Wonder Woman's New Costume Revives an Age-Old Debate
From head to toe, nearly every aspect of Wonder Woman's costume doubles as a superpower: Her tiara has been used as a boomerang-like weapon, her lasso can force people to tell the truth, and her indestructible bracelets can block bullets. But when the iconic superhero's latest costume was unveiled this week at San Diego Comic-Con, many fans wondered what purpose her high heels served.
On Twitter, the shoes revived an ongoing debate about double standards for male and female superheroes that even Gail Simone, a comic book writer whose numerous credits include DC's Wonder Woman and Bat Girl, weighed in on.
The wedge heels in question—part of the gladiator-style getup actor Gal Gadot will wear in the 2016 Warner Bros. movie Batman v. Superman: The Dawn of Justice—seem a bit impractical for fighting crime, killing bad guys, and saving the world. The new Wonder Woman costume is just the latest in the evolution of the character, which debuted in a comic created by William Moulton Marston in a 1941 issue of All Star Comics. Even then, the Amazonian princess in a star-spangled blue skirt wore calf-high boots with modest heels. By the time actor Lynda Carter made Wonder Woman a TV star in the mid-1970s, the skirt had long been dropped from the costume, but the heeled boots remained.
Now as Wonder Woman appears in Batman v. Superman—she won't headline her own film until the following year—the wedge heels have reignited an age-old debate over whether the heroine is a role model for women or an object of desire created to satisfy the male gaze. In her early days, Wonder Woman was often depicted shackled up in bondage; that's been interpreted as both a result of Moulton's sexual fetishism and a comment about women's struggles for liberation.
"I have volumes and volumes of requests for very specific scenes of heroines being restrained," Simone tweeted, suggesting that Wonder Woman's heels are often fetishized by male comic book readers. "One guy wrote me endless notes asking for heroines to be knocked unconscious. No story reason, just that they were helpless and sleeping," she tweeted.
One fan responded, "In the real world, I doubt Wonder Woman would wear heels. Not practical. If it was—more male characters would wear heels, too."