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The ongoing Wonder Woman costume debacle

Meanwhile at CliqueClack's opulent seaside headquarters, the writing staff conducts a lengthy round table discussion about (almost) everyone's favorite Amazonian princess. Let's join in and see what all the jabber is about ...

Ever since the announcement of the new Wonder Woman series, there’s been ongoing back and forth between the CliqueClack writers.

I stirred the pot a few weeks ago with a post; and over the last week, the talk has escalated. Lots of talk. Debate. A raised eyebrow or five. Discussion of practicality … realism … improvement … straps.

We thought the readers might like a little “behind the scenes” peek at some of what we’ve been on about, so please enjoy. And by all means chime in. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Katie Schenkel: I realized … why the changes they made to her costume don’t work.

I actually admire them for giving her flat boots and actual pant (skin tight pants, but still pants). The thing is, if they’re going for a more a more practical, legitimate crime-fighting outfit, they needed to give her at least straps for her top, if not thick straps or sleeves. Anyone who’s ever worn a strapless dress knows that it’s hard enough trying to dance with so little support, but fullout running and combat is near impossible.

Oh and yes, gentlemen, I know you like the bustiness of her costume. I’d just like to see her look different for once.

Carla Day: There is actually another costume coming too — shorts.

Ivey West: Well keep in mind that the producers have said it wasn’t a redesign, and we have just seen two of the three suits that are planned for the pilot.

Katie: I think it goes back to what has always bothered me about the traditional design of her costume. I actually think that level of sexiness has its place in certain female superheroes/villains … but Wonder Woman is so collected and stoic … it just doesn’t fit with the kind of hero she is.

Of course, if you know anything about her creator, a lot of this makes sense.

Ruby T.: I always preferred She-Ra. Not that her white miniskirt is any more utilitarian than WW’s star-spangled undies.

Ivey: Does this really have to be a gender thing? I mean, really, just how comfortable did you think Batman’s cowl was exactly? And Superman’s tights?

Katie: Understandable, but at least the men get coverage … you know everything is in place. I also don’t understand having a hero where so much of your upperhalf is vulnerable to attack … that’s why the very mortal Batman is covered almost from head to toe, even if some of it isn’t comfortable.

Kona Gallagher: It’s like those bullet-proof vests in the second Drew Barrymore Charlie’s Angels movie. They were cut like Wonder Woman’s top, so they left important areas like, say, the heart exposed.

An Nicholson: I totally agree with you, Katie. I loved wonder woman’s costume as a girl and I loved Xena’s costume as an adult. All the same, it’s highly impractical running around in a strapless bustier with a metal headband, high cut bikini briefs and 2″ heels.

About three-five years ago, DC comics gave Wonder Woman flat boots, lower cut briefs, a more muscular build and a full on spartan greek warrior outfit complete with shoulder straps. Sure, it looked uncomfortable, but at least it had a cultural reference. With Xena, I loved her outfit but  an exposed bustier and leather mini skirt would equal chapped thighs and a bloody chest.

It always bothered me that Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and Aquaman all covered up (and, seriously, Aquaman shouldn’t) while Powergirl rocked the open chest and Supergirl the mini-skirt.

Ruby: Or He-Man’s fur loincloth. My biggest question has always been, why do superheroes wear their underwear on the outside of their tights? Clearly it’s just to highlight the area.

Debra McDuffee: Or, so your four-year old can easily dress like a superhero! Undies over the pants and a cape and you’re good to go!

Michael Noble: Bill Marston notwithstanding, he had (with help) the seed of an excellent idea at the time to empower women. Yes, his thoughts and some of his methodologies were strange and twisted, but the character who came out was nifty.

And for years and years, Wonder Woman’s iconic outfit didn’t hinder her efforts in the least. Cripes … she’s Wonder Woman! There’s not time in fighting crime to worry about fashion faux pax!

Batman? Superman? Green Lantern? All fully clothed? You betcha. When created, it was a time when a man was expected to be so. They didn’t flaunt around in skivvies only. Is that sexist? Yes, in a manner of speaking … but, if I may be so bold, let’s get over it. None of us are superheroes and we didn’t grow up way back then.

I still stand behind not fudging with an iconic outfit. Period. There are always exceptions to the rules … but so far the creators behind the new Wonder Woman aren’t offering any good ones.

Bob Degon: I’m just wondering what this whole conversation says about Robin, who did, indeed, run around in his skivvies. For that matter, what about the Submariner?

