One of the things that helps actors take on their character’s personality is the costume. Even if the character they’re playing is just a regular person, sometimes a simple briefcase and tie, or glasses, or a pair of shoes can make them feel less like themselves and more like the character they’re trying to play. And when it’s a character from a different time and place, or perhaps a superhero they’re playing, costumes mean the world. Imagine how it feels for an actor to put on that Wonder Woman armor, or be dressed like Cleopatra.
But costumes carry another significance for the audience. It’s important for costumes to be as real-looking and accurate as possible – in fact, it’s crucial. No matter if it’s a periodic film or a superhero movie, the viewers are expecting everything to be as authentic and close to the origin as possible.
Some costumes, however, have definitely raised questions and caused controversies. Whether the audience found it overly objectifying, didn’t think the costume looked authentic enough, or even found it ridiculous – these are the costumes that got people talking the most. So if you’re asking yourself why some costumes looked the way they did, we have the answers right here.
George Clooney – Batman & Robin
Batman & Robin was probably not the best of the Batman movies, to put it mildly. It was filled with awful dialogue, terrible effects, and a pretty bad plotline, but that wasn’t the biggest issue fans had with the film.
The costume George Clooney wore as Batman caused quite a stir, and more specifically – the Bat-nips. Joel Schumacher had no idea the costume would make such headlines, but he explained his choice, saying it was inspired by “Greek statues that have perfect bodies.” He never thought those buds would be considered controversial.
Rebel Wilson – Pitch Perfect 3
Pitch Perfect became a hugely popular franchise since the first installment came out. But the third movie managed to ignite controversy all over the internet even before its release. When Rebel Wilson posted a photo of herself with co-stars Brittany Snow and Chrissie Fit, fans immediately noticed her outfit was different and covered more of her body.
Producers were then accused of body size discrimination, but costume designer Salvador Perez explained the actresses were given a choice of which version of the outfit they preferred to wear, and “Rebel, Ester & Hana Mae wanted sleeves.”
Ryan Reynolds – Green Lantern
The Green Lantern movie starring Ryan Reynolds wasn’t exactly a success, but there was one thing Green Lantern fans couldn’t get over from the second they saw it. The costume wasn’t a costume at all; it was created entirely with CGI.
Ryan Reynolds later said that not only he didn’t get to see the Green Lantern suit until the first trailer, but he also didn’t enjoy filming in that body suit – saying it was “made of actual woven misery.” While the filmmakers were looking to do something new, even they admitted it didn’t hold up.
Doug Jones – The Shape of Water
If you’ve seen Academy Award winner The Shape of Water (and you really should), then you probably had your own thoughts about the costume Doug Jones donned to play the Amphibian Man. To some people, it looked strange, while others said it was downright ridiculous.
Guillermo del Toro, who directed this masterpiece, shared his process, saying, “I wanted to make the Michelangelo’s David of amphibian men.” While not everyone loved the end result, it certainly didn’t stop viewers – as well as critics – from falling in love with this film.
Robert Downey Jr. – Tropic Thunder
The Ben Stiller directed Tropic Thunder will go down in history as one of the strangest, and most controversial comedies ever. One of the biggest controversies revolved around the fact that Robert Downey Jr. portrayed an Australian actor, who plays an African-American actor… using face-paint.
Many people found this incredibly offensive, but eventually it came down to the messages the movie was trying to convey with comedy. The point wasn’t to offend, but to criticize the Hollywood industry and the self-seriousness of Method acting.
Lily James – Cinderella
Cinderella was a spectacular live-action version of the animated Disney movie, starring the lovely Lily James. However, it got quite a lot of heat from viewers, who thought Lily’s waistline was artificially narrowed during editing.
People were outraged at the unrealistically small waist, but producers were quick to respond. They said no CGI was involved – just the actress’ naturally slim waist, combined with a corset that required her to go on a soup-only diet. “There are no visual effects and there’s no cruelty. We don’t harm the actors with corsets.”
Brie Larson – Captain Marvel
Captain Marvel is perhaps the most anticipated character to arrive in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as she’s said to be the strongest MCU character yet. But when Brie Larson was photographed on-set with a green Captain Marvel outfit, fans panicked – as the character should wear blue and red.
However, apparently Captain Marvel originally appears in green attire in the comics, before switching colors. Additionally, producers recently treated fans to an official first look at the character – who will indeed be wearing the iconic blue, red, and gold costume.
