Wonder Woman Celebrates 600 Issues By Putting On Pants

DC Comics character and feminist icon Wonder Woman–who graced the first stand-alone issue of Ms.–has been revamped for the first time in 69 years. She’s traded in her all-American leotard for more practical attire: badass jacket, red bustier, black leggings and motorcycle boots.

This is exciting, and not just because it will now be much easier for real-life women to go as Wonder Woman for Halloween.

This be-pantsed incarnation is part of a re-imagining of Wonder Woman by writer J. Michael Straczynski. The woman superhero’s comics have never sold as well as those of Superman or Batman, but Straczynski intends to change that:

Wonder Woman is a strong, dynamic, vibrant character who should be selling in the top 20, and I’m going to do all I can to get her there.

Artist Jim Lee designed the new look, telling The New York Times:

When these characters become so branded that you can’t change things, they become ossified.

A woman wearing pants isn’t controversial these days unless she happens to be Wonder Woman. At Huffington Post, bloggers Diana Nguyen and Jen Wang of Disgrasian were astonished:

It’s like seeing Lady Gaga in pants. It’s like seeing the Queen of England in pants. It’s like you forgot pants existed in her Amazonian universe. It’s as though they were as invisible as her airplane.

Naturally, some traditional comic fanboys are unhappy with the change. At Entertainment Today:

GRRRR. I am ALL for updating classic comic book characters to give them a new look for a new time but I am really not feeling this outfit…. When I was a wee lad, my first love was Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman on the hit 1970′s live-action TV series of the same name. … To me, she seemed like the ideal wife. …

Gee, dude, sorry Wonder Woman won’t look like your ideal wife anymore. But the new Wonder Woman might be coming to a theater near you:

Given the hope that the character will one day have her own international film franchise (a feature has long been gestating at Warner Entertainment, DC’s parent company), one test of the design was to imagine how it would look standing next to, say, Batman’s politically neutral ensemble. “The original costume was the American flag brought to life,” Mr. Lee said. “This one is a little more universal.”

The entire relaunch seems to be about making Wonder Woman more accessible for a broader audience. If she isn’t a walking American flag, she’s easier to market in other countries. And if she’s in pants, she’s potentially more appealing to women comic fans–the press release describes the outfit as partially an answer to female fans who’ve asked how she fights without pockets or much clothing. Marketing comics to women is still something of a novel concept, but one whose time has more than come.

UPDATE: Gloria Steinem weighed in on the new Wonder Woman in comments to the Associated Press.

As in the late ’60s when Wonder Woman creators took away all her magical powers — and would have perished along with them, had not Ms. magazine come to the rescue with a lobbying campaign to restore them — I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens again.

The original Wonder Woman was changing the world to fit women. This one seems changed to fit the world.

ABOVE: New Wonder Woman courtesy of DC Comics. BOTTOM: Ms. July 1972 cover.

Comments

  1. Pants aside, I’m not sure how I feel about the new outfit, and I most certainly do not trust Straczynski to re-imagine her character. I have not been a fan of many of his female characters in the past.

  2. But people tried to modernize her wardrobe before (Cathy Lee Crosby) and that failed too.

    It fails when Superhero’s costumes get toyed with regardles of gender.

    The Batman movies where Schumacher was at the helm and toyed with the guys costumes were incidentally also the ones which bombed and prompted the franchise reboot with Batman Begins–and the return to the original and classic costume.

    So I’m thinking Wonder Woman is again going to need a simmilar costume repair.

  3. I actually wrote a piece today called “Wonder Woman in Pants is Not a Feminist Win” over at the Women’s Media Center: http://ht.ly/25MEg – I hate the new makeover!

    Wonder Woman was created as a specifically feminist heroine – Amazonian protege of the goddesses, a powerful mother and sisters, and the understanding that violence breeds more violence – and this feels to me like an attempt at commercialization that takes her further away from her feminist roots.

    I think it’s sad she’s gained pants and lost her muscles and her classic ‘W’ emblem. The original Wonder Woman was sexy precisely because her powers were not derived from her appearance – she could kick some serious butt, hold down a job and a relationship and her appearance seemed, like it should be, an aside.

    But more than the costume change, I’m disturbed that they’ve changed her backstory. The original Wonder Woman grew up with her mother, Queen Hippolyta, and her powerful Amazon sisters on Paradise Island, where gender equality was a given, and she could return to restore herself and learn more skills from her sisters. Now, she was smuggled out of Paradise Island as a baby as it’s being destroyed. In this new version, her powers are derived from supernatural forces rather than from sisterhood – a serious detour from her feminist roots.

    If you hate it too, I started a Facebook group called ‘DC Comics: Bring Back the Original Wonder Woman!’: http://ht.ly/25Uau

    • With all due respect, much of the information in your comment about Wonder Woman’s origins is incorrect. Gender equality was most certainly NOT a given on Paradise Island. In fact, it’s a matriarchy that doesn’t even allow men to step foot on the island. Also, her powers have always been derived from supernatural forces. In the original comics, the Amazons were bestowed magical powers from Aphrodite that would fade if an Amazon let a man bind her by her shackles.

