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March 23rd, 2011 No comments

Last Friday, the Interwebs were a-buzzing with the release of a publicity photo of Adrianne Palicki costumed as she’ll appear in David E. Kelley’s television revamp of Wonder Woman. I’m going to take it as read that most self-appointed fashion critics despised it.

Me? I don’t entirely hate it. I don’t entirely like it either, but I’ll come to that.

First, in case you somehow missed out:

The most common complaint I’ve seen is that it looks like a Halloween costume. I can’t argue with that. More specifically, it reminds me of a design by the likes of Leg Avenue, a company which makes “sultry” versions of everything from eskimos to ring masters.* It appears to be the sort of knock-off that would be marketed as “Wondrous Woman.”

Now, I’ll freely admit that Wonder Woman could use a redesign. As much as I love her classic costume–and I do, in that I am hardwired to like sexy things that are sexy–it makes even less sense now than it did when it was introduced in 1941.

It’s one of the many contradictions that challenge anyone trying to write a passable Wonder Woman story:

  • She’s a warrior who preaches peace. (Modern stories paint her as downright bloodthirsty, entirely missing the point.)
  • She’s an icon of feminine empowerment overtly designed to tickle a variety of fetishes. (Early WW stories featured wall-to-wall bondage scenes and a not-at-all-subtextual theme of “submission to loving authority.”)
  • She hails from a culture based loosely on ancient Greek mythology, yet she dresses like a patriotic hooker. (The flag theme actually made a certain sense in the ’40s, as Wondy’s primary mission was ambassador to Man’s World–aka America–during the run-up to our involvement in World War II.)

So, yeah, Wonder Woman could stand a makeover.

I’ll restate that I don’t love the new costume, yet I think that it’s not all that far from being a decent update. I like that the eagle bodice–replaced in the ’80s by a stylized “WW” symbol–has returned. And I’ll concede that pants are a more practical choice for a crimefightress. (My preference would’ve been a Xena-like skirt.)

Here’s what I don’t like:

  • It’s too shiny. That quality, more than anything, marks it as a Halloween costume.
  • The red stars in the middle of the bodice and the girdle don’t work for me. I guess that they’re meant to echo the traditional one in the tiara, but I find them distracting. (It’s hard to see in the photo, but there’s also a line of stars running down the side of her trousers, evoking her old spangled panties.)
  • The boots should be red. Besides being the sole break from what is otherwise WW’s traditional color scheme, they aren’t distinct enough from the pants.
  • That belt/girdle is fugly. It’s big, clunky and spiky. Bleah.

With that in mind, I did a couple of passes on the design, employing my meager photo retouching skills:

I removed the red stars, simplified the belt, recolored the boots and toned down the shiny. It ain’t Lynda Carter, but if I do say so myself, it ain’t entirely bad.

Despite the early script reviews, I can’t say that I’m not intrigued by the prospect of a new live-action Wonder Woman. And the news that Elizabeth Hurley (whom I’ve greatly missed) has been cast as what may be a recurring villainess is enough to get me to take an initial look.

*Though Leg Avenue surely wouldn’t have replaced Wondy’s star panties.

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