An: Exactly, Bob. The Submariner lived in the sea. Hell, yea, he should rock skivvies, same as Robin, a former gymnast, they styled his costume to his former position. I just want them to apply the same logic to the female costumes.

Ruby: I don’t see anything wrong with changing an iconic costume to make it less silly. Like if Christian Bale was running around Gotham in grey tights and blue underwear, I don’t think he would be nearly as cool.

Bob: Or if there were nipples on the costume. …

Michael: Nor do I, Ruby. The thing is, I don’t see Wonder Woman’s costume as “silly” in the least. …

An: You see, Michael, that’s my point. Let’s get over it, by letting her wear what a female crimefighter would actually wear to let her physically accomplish her job. Why did I love NY: Undercover and H5:0? We don’t see the female detectives rocking heels and makeup. Honestly, if I’m taking down perps, I don’t have time to rock 3″ heels and covergirl mascara —

Ivey: Can’t we just accept that superhero costumes, by their very nature, are all ludicrous by design?

Michael: I’m good with that, Ivey. With one exception: The Hulk.

Bob: Come on Michael. You’re really not going to convince me that Bruce Banner had THAT many pairs of purple pants … and that he wore them every day.

Ruby: With 5% spandex for that comfortable str-e-t-ch.

Michael: Nope. Not gonna. Because they’re comic book characters.  Everyone seems to be missing that point. Nor am I going to convince you Batman’s (Superman’s, et al) suit withstood day to day crime fighting, superhero situations, etc.

I meant The Hulk is The Hulk. Makes sense he rips around in torn trousers.

An: But, again, that’s the point, they’re ridiculous within reason. And, the female point is Wonder Woman’s outfit isn’t ridiculous, it’s just gratuitous (I really need to see some male CC’ers show disapproval of the bathing suit or some female CC’ers show approval for it, ‘cus right now it does look like gender lines.

Katie: And going back to what I said at the beginning, for Wonder Woman in particular, showing so much cleavage doesn’t fit with her stoic personality.

Bob: Maybe Wonder Woman has shoulder straps made of the same material that her jet is made from. …

I guess I just don’t have a strong opinion either way, An. I get the practicality issues, I do. Sadly, in today’s society, most network shows go by the “sex sells” motto. Whether or not a sleeveless costume would actually attract more viewers than a practical one — I have no idea.

Photo Credit: Twilight Whisper

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30 Responses to “The ongoing Wonder Woman costume debacle”

April 20, 2011 at 9:12 PM

Seems to me that Lynda Carter with those 38C boobs ran JUST FINE for 3 seasons without them popping out. Weve also seen the new wonder woman doing the same. why are straps an issue?

with more and more women getting boob jobs done today im actually surprised that this is an issue. women want to be seen with bigger breasts. she comes from an island of scantily dressed women.. this is normal for her.

the new bionic woman kicked butt with street clothes and wasnt deemed ridiculous in that way… but the show was still canceled.

April 20, 2011 at 10:43 PM

. . . . .

And that goes to the mode of discussion “It could make perfect sense in the world that has superheroes running around in it”, rob …

April 20, 2011 at 10:57 PM

well talking from a real world perspective it is my honest opinion that im surprised they covered her up more instead of taking off more. this statement is independent of my opinion wether i like the pants or not…

i must say however.. that what they gave to her legs they took away from the top. this cleavage is much much lower than Lynda carters. it is also much tighter which draws more attention to it. when i say tighter i dont mean in a good way. its too small for her which is what makes it look less than appropriate. that coupled with her breasts possibly not being uhh… perhaps real. a less shiny better fitting top would’ve done just fine and wouldve pssibly attracted less criticism.

April 20, 2011 at 9:56 PM

Re Tigra – I read the Wikipedia article you linked to. It says the women who co-created the character didn’t actually create Tigra – they created a character called The Cat. If you scroll down and look at the cover of the origin issue, you can see that The Cat is covered up in a blue and yellow costume. According to the article, “[The Cat] mutated into the super powered tiger-woman Tigra in Giant-Size Creatures #1 (July 1974), by writer Tony Isabella and penciller Don Perlin.” It seems to me that two guys (Tony and Don) are the ones who turned The Cat into the nearly-naked Tigra, not the ladies who created the original character. Of course, I’m just basing this off a Wikipedia article, so don’t hold me to it.

April 20, 2011 at 10:34 PM

. . . . .


That was the link Brett originally left during our discussions.

So, now, I’m going to go view it and see what I can see.

