Gone are the satin tights. The hotpants, too, have been consigned to the trashcan of comic book history. It’s been seventy years in the making, but Wonder Woman has finally updated her look. In the image released by DC Comics, Wonder Woman – aka Diana Prince – is wearing what looks like a pair of leggings paired with a more sedate (for a superhero, that is) top and jacket.
It’s less of a make-over, more of a make-under.
The new look is accompanied by a darker origin story, written by J. Michael Straczynski (who also brought us that perky Princess of Power, She-Ra). He says that he wanted to “toughen her up and give her a modern sensibility” for the modern era, and that the sober clothes and revamped image were part of that.
Wonder Woman’s look has always been more sex symbol than superhero – remember when Summer donned full Lynda Carter regalia to impress Seth on The OC? – but now readers are being encouraged to focus on her other assets.
It’s not the first time that a writer has lobbied to scale down the heroine’s va-va-voom. Writing for the series in 2006, novelist Jodi Picoult commented that “you wouldn’t fight crime in a bustier” but her attempts at covering up the Amazonian princess, no doubt getting chilly fighting crime in nothing but some strategically placed gold lamé and a bit of bling, were foiled by DC bigwigs.
Karen, a long-time Wonder Woman fan who is now studying the TV show as part of her PhD, feels like this is a step in the right direction:
I like the new costume; as a feminist, I think I’m obligated to cheer any time a female superhero receives a costume without a boob window, abdominal exposure, or thong bikini – that is, when she gets the same amount of skin coverage as a male hero.
The character has been hailed as a feminist icon ever since she stepped onto the page in 1941. She was the first cover girl for Ms Magazine, and What Would Wonder Woman Do? An Amazon’s Guide to the Working World was published to tongue-in-cheek acclaim in 2007.
Concerns that the replacement of such an iconic outfit will damage the Wonder Woman brand are reasonable, if a little superficial. But the real issue her costume raises is one familiar to even the most fantasy-averse woman. Leggings – are they tights, or are they pants?
Kaite Welsh is a writer based in London.