Monday, March 28, 2011

Adrianne Palicki's Wonder Woman Costume Debated By Fans And Fashionistas

After years of stalled pre-productions for a Wonder Woman film, the creation of David E. Kelley's television series has made surprisingly quick progress. Only a few short months ago, leaked scripts for the pilot were being circulated, and the casting of Adrianne Palicki is still a recent headline. This week saw the first glimpse of our generation's modern incarnation of the feminist icon, princess, goddess, and ass-kicking Amazonian, and more than a few opinions were expressed via the internet. Tempting as it was, I resisted the urge to dispense my immediate reactions, via twitter, blog, or otherwise. I opted to take a few days, and a few looks to reach a final verdict on the new costume. I'm still unsettled, with reactions falling somewhere between considering it a tasteless abomination to reverence for all its kitschy gloriousness.

Many criticisms are justified when discussing aspects of the costume's design. Words that accurately describe it include shiny, camp, busty, plasticine, Barbie-esque, fetishistic, inaccurate, form-fitting, stiff, cheap. Somewhere between the design and execution a few poor choices were made. Even a different material would diminish or eliminate many initial negative reactions. The current spandex / latex hybrid looks so thinly painted on that one high kick would rip the seams of Diana's delicate pants. The "gold" detailing is poorly disguised plastic. As for the lasso of truth, it is very reminiscent of Dave Chapelle's critique of Wonder Woman during a session with Dr. Katz. The only truth likely to be ascertained from this whip are observations about her good physique. She's got big boobs. Look at that! You squeezed the truth right out of me!

On the other end of the spectrum, this costume goes right past tacky to almost quintessential. Considering the wacky-as-normal atmosphere for comic book adaptations during the 70's, it is likely that Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman costume would have raised few eyebrows upon its premiere. Comic book culture has taken a more realistic turn in the last decade, so seeing a life-size version of a HeroClix can be unsettling. Costumes of our current film and television superheroes tend to be less flamboyant than the larger than life designs seen in comics. Even the most iconic ensembles have been made more realistic for film (think Batman's Kevlar heavy suit and Joker's grotesquely scarred face). The memorably fierce Dark Phoenix costume of the Byrne / Claremont years is hardly recognizable in the watered down mall-goth number sported by Famke Janssen in the third X-Men film. This version of Wonder Woman more closely resembles a comic book than a comic book adaptation, but what we see as iconic on the page comes across very differently in real life. Calling this "porn-esque" or "stripper chic" reveals a bias amongst fans of the source material. We have a much higher threshold for what is considered tasteful in a comic book versus real life. In comics, Tarot seems to be the ick zone for many fans, with Star Sapphire being totally acceptable, but neither have a comfortable place in reality. Kelley's version of Wonder Woman is no less revealing or impractical than the hot pants of her 1940's debut. Adam Hugh's Wonder Woman probably couldn't lift her leg without revealing whether she has a Brazilian or Amazonian wax (see image below).

I still find myself torn between polarized views of this new costume, but one consistent opinion I have is that it's poorly photographed. The belt is almost certainly photoshopped if not completely fabricated. Also, "Halloween Costume Listing" is not a good first impression. More dramatic lighting or a different pose would have been more flattering, and the anthropological nature of this promo shot certainly invites excessive scrutiny. Regardless of the bland presentation,  the negative aspects of the design are hard to reconcile with the fact that I love its shameless embrace for camp sensibilities. Whether you find this costume tacky or agreeable, most fans can at least agree that yes, that is definitely Wonder Woman. I'll even go a step further and say it is more modern and iconic than Jim Lee's recent revamp from the comics. At the end of the day, one promo image does not a show sum up. Judging this incarnation of Wonder Woman solely on a costume test shot is more than a little superficial, and is dismissive of the fact that it matters quite a bit how Adrianne Palicki portrays the character, how David E. Kelley has written her, not just how she looks in tight pants. Any fervor over this being an affront to feminism may be overstated and counterintuitive to the arguments of detractors. Any outrage should be saved for when we get to see the final product. The costume may be the least of fan's worries.
We've all been humbled by our past wardrobe choices at one point or another.

Here is a short link round up of fan reaction to the costume:
The Gloss: Why Are Warrior Women Always Dressed Like Strippers (Wonder Woman not on list, but relevant to discussion)

UPDATE 5/15: Aaaand It's Canceled 

4 comments:

  1. I will say though that Adrianne Palicki is a pretty great actress.

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  2. I've heard nothing but good things about her and Friday Night Lights, so I am cautiously optimistic for the WW show.

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  3. On the other hand, David E Kelly is awful.

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  4. I like these costume of wonder women. It is very practical design for general people in their routine life.
    dean graziosi

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