God’s Gift to Men

Zoë Heller in the New York Review of Books:

ScreenHunter_2795 Aug. 20 20.46Perhaps the greatest service that the director Patty Jenkins does her protagonist in Wonder Woman, the Warner Brothers blockbuster released this June, is to give her a new set of clothes. The female superhero has been charged with various ideological impurities over the years—jingoism, a too-cozy relationship with America’s military-industrial complex, an excessively heteronormative lifestyle—but by far the most frequent complaints have been about her man-pleasing, bondage-inflected get-up. Those go-go boots! Those bracelets of submission! That quivering embonpoint! It’s hard to be taken seriously as a feminist icon when the only thing you’ve got to wear to work is a star-spangled corset.

The costume worn by Wonder Woman’s star, the Israeli actress and former beauty queen Gal Gadot, is altogether more stern. The kinky boots have been replaced by a pair of gladiatorial thigh-highs; the body suit, constructed out of some cunning alloy of spandex and bronze, is, if not quite armor, at least armor-themed. The outfit isn’t much less revealing, and only marginally more practical, than the old one. (It’s still strapless and her legs must still get rather chilly when she’s stalking villains in cold climates.) But it does at least communicate some martial ferocity and menace. Thus attired, Wonder Woman might plausibly intimidate even her haters at the UN.

Sadly, whatever fresh potency she has acquired from the wardrobe department is offset by the film’s anxious insistence on demonstrating the femininity that lies beneath her breastplate.

More here.