      If you’re intrested in a feminist look at Wonder Woman’s origins and how changes in the character have reflected the changing role of women in our society, check out: http://journeyintoawesome.wordpress.com/2013/03/31/womens-history-month-superheroine-spotlight-wonder-woman/

  4. I think this is such a positive step for WW and hopefully a start for other classic comic hero-women. I think it looks tough and no-nonsense but you can still def. tell it’s HER.

    • @JeninCanada: You seemed to be influenced by a mirage. That is obviously not her–that is her being randomly ‘FORCED’ to pretend to be ’90s Biker Chick’–the kind of bad girl trope designed to be tough & objectified for the perverted needs of 45 year old teenagers–this time this was reduxed. This is the 5th time they had done this sort of thing & it’s gotten a whole lot worse– Need I say more about ‘Amazons Attack’?

      You shouldn’t had misplace your faith in the hands of greedy, pretentious, sleazy men in DC Comics who have no faith nor respect for the nuance & ideals of WW to begin with. I pray you be wiser.

  5. Melissa Shaffer says:

    I will say this again, to quote an old song and list of no-no’s
    You dont tug on Superman’s cape, you dont spit into the wind,
    You dont pull the mask off the ole Lone Ranger and you dont put Wonder Woman in pants! (LOL) and make her look like any common cartoon character llike Shee-ra, Hellcats, Transformers, take your pic. She had class and style and if you get the costume women do NOT have trouble being her for Halloween. She was my childhood hero and I even had the underoos! If you want to revamp her make her look more like Lynda Carter,, that is always the image of her in my mind.

  6. Melissa Shaffer says:

    Showed her to my hubby he said “eww she looks to witchy and almost scary”

  7. No classical greek hero would dress this way – pants, to classical Greeks and Romans, were a sure sign of foreigness, therefore of “barbarian” status. WW would not feel cold even in heavy snow, and would wear clothes that allow for highly athletic fighting. Her original costume has very similar body coverage to old greek armour, excepting possibly protection for the upper chest/throat – fix that if you must “fix” anything. And WW wouldn’t give a flying F. what modern folks thought was “proper” clothing, or what any observer thought of her body. This costume change is a stupid mistake – but something this dumb can’t stand the test of time, thank Athena.

  8. itsawin says:

    To me, this IS a feminist win. I don’t care if its just a comic, etc. I have always felt weird about Wonder Woman as a feminist icon because she was so sexually objectified, she looked more like a lads mag icon. I could never see how I could really take seriously a female super hero in underwear. She does look WAY more bad ass now, and she isn’t just a flesh flag. I like the anti-nationalism and I like the humanism. All we need now is for her to be featured smashing the patriarchy in her comics, and then she’d really have a new fan. Good job!

    • @itsawin: Everything you’ve typed on this thread makes me convinced that your respect & admiration for Wonder Woman’s impact on pop cultural history is incredibly flawed & invalid. I’m also convinced that you didn’t read nor understand how or why Gloria Steinman went out of her way to have DC publishing & the time on bringing the original costume & origin back in her rightful place b/c if you did, then you probably wouldn’t felt so weird about it.

  9. itsawin says:

    Oh and Melissa? People have been calling powerful, autonomous women witches for too long now.

  10. This makes me ill that people tampered with a good thing. I had dressed up as wonder woman for halloween. I made myself dizzy twiring around for hours when I was in elemetary school. Destroying the childhood of so many girls is wrong.

  11. Your blog is not entirely correct when you say it's her first time getting revamped for wardrobe updates. Wonder Woman as Diana Prince, a de-powered but liberated feminist regular woman goes from 1968 to 1973 in the most contemporary and fashionable pants, mini's, go go skirts, you name it! That's five years you've conveniently omitted to make a point that pants are a timely and welcome costume change for Wonder Woman. Furthermore, she did go through a major change with the W symbol on the front which signified equality for women in 1982, leaving behind the patriarchal symbol of the republican eagle emblem. But consider that pants, which I am okay with, (her new art style however, is another issue), offer a different sort of portrayal of a superheroine in action. Gone are the objectifying butt, crotch, and spread eagle posturing if she wears pants right? No need for the artist to worry about rendering her in compromising positions for male readers to ogle her best assets, at least not the pants part. Now she can kick and fly without full frontal objectification and is somewhat less of a sexual object with pants on, yet comic writers/artists will never fully comprehend what empowered, liberated, and confident women would want their little girls to read when sharing their love of superheroine comics. Woe to Wonder Woman.

  12. If you are really a fan of Wonder Woman, you should show your appreciation. This way the world’s most popular super heroine might get some respect.

    http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/fight4wonde

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  1. [...] this October, be warned that you’ll be woefully out of date, as DC Comics is presenting a Wonder Woman for the 21st century. In celebration of reaching issue number 600 of the Wonder Woman comic series, the superwoman is [...]

  2. [...] outlets including the New York Times, CNN, the Washington Post, the Associated Press and Ms. Magazine reported on the public’s reaction, which was as swift as it was severe. Many were offended by the [...]

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