You can get away with a lot when your superhero arsenal includes a "lasso of truth", some "bracelets of victory" and the ability to fly. But as she approaches her 70th birthday, Wonder Woman has finally come round to the view that it's no longer a good idea for a lady of her age to venture outside in a pair of extremely revealing hotpants.
The world's most famous comic book heroine – created in 1941 – was yesterday dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century with a radical fashion makeover designed to make her look less like the all-American crimefighter of old, and more like a stylish independent woman.
Gone are her traditional red and white go-go boots, gold-plated bustier, and the star-spangled blue shorts that have graced several decades worth of student fancy-dress parties. In their place are black high-heeled shoes adorned with gold spurs, a figure-hugging vest, black leather biker jacket, and an eminently practical pair of dark, skin-tight leggings.
"She's been locked into pretty much the exact same outfit since her debut in 1941," said J Michael Straczynski, the new writer behind the makeover. "Other characters have changed and evolved [but] she was stuck in 1941. And as female friends of mine kept asking, 'How does she fight in that thing without all her parts flying out? How does she carry her stuff?'"
The new look coincides with the launch of a "rebooted" series of Wonder Woman by publisher DC Comics, which recently announced that another of their female leads, Catwoman, was to become a red-headed lesbian. The firm hopes it will help Wonder Woman achieve the commercial reach of her male counterparts, Superman and Batman, the only other superheroes they have continuously published since the 1940s.
"My requests were pretty specific: toughen her look, make it more dynamic, more serious," added Mr Straczynski, in an interview with the website IGN Comics. "Give her leggings or pants, keep some of the more iconic elements, but incorporate them into a more streetwise, urban look - which is what she'd have access to... What woman wears the same outfit for 60-plus years?"
The previous costume was created during the Second World War and its reliance on the stars and stripes reflects the patriotic fervour of the time (though is at odds with the fact that she hails from South America). It has featured in 600 monthly comic books,a 1970s TV series and an animated film, released last year.
Wonder Woman's new look was created by Jim Lee, an artist best known for his work on the X-Men series. He hopes its neutral tone will coincide with a more naturalistic plot which will add to the character's international appeal and help kick-start plans for a Hollywood film based on the franchise, which has languished in development at Warner Brothers for years.
"When these characters become so branded that you can't change things, they become ossified," he told The New York Times, adding that she will keep her improbably large bosom. "The original costume was the American flag brought to life. This one is a little more universal."
The move nonetheless represents a gamble. Previous attempts to give a makeover to Wonder Woman have sparked derision. In 1968, she temporarily lost her superpowers, took up martial arts, and began wearing a white jumpsuit, prompting outraged fans to campaign for the old costume to return.Reuse content