Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dawn of IN-Justice?: Zack Snyder's WONDER WOMAN Costume - by Brian J. Patterson

Wonder Woman collage by Phil Jimenez

For a long time now, Warner Bros. has teased audiences with prospects of a Justice League team-up film. This year, the Superman/Batman: Dawn Of Justice project has been on the tips of everyone’s tongues, and recently we were titillated with casting choices. One of the most talked about casting choices was that of Gal Gadot in the role of the iconic original female super heroine Wonder Woman. However, the dust has since settled on that news, and it isn’t the actor in the role which concerns people anymore, it is the costume which said actor will wear. During the Warner Brothers panel last month, at Comic Con 2014, Zack Snyder’s vision was finally unveiled to the public. This is what it looked like:

 The feedback that I’ve seen on this costume has all been very close to an equal 50/50 split of favor vs. disdain. The support of the costume has mostly centered around the fact that the character is overdue for an update, and the criticisms generally boiled down to these three: no originality, no functionality, and no respect for the source material. Having written a previous article  which utilized history as a predictive factor to remind costume designers that a more traditional iconic design for an iconic character has always been more successful (Hence, why the character would be ICONIC...She's easily recognizable!), I’d like to address each of these topics one by one. However, my findings may surprise you.

“She just looks like a glorified Xena: Warrior Princess..” This was one of the first comments to question the originality of the costume, as messages of its like riddled sites from article readers and bloggers. There were even quite a few memes like this:

And like these:

Which addressed the lack of originality or vision with this costume design. However, when Xena came out (pun intended) to audiences in the early 90s, people were excited. They called her the ‘Wonder Woman of the modern age.’ Since the Wonder Woman character was clearly following that evolutionary path, wouldn't it be fitting that she does bear a Xena-like resemblance?

 “She’s stick thin. She could be defeated by a gust of air!” I read this in the comments section of a YouTube video announcing the costume’s release. The great acting teacher Stella Adler once said that, “Theatre is the currency of our society.” I truly belive this. Since all artistic expression is nothing but a reflection of the hearts and minds of those within the society who are creating it, I definitely see it as our ‘currency,’ so to speak. You can really tell a lot about who you are dealing with and what they are dealing with by paying attention to their art. And ours is screaming for more realism. That is who we are as a society today. However, let’s not forget that art possesses specific messages. For instance, when Dr. William Moulton Marston created Wonder Woman,  he gave her certain weapons. Weapons which were feminine in nature: bracelets, a tiara, and she even ran at high speeds in high heels (see the first appearance of Wonder Woman in 1941). His message? Women can do everything that men can do and sometimes better and under more difficult circumstances. His message of reducing humanity’s ignorance, and establishing equality rings true to this day. Not just for the sexes, but also for religion, sexual orientation, ethnicities, and various other backgrounds. So with that in mind, would it be unforgivable to make an average woman into the Amazing Amazon and inspire so many others to believe that they are capable of anything regardless of their muscle size, or is it necessary that we adhere to society’s need for realism?

Dr. Marston's original Wonder Woman pulling a car with her Magic Lasso, while running in heels. 

Dr. Marston's original Wonder Woman jumping multiple stories and stopping a car/crime, again, while in heels. 

When asked in an interview with IGN, why Zack Snyder thinks Superman has endured and has been popular to this day, he replied that, “He’s [Superman] the king daddy. He’s the ‘why’ of superheroes. He’s the wish fulfillment…” Wish Fulfillment couldn’t have been a better term for him to use. You see, superheroes, by their very nature, are a catalyst for wish fulfillment for people/society. When Dr.  Marston created the character Wonder Woman, he knew that women were an oppressed group which needed positive role models to begin to change the collective self esteem of women. Marston once said that, “Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power.” He knew that there was a deficiency that needed to be remedied. He knew that, “Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.”  Wonder Woman as a character was always meant to deliver a message of equality. Consequently, Zack Snyder’s interview with IGN confirms exactly what I had suspected about his redesign of the Amazing Amazon’s costume. It is a form of wish fulfillment. Kind of like this fan art by Jamie Tyndall that I found online:

