It’s week five of our interview series leading up to the publication of Wonder Woman Unbound, where we talk to cool and interesting people about their favourite versions of Wonder Woman and how she relates to their particular fields and interests. This week we’ve got Kimi Hughes of Golden Lasso Cosplay!
By day, Kimi is a professional educator, but by night (and weekends) Kimi is the creative mind behind the highly detailed and much lauded costumes of Golden Lasso Cosplay. She’s cosplayed as Big Barda, Sif, a steam punk Batgirl, and many more, including Wonder Woman. Kimi also worked on Rainfall Films’ Wonder Woman short, helping to design the costume and starring as one of the Amazons. She’s planning a big Wonder Woman armour cosplay for this year’s ComicCon, so follow her on Facebook, Instragram, and Pinterest for updates on what is sure to be an epic costume.
Kimi stepped away from what I assume is a Hephaestean forge where she makes her fantastic armour to chat with me about Wonder Woman:
Tim Hanley: What was your very first encounter with Wonder Woman?
Kimi Hughes: I have always been tall, and until high school I towered over both the boys and girls in my classes. I was also very athletically built from years of competitive swimming and horseback riding. Add my long, dark hair to that combination, and I often felt like I was looking at myself when I read Wonder Woman comics. She showed me that a tall, powerful woman was a thing to be celebrated. It was a lesson I really needed in those awkward school years, when many boys reacted badly to being beaten by a girl at sports. I felt the pressure to hide my talents or let them win so I was more feminine, and Diana helped reassure me that being an Amazon wasn’t a bad thing.
I remember seeing Wonder Woman for the first time when I was about eight years old. A family member gave me a stack of comic books when he went away to college, and included in that stack was a few copies of George Perez’s run of Wonder Woman. While I had certainly been aware of her, and even probably owned some Wonder Woman merchandise, that was the first time I really learned about her as a character. I distinctly remember reading Wonder Woman #17, “Traces”, even though it was missing a page or two. Watching Wonder Woman take a trip to Greece and spend time worshipping at the Acropolis was amazing. She visits many historical locations, each of them linked with her Amazonian heritage and the powers she received from the Greek gods. It really gives her depth, and links her to our world.
TH: What is your favourite version of Wonder Woman?
KH: I really love the 1980’s reboot of Wonder Woman, because they were able to make her powerful and yet still feminine. She stepped out of being a token female in comics, or a male fantasy, and became a viable hero in her own right. She is strong and a great fighter, but still incredibly kind and gentle. They managed to capture the strange dichotomy of the fierce warrior who comes to the modern world as a diplomat to preach peace. I also love the way they brought Diana’s Greek roots to life. The historical and diplomatic connection is something that I really love, and is too often brushed over. Greg Rucka’s The Hiketeia addresses this connection perfectly by balancing the modern role of Wonder Woman with the ancient Greek mythology. She represents her homeland at the United Nations and deals with being a celebrity, while balancing an unwinnable situation between Batman’s idea of modern justice and her duty to an ancient oath. It’s basically a modern Greek tragedy that really knows its historical roots and is a really great read for any Wonder Woman fan.
TH: You’ve worked on a couple of great Wonder Woman costumes. What was the inspiration and process for your own costume? And for the Rainfall costume?
KH: I made my costume as a response to the terrible promotion shots that were released for the Wonder Woman TV show pilot that popped up a few years ago. The plastic-looking costume was despised by almost everyone who saw it, and many people started using the incredible amount of bad press it got as evidence that a Wonder Woman movie could never succeed. They claimed that the costume could never be made believable, or exist in the same universe as Nolan’s Batman. Basically, the world’s most famous superheroine couldn’t transfer to live action because of her OUTFIT.
