Wonder Woman: New Look Needed?

Wonder Woman ModLife

Wonder Woman, before and after. Images: New York Sun (left), Jezebel

For nearly 70 years, Wonder Woman rocked star-spangled bottoms, a red bustier, a tiara, and a mean lasso. When DC Comics recently made over the crime-fighting heroine to give her a less flashy, “more functional and protective” costume, many fans were unimpressed. With all this backlash, I wondered how relevant her outfit is to her character’s purpose. Does this new look change what made her so wonderful?

Most superheroes’ and villains’ costumes are defined by their names. The sultry Catwoman wears a sexy, skintight bodysuit to evoke the image of a sneaky, slinky black cat. When looking at Wonder Woman’s old uniform, it’s clear the Amazonian isn’t shy about her powerful, muscular body.

Admittedly, there isn’t much covering her body, which is what DC Comics felt needed remedying. “Wonder Woman has, to an extent, become like a Ferrari you keep in the garage 24/7 because you’re afraid of denting it. It’s great to look at, beautiful in line and form, and as long as it’s in the garage it’s safe …but that’s not what a Ferrari is for,” said comic writer J. Michael Straczynski in an interview last month. Her new look is one “designed to be taken seriously as a warrior, in partial answer to the many female fans over the years who’ve asked, ‘how does she fight in that thing without all her parts falling out?’”

For fans to consider the practicality of her uniform was, perhaps, a call for a more human and relatable character. With this new design, that’s just what DC went for, in both her body and mind. Starting with the latest issue, Wonder Woman’s alter ego, Diana Prince, now has little knowledge of her mythical origin. Like her super friends Batman and Superman, she must now struggle with being an outsider, having self-doubt, and finding her identity more than before.

But, to me, Wonder Woman’s look always reminded me of a pinup girl who leaped out of a poster to vanquish evil and live out her true calling. Could it be that what made her original costume so “wonderful” was that she wore it with such confidence, regardless of what others thought, as she fought to better the world?

Gloria Steinem also pointed out that perhaps Wonder Woman’s new look “gives us the idea that only pants can be powerful.” While they’re actually leggings Wonder Woman now wears, it’s clear that the shift from her exposed, healthy skin to a covered body has so far not impressed many fans.

I agree with Steinem in that for a woman to be considered powerful, pants are not a necessity. And, although there wasn’t a pocket for Wonder Woman to store her eyeglasses or house keys, she still successfully took care of serious business in that super pinup garb for nearly seven decades.

In the ABC World News clip above, Wonder Woman illustrator Jim Lee touches on the idea that if you or I were to go out in public wearing “what is essentially a bathing suit,” we’d be very aware, even uncomfortable. I think it’s safe to say that neither you nor I would hang out downtown in our swimwear. Wonder Woman’s traditional outfit is less realistic than the new one, but maybe it’s more idealistic. Until a woman can wear a sexy outfit by choice in public without being a topic of criticism, Wonder Woman’s costume remains just a joke for some.

Regardless of what she wears, surely Wonder Woman will continue to inspire us, even if it’s just to “tell the truth,” as actress Lynda Carter portrays in the clip below. I mean, it’s no accident that my personal journal has a holographic Wonder Woman on the cover!

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36 Responses to Wonder Woman: New Look Needed?

  1. bcrafton 07/22/2010 at 4:26 pm #

    Personally I think the newer version of wonder woman’s outfit gives her an almost villianess feel with the dark leggings, and slough jacket…even the shape of her body in the drawing above gives an alterior feel to it…saying I may be wonderwoman, but Im also something else. The older version gave a bright, healthy and fun glow that couldn

  2. bcrafton 07/22/2010 at 4:27 pm #

    t be seen as anything but good and fun.

  3. Libertad 07/22/2010 at 5:13 pm #

    Maybe I’m so classical, but I love the old costumes, and I think that was some of the essence of the character…. the new costumes are ok but I still love her short miniskir, so cute!!

  4. Bri 07/22/2010 at 5:20 pm #

    i think its interesting that in todays world they want to cover her up more…
    i prefer the first picture, with the skirt. its still her classic look, but more coverage. compromise, anyone?

  5. steph 07/22/2010 at 6:04 pm #

    whoa. never realized how terrible the acting was in the old series! still fun to watch though. and I totally agree that the new costume makes her look too sinister. If you saw her on the street you wouldn’t be totally sure if she was fighting crime or about to fight you!

  6. Cat (Midwest Mayhem) 07/22/2010 at 7:09 pm #

    I say don’t mess with a classic. If you showed most people a picture of the new wonder woman for a split second, I doubt they’d be able to tell you who it is.

  7. Marie 07/22/2010 at 8:53 pm #

    I really like the new look- it’s more practically and maybe it will push people to take the character more seriously.

  8. cait 07/22/2010 at 9:20 pm #

    Old costume! The new one is terrible and dull. What’s with todays obsession to cover up females? Are we soon going to be insisting that Marilyn Monroe is repainted with a tracksuit?

