Jul 2, 2010

My Thoughts on Wonder Woman's Costume Change, and Why Hollywood Sucks

All right, so Wonder Woman #600 is out this week. It's on my reserve list at the store, waiting for me to just pick it up tomorrow, and I can drool in the artwork of George Perez, Phil Jimenez, and Nicola Scott. But in the meantime, perhaps you have already seen the news that broke the Internet in half. That is, with JMS and Don Kramer taking over the title, they're pretty much rebooting Wonder Woman's whole universe, complete with a new Jim Lee-designed costume.


My thoughts on this? A mixed bag, actually. Let's get this straight. I don't think this is the end of the world for Wonder Woman, which seems to be a common reaction among the comic book community. Plotwise, it's interesting enough - something changes the timeline so that the Amazons are under siege and a lot of them were murdered. Diana is then raised as an orphan by other Amazons, and she's still 22 and learning how to use her powers, yada yada yada. Hell, if this were an Elseworlds, people would be all over it. And I don't know why people are so up in arms about this being a reboot - we know it's not going to last. It is specifically stated in the story that there is something wrong with the timeline, so it is therefore a logical conclusion that part of the story will be the restoration of the timeline.

As for the look, all I can really say is, what's up with Jim Lee and chokers?


And JMS justifies this new look by saying that Diana's been wearing the same thing for 70 years? Oh-kay...


Doesn't make much sense to me, especially since Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man have been wearing the same thing for their entire history - hell, Spider-Man's costume is almost exactly the same as it was in the beginning. Not to mention, if their intention is to go for "hip" and "trendy," they're about 15 years too late. Here's Diana in 1995:


And of course, you know who complained when Diana was deprived of her powers in the 60s? Gloria Steinem and the women's lib movement, that's who! They complained that they depowered the one powerful woman in comics, and that Diana was perfect the way she was. So I don't see why they feel the need to depower her in this new version.


But like I said, it's JMS, so it's most likely going to be an intriguing story, and it's comics, so you know it's not going to last, especially not if you screw around with an icon. Electric Superman didn't last. All-black costumed Batman didn't last (and I actually loved that one). Mulleted Superman didn't last. Even Spider-Man's black costume - which was very popular - didn't last. So no, we can all rest easy, and unless you're a fan who absolutely needs a fix of Diana in her classic suit and power set every month, it's okay. There's no need to get mad.

EXCEPT.

There is a considerable amount of speculation going on that this new storyline, redesign and all, is meant to be a launching pad for a movie. Which angers me and frustrates me. One of the reasons I don't cover comic book movies in this blog is because in general, as a rule, I hate them. I can't stand the good bunch of them, except for a very chosen few. And one of the reasons I can't stand them is because of their effect on comics. More and more, comics are becoming an R&D division for Hollywood, providing Hollywood with its latest new thing to adapt, without bothering to move forward itself. The Ultimates reads and feels like a printed storyboard for a proposed movie (and in fact, a good portion of the Marvel movies are based on the book). Kick-Ass was optioned before the comic was even done! That's all well and good for Hollywood, but where's that going to leave comics when Hollywood bleeds them dry?

Unfortunately for comics fans, if this new Wonder Woman story is indeed going to be the springboard for a movie version of the Amazon princess, and if the movie will incorporate this origin, this design, it may very well embed this version of Wonder Woman into the collective minds of the masses. Which is to say, though we would still probably go back to the classic iteration at some point, it may take a longer time getting there.

But what's even more unfortunate is why do comics have to cater to the Hollywood mentality? Are we changing Diana's origin now because we think that the moviegoing audience would relate more to being the last survivor of a race? Isn't that just Percy Jackson's story? HELL, isn't that just Superman's story?

And why change the costume? Because a bunch of actresses who know nothing about the character, including Megan Fox (why is she in the running anyway?? Can she even act?), think that running around in a bathing suit is silly? I'm sorry, but here's Lynda Carter, flat-out saying she doesn't look silly.


I don't think there's anything wrong with the way Lynda Carter carries this costume. It's got campy elements, sure, but guess what? By nature, the superhero genre has an element of camp. By nature. You know what flat-out looks stupid? This. This looks stupid:


Oh Hollywood. In your attempt to make things "realistic," you forgot what the word means. Somehow you think this is better than a flexible suit. Somehow you think a suit that restricts movement is better for a streetfighting martial artist. I mean, if comics were to just go with what Hollywood gives us, then Batman would look like this in the comics:


And no. Just. No.

