For a long time now, Warner Bros. has teased audiences
with prospects of a Justice League team-up film. This year, the Superman/Batman:
Dawn Of Justice project has been on the tips of everyone’s tongues, and recently
we were titillated with casting choices. One of the most talked about casting
choices was that of Gal Gadot in the role of the iconic original female
super heroine Wonder Woman. However, the dust has since settled on that news, and
it isn’t the actor in the role which concerns people anymore, it is the costume
which said actor will wear. During the Warner Brothers panel last
month, at Comic Con 2014, Zack Snyder’s vision was finally unveiled to the public.
This is what it looked like:
close to an equal 50/50 split of favor vs. disdain. The support of the costume
has mostly centered around the fact that the character is overdue for an update,
and the criticisms generally boiled down to these three: no originality, no
functionality, and no respect for the source material. Having written a
previous article which utilized history as a predictive factor to remind
costume designers that a more traditional iconic design for an iconic character
has always been more successful (Hence, why the character would be ICONIC…She’s easily recognizable!), I’d like to address each of these topics one
by one. However, my findings may surprise you.
This was one of the first comments to question the originality of the costume,
as messages of its like riddled sites from article readers and bloggers. There
were even quite a few memes like this:
costume design. However, when Xena came out (pun intended) to audiences in the
early 90s, people were excited. They called her the ‘Wonder Woman of the modern
age.’ Since the Wonder Woman character was clearly following that evolutionary path, wouldn’t it be
fitting that she does bear a Xena-like resemblance?
I read this in the comments section of a YouTube video announcing the costume’s
release. The great acting teacher Stella Adler once said that, “Theatre is the
currency of our society.” I truly belive this. Since all artistic expression is
nothing but a reflection of the hearts and minds of those within the society
who are creating it, I definitely see it as our ‘currency,’ so to speak. You
can really tell a lot about who you are dealing with and what they are dealing
with by paying attention to their art. And ours is screaming for more realism.
That is who we are as a society today. However, let’s not forget that art
possesses specific messages. For instance, when Dr. William Moulton Marston
created Wonder Woman, he gave her
certain weapons. Weapons which were feminine in nature: bracelets, a tiara, and
she even ran at high speeds in high heels (see the first appearance of Wonder Woman in 1941). His message? Women can do everything that men
can do and sometimes better and under more difficult circumstances. His message of
reducing humanity’s ignorance, and
establishing equality rings true to this day. Not just for the sexes, but also
for religion, sexual orientation, ethnicities, and various other backgrounds. So with that in mind, would it be unforgivable to make an average woman into the Amazing
Amazon and inspire so many others to believe that they are capable of anything
regardless of their muscle size, or is it necessary that we adhere to society’s
need for realism?
popular to this day, he replied that, “He’s [Superman] the king daddy. He’s the
‘why’ of superheroes. He’s the wish fulfillment…” Wish Fulfillment couldn’t
have been a better term for him to use. You see, superheroes, by their very
nature, are a catalyst for wish fulfillment for people/society. When Dr. Marston created the character Wonder Woman, he knew that women were an
oppressed group which needed positive role models to begin to change the
collective self esteem of women. Marston once said that, “Not even girls want
to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and
power.” He knew that there was a deficiency that needed to be remedied. He knew
that, “Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness.
The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of
Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.” Wonder Woman as a character was always meant
to deliver a message of equality. Consequently, Zack Snyder’s interview with
IGN confirms exactly what I had suspected about his redesign of the Amazing
Amazon’s costume. It is a form of wish fulfillment. Kind of like this fan art by Jamie Tyndall that I found online:
aggressive dominatrix sexual fantasies come to life. Keep in mind that the sexy
seductress part was definitely apart of Dr. Marston’s plans. However, his
second quote gives much more clarification on the matter by mentioning that the
strength and force should be tempered with, “all the allure of a good and
beautiful woman.” In 1941 when the good Doctor brought Wonder Woman to life, a
‘good and beautiful woman’ was one who was feminine, caring, and nurturing . She currently looks like a dominatrix version of Xena Warrior Princess, but as we have seen from Dr. Marston’s quotes, Wonder Woman has always
been a character about balance. She is one of the fiercest warriors known to
man. Yet, she is the ambassador of peace and here to be an emissary to the
outside world. Will Snyder honor Dr. Marston’s vision by allowing her to be a
feminine, good, and nurturing woman?. I sure hope so. Only the story will tell.
butcher the source material.” This is another comment I keep seeing around the internet, and I don’t really know where it came from. There
hasn’t been any real leak of stor,y other than she just shows up in our world.
Frankly, if I were telling it from the Kryptonian’s (or any other hero’s )
perspective, that’s exactly what I would think…she just appeared. Not exactly
sure where the butchery of source material comes from. However, if it is based
on the costume alone, I have a theory which I will propose in my conclusion.
outside world. A stranger in a strange land who has no first hand knowledge of
the injustice and inequalities which plague our world. She is here to right all
of those injustices and inequalities. She is the defender of those who are in
need, and does everything in the name of love and balance. I think that it is
important for us to approach her and every aspect of her in this way. Even the
costume. With that being said, here are my suggestions:
- Yes, it is definitely time
to update the costume, and it seems as the Xena-esque way is the direction
in which people were already leaning. History has already proven
that since we are dealing with an iconic character (one recognized by
appearance), it would behoove costume designers to take a traditional
approach to this Xena-esque design. My suggestion? Keep the design, but give it the traditional
Wonder Woman colors, a star on the Tiara, and kill those boots. If you
must keep them, then make the armor over the shoes colorful like the Greg
Rucka armor. By doing all these, you will keep the traditional iconic
outfit, but give it the update it so desperately deserved. In addition,
Wonder Woman has always been a fantasy come to
life for men (and women alike). That’s another reason why Dr. Marston made her the way he did. So, I see no problem with her being sexy…just know when to say when.
- Being thin is not
horrible. However, having just a little bit of muscle will be amazing.
Wonder Woman’s powers are magic based so she doesn’t absolutely need to
have a ton of muscle. That’s part of the magic! However, as it has been established, we are living in a society of realism. Therefore, an extra 10lbs. of muscle should do the trick! (Not all of us are gym fiends, Brian. -Ed)
- There hasn’t been any
script released that I know or of which I am aware. HOWEVER, the costume
has always been Diana’s non-verbal way of making peace with the nation
into which she is entering. It was a way of saying, “I come in peace.” and declaring her intentions. It immediately sets the tone for her internal character. Unless there is
some other alternative way of setting the tone for this race and this
character, I would definitely side with those who are concerned about the
treatment of source material. So, again, keep the more traditional colors. Even if you need to mute them.
Where do we go from here? Only time will tell. Hollywood has
time and time again proven to utilize these Comic-con announcements as a sounding board to get
direction. I don’t think that it’s any coincidence WB reported that Gal hasn’t
shot any of her costume scenes yet. I’m predicting we see a few adjustments to
the costume and possibly even the script….I can hope, right?
Brian J. Patterson is an actor and producer splitting his time between San Francisco and Los Angeles. His house is a shrine to Wonder Woman and Xena.