Wonder Woman on NBC – just looking at her

By Michael Vass | March 19, 2011

The older I get the more I feel bad for the younger PC-burdened generations that follow me. The most recent example of this is the “new” revisioning of Wonder Woman. I will set aside my thoughts on revisioning for a moment – long-time readers know what I think that signals already – and just focus on one thought. How does Wonder Woman look?

1940's original vision of Wonder Woman

Original look in 1940's

The comic book by DC Comics started off in 1941. The titular character reflected some of the views of the time, giving her the looks of a pin-up girl, yet providing her with the abilities and temperment the equal of any other superhero of the time, which was unique. Wonder Woman was the ideal woman (from her creators mind) in that she was attractive, intelligent, and powerful all at the same time and she knew it. Thus she has been the symbol of feminism in comic books, a favorite of lesbians, a fetishist idealistic pinnacle (which was a key to her creation by William Marston, as well as polygamy), a role model for achievement for young girls, and attention grabbing for others – all at the same time.

It is the combination of all these values amd motivations that has kept the character active and popular since its inception. Which led to the television series in 1975 – 1979. That series was heralded by Lynda Carter – a role that has in part defined and limited her for the rest of her career.

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman fro the 1970's television show

1975's Wonder Woman

Lynda Carter rode the wave of the 1970’s, bringing Wonder Woman to the television. She did do with clear indication that this was an Amazon of a woman. Sexy and curveacous, yet as powerful, kinky and outside the daily norm as ever. Carter did the character so well her fanbase continues to grow to this day. It in no small way helped to keep the character alive and now on animated movies in addition to a revamped television show.

The look of Carter’s Wonder Woman was a sexy woman. She had legs, and boobs. There was no mistake that she knew she had appeal. In the real world at the same time, women had burned bra’s and many were wearing the hip-hugging jeans or other fashions designed to accentuate the figure of a woman. It was a time of promotion of the feminine figure, as opposed to the 1950’s look.

Skip to today.

Animated Womder Woman

Recent depiction of Wonder Woman - animated

Most all of the qualities of Wonder Woman continue to exist, though they are skewed (in television). She still has the looks, but seems far much softer. She has power, but is drawn less boldly. She has a feminine figure, but it is far less distinct. Overall Wonder Woman comes off more wimpy than anything else.

The current depiction of Wonder Woman, and closer to the fetish/feminist roots of the character.

In comic books she has gone in the exact opposite direction. The character is drawn more boldly. She is closer to her Amazon origins and the idealistic vision of a goddess and unattainable fetish. She is woman, and she is roaring.

But there is also a new television version that will be appearing. The real-life depiction, competeing with all the other aspects. And from the early signals, it cannot keep up with any version before it.
the revisioned version of Womder Woman

This Wonder Woman is a corporate hack, trying to balance her job, her boyfriend, fashion and being a superhero while shopping. Ok, that was an overstatement and unfair, an over emphasis of the point. The show more closely sets up as an Ally McBeal/Covert Affairs, with a Batman alter-ego set on the West Coast. She doesn’t embody any of the ideals of the original television series, or the character herself. This is about mashing together as many popular television concepts as possible, without ruffling the feathers of anyone.

The modern Wonder Woman on television will look like any other woman. Though 5′ 11′, the overall outfit seems more like it is camoflaging Wonder Woman’s figure than accentuating it – which is odd since it contains a bustier. The boldness of the look of Wonder Woman is gone. As cheesy as the 70’s were, the look of the moder television version looks cheesier.

The concept seems to be that all of the origins and original aspects of the character are too offensive to someone in the television audience, so the look (at least) has been revamped to make her bland. Be honest, Beyonce has dressed far more dramaticly in music videos (and television commercials) yet there is no question of her success, femininty, and fetish appeal – all without a loss to her fanbase.

When you look at this new Wonder Woman from Warner Bros., you can just feel the failure. You can understand why EVERY network declined the concept before NBC felt desperate enough to say yes. You can see how ths show will be pushed on, with cheers from feminists alone most likely – though ratings will likely be abysmal. The look of a lead says a lot. This look, says everything but wonder and evokes thoughts of just about anything but woman.

Once again, like with almost ever revisioning, the original remains the superior product. The latest Wonder Woman television show should be fine for those that thought of the series Sex in the City as Oscar worthy material. but everyone else will likely wish for Lynda Carter to be back. If you are too young to have seen or known about the original television series, while we feel bad we suggest you look it up.

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