The evolution of Wonder Woman's iconic costume
As the world changed around her, Wonder Woman's outfits shifted from billowy skirts to warrior's armor.
Those keeping tabs on every rumor concerning the upcoming "Wonder Woman" sequel may have noticed an interesting tidbit that leaked during the 2018 Licensing Expo in Las Vegas earlier this week.
Wonder Woman, it seems, is getting a new super suit.
The iconic superhero, presently played by Israeli actress Gal Gadot, has never stopped evolving her look from her debut in 1941 to her big screen solo breakout in 2017. The 2019 sequel is apparently not seeking to break with tradition, with one source saying that the Amazon warrior princess will don "battle gear" for her fight against the USSR and the villainous Cheetah.
With all this talk about costumes, we thought it would be fun to look back at some highlights from the more than 75-year-old history of Wonder Woman's mission to save the world, break down gender barriers and inspire millions around the world.
In the beginning...
Months before her official debut in All Star Comics in October 1941, Wonder Woman was first given life on the page by American artist H.G. Peter. In an original pencil, ink and crayon sketch that has since been sold at auction for nearly three quarters of a million dollars, Peter wrote to Wonder Woman creator Dr. William Moulton Marston that he was having some difficulty with both the eagle and her boots.
Dear Dr. Marston, I slapped these two out in a hurry. The eagle is tough to handle — when in perspective or in profile, he doesn’t show up clearly — the shoes look like a stenographer’s. I think the idea might be incorporated as a sort of Roman contraption. Peter
When she appeared later that same year, much of Peter's original drawing ended up making the final cut; with Wonder Woman sporting a billowy skirt, golden circlet and iconic bracelets. As Marston later explained, his vision for the character was of a strong, independent woman, one whom he believed could inspire girls around the world to pursue and achieve any dream.
“Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world," he added.
Decades of change
As Wonder Woman progressed through the cultural shifts of the 1950s and 1960s, so too did her costume change to reflect the times. Most noticeable was the shift to tighter, shorter outfits, with her skirt giving way to the form-fitting underpants common among other heroes like Superman and Batman. The stenographer boots lamented by H.G. Peter were mercifully axed in favor of more "functional" flats.
In the late '60s, a sign of the fashion tastes then popular, Wonder Woman even briefly sported in the comics an all-white jumpsuit, go-go boots and jumpers. So groovy.
From the page to the small screen
After some less-than-stellar attempts at creating a live action Wonder Woman, a winning formula finally made its way to television in 1975. Called "Wonder Woman," the series ran for three series on ABC and CBS and starred American actress Lynda Carter in the titular role.
Staying true to the comics' early source material, Carter's Wonder Woman costume featured the traditional star-spangled tights, golden eagle and red and white knee-high boots. But that wasn't the only version. Inexplicably, but firmly filed under "Why not?," Carter's character also had a Wonder Woman-themed outfit for everything from riding motorbikes to skateboarding to diving underwater.
Carter, who still has some of the "Wonder Woman" costumes from the series in her possession, took issue in 2016 with criticism that the role's distinctive look over-sexualized women.
"All this stuff about costumes — 'Oh, it’s exploitive and blah blah blah.” Give me a break," she told Entertainment Weekly. "You can’t say that the sock in the pants of Superman wasn’t. Get over it. That’s a woman’s body. We are all that. We’ve always been that, but we’re also every other shape and color and size. It’s not our problem [what we look like], it’s yours. I am a woman. This is how I look. I’m smart, and I’m this and I’m that as well."
Embracing the warrior
When Australian designer Michael Wilkinson was charged with placing a modern spin on Wonder Woman's costume for her first-ever big screen appearance in 2016's "Batman v Superman," he turned to the character's roots to come up with something original.
"We wanted to create something incredibly strong and portray her as a legitimate fighter, so we looked back … because we wanted her to look like she’s been wearing the same costume, in a sense, for thousands of years — since she’s immortal, after all," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "We were inspired by the metal armor of Greek and Roman warriors and gladiators. It seemed like a good fit for her."
That "good fit" also inspired a major shift over at DC Comics. In 2016, the American publishing giant rebooted their superhero suite of characters with the "Rebirth" series, giving Wonder Woman a whole new look that was based off the film version.
"In the Year One story, I had asked if we could take the film costume and make it just a little more comic book-y and a little brighter and shinier," Australian artist Nicola Scott told IGN. "This is her first outing wearing a Wonder Woman costume. It's freshly minted. The breastplate has just come out of the forge and it's just been dyed. It's fresh. It's her first adventure off the island."
Of all the costumes worn by Wonder Woman over the years, this latest iteration appears to truly reflect and embrace the spirit and physicality of the Amazon warrior princess. It's a welcome update and one we hope continues to influence all future takes on one of the most influential and inspiring characters in the world of fiction.
Just don't touch the skateboard costume, okay? As the video below shows, it's already perfect just the way it is.
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