    Lets celebrate powerful, beautiful women and their curves – not cover them up!

  9. Kenzie 07/22/2010 at 9:49 pm #

    “Gloria Steinem also pointed out that perhaps Wonder Woman’s new look ‘gives us the idea that only pants can be powerful.’”

    ….God, this is why I hate pansy-brained feminist comments. Because they always end up remarkably stupid.

  10. Sophie 07/22/2010 at 9:51 pm #

    boo! I’m with Cat, messing with classics is usually a no-go. Her ensemble is much too dark in the new one, and I don’t think long pants and a jacket are more “practical” than a bodysuit. I bet she works up a sweat bustin bad guys. That outfit would get hot! Perhaps they could have added straps to her bustier if people were worried about her goodies? I think the original was a fine role model for girls because she doesn’t have to dress like a guy to whoop butt, and she obviously feels good about her body!

  11. emily 07/22/2010 at 11:35 pm #

    While WW’s original outfit is pretty skimpy, it’s clear her weird jeans and blazer outfit failed for a reason. If WW was designed for a female audience, she’d probably wear cut off jeans and a tube top, an angular bob, and that weird headband. The headband is classic. What’s truly sad is that I know the complete backstory to Batman and Superman, but I didn’t even know WW’s real name. Way to go DC.

  12. ashley 07/23/2010 at 1:01 am #

    I actually like the new one a lot, but I like my heroes with a little darkness in them. The seem more human that way. But seeing as how we’re going for the superhuman…. Well, I could honestly see her use the second one if they did a series like Smallvile.

  13. Katrina 07/23/2010 at 1:02 am #

    I would have expected this new look years ago. I mean, it looks like an 80′s train-wreck if you ask me. They could have done a better job updated her without making her look so dated.

  14. stacey 07/23/2010 at 1:19 am #

    I feel that the new look rocks, it’s just as good as the old. So what if she’s wearing pants. Trust me, not all women wear hot pants or skirts on the job. She’s not going on some hot date-she’s fighting crime. The old look was surrealistic, as a society consumers look for realism in their hereos. something relatable. and subsequintal art is no exception to this. But why is ww getting the makeover?

  15. Audderpop 07/23/2010 at 2:15 am #

    I like her new outfit. She doesn’t have to be showing a bunch of skin to kick butt. She looks hott!

  16. Grace 07/23/2010 at 6:22 am #

    I hate the pants-as-leggings trend! GAH!

  17. Amanda 07/23/2010 at 10:28 am #

    The biggest problem I have is the color- not sure why they took away her bright, patriotic essence. The pants are troublesome to me too- though not as much as the coloring. I AM quite shocked they went so conservative, however- with today’s superstars being the likes of Katy Perry (who walks around in boustierre rompers all the time) and Lady Gaga (coining the “no pants” trend), you’d think they’d want to be on the cutting edge of style when “revamping” a female super hero.

  18. Sydney 07/23/2010 at 11:04 am #

    Honestly, I always hated her old outfit. Tacky and ridiculous!

    I’m all for a more streamlined, functional, badass superhero look. And I, for one, don’t mind that it’s a little more conservative. What’s with all the hating on pants? Didn’t women fight for years to be able to wear them.?

  19. Nadja 07/23/2010 at 12:45 pm #

    I really don’t like the new costume. It’s too dark and looks too “clubbish” in a way. I understand the points made about the old costume, but this is just as bad, in a different way. And hopefully it’s just this particular picture, but the new WW looks unhealthy. At least the old WW had thighs and looked like she ate.

  20. Alyse 07/23/2010 at 5:04 pm #

    I def. think it’s an improvment. im 17 so i dont have any nostalgia for the old look. Alot of superheroes have gotten makeovers, and a lot turned out a bit darker. Maybe because to younger people (like myself) green speedos and technicolor suits don’t look right for crime fighting. And the whole “pants are the only way to be powerful?” how about pants are the only way you can kick a baddie without flashing your whoha :)

  21. Angela (ModCloth) 07/23/2010 at 5:11 pm #

    Despite my research, it seems like a divided jury here! Each of your comments are thoughtful and interesting. Thanks, readers!

  22. Jeneva 07/23/2010 at 5:25 pm #

    who cares?! it’s not like the other super hero costumes aren’t silly looking! they all wear their underwear outside of tights, so why say wonder woman’s costume is out-dated and far-fetched? gimmie a break…

  23. Bernadine 07/24/2010 at 2:46 am #

    We have to realise that the original WW was an ambassador of a foriegn race of Amazon warriors. She does not and should not be subscribing to the same humanist insecurities. I love the older comics where she strives for certain ideals and hopes that the rest of the human race can reach them too. It is not so much as an outfir change but the personality change that I have issues with.

  24. anonymoose 07/25/2010 at 4:56 am #

    In this case,it was the clothes that made the (wo)man.Wonder Woman is nothing without her outfit.Now she is literally a shadow of the phenomenal character that she once was.It doesn’t matter if her former attire is ridiculous or unseemly,or improper.She was an icon, now look at her. Even as a girl, I am quite repulsed by this feminist movement.

