearing jeans and a t-shirt. The costume, whether you like it or not, is a huge part of Wonder Woman’s icon status. So you can imagine how I felt when I read that it would be changed (again) as of issue #600.

And then you can imagine how I felt when I actually saw it:

Are? You? Shitting? Me? THIS is the new iconic costume for the new direction Wonder Woman is being taken in?!?! Because of course, gentle readers, a new costume for a female hero always signals a Major Change in Her Storyline. And since writers cannot seem to stop fucking with Wonder Woman’s origin, storyline and general life as a character, she gets tweaked once again to boost flagging sales instead of realizing that the spectacular lack of consistency she’s experienced in her 600 issues might have ANYTHING to do with it. But you know, I can handle some new plot devices and some attempts at changing things up in her storyline if it means fresh, exciting stories and maybe more people buying the book.

But THIS?! This weak-ass costume change?! It looks like something that would’ve been designed for an alternate-reality version of the X-Men’s Jubilee circa 1995!!! It looks like a fun entry from the Project Rooftop Wonder Woman Wardrobe War contest!! She looks generic!! She’s from central superhero casting!!! The worst part of it, though, is that this costume is revealed in a story featured alongside several short stories and full-page images for the gala 600th issue. Up until that point the comic is a fan’s dream – full of gorgeous images rendered by fantastic artists like Phil Jimenez and Nicola Scott and stories about how heroic, important and beloved Wonder Woman is by the likes of Gail Simone and Louise Simonson. It seems like such a weird disconnect. Until you realize it may all be a set-up for the (decades in development, most likely doomed) movie that may or may not happen in 2013. Sigh. And as much as I once thought I’d love to see a big screen version of Princess Diana kicking some villainous butt, the movie industry has not done so well by female heroes. I think I’d rather not see that potentially Supegirl/Catwoman-esque nightmare come to fruition.

But in the end, I have a feeling history will win out. These variations on her costume have never stuck around long. No matter how sales of the book may do or how often her origin gets tweaked and reconfigured, people want to see Wonder Woman looking like, well, Wonder Woman. I have a feeling she’ll be back in her star-spangled bathing suit in the near future. And we’ll be able to shunt this costume aside into a bin to rest among other such failed makeover ideas like “Loonatics Unleashed”.


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27 Comments leave one →
  1. July 1, 2010 2:13 pm

    That is the JCPenney teen catalog version of Wonder Woman and it makes me pretty irate too. I didn’t realize she was plagued with so many origin story rewrites either!

  2. July 1, 2010 4:12 pm

    Ewww this looks like awful Arizona brand clothing, like Raybear said, “JcPenney teen catalog”! I want to see hips, boobs and big hair. That’s what I paid for.

  3. July 1, 2010 5:20 pm

    @raymondj: Her origin hasn’t been as badly rewritten as, say, Donna Troy aka Wonder Girl aka Troia, but it’s been messed with a number of times. In the silver age her mother was prone to wiping out her memory, keeping her on the island and then somehow repeating the whole cycle of having the contest to choose a Wonder Woman to go to Man’s World and Diana would either win again or would lose temporarily and then become WW again later. George Perez rebooted her post-Crisis On Infinite Earths in the late 80s and his origin has been the standard ever since with little retconned bits here and there and lots of writers taking liberties with her mythology, supporting characters, etc.

    @Snarky: Right?! I mean, she’s an ICON. It would be like giving Dolly Parton a breast reduction and brunette dye job. You just don’t mess with her image that much.

  4. July 1, 2010 9:40 pm

    I read about this earlier today. I was, to say the least, upset. She really does look like some tragic teen-incarnation of Wonder Woman. WHHHHHYYYYYYYYYYYY.

    After I read the article about this costume change, I ran upstairs and grabbed my copy of What Would Wonder Woman Do? An Amazon’s Guide to the Working World for comfort.

  5. July 1, 2010 11:43 pm

    Lynda Carter would never have stood for this.

    Actually, you know what I’m thinking? This might be a new costume to attract a particular actress to play the role for the big screen? Though I don’t know who they might be trying to attract. Scarlett Johansson has already appeared butt nekkid on the cover of Vanity Fair. And I think they gave up on Sandy Bullock a few years ago, though her Blind Side dresses displayed her legs better than those stirrup pants ever could.

  6. July 2, 2010 1:09 am

    @nycpenpusher: Hollywood has been trying to make this movie for well over a decade. And everyone from Sandra Bullock to Katie Holmes to Carmen Electra (dear lord help us all) have been rumored to be considered for the leading role. It seems like a doomed project that should never get made.

    That being said, Lynda Carter wrote a fantastic introductory piece to the 600th issue, celebrating and lauding Wonder Woman as a cultural icon and making me love Ms. Carter all the more.

  7. July 2, 2010 3:01 am

    I see you, Lynda.

  8. evmaroon permalink
    July 2, 2010 9:45 am

    It looks like ass. But this too shall pass.

  9. July 2, 2010 9:55 am

    Lynda Carter would never have stood for this.

    Actually, here’s what Carter said:

    “I think Wonder Woman has a mind of her own. And I think she was just kind of ready for something new,” Lynda said. “She’s got an attitude and if this is the new thing that she wants to wear, well, by God, she’s going to wear it. And I like that. And I hope that in the story someone mentions, where’s the old one? And she says, get over it!”