For the love of Jor-El, it's not about whether or not you can pull off the SUIT, it's about whether or not YOU can pull off the suit. Here's Brandon Routh, looking out of place and not inspiring anything out of anyone:


And here's Christopher Reeve, in a cloth version of the suit, looking like a bona fide superhero, because he simply had the presence that Routh, Dean Cain, and yes, Tom Welling lack:


So what's the deal, comics? You're gonna let a bunch of actresses who obviously don't know Wonder Woman tell you what to do? They say that it's an impractical suit? Man, if I were looking for documentary accuracy and realism, I wouldn't be reading superhero comics; the very genre flies against the face of traditional realism!

But look, let's check out Alex Ross and his drawings of what Wonder Woman may look like in real life:


And I'm sorry, but does that look "silly" or "ridiculous" to you at all? Because it doesn't to me. At all. Of course it would look stupid as hell if that was Megan Fox inside that suit - she has none of the presence or charisma required to be Wonder Woman. But that's no reason to change her outfit so someone like her can be comfortable in it. She wouldn't be Wonder Woman, period.

Comics have to stop gearing themselves toward Hollywood, and they have to get back to making the best damn comics they can possibly make. Unfortunately for JMS's run, I fully expect to see more printed storyboards. I hope I am proven wrong. I hope, at least, the story is good.

Unfortunately, if this story takes off and is adapted into a movie, and if the movie takes off, Wonder Woman fans may be in for a long, long wait as it pertains to wanting the classic version to return.

In the meantime, here's Nicola Scott's contribution to Wonder Woman's birthday!

7 comments:

TomO. said...

It's funny, as I had the same thought when I read the JMS piece on The Source talking about her being in the same costume since 1941. I'm not a huge Wonder Woman, and even I can recall at least a couple different looks.

And that Nicola Scott pin-up is gorgeous. If it wasn't for the equally stunning Phil Jimenez one, she'd definitely have the best of the bunch.

Duy said...

I love how crossing the bracelets together is pretty much the default Wonder Woman pose.

I'm a stickler for uber-detail, so I'll be a bit more biased toward the Phil Jimenez pin-up, but I know that detail isn't everyone's thing (like my girlfriend), and a bunch would likely prefer Nicola's version -- which is good, because we get both versions, and both versions are incredible and awesome.

Peachy said...

Clarifying!

Detail does impress me and astound me, but it doesn't always knock my socks off. :)

Jericho said...

Changing costumes, im for. Changin it to make diana feel "darker", i hate. Because ive always seen supes, bat, n diana as a triumverate of diff personalities that make their universe nice. Supes is the boyscout, batman is the goth kid, n diana is the smart yet sexy chick that's no jock's gf.

I dont approve of diana being darker simply because to me, it doesnt suit her.

P.s. Lynda carter is the only actress for wonder woman, in my opinion.

Duy said...

Yep, this entire thing makes me feel the way I felt when they said Superman was going to die and come back as one of the four weird Supermen, or when they replaced Bruce with Azrael and said it was permanent. And that feeling is "Yeah, right." I didn't buy it then and I don't buy it now. The entire issue 600 is a celebration of Wonder Woman. Then they pull this off, and it's kinda like "You'll miss her when we change her."

Generally speaking, changing an icon radically only serves to underscore why they shouldn't be changed at all.

Kat said...

I was reminded of your Wonder Woman post when I saw this article about Joss Whedon + Wonder Woman:

http://www.slashfilm.com/2010/07/07/a-look-at-what-joss-whedons-wonder-woman-might-have-looked-like/

What do you think of that costume design? I like it, and I think the trenchcoat looks cool! Classic design underneath, but she can look kinda modern and badass before throwing off the coat and starting a fight. I know Joss has a thing for the trenchcoats on his characters, but hey, I say that if they can work it, it's all good. :)

Duy said...

One of the things I liked about Phil Jimenez's run on Wonder Woman was that she didn't just have her regular suit; she had one for every occasion. And the odd thing is, if you ask fandom about Wonder Woman's costume, the pants are a huge fricking deal - generally everyone wants Wonder Woman to wear no pants. It's not a matter of "practicality" or "sexiness" - it's because she's WONDER WOMAN, and she's not gonna bother protecting herself with clothing because she's the most powerful woman in the universe.

As for the trenchcoat, I'm really retro and would prefer the Wonderspin. This is why I stay away from comic book movies.

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