Sylvester Stallone – Judge Dredd
Judge Dredd isn’t known to be the greatest movie of all times, and there are quite a few reasons for that. But other than not being the best movie, it also disappointed fans of the comic-book character it was actually based on.
In the comics, Judge Dredd doesn’t ever take off his helmet. He’s famous for not taking off his helmet. But in the film, Sylvester Stallone – who plays the character – takes it off within the first 20 minutes. Apparently, Stallone pushed all kinds of changes into the film, including the costume design.
Evangeline Lilly – Ant-Man and the Wasp
Another superhero outfit that drew a lot of criticism was for the female partner to Marvel’s Ant-Man, the wasp. Originally, the costume consists of bright-yellow and black colors, but the suit featured in Ant-Man and the Wasp was significantly less colorful.
However, the designers had bigger concerns – like allowing Evangeline Lilly to move her arms and breathe comfortably in her mask. “We tested 30 different shapes, which was incredibly time consuming, but the costume had to look absolutely perfect,” she said. Fans also noticed a particular shape you could see upside-down on the suit, but we suppose that’s just an unfortunate error…
Olivia Munn – X-Men: Apocalypse
X-Men: Apocalypse introduces a couple of mutants new to the films – including the powerful Psylocke, played by Olivia Munn. Of course, not everyone loved the fact that she’s yet another female superhero who’s dressed provocatively.
Munn, however, had something to say about her costume. “Apocalypse is the one who dressed her and gave her that outfit,” she says. “The thing about Psylocke is that, I can see the way that she’s dressed but it has nothing to do with how strong she is and how powerful she is.”
Marilyn Monroe – The Seven Year Itch
Everyone knows that famous moment, where Marilyn Monroe stood on top of a subway grate, with her dress flowing everywhere. This scene was filmed for The Seven Year Itch, which premiered in 1955, and was meant to create some buzz.
It was filmed on a real street and photographers were invited. The crowd went wild for Marilyn as her dress flew up, and that scene became iconic. But apparently, her then-husband and baseball player Joe DiMaggio wasn’t happy about it – to say the least. Reportedly, it was the last straw in their already strained marriage.
The Amazons – Justice League
Wonder Woman was a worldwide phenomenon, bringing female power to the center stage. Women and girls everywhere rejoiced in having a powerful and capable heroine – who wasn’t dependent on men in any way, shape, or form.
The amazons were the extension of that – but their costumes raised quite a few questions, as they were altered for the film Justice League. As you can see, the outfits became much skimpier – and their shields became significantly less efficient. While fans raged, producers replied that it’s simply because the movies are set in completely different times.
Jena Malone – Nocturnal Animals
Jena Malone played museum curator Sage Ross in the thriller Nocturnal Animals, and wore a pretty weird outfit – that many fans thought should’ve belonged to a museum and not on a human person.
But apparently, director Tom Ford – who’s also a renowned fashion designer – aimed to put her in “the most ridiculous piece.” Costume designer Arianne Phillips said, “It kinda takes someone from the art world to pull off a runway piece.” And since it was a short cameo, Ford wanted to make sure viewers knew who this character was straight away.
Milla Jovovich – The Fifth Element
The 1997 Luc Besson sci-fi film, The Fifth Element, became a cult movie that still remains a classic. Its lead actress, Milla Jovovich, had outfits that were pretty out there in the film, and mostly it worked out well.
But there was one outfit that really got people talking – that white outfit that looked like it was made of bandages, and was quite revealing. But apparently, Mila didn’t mind wearing it at all, saying it felt just like wearing a bikini. “I just really got into the character and I definitely didn’t feel constraints,” she said.
Shefali Chowdhury and Afshan Azad – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire featured The Yule Ball, an extravagant dance held at Hogwarts with students and guests from the other schools. Harry and Ron took sisters Padma and Parvati Patil to the ball, but some fans were pretty unhappy with what the girls wore.
Instead of lavish, glorious clothes – like traditional Indian-wear usually is – fans thought they wore simple and tacky dresses, ones that women in India would usually wear around the house. However, the costume designers said they tried to put an emphasis on Hermione’s dress.
