Last week, DC Comics announced that they were totally redesigning Wonder Woman—inarguably the most popular female super-hero of all time—including giving both her costume and her origins a complete overhaul… at least for the current storyline.
Response within the super-hero fan community has been generally negative, but many fans agree that anything is a step above her traditional red, white and blue one-piece. However, what has been truly surprising are the reactions of those outside the industry: political pundits and other celebrities have had some truly scathing things to say about the replacement of the star-spangled swimsuit. On the far left, Gloria Steinem and others have decried the new look as anti-feminist because she’s wearing pants; on the far right, a columnist for Fox News suggests that she has lost her patriotism. (To clarify, She’s never been native to the US. She’s of Greek heritage. And the character hasn’t been pro-actively patriotic or even worked regularly with the US military in at least 25 years.)
Since this recent development with Wonder Woman, I've read a lot of opinions—mostly those of people outside the comic book industry—which have accused DC Comics and the creators of making changes in a beloved character that are not true to the "original" intent of Wonder Woman. But what they really mean is either that these new ideas don't reflect the versions of the character they read when they were kids, or sometime in the fifties when a lot of modern super-hero mythology became codified, or how she appeared in the Lynda Carter series from the 1970s. In many cases, it’s all three at the same time.
These people seem to forget that Wonder Woman, as well as the majority of the most popular characters from DC Comics, existed for decades before most of us were born, and these characters have evolved substantially since their first appearances. People forget that Superman was vastly underpowered compared to his abilities now. Batman carried a gun. The Fantastic Four didn't have costumes. The Incredible Hulk was gray. These are all little things that the writers and artists tweaked over the years to streamline characters or make them more interesting.
And the pundits who are complaining so loudly right now would know that if they actually read the series.