By the by: I’m very familiar with both Mr. Isabella and Mr. Perlin. I’ve followed their careers for a long time …

April 20, 2011 at 11:34 PM

Yeah, I wasn’t really trying to direct my comment at you, Michael – just questioning the validity of Brett’s piece of evidence – but check it out and let me know what you think.

April 21, 2011 at 12:41 AM

Ruby stated: “I think this comes down to experience, guys. Since you don’t have boobs, you can’t begin to understand how impossible her costume is.”

How do you know I don’t have boobs?!! Maybe I’m cultivating a nice pair of jiggly manboobs and have a fetish for halter tops. For all you know I share your pain and frustration exacerbated by being a man with marvelous manboobs.

Now I feel hurt and sad.

Seriously though, I really don’t care what the heck her costume looks like, but I’d go with something more practical. Hell, a costume isn’t going to make or break the show, it’s going to be the writing and acting that determine success or failure. This discussion is almost like talking about how the color of a new office building will affect the success of the business. I find it pointless and it just reminds me of my manboobs and halter tops.

April 21, 2011 at 12:50 AM

. . . . .

Way to go, Ruby.

Now you’ve gone and hurt Tom‘s feelings. And he was feeling your pain and frustration, too.

April 21, 2011 at 3:18 PM

It’s a double hurt, Ruby. I’m hurt and one of my manboobs is hurt, too. The right one doesn’t care, but it’s always been a cold bitch.

April 21, 2011 at 4:50 PM

The Amazons would tell you what to do about that right one. ;-)

April 21, 2011 at 5:11 PM

I had thought about trying to warm it up in a cup of hot coffee, but they don’t make cups that big. Besides, I can’t do that do a perfectly good cup of coffee. I have too much respect for the stuff.

April 21, 2011 at 1:25 AM

I think it is slightly more important than you’re implying. Costumes are a big part of the visual aesthetic of any show, and the costume of a superhero is a huge part of that character’s identity.

April 21, 2011 at 1:49 AM

I didn’t mean to imply that they could just put her in a Dharma Initiative jumpsuit and it wouldn’t matter, but I just think this whole costume brouhaha is a bit overblown. Personally, what I’ve seen looks so ridiculous that it doesn’t even make me want to watch and as someone who doesn’t care much about the costume that says a lot about how bad it looks.

I also have a lot of concern over the fact that the costume seems to be the only thing being discussed. I guess it’s because we don’t have a lot of other information about the show. That makes me suspicious and less likely to bother watching. If I choose to let it fall off my radar, but I read really good things I’ll go back and catch up, but all this obsession over clothing is really a turn-off.

April 21, 2011 at 7:40 AM

Actually sir, I agree. The writing is (apparently) horrid,and I said that would have a much bigger impact than the wardrobe choices.

April 21, 2011 at 7:56 AM

More shows should put there characters in Dharma jumpsuits. It would totally get me to watch!

April 21, 2011 at 9:47 AM

. . . . .

*guffaws at Bob*

April 21, 2011 at 3:17 PM

I’ve got an idea I’d like to put on the table: “LOST: The Next Generation.” I would so totally watch that, especially if Locke returned and said, “Make it so.” just before each turn of the frozen donkey wheel.

April 21, 2011 at 9:34 AM

I was fully expecting at least one guy to admit to having manboobs, but I never expected it to be you, Tom!

I agree, the costume is not the most important aspect of the show, but it is important for a couple reasons: 1) the costume should fit the kind of show it is (see the “campy vs. semi-realistic” comment); 2) the costume will be seen pretty frequently throughout the show, so if the costume sucks, it will always be in the viewers’ faces.

Obviously the writing is important, but that’s a whole different discussion. We happened to be talking about the costume.

April 21, 2011 at 11:55 AM

Ruby, I agree that the costume does carry more importance than I might have implied and realize this article was about wardrobe, but when has there been an article that wasn’t about the costume? That’s my point. Everything I read is about WW’s costume and little else. It’s as if the clothing *is* the show! Makes me worried this show is, as I predicted in the comments of another article, just another “Bionic Woman” in a different outfit.

Me and my manboobs agree, so that’s 3 votes for. We may carry a majority.

April 21, 2011 at 1:36 PM

To be fair, it is pretty much the only thing we’ve been given about the show.

When we get to see some of the potentially crappy writing in action, we’ll be “clacking” on that… trust me.

April 21, 2011 at 1:40 PM

. . . . .

Katie: Ab. So. Lutely.

