Since DC Comics announced last week that they’re giving Wonder Woman a makeover, the interwebs are a-flutter with how WW’s new look is “an epic fail,” “dowdy” and downright un-American (that’d be FoxNews, natch.)
Gone are the shimmery star hot pants, the wenchy eagle bustier and the big hair: The new Wonder Woman is clothed in smart black leggings and steampunky little jacket with a hint of cleavage and some super cute booties. It’s a look you might see on a the morning commute in any mid-sized city, with Marc Jacobs fingerless gloves-clad hands clutching a Starbucks latte.
But of course, that’s the problem. She’s superhero, and that means she should look like one. Where’s the flash? (“What’s super about a jacket?” laments one blogger. “Nothing.”) Anyone who’s sat through repeated viewings of The Incredibles knows that capes are a no-no, but what about a pair of laser-shooting epaulets or something?
You might guess that I am longtime adorer of the brunette Amazon with the magical wristcuffs. I’ll even admit to venturing into idol worship as a nine year-old wearing Underoos and her dad’s Adidas sweatbands, trying to lasso the cat with my mother’s thin gold Bill Blass belt. I donned the persona for three straight Halloweens, as has my own daughter after me (she worked that little toddler costume as long as she could, bless her princess-warrior little heart.) As a feminist, mother and full-grown princess warrior, I feel have the experience and authority to pass judgment on WoWo’s post-modern visage. And other than the fact that a man held the pen (which is a shanda considering all the women in comics these days), I dig it.
First of all, she’s 69 years old and there’s nothing more uncomfortable than seeing an otherwise attractive grandma who insists on shopping at Wet Seal. Wowo seems to have figured out that less skin is more, that being sexy and self-respecting is the new black. To me, she looks tougher and smarter than ever, like she might go all jijitsu on your punk ass right after she does her own taxes.
To go along with the look, DC Comics new incarnation finally includes a mysterious backstory full of mistakes and self-doubt (a la Batman’s orphan state and Superman’s isolationist issues.) Her character has grown more complex and layered as she’s covered up – just as we have as our lives have cleaved to careers, marriage, motherhood and we have lived through the tragedies and hardships that didn’t kill us but made us stronger. As a woman sliding down the backside of her 30’s, I relate to this new Wonder Woman.
Our culture doesn’t need our superheroes to be invincible and cold but recognizably empathetic — if not human, then as flawed and complicated as us mere mortals. And us women in particular— even, and especially, the ones still young enough to play outside in their Underoos — need our Wonder Woman to accept that star-studded underpants is not appropriate attire to fight global crime (which, let’s face it, is the only kind anymore.)
Just as I’ve had to accept that these jiggly, spider-veined gams do not belong in a pair of Daisy Dukes and a pair of red pumps, ever, not even at Halloween, even if El Yenta Man really wants to grow a moustache so he can make a smokin’ Tom Wopat.
Frankly, it’s a relief. This new Wonder Woman, professionally dressed, sensible but sexy, is a welcome shero in a world where the actual evil is scarier than anything I ever read in a comic book.
In fact, I may just go out and buy Wonder Woman #600 for my little girl, just to show her what a real superhero looks like.
Right after I troll the shopping sites for my very own nickel-plated wristcuffs.