  10. July 2, 2010 10:22 am

    And I think they gave up on Sandy Bullock a few years ago, though her Blind Side dresses displayed her legs better than those stirrup pants ever could.

    Sandy is just too haggard. I think Dame Judi would do a much better job than her. Hell, even Judge Judy.

  11. July 2, 2010 10:25 am

    Sandy is just too haggard. I think Dame Judi would do a much better job than her. Hell, even Judge Judy.

    Judge Judy! Someone needs to quickly photoshop something. I can actually picture Jude Judy storming the studios a la Sean Young (allegedly) and demanding the part!

  12. July 2, 2010 11:08 am

    Now I’m picturing Judge Judy handing down judgements in a Wonder Woman outfit, like the Sean Young/Catwoman TV show incident. Except much more awesome, because it’s Judge Judy.

    I just noticed that the new WW Gauntlets are more like a slave-bracelet/armwarmer kinda thing. Not. A. Fan.

    Speaking of both that and Lynda Carter, one of my favorite things is Sky High was her performance. She had the spin, the gauntlets, and and the phrase “I’m not Wonder Woman, you know!” which made me giggle and then have to explain why that was funny to a couple of kids.

  13. July 2, 2010 1:11 pm

    Hahahaha! The new suit is TOTALLY an X-Men circa ’95 rip-off! What’s the deal with putting superheros in jackets? Not a fan.

    Also, it looks like this new suit has made WW much less voluptuous. I have a hard time believing that WW would wear Spanx or control top panty hose.

    I’m with y’all. I want big hair and boobs and booty. I’m sorta imagining Nigella Lawson in the role now. Yep.

  14. July 2, 2010 1:12 pm

    I love Nigella!

  15. July 2, 2010 1:24 pm

    Does the cropped jacket, which looks suspiciously like the “black battle jacket” I wore constantly in 8th grade, have any significance. Does it make people tell the truth or at least keep them from catching cold?

  16. July 2, 2010 1:29 pm

    I think it holds her iPhone and Invisible Bus Pass.

  17. July 2, 2010 1:32 pm

    Now is the plane the only thing invisible or is WW actually invisible while in the plane? It always seemed like she was sitting at 20k feet in Cinderella’s slipper. No offense.

  18. July 2, 2010 1:39 pm

    Chicken/Egg dilemma.

    I would think that WW’s hair was visible to radar… or least the boobage.

  19. July 2, 2010 1:43 pm

    I always wondered about the invisible plane thing too! I mean, doesn’t it look more odd to have someone floating around in the seated position? I guess it moves pretty fast though. Really, they just needed to show a better perspective in the cartoon then her sitting inside a chalk outline of a plane.

  20. July 2, 2010 1:43 pm

    also: mmmmmmmm……Nigella.

  21. July 3, 2010 10:09 am

    @eieioj, I totally forgot that line from Sky High (which as we’ve mentioned is one of my favorite movies)! Thanks for the morning giggle!

  22. July 3, 2010 11:25 am

    I always wondered about the invisible plane thing too! I mean, doesn’t it look more odd to have someone floating around in the seated position? I guess it moves pretty fast though. Really, they just needed to show a better perspective in the cartoon then her sitting inside a chalk outline of a plane.

    LOL. In your satin tights, fightin’ for your rights…

  23. July 3, 2010 10:26 pm

    I can’t find any video of it but in the early episodes of the first season they’d show here flying around in her invisible plane and play this super-cheesy, porny kind of music while doing closeup shots of her face looking all sexy/contemplative. It was so weird and unintentionally hilarious.

  24. July 3, 2010 10:33 pm

    I can’t find any video of it but in the early episodes of the first season they’d show here flying around in her invisible plane and play this super-cheesy, porny kind of music while doing closeup shots of her face looking all sexy/contemplative. It was so weird and unintentionally hilarious.

    Oh my god, I remember those! I hope someone finds them and posts them here.

  25. July 7, 2010 8:44 pm

    I’m in favor of this costume. I know that her traditional swimsuit getups, with and without the little skirt, deserve respect because they’re campy and fun, and we’ll always be able to enjoy the comics and TV episodes where she looks that way. But this new look is the most accurate reflection yet of who the character was always supposed to be. She was created to be a woman who can kick ass, and she should look like it. So, instead of her bracelets being strictly defensive, they’ll help her punch people. Yes, I know she doesn’t look as distinctive any more, but the main thing that made her costume distinctive was what a ridiculous anachronism it was. Robin the Boy Wonder got pants two decades ago, and it made him look more like other superheroes, but after an adjustment period, fans decided it didn’t diminish him at all as a character. Probably had something to do with him being male.

    The jacket helps her carry things in her pockets. To some fans, that spoils the fantasy by bringing in mundane reality, but I like it. There are precedents going back at least to DC’s relaunch of “Animal Man” in 1987, where Buddy Baker started wearing a jacket over his old costume for that very reason. And there’s a hilarious moment in Garth Ennis’ “Hitman” where Green Lantern and Tommy Monaghan have concluded an epic battle. To patch things up, they go to a bar for some drinks, and after Tommy buys the first round, GL looks sheepish and says, “Well, I can’t carry cash in this outfit, obviously…”

    Maybe the changes go farther than they need to. I’m sure they would benefit from some fine-tuning. But I know back when Gail Simone took over writing the title, she begged the DC brass for just one alteration. Give Wonder Woman’s top some straps! They refused. I don’t see how that would have made her any less boobalicious. Just a bit more practical.

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