Female sci-fi costumes & sexism in modern cinema

Let’s start at the very end.

Exposing various female body parts is a recurring motif in cinema and science fiction. It’s cheap. But if the movie sucks, how else you attract the guys in cinemas?


Now let me explain how I came to this…

Luc Besson’s new movie is coming out this August. The trailer had some childish cartoon-like effects in Besson’s usual impressively mindless style, and of course there were many details that didn’t make lot of sense, but otherwise it wouldn’t be Luc Besson. The casting choices (Cara Delevingne and Dane DeHaan) are pure trash, since Delevignge can have only 2 face expressions – dull and very dull. But since she is capable of acting with her eyebrows only, I guess the movie’s main audience – teens – won’t mind (for teens I intend the mental state, not the age, in first place).

But one thing in particular caught my attention. The suits. Space suits. Female space suits. For Delavingne (her photo below). Holy fuck! Why her space suit needs to have such a huge space for boobs? And since when these kind of suits are designed in that way? Was it projected for Christina Hendricks?

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Rinko Kikuchi of “Pacific Rim” / Cara Delavingne of “Valerian”

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Emily Blunt of “Edge of Tomorrow” / Olivia Thirlby of “Dredd”

Here I’ve collected some examples of big budget sci-fi movies I consider really good – “Pacific Rim“, “Edge of Tomorrow” and “Dredd“. All of them had attractive actresses (with pretty similar body type, by the way). None of them flashed with their boobs to make the movie better.

Note: I am a straight guy, I don’t have anything against casting beautiful women in any kind of movies, nor I want to see nuns and unisex clothes. It’s the the delicacy of the approach that matters. In “Valerian” this detail is a) ridicilously sexist b) makes no sense, since this kind of suit design has no practical use.

But since they can’t do nothing with the fact that Delevingne is very slim (which is absolutely fine!) and Besson already did a sci-fi movie with Johansson, it was decided to add boobs to the suit. That’s just ridiculous design solution. Again, why don’t cast Christina Hendricks then?

Finally, the big question. Especially for the ladies. Is it only me who thinks in that way? Because the suit of Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman, the movie that so many praised for having a female protagonist, suffers from… similar problem. Pardon, it’s basically the same outfit Julia Roberts wore in “Pretty Woman“, just high-tech. But while in the latter it had a certain purpose, why Gadot’s character needs to expose so much? Does it help to protect herself? Bulletproof skin? Hi, Luke Cage? Strangely enough I’ve never seen Batman, Superman or Iron Man exposing legs. Hulk occasionally shows his underwear though. Batman had his erected nipples in the 1997 version.

Note: in case of Wonder Woman, I am talking specifically about the costume as the movie itself – the outlook is a big part of the image and I don’t take it for granted that a female superhero should look like that just because she is a female superhero.

I’d sincerely like to know other opinions about this topic (especially from the ladies, but not only).

P. S. Wonder Woman is also featured in “Batman v Superman: The Dawn of Justice” and “Justice League“.

16 thoughts on “Female sci-fi costumes & sexism in modern cinema

  1. I can’t say that Wonder Woman’s costuming offending me. Origins in a tropical climate, a hard bodice, and room for movability seemed practical given the narrative context, countered with the fact that the character was noticeably encouraged to ‘cover up’ in her London scenes being a welcome dynamic.

    Though I didn’t completely hate the film, this year’s Power Rangers reboot was particularly guilty of ridiculous suits for the female Rangers, exaggerated boob space and integrated high heels for God’s sake!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That makes it more understandable. Gal Gadot also played it in an… anti-Scarlett Johansson way of acting, portraying a noble hero. That may count.

      As for the Power Rangers, I saw what you mean in the trailer. It’s exactly the same stuff I was pointing out with Valerian and it’s not good, since big part of the audience ofthese movies are teens, and they don’t see things in the same way. Or don’t notice them at all, rather just accept as a norm. It’s the same issue with other movies too – the movie itself can be good, but these kind of details shouldn’t be there. It’s just social responsibility… but who cares?


    • ‘Showed off’ may be the key word here… 🙂 I still prefer more elegant versions where women express their sensuality, not sexuality – altghough the character itself was far away from expressing openly it’s sexuality.
      Which costumes did you find most ridiculous (or sexist)? Which loved most?


  2. I feel like I should defer to the female perspective on this question – my only thought out of the gate is that I also find boob-armor silly, and the Valerian thing is definitely boob-armor. It’s akin to a Batman suit with nipples. Like, we get it. There’s a body under there. Which we’re not currently looking at.

    But as far as Wonder Woman goes, I thought you might find this thread interesting – it’s a primer from a costume designer (who didn’t work on the film) on why she likes the 2017 WW costume because of its sources, and how much it has improved since previous incarnations.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As a female viewer, I did not find Gadot’s WW costume offensive. It is derivative of the original 1940s cartoon character’s costume, with the nuance of practical historical armor. But if she had not been a superhero character, I would have found such a costume (and others you mention in this excellent blog post) idiotic.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. hhhahha love the humour in this post LOL I’m going to say this honestly : I don’t give a fuck about Wonder Woman costume. But I do give a fuck about the fact that Zack Snyders Amazons are so much exposed than the ones in Wonder Woman. It doesn’t make sense to me. It worked fine in Wonder Woman, why change it ? But then, he has sexualized Aquaman too. So, I may be just have a problem with Zack Snyder and his costume design team LOL

    Liked by 1 person

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