Fan Art by Jamie Tyndall

At any rate, she is now a Xena: Warrior Princess-esque, visually aggressive dominatrix sexual fantasies come to life. Keep in mind that the sexy seductress part was definitely apart of Dr. Marston’s plans. However, his second quote gives much more clarification on the matter by mentioning that the strength and force should be tempered with, “all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.” In 1941 when the good Doctor brought Wonder Woman to life, a ‘good and beautiful woman’ was one who was feminine, caring, and nurturing . She currently looks like a dominatrix version of Xena Warrior Princess, but as we have seen from Dr. Marston’s quotes, Wonder Woman has always been a character about balance. She is one of the fiercest warriors known to man. Yet, she is the ambassador of peace and here to be an emissary to the outside world. Will Snyder honor Dr. Marston’s vision by allowing her to be a feminine, good, and nurturing woman?. I sure hope so. Only the story will tell.
Dr. Marston's original Wonder Woman depicted in a "good and beautiful" nurturing moment.

And speaking of story, “The movie is going to completely butcher the source material.” This is another comment I keep seeing around the internet, and I don't really know where it came from. There hasn’t been any real leak of stor,y other than she just shows up in our world. Frankly, if I were telling it from the Kryptonian’s (or any other hero’s ) perspective, that’s exactly what I would think…she just appeared. Not exactly sure where the butchery of source material comes from. However, if it is based on the costume alone, I have a theory which I will propose in my conclusion.

Dr. Marston's story showing Wonder Woman taking on the American colors to honor our country as an ambassador of Peace. 

To conclude, Wonder Woman has always been an emissary to the outside world. A stranger in a strange land who has no first hand knowledge of the injustice and inequalities which plague our world. She is here to right all of those injustices and inequalities. She is the defender of those who are in need, and does everything in the name of love and balance. I think that it is important for us to approach her and every aspect of her in this way. Even the costume. With that being said, here are my suggestions:
  1. Yes, it is definitely time to update the costume, and it seems as the Xena-esque way is the direction in which people were already leaning. History has already proven that since we are dealing with an iconic character (one recognized by appearance), it would behoove costume designers to take a traditional approach to this Xena-esque design. My suggestion? Keep the design, but give it the traditional Wonder Woman colors, a star on the Tiara, and kill those boots. If you must keep them, then make the armor over the shoes colorful like the Greg Rucka armor. By doing all these, you will keep the traditional iconic outfit, but give it the update it so desperately deserved. In addition, Wonder Woman has always been a fantasy come to life for men (and women alike). That's another reason why Dr. Marston made her the way he did. So, I see no problem with her being sexy...just know when to say when. 
  2. Being thin is not horrible. However, having just a little bit of muscle will be amazing. Wonder Woman’s powers are magic based so she doesn’t absolutely need to have a ton of muscle. That's part of the magic! However, as it has been established, we are living in a society of realism. Therefore, an extra 10lbs. of muscle should do the trick! (Not all of us are gym fiends, Brian. -Ed)
  3. There hasn’t been any script released that I know or of which I am aware. HOWEVER, the costume has always been Diana’s non-verbal way of making peace with the nation into which she is entering. It was a way of saying, “I come in peace.” and declaring her intentions.  It immediately sets the tone for her internal character. Unless there is some other alternative way of setting the tone for this race and this character, I would definitely side with those who are concerned about the treatment of source material. So, again, keep the more traditional colors. Even if you need to mute them. 
If you're looking for some ideas of what I'm talking about, then take a look at these panels from Greg Rucka and George Perez:

Wonder Woman as drawn by George Perez

Wonder Woman cover art depicting costume design from the Greg Rucka run.

Where do we go from here? Only time will tell. Hollywood has time and time again proven to utilize these Comic-con announcements as a sounding board to get direction. I don’t think that it’s any coincidence WB reported that Gal hasn’t shot any of her costume scenes yet. I’m predicting we see a few adjustments to the costume and possibly even the script….I can hope, right? 

Wonder Woman "Through the Ages" poster by George Perez

Brian J. Patterson is an actor and producer splitting his time between San Francisco and Los Angeles. His house is a shrine to Wonder Woman and Xena.

Did you enjoy this article? Follow us on Facebook to get more great content! We have a weekly podcast you can find on our main site. Also follow us on Twitter and Tumblr!

No comments:

Post a Comment