Even in a giant comic book spectacle filled with magic, aliens, and superpowers, Elizabeth Olsen’s Avengers costume is a bit unrealistic.
"It would just not be a cleavage corset. I like corsets, but I'd like it to be higher,” she said in an interview with Elle. “Everyone has these things that cover them — Tessa Thompson does, Scarlett [Johansson] does. I would like to cover up a bit.”
As Olsen notes, she’s the only one showing off cleavage, something that hasn’t changed much since she first got her costume.
The tension between staying true to original character design while not objectifying women has existed since the superhero movie’s origins, although it’s come to light in recent years due to the success of Marvel and DC blockbusters.
“I think of the costumes and what we have to wear — it’s more about iconic images, because that's what these movies are,” Olsen said. “I think that's the goal with the costumes, and it's not representing the average woman."
In comics, costumes — especially for female heroes — are often overly sexualized and, if we’re being honest, extremely impractical for fighting groups of armed supervillains. In comparison, the films do strike much more of a balance. Olsen herself said that when she was first offered the role in Avengers: Age Of Ultron, director Joss Whedon made it absolutely clear she wouldn’t have to wear Scarlet Witch’s original exaggerated costume. Black Panther smartly upended expected tropes, like the Bond-esque “sexy casino scene,” to showcase the strength and ability of the all-women Dora Milaje. And like Johansson and Thompson, Brie Larson’s upcoming Captain Marvel looks like she’s primed for (possible interspace) battle.
But as these same actresses will gladly point out, there are still so many glass ceilings to break in comics and comic book movies when it comes to representing strong female characters. The least studios can do is make sure they’re dressed for the part.
Avengers: Infinity War is now playing.
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