Wonder Woman has evolved.
From her January, 1942 debut in DC comics to the latest Hollywood blockbuster – her appearance has changed not only with look of the day but also the social attitudes towards women and feminism. Her costumes have progressed, her skin tones altered, even her ‘proportions’ have adjusted over time as she continues to walk the fine line of empowering superhero and alluring eye candy.
The first Wonder Woman was exotic, inspired by Varga Girl centerfolds in Esquire magazine – she was sexy and feminine, a stark contrast to the bulging, muscular, masculinity of other heroes of the time. By the end of the Second World War, she was touting female independence and girl-power; by the 50s, gender roles retreated to pre-war tones and Wonder Woman’s dress code became less salacious. At the dawn of the 60s, the character was widely criticized for being too lewd (hard to disagree since she was known to spank female nemeses). By the late 60s, her body changed to match the times, she was noticeably younger and thinner looking.
In 1974, Wonder Woman first appeared in the hugely successful TV series starring Linda Carter. Linda mirrored the look of the comics; an attractive, dark haired, athletic Wonder Woman and due to her Latina heritage, she was somewhat mysterious ethnically. The TV series ended in the late 70s but the 80s, 90s and 2000s saw the comic publications continue and WW become more sexualized as writers and artists played to the male buyers/audience.
Fast forward to today and Gal Gadot is on the big screen portraying the character with poise and beauty. She looks like a modern woman – chiseled in mind as much as body, feminine but not simply a sex object with a truth lasso. She is ruthless yet warm, strong in mind and spirit.
Is your show evolving? What you did last year may not be serving you now like it was then. Trends change, needs evolve, audience’s demands shift and social appetites progress – is your show?
It is so easy to get married to a bit, a joke, a style of delivery. Fear develops internally that prohibits any deviation from what you believe, as a show, has made you famous. But truly reflecting the moment and the market you broadcast in, is way more powerful than any heritage part of your act.
Evolution won’t always lead to success, you will stumble occasionally; but a show with no evolution will surely fail.