WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the fifth season of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, now streaming on Netflix
In the early part of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power‘s fifth and final season, Adora lacks the ability to transform into She-Ra after losing her sword in the climax of the previous season. However, she eventually rediscovers that ability, and it comes with a power upgrade — along with a new look.
Creator and showrunner Noelle Stevenson spoke with CBR about She-Ra’s new design, and what that changed appearance means for the character.
In the episode “Save the Cat,” the heroes decide to try to save Catra, who remained behind in Hordak-Prime’s empire to ensure Glimmer’s escape. By the time Adora reaches her, though, she’s been forcibly indoctrinated — an obedience chip was affixed to the back of her neck, controlling Catra and connecting her to Hordak-Prime’s hive-mind. When Adora refuses to surrender, Catra ends up injured and unconscious. After trying to reassert her connection to She-Ra throughout the season, Adora finally finds enough drive from Catra’s injuries to become She-Ra again.
This new version of She-Ra is a marked improvement over the former version of the character, who was already a pretty powerful figure. When she reappears, She-Ra also has a new design, which is a visual marker of Adora’s growth. “So much of Adora’s arc this season is her struggling between these two versions of herself,” Stevenson explained. “One of them is this heroic, iconic leader with a fabulous destiny that she has had pushed on her for her whole life, and that’s who she’s really trying very hard to be. Then the other side of her is a little bit more of a mystery, and that’s just Adora and who Adora is and what she wants and what she sees for herself and her life.”
While other characters have received wardrobe changes to account for changes in their lives (such as Glimmer and Catra), Adora has remained in her red jacket and black leggings. It’s consistency is an element that isn’t lost on Stevenson, who pointed out, “it’s almost a running joke in the fandom that Adora hasn’t gotten a new outfit or a new look ever. Even after leaving the Horde, she’s still dressing the same way that [she] was used to, to the same way that she’s comfortable with.”
“I think it’s because she doesn’t know what her personal style is,” Stevenson added. “She doesn’t know what kind of clothes she likes. She knows she was given clothing as part of a uniform and she feels most comfortable when she’s in a uniform, and so this season is about her struggling about these two aspects of her identity.
“The first version of She-Ra that she turned into back in season one was sort of a mixture of the military-esque nature of Adora’s upbringing and aspects of femininity that Adora wasn’t comfortable with. She-Ra has always been a bit of an uncomfortable suit for Adora, something she wasn’t quite sure how to embody in a way that felt natural.
“So when we went about designing the new version of She-Ra, we really wanted to merge together these two aspects a little bit more, and find aspects that represented Adora a little bit more — who she is on the inside and how much she’s grown.”
That transformation reflects her development, as “she’s no longer a child, she’s really growing and maturing, and this She-Ra doesn’t come from a sword that’s inherited. It comes from inside her. Those are all the things we incorporated into She-Ra’s new design.”
Speaking to the origins of the redesign, Stevenson revealed, “…another really cool thing about her new design that I love, something that actually our character designer [Rachel Geiger brought to the table, where they asked me if they could incorporate little bits from her friend’s costumes into the look. So if you look at the outfit, she has a heart on her chest for Bow, she has wings on her shoes for Glimmer and the shape of her mask resembles Catra’s mask. So they’re all a little bit, all these parts of her costume indicate her love for her friends, and this moment of transformation really comes out of needing to protect her friends at any cost. It doesn’t just embody her maturity but also the fact that she draws her power from love.”
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power stars Aimee Carrero, Karen Fukuhara, AJ Michalka, Marcus Scribner, Reshma Shetty, Lorraine Toussaint, Keston John, Lauren Ash, Christine Woods, Genesis Rodriguez, Jordan Fisher, Vella Lovell, Merit Leighton, Sandra Oh, Krystal Joy Brown and Jacob Tobia. It is currently streaming on Netflix.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power showrunner Noelle Stevenson reveals the origins of She-Ra's mid-season redesign.