The team behind Wonder Woman learned a crucial lesson from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Don’t be afraid of color. You can see it in how Wonder Woman’s costume has progressed from her original appearance in BvS to the marketing materials and stills for the character’s solo movie.
Since Wonder Woman’s first appearance in the promotional materials for the 2016 blockbuster, which introduced her to the DC movie universe, her costume has evolved from grayed-out battle armor to something a bit brighter and braver, with ruby, blue, and golden accents. The design and cut of the costume is the same, but now its colors pop, instead of blending into a murky background.
The shift, subtle though it may be, highlights how important color is to storytelling in the superhero genre. As instituted by Bryan Singer’s 2000 X-Men film, darker tones have been used to indicate that these films would be more serious (there’s a joke about yellow spandex in X-Men), insinuating that the bright and joyful element of comic book superheroes is cheesy or childlike.
That view seemed to become the norm, and reached its apex with Snyder’s bleak BvS. But recently, audiences have slowly started bucking the idea that brightness, positivity, and humor in superhero stories is inherently cheesy — and so has Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins.
“‘Cheesy’ is one of the words banned in my world,” Jenkins told the New York Times. “I’m tired of sincerity being something we have to be afraid of doing. It’s been like that for 20 years, that the entertainment and art world has shied away from sincerity, real sincerity, because they feel they have to wink at the audience because that’s what the kids like.”
Earlier this summer, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 reveled in its brightness, transporting audiences to a kaleidoscopic faraway planet full of emerald and golden hues. And now Wonder Woman continues that spirit, with its paradise island of Themyscira — a place that looks like a mashup of Mykonos and Hawaii — and its bright and hopeful heroine, who wields a glowing golden lasso and wears ruby body armor.
The color scheme in Wonder Woman is not Day-Glo by any means, but it’s a big — and welcome — shift from when we first saw Wonder Woman in the grim, gray world of Batman v Superman.