Last Thursday, DC unveiled new looks for their three biggest characters: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. I don’t love any of them, but hey, that’s life, right? Not every costume can suit everyone’s tastes.
Except with Wonder Woman, there’s always this sense with every reimagining that she’s being fixed somehow. “Finally she’s wearing pants!” “Finally she’s not wrapped in the American flag!” “Finally she’s not made of clay!”
But Wonder Woman isn’t broken. And she doesn’t need to be fixed.
“But Wonder Woman’s such a weird character!” you say. “Why does she wear red, white, and blue if she’s made of clay? Why does she come from an island of only women? What does the lasso have to do with anything? And what about all the bondage?”
Why doesn’t anyone recognize Clark Kent when he takes off his glasses? Why would a millionaire dress like a nocturnal rodent to fight crime?
And why do we accept the goofy conventions of the genre for male characters but not for female ones?
It’s Wonder Woman who gets her continuity reset back to zero with every reboot while Batman’s history stays more or less intact. It’s Wonder Woman who gets reduced, over and over again, to a personality quirk of her creator – seriously, no one who harps on Marston’s bondage thing is saying that Bob Kane’s, shall we say, neglecting to credit his co-creators should have any effect whatsoever on Batman’s shtick. And when Wonder Woman gets put in an admittedly beautifully drawn run that erases her all-female origin, turns her people into murderous rapists, and reduces her to a supporting player in her own book, it’s lauded as something that finally made Wonder Woman interesting.
But Wonder Woman is older than you. And she wouldn’t have survived for three-quarters of a century if she wasn’t already interesting.
And okay, yeah, I hear you on the costume. (Not the color scheme, because who cares why she picked those colors? Spiders aren’t red and blue either, but no one’s yelling at Peter Parker over it.) Yes, it is a glorified bathing suit, and yes, it’d probably fall down around her waist the minute she swung the lasso.
But it’s also iconic, and I hate that we’re so ready to yank the most recognizable superheroine costume in comics away, especially when a couple of small changes could do the trick. Just put a couple of straps and one of those gladiator skirts on it, Xena-style! Most importantly, she’ll still look like Wonder Woman. Even the depressingly muddy Batman v. Superman costume is halfway there.
Because let’s be real here: we know it’s not about pants. Not when Spider-Woman is covered head-to-toe and has until recently boasted one of the most oversexualized bodystockings in comics. It’s not like artists physically can’t draw the Wonder Woman costume unless she’s falling out of her top. The solution is not to stick a wet suit under a randomly bespangled variation on her costume and call it a day. The solution is to hire artists who know their anatomy and respect women.
And that’s the key word: respect. Wonder Woman is the most famous superheroine in comics. She should be treated with the respect her history deserves, not handed off to a creative team that doesn’t want to call her feminist and shoved off of merchandise. She’s not an embarrassment, a relic, or a problem that needs to be solved. She’s a feminist icon who’s stood the test of time.
So stop trying to fix her, and start celebrating her.
Follow us on Twitter for more comics goodness!