It’s odd that even after all these years of superhero blockbusters, a hero or heroine’s costume can still be the biggest symbol of what direction a film will take – or the exact opposite. An audience’s first look at a superhero suit is always certain to draw mixed reactions, but in the case of Wonder Woman, casual and diehard fans alike took their time to process Gal Gadot’s new outfit when it was revealed at Comic Con 2014.
Gadot’s casting may have been deemed ‘controversial,’ but the costume itself received a surprisingly warm reception. But the lack of the classic red, white and blue color scheme isn’t lost on former Wonder Woman star Lynda Carter. However, her reservations point to one fact that should be clear by now: the Wonder Woman of Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman is no longer just an ‘American’ icon.
The lack of any outrage or controversy surrounding the first image of Gadot in costume may be partly due to the fact that there aren’t other examples for fans to compare – aside from the one made famous on television by Lynda Carter. As one of the few women to play the role of Diana in live-action, Carter’s opinion of Gadot was understandably sought not long after her casting was announced.
The actress seemed pleased to hear that anyone was getting the chance to don the tiara and lasso on film, but with the suit revealed, Access Hollywood asked for her initial reaction to Diana’s new duds:
“Well, I was missing the red, white and blue, I have to say… I don’t know. I haven’t seen it yet, so I really can’t comment. Maybe there’s a lot more color in it than what we saw in the picture.”
Those sentiments have been expressed by plenty, with Zack Snyder’s love of releasing monochrome or stylized images of his principal cast maintaining suspense (and for some, concerns). While it’s safe to assume that Wonder Woman’s costume will be more colorful than the first image, it’s all but confirmed that the primary color scheme of the past has been cast aside.
That might come as a disappointment to those who view the comic book version – or Carter’s – as the ‘true’ look of the character. But there’s good reason for the lack of the “red, white and blue” noted by Carter, and it stretches far beyond the cosmetic.
Take a look, if you will, at the costume worn by Carter in the 1970s, and see if a certain… national identity is being subtly hinted at:
For us, the fact that Zack Snyder wasn’t interested in bringing an all-American Wonder Woman to his film universe was made abundantly clear when he cast an Israeli-born actress in the role. The idea of a Wonder Woman who wasn’t light-skinned, blue-eyed, or American was problematic for many, but the most common explanation heard for why Batman V Superman‘s Diana wouldn’t be played by an American was a simple one: Wonder Woman isn’t American to begin with.
Snyder isn’t alone in that belief either, as DC Comics has also implemented a similar shift away from the character’s classic depiction. Although Diana was first introduced with a golden eagle on her chest, and wrapped in the American flag, the Wonder Woman on comic stands today has shed much of that imagery.
Although comic book superheroes have risen to the level of “American myths” (according to star Ben Affleck) the idea of nationality or ‘jurisdiction’ in superhero fiction has drastically changed. As globalization and technology have shrunk the world, the idea of bona fide ‘superheroes’ protecting their home states has ended. And if Wonder Woman is expected to take issue with the struggles of women in a male-dominated world, America doesn’t have a monopoly on the problem.
Although Clark Kent may always possess the values of a Kansas farmboy (as he explains at Man of Steel‘s close, he’s “about as American as you can get”), ideas of nationality or citizenship is complicated when you can cross an ocean in minutes – and didn’t come from Earth in the first place. But it’s been years since comic writers and artists realized that an American identity for Diana doesn’t make much sense. It seems Snyder simply agrees.
Eager to point out the more important issue, Carter went on to explain that Gadot and her colleagues have bigger challenges than what message is sent by their character’s costume:
“It’s almost impossible to play a superhero anyway. You can’t. You just have to play a character that happens to do these amazing things. That’s the only way you can do it. And the costumes all take care of themselves.”
“I’ll have to wait and see. I hate to comment on something that I haven’t seen and I’m very supportive of Gal Gadot. I’m very supportive of them doing Wonder Woman, putting her in any capacity. I think she needs to be out there. … It’s high time somebody took a chance and did it and so I’m really happy about that.”
We tend to agree; it’s far better to hear fans debate the color or design of Wonder Woman’s movie costume than it is to wonder when people will ever get to see it. What do you think of Snyder’s step away from portraying Wonder Woman as an ‘American’ icon? Is Wonder Woman a heroine for every country, or do you have your concerns?
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice arrives on March 25th, 2016.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce for Batman V Superman updates as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.