  25. Frenchmix 07/26/2010 at 9:46 am #

    I wouldn’t characterize this change as a “feminist movement,” but I will say that the the original comics were written with a feminist aim (and loads of S&M). I do agree with Bernadine that she doesn’t need to be held to the same ideas, but remember, they said that she doesn’t know her heritage at anymore. What would be amazing if eventually she did rediscover that heritage and the costume. I like the idea that she should be allow to grow as an individual as opposed to being this perfect symbol. If the boys get to grow emotionally (even Superman is getting darker), why can’t the girls? Regardless, it’s the recent trend to make superheroes outcasts in order to make them sympathetic, a la Spiderman or X-men. If you don’t like this trend, write in and protest. Or buy the insanely expensive old editions because despite the price, they are amazing.

  26. Rachel 07/26/2010 at 10:45 am #

    Wonderwoman’s costume should NOT change. It may be a little flashy, but it’s a classic. Maybe just a little more coverage, but don’t completely change it!

  27. allison 07/26/2010 at 4:38 pm #

    i really like her new costume. i agree that she was ready for a change. yes she looks kinda like a villain but she still does good for the world. i think that if she werent so dark tho that she would look less like a villain.but i still like her like this. and i also agree about the whole heritage thing. mayb she will chnge back. and remember.

  28. Elise 07/27/2010 at 12:04 pm #

    I don’t understand all the fuss. Male superheroes change and add onto their costumes constantly, especially Batman in his various incarnations and series that he has been in, why not Wonder Woman too?

    In realistic terms, her original costume was never very practical for fighting crime. I mean, a bustier and hot pants? She may have an invisible jet and bullet resistant bracelets but that’s not gonna protect Diana from a knife wound.

  29. Elise 07/27/2010 at 12:06 pm #

    Also, I gotta agree with Frenchmix. DC has been trying to revamp their classic characters to try to compete with Marvel. This change in costume and storyline is directly in line with that movement.

  30. Taz 07/28/2010 at 1:02 am #

    I like it… I like it a lot.

  31. C 07/28/2010 at 10:57 am #

    Wow, clothes do not make Wonder Woman Wonder Woman. She is not “nothing without her outfit”.

  32. millia 07/28/2010 at 3:17 pm #

    I understand the trend in comics at the moment, but she just doesnt look like WW anymore. She looks like she could be any number of Characters, but not the CLASSIC of classic female superheroines Wonder Women. I just wish they had kept the colors a bit more lively and the outfit closer to her original. Now she looks like a member of the X-men cast (not that I have any complaints with X-Men, hehe)

  33. Shannon 07/29/2010 at 7:00 pm #

    I don’t get what the big deal is with the idea of a redesign — Wonder Woman herself has gone through plenty before. Anyone remember the travesty of one of her ’90s redesigns featuring high-waist black bicycle shorts, black V-neck strapped bra, and silver cropped jacket?

    Either way, my comic book nerd friends are more bothered by WHO designed this new outfit — Jim Lee has a reputation for being stuck in the ’90s when it comes to superhero costumes, usually including unnecessary bells and whistles, a crappy looking jacket, purposeless gloves, and buckles and belts for no other reason than to break up the lines. This new WW embodies Lee’s fashion rut, and I personally think she deserves a more thoughtful and better-executed treatment.

  34. kabini 08/13/2010 at 9:58 am #

    hmmm…i cant help but notice also the fact that wonder womans’ new avatar also is a lot less ‘wonder’ful…shez lost all of her curves and the godessness of her body. not only have they changed her costume to subscribe to the notion of what is ‘right’ these days, but also her body to what is now considered beautiful.
    less marylin monroe more kate moss is what im saying…….sad though

  35. Nyk 07/27/2012 at 2:06 pm #

    I love the newer look just because it displays the tough girl she really is. A lot of people think comic book women are drawn for dirty boy Living their mother’s basements. They are not. Look at the evolution of art. Look at the beautiful that defines the Amazon body. It’s about how beautiful the woman’s body is. Yes, there is sex appeal but really. We need look at the female form and see it’s beauty instead of blushing and turning our eyes away from it.

  36. HeavyMetalJess 09/12/2012 at 9:19 am #

    New costume is so much better. Realistic and modern. This change has made me want to buy the comic book which is their whole aim. If you never subscribed in the past with the old costume then, honestly, your option doesn’t really matter to DC anyway. Just like your option of Chanel’s runway show doesn’t change anything about Karl’s design direction.

    I appreciate the “dark” look. Most superheros are too clean cut for modern times. Heroes like Iron Man, Batman, Spawn, and the Punisher are dark but there are a lot fewer “dark” female heroes. Good job DC. Plus there is no reason for WW to be patriotic… she’s not even from our planet and she’s named after a Roman goddess. It would be nice to see them reference that when she discovers who she is later.

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