This summer, DC is making some changes.
Changes to their most iconic characters. Here I am thinking that when something is “iconic,” well there are reasons for that. Part of what makes superheroes so iconic is their familiarity and their recognize-ability. For example, the have changed Spider-Mans outfit a few times, and it’s always kind of come back to what we’ve already known.
Forget the examples. You all know where that was going.
This Summer, DC is changing the costumes of two of their most iconic superheroes. Superman and Wonder Woman. Keep in mind these are two of three most iconic superheroes in the public consciousness, bar none, and the third would be Batman.
Batman has made the case for changing his look over the years. His character is not super-human and his costume and his gear were put together by Wayne and Lucious Fox in which form, function and appearance all go hand in hand, and the basic Batman design is apparent in every iteration.
Superman, however, is iconic in a more visual way. He is the first and greatest superhero ever, and his suit and symbol are all a part of what makes him that hero that we all aspire to but could never be. When Supes was created, heroes often used the wardrobe templates of circus strongmen. A few generations later that “underwear on the outside” look might be considered silly, but Superman was the ideal version of what a superhero is was, and will always be, and thus he was beyond criticism. At least so I thought. I guess DC was willing to destroy the character’s iconic look. For years, they’ve been itching to do this. The recent Man of Steel movie ditched that “Underwear on the outside” look, dulled down all of the colors, and hoped Superman would remain iconic. Now, they are ditching that costume altogether. Now, Kal-El can get his threads – which include a simple T-shirt with the S logo, and a tight pair of jeans – at any Hot Topic. No cape, no tights: in DC’s mind that means no more silliness. Let’s not forget that, at his core, Superman is kind of silly, but his virtuous nature was so strong we could put all that aside. When Christopher Reeves wore the classic uniform in 1978’s Superman, he didn’t act at all self conscious about the costume; it’s been said that, when he wore it, he carried himself as if he was wearing a three piece suit. Superman is supposed to have a bit of class, and to draw the attention of everyone he is trying to protect, young and old. I believe that the early New-52 version of Superman might have tried this stripped down, casual look as well, but there is truly something missing. Can you imagine the following video ending with a look of Superman in his “Hot Topic” threads?
While Superman’s new look barely resembles a costume at all (admit it, DC, they are just street clothes) the company went completely the other direction with Wonder Woman. This costume has gotten a bit more praise because now she is fully clothed (so her femininity is a little more dialed down) while the new uniform still has many of the elements that were in her classic costume. That being said, her classic costume was simply iconic as well, and Wonder Woman would be able to beat down anyone that would make fun of her starry underpants. The case, in point, however, was that not many people did. She was a superhero, and superheroes like her have an iconic look that all generations can recognize.
Sure, she’s still recognizable as Wonder Woman, but her traditional outfit seemed to make that statement that she could be stand up for herself, be a bit sexy and catch anyone’s eye as the hero that she is. Bracelets aside, she didn’t need protection from anything or anyone. The new costume seems, at least to me, taking something away from why Wonder Woman so iconic to begin with: that she could keep all her femininity while still transcending the physical limitations normally associated with her gender, ad, throughout the years it wasn’t that uncommon to see her do battle with villains that would give Superman pause.
Also, what’s up with those bracelets? Do they want her to learn fighting techniques from Wolverine?
Look for the new costumes this June. (Or don’t.)