Wonder Blunder

So wrong it's... still wrong.

Everyone’s been talking about Wonder Woman’s new costume and I need to offer my two angry cents. (For my two cranky cents on Catwoman, click here.)

Wonder Woman’s costume has vexed a lot of talented artists. It’s iconic but it’s also completely absurd in any kind of modern context. This has proved especially problematic for live-action adaptations.

In the late 70s, it was okay for Diana Prince to run around fighting crime in a satin bathing suit since people were doing pretty much everything in totally inappropriate clothing.

Official DC Comics 2010 Redesign. Also controversial, also by Jim Lee.

Official DC Comics 2010 Redesign. Also controversial, also by Jim Lee.

But these days, we want superhero togs to be sexy, practical, and badass. Those aren’t unreasonable expectations. If Chris Nolan can make a frickin’ cape practical, then surely there’s hope for an Amazon warrior. And Wonder Woman is a warrior. That’s what makes her new costume so distressing. (She’s also one of the only female superheroes who’s stood the test of time and who didn’t get her start as a superhero spinoff– I’m looking at you Batgirl and Supergirl.)

More than a little Xena-riffic. But that's not necessarily a bad model.

I’m sure the costume’s designer, Jim Lee, did his best and I suspect he had to please a LOT of people. But the result is a mess and here’s why:

1. As many have observed, it looks cheap. Halloween Headquarters cheap. Wonder Woman’s costume should not look like it belongs hanging on the rack between “Sexy Cop” and “Sexy Firefighter.”

2. No straps. A live-action hero who plans to get her hands dirty does not belong in a strapless bustier. Cleavage is one thing. Flashing your jubblies at supervillains is quite another.

Ming Doyle's redesign is hella Hellenic.

3. It is, in no conceivable way, armor. Armor doesn’t have to mean helms and chain mail, but a superhero ensemble should look like it’s doing a job.Leather, metal, even rubber protect the wearer.

Plus, Wonder Woman is an AMAZON a breastplate would be perfectly appropriate to her backstory. (But I would have settled for a matte leather corset with some sweet hardware.)

Oh, Batsy.

4. The boots. Wonder Woman’s boots are one of the most iconic elements of her costume. And if you don’t believe me, check out this cover–>

I could totally see bringing the boot up to date in an oxblood red leather and building the coloration of the rest of the costume from there. (This might have avoided the tragic use of Hyundai blue.)

Jamie McKelvie's design may not be very "super", but it's a clear direction. Wonder Woman via Smallville.

5. No clear direction. The revamped costume doesn’t seem to represent any clear design or narrative choices. She isn’t modern. She isn’t camp. She isn’t going back to her Paradise Island roots. She isn’t doing much of anything. Even the pose in the photo is awkward.

Like many, I’ve had misgivings about David E. Kelley’s involvement in the project from moment one. The fantastic requires a bold and steady hand and I’m just not seeing that here.


And finally, on a mostly unrelated note, I want to share one of my favorite superhero redesigns ever. Below, the marvelous Annie Wu gives us the Justice League of America as a punk band (from left to right: Flash, Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, drunk Aquaman). Diana Prince isn’t in armor, but that girl looks like she will MESS YOU UP.


My heart belongs to Annie Wu.

(Many thanks to the people at Project: Rooftop for their Wonder Woman redesign competition and the many other cool things that they do. Also, to local genius Aman Chaudhary for the Wonder Woman Hiketeia cover.)



Filed under The Violet Hour

7 responses to “Wonder Blunder

  1. Morgan

    Dude. I would so read a comic/ watch a movie about that version of the JLA.

  2. Laura

    Cosign the whole shebang. I always want the Amazon aspect played up more. The mythology is the best part! Well, that and the lasso.

  3. Noa Wheeler

    My biggest complaint is #2. I mean, come on! The reason for the awkward pose you mention in #5 is that there’s no other possible way she can stand without falling out of that so-called top. And if she can’t even stand without falling out, how’s she going to FIGHT?? Puh-lease.

  4. I do wonder if this looked better on the drawing board. After all, Jim Lee is an artist, not a costume designer. Lots of clothes look great until you, y’know, try to put a human woman in them.

  5. Isn’t there someone whose job it is to look at costumes before they go on air and see if they are instantly hilarious? Because if they instantly make large numbers of people laugh out loud, you know, that’s a reaction that should be taken into account? Also, I really, really want that Annie Wu punk Wonder costume. So much.

  6. Holy hotness, Batman. You would destroy that Wonder Woman costume. Halloween 2011!

  7. Pingback: Comic (Sans) |

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