Wonder Woman's new dark direction

Wonder Woman's new dark direction

Superheroes are no longer beacons of light as a grittier tome takes over

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Wonder Woman  in her first appearance (top) while  on the right is  the new-look superhero  designed by DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee.
Wonder Woman in her first appearance (top) while on the right is the new-look superhero designed by DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee.
Photo: DC Comics
Created in 1941, Wonder Woman is one of the world's most popular superheroes. But she's not good enough, it seems, for DC Comics who decided to give the symbol of peace and equality a makeover - a change of costume to go with her increasingly darker storyline.

The heroine's tiny star-spangled shorts have been replaced with sensible leggings that reach past her ankles. Gone are the revealing bare shoulders, now covered with a biker jacket with shoulder pads, starred epaulettes and pockets. Only the signature lasso and tiara remain, but even these have been updated and modernised.

While the new outfit has been praised for practicality and revealing less bare flesh, others see it as a publicity ploy and attempt to appeal to the tastes of an increasingly mature audience.

Wonder Woman was originally an ambassador whose mission was to spread world peace and promote gender equality. But, the reboot sees a three-year-old Wonder Woman spirited to New York City when her island Themyscira is brutally destroyed, leaving few survivors. The new costume reflects a grittier, more urban tone that has become increasingly common in the comics industry.

Still, there are its critics. Comic book fan Daniel Han, 16, who lives in Sha Tin, notes: "I actually prefer it when the plot is less violent. It seems blood and gore has replaced good storytelling."

The new direction may have to do with Wonder Woman's journey to the big screen. Warner Brothers are aiming to release a movie in 2013.

The superhero genre has not always fared so well in Hollywood. In 1997, Batman & Robin was criticised for its horrible puns and cheesy effects. Audiences demanded something more sophisticated. Then came director Christopher Nolan's acclaimed Batman Begins. Batman went from bat-nipples and bat credit cards to a believable character in a psychotic world. The masses and the critics loved it.

Films like 300, with muscular Spartans decapitating enemies and 11-year-old girls using swear words, have become the norm. Violence has been made beautiful to such an extent that murders and bloodbaths in some superhero films are thought to be glamorous and disturbingly exciting.

So it's little wonder the comic book industry is scrambling to catch up, trying to shock readers with more mature content and violence.

Comics giant DC has a section dedicated to printing comics deemed 'Mature' - those centred around controversial issues. Wonder Woman's new cheerless outfit and storyline are by no means the first step. In the past, Marvel's Iron Man has been a homeless alcoholic, Batman and Captain America have been murdered, and Green Lantern has been a killer.

Almost every single hero has at some point been killed, revived and killed again.

At the end of the day, it seems people want darker, edgier heroes with their battles steeped in blood. The comic book fans have grown up, and they want their superheroes to grow up with them.

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