Margot Robbie – Suicide Squad
When Suicide Squad was announced, everyone was looking forward to seeing one character in particular – Harley Quinn. The bubbly jester companion to the infamous Joker has become a famed icon in the comic book industry, and many fans thought Margot Robbie was a brilliant casting choice.
However, there was quite a lot of attention paid to Harley’s rather skimpy outfit. Robbie said she was “wearing hot pants because they’re sparkly and fun,” and fitted the character’s personality – but added that she didn’t like wearing the outfit, as it made her feel self-conscious.
Bryce Dallas Howard – Jurassic World
Although the 2015 sci-fi reboot Jurassic World was pretty popular with audiences, it took harsh criticism for one thing: Bryce Dallas Howard’s high heels. The actress plays Claire, a high-strung park executive who ends up running for her life for an entire movie, never taking off her pumps.
Bryce commented on the matter, saying it simply fit the character, who could probably run a marathon in high heels. “I’m better equipped to run when I have shoes on my feet,” she said. “I don’t think she would carry around flats with her.”
Ryan Reynolds – X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Everyone loves Deadpool, probably the most wisecracking Marvel character ever made. But you might recall Ryan Reynolds also played Deadpool before the official films came out, in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Fans of Deadpool were pretty outraged to see he had no suit, and his mouth was sewn shut – so “the merc with a mouth” wasn’t even able to talk. Director Gavin Hood actually admitted this was a huge mistake, saying the studio struggled to fit Deadpool into this PG-13 rated movie. He suggested fans to think of him as an “embryonic Deadpool.”
Maureen O’Sullivan – Tarzan and His Mate
Tarzan has always been one to prance around the jungle wearing basically nothing. But in 1934, when the film Tarzan and His Mate came out, crowds were stunned to see Jane (played by Maureen O’Sullivan) wearing an incredibly skimpy top and skirt ensemble.
But apparently, O’Sullivan was originally supposed to be completely nude for the film – only covered by strategically placed props and camera angles. So although this outfit made viewers gasp – it was actually the less provocative option.
Princess Merida – Brave
After decades where Disney princesses were portrayed as helpless creatures who answer to the most standard concept of beauty, came princess Merida. Parents everywhere were glad their daughters now had a powerful, skilled, and strong-minded princess to look up to.
But in newer 2D drawings she received a “makeover” – she seems thinner, has makeup on, and looks like she went to the hair salon. People didn’t care for the new look, but Disney argued that she was dressed up for the special “coronation” as the 11th Disney Princess.
Gal Gadot – Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman was highly anticipated by comic-book fans, and after Israeli actress Gal Gadot was cast to play the heroine, fans were skeptical. Her performance in Batman v Superman proved she was a great choice, but her outfit was now making waves online.
Fans didn’t seem to like the lack of color, which was different than the original costume, and many of them argued that her high-heeled boots were simply unnecessary. Designer Michael Wilkinson explained, saying, “We wanted to create something incredibly strong and portray her as a legitimate fighter.”
Karen Gillan – Jumanji
In 2016, fans got a glimpse of Scottish actress Karen Gillan as her character in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (the 2017 sequel to the original hit film). While many fans were outraged at how skimpy her outfit was, especially since it was set in a jungle, Karen promised there was good reason for it – and there was.
Her character, Martha, was sucked into a video game along with her friends, so she assumed her game character’s attire. It was actually a way to criticize how women are portrayed in video games.
Jennifer Lawrence – X-Men: First Class
Mystique appears in the X-Men comic books in various outfits – mainly a white dress with slits on both sides. But in the franchise, she’s not wearing anything at all.
The thought behind this is presumed to be the fact that Mystique is proud of her mutant nature, but then again – Magneto does get to wear some clothes. However, since Jennifer Lawrence had to endure several grueling hours of body makeup every single day of shooting, in X-Men: Apocalypse, she got to wear some actual clothes.
Theda Bara – Cleopatra
You can imagine in 1917, movie outfits weren’t generally daring. After all, too much ankle was considered outrageous at the time. But when Cleopatra was released, viewers were appalled to see some of the outfits Theda Bara wore for the part, which were more than a little revealing for 1917.
But the costumes were intentionally meant to be “in attune with the period.” Much research was put in to make sure everything – the costumes, the jewelry, and every small detail – were authentic for the time of Cleopatra.
Chris Evans – Avengers
In the Captain America movie, Steve Rogers gets a pretty great outfit, consisting of red, white, and blue – without being over the top silly