I refused to accept that excuse. While I agreed that latex and plastic wasn’t the way to go, there had to be a way to make a believable Wonder Woman. Drawing on my roots as a historical costumer, I decided to make a more Greek/Roman inspired design and created the final outfit out of leather and steel. I replaced the trademark boots with greaves (metal shin guards) and sandals, and designed a skirt with metal stars to fit a more historical warrior design. I’ve changed the cosplay since that original design, but I’m incredibly proud of the final outcome.
The Rainfall costume was the incredible accomplishment of director Sam Balcomb, and costumers Heather Greene, and Sarah Skinner. Sam’s vision of Wonder Woman started with my costume as a base, and he even used pictures that he had taken of it to help get the Rainfall Wonder Woman project rolling. The idea was to make Diana’s Greek and warrior origins apparent from the first time the audience lays eyes on her. There were two separate looks for Diana in the short. The sleeker, comic-inspired Wonder Woman look was used for the city scenes, while a more armored look was used for the battle on Themyscira. With both costumes, the familiar Wonder Woman look is still there, but taken to a more believable direction for live-action. It is honestly one of the things that fans love most about the short, and something I will forever be proud to have helped bring to life.
Here’s Kimi as Wonder Woman in her spectacular, handmade costume:
TH: What is the best part of cosplaying as Wonder Woman?
KH: The kids. Thanks to WB’s successful Justice League cartoon and collection of animated movies, modern kids are very familiar with Wonder Woman, even if they haven’t read the comics. They get so excited when they see her! I think that it’s important for little girls to have good superheroines to look up to, and as comic book culture becomes more mainstream, we need to be sure that we keep that in mind as we bring female heroes to life on the big screen.
TH: What do you think Zack Snyder and the Man of Steel sequel team could learn from the Rainfall short, both in terms of Wonder Woman’s appearance and characterization?
KH: I’m really scared of what Zack Snyder will do with Wonder Woman. I love the style of his films, but I have yet to be impressed by one of his female characters. I really hope that he doesn’t lose Diana’s soul in the epic visuals of the movie.
I think the most important thing that the Rainfall Short proved is that Wonder Woman’s fantastical backstory can stay intact, and she can still interact with the modern world successfully. In his own way, Superman is equally fantastical. The idea of a super powered alien that looks exactly like a human crashes here as a baby, manages to grow up without anyone learning his secret, and then decides to wear a cape and lead a double life is equally improbable as an Amazon on a hidden island being given powers by ancient gods. Marvel has Loki interact with Iron Man, and is adding Doctor Strange, a powerful sorcerer, to their lineup in future movies. DC shouldn’t be afraid of adding magic to their universe. We don’t go to comic book movies for realism. We see them for all the same reason we love comic books; to see good win over evil; to keep the hope that if super-powered people did exist, they’d protect the rest of us; and, most of all, to feel once again like a kid discovering a pile of old comic books for the first time.
Here’s the Rainfall Wonder Woman short; Kimi co-stars as one of the Amazons:
TH: Finally, if Wonder Woman were to leave Paradise Island and come to our world for the first time today, what do you think she’d find most surprising about it?
KH: That’s a great question. For most of the history of Paradise Island in comics, it has been a matriarchal society without children. This adds to the importance of Diana, who became the only child raised on Themyscira. I think she’d be shocked at how may children are not cared for and appreciated in our world. Since I work in education, this is also a cause close to my heart, and I’m sure that I’m mirroring my own feelings onto my favorite heroine. I really feel that she’d believe it was society’s calling to care for the little ones who can’t care for themselves, and thus to insure that the culture is carried on and that the future is brighter for everyone.
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Big thanks to Kimi Hughes! Kimi is @GoldenLassoGirl on Twitter, and you can learn more about her awesome cosplay projects on her website.
The interview series continues next week with Matt D. Wilson, author of The Supervillain Handbook and The Supervillain Field Manual. Not surprisingly, we’ll be chatting about Wonder Woman’s villains. Look for the next Wonder Woman Unbound preview panel this Monday, and the book itself is available for pre-order now, online or at your local comic shop.