Wonder Woman Gives Up Her Stripes


The timing could have been better, but days before our nation’s birthday celebration, we learn that Marvel Comics’ Wonder Woman will be getting a makeover, discarding her decades long stars and strips costume for an outfit that seems more super goth than super hero. Officials at DC Comics have defended the change on the company’s website, saying that “all the classic symbols – patriotic (stars, eagle) and heroic (lasso, bracelets) – are ever-present. We encourage Wonder Woman fans to stay tuned.”

Diehard Wonder Woman fans, however, are burning up the Internet with their displeasure. One blogger pleaded that the black leggings have got to go, comparing the look to one Paris Hilton might embrace. Still another charged that the DC Comic officials just don’t understand that Wonder Woman’s sexy outfit was part of her mystic, making her powerful because she flaunted her appearance on her terms and defeated the enemy in the process.

The makeover, however, has less to do with aesthetics and everything to do with marketing. It’s no secret that a Wonder Woman movie is in the works (possible stars rumored to be under consideration for the role include Jessica Biel and Megan Fox), and a more toned down (read, less American) Wonder Woman would no doubt help when marketing the film abroad. This is a sobering thought to contemplate on the Fourth of July. Has America’s image fallen so far that we now have to redo even ironic cartoon figures?

When Wonder Woman made her debut in December, 1941, we were fighting a much different war and patriotism at home and admiration for the U.S. abroad was high. In fact, early stories had Wonder Woman battling the enemy during World War II. We no longer enjoy that worldwide support. With production costs and star salaries rising, international box office and DVD sales have become critical to a film’s success, often helping to balance out anemic domestic returns. Hollywood doesn’t want to risk offending foreign viewers with such overt patriotism.

Many remember Wonder Woman on TV, with Lynda Carter playing the Amazon Princess Diana of Themyscira whose purpose was to bring love, peace, and sexual equality to the world. Carter brought to life the comic book character and the years the show was on television, from 1975 to 1979, the stars and stripes still enjoyed popularity. It didn’t hurt that Carter, a former beauty queen, was also associated with comedian Bob Hope’s USO tours to entertain service people abroad. She seemed a natural to play the role.

Carter has been quoted as saying that those upset about the redo should just “get over it.” And maybe after a fashion, we will. Still, on the Fourth of July, we would like to hope that we will someday return to a time when even make believe characters can wear the stars and stripes, at home and abroad, and be proud.

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