April 21, 2011 at 2:22 PM

Good point, Katie. There hasn’t been anything besides the costume issue available anywhere other than rumors of terribly bad scripts. This does not bode well for the show and continues to play into my “Bionic Woman” theory. I hope I’m wrong, I often am, but in this case I fear I may be close to the mark.

Feel free to taunt me cruelly if I end up being wrong. I know Michael will, so I don’t have to tell him!

April 21, 2011 at 2:26 PM

Well, it looks like the pilot has been rewritten and some scenes re-filmed (or maybe new scenes filmed), so the producers must be reacting to the initial pilot script’s bad buzz.

April 21, 2011 at 2:28 PM

. . . . .

Oh the agony of it all.

Next you’ll be telling me you prefer Dreyer’s over Breyer’s. Where’s the love?


April 21, 2011 at 3:13 PM

Oh Michael, what are we going to do with you? Don’t fret, because as the old saying goes, “I love you like a fat kid loves cake.” Being a former fat kid, then a fat adult, then a thin adult and now something in-between I can attest to the level of love between a fat kid and cake. It’s a love almost as deep as that between a mother and child. It transcends all logic and even reality itself.

I love to tease people, which is obvious, but something that gets misunderstood by many (I’m not including you in this) is that I only tease those that I like or love. I don’t waste my time on people I loathe or even dislike a little. Which is about 99.98%of the planet.

So when I berate you for berating me, even if it’s predicting future beration (yeah, pretty sure that’s not a word, but it ought to be) it’s just my way of saying, “I love you!”

To set the record straight, I prefer Breyers over Dreyers, but only by a tiny margin. About the same margin as saying I prefer brunette hookers over blonde ones. In other words, the important thing is I’m getting a treat!

April 21, 2011 at 2:30 PM

. . . . .

Either the writers have woken up and smelled the coffee, Tom

… or the All and Powerful Ivey has spoken … and they have been dismayed by His Mighty Word.

April 21, 2011 at 2:54 PM

OR they decided to rewrite her as a stripper by day, stripping superhero by night. :P

April 21, 2011 at 3:04 PM

So would that mean instead of a golden lasso she’ll now have a golden pole of truth? And a stripper in an invisible plane might not be safe for broadcast television.

May 10, 2011 at 5:03 AM

In having this discussion elsewhere, I actually came to a revelation of sorts regarding the actual functional utility of the iconic costume. I wonder how many women who find it “gratuitous” and want to monkey with it for solely that purpose have actually donned such outfits as the ones under discussion. From the standpoint of mobility, it is far more practical in its bathing-suit form than the absurd trouser get-up that has been debuted. Take a cue from both gymnasts and dancers who’s primary uniform is a leotard (sleeved or not). Why would this be the case were it not something that comfortably permitted extreme movement without hampering? The bustier being somewhat more rigid would still allow for support as well as protecting the sensitive solar plexus. And as for a slight heel, I find that to be more comfortable than being completely flat footed, especially in a boot which somewhat restricts free movement in the ankle unless they are made of spandex rather than leather or something similarly sturdy. If anything, the only really valid argument for practicality would be the addition of a strap, which even still would probably prove unnecessary if the bodice is properly constructed (as evidenced by Lynda’s ample bosom being contained without incident). Also, I would think that the psychological effects of wearing such a revealing outfit would be an advantage as a warrior. Someone confident enough to fight in that would be far more intimidating that someone covered in armor from head to toe.

Which brings me to the idea that “it wouldn’t fit with her stoic personality,” I’m not sure I understand this concept. The clearest definition of stoicism I could find was “an indifference to pleasure or pain” and I don’t see that particular trait as being here nor there concerning her outfit. For that matter, I’m not sure that I even agree with that as an outstanding trait of her personality. I DO think that she couldn’t care less about false modesty or the squawking criticisms of folks who would comment on her fashion sense at all. I think she would frown on any judgments regarding her attire “as a woman.” She would never be self-conscious about her femininity to consider whether its minimal coverage or inherent sexiness even mattered. The fact that she would never apologize for wearing such a thing is one of her strengths, in my opinion.

In this light, I find the iconic costume to be quite practical indeed. Certainly more so than those pants, which would definitely restrict movement unless the entire thing was a spandex unitard (perhaps why Supes, Bats, and countless other superheroes and villains wear theirs?). As a woman who has years of experience in kung-fu, gymnastics, and dancing – both with a pole and without ;) – I think, if I were to do most of my crime fighting in a mild climate anyway, that the iconic outfit would be my preference in terms of comfort for that level of activity.

As a Diana devotee from long ago, it’s certainly and without a doubt my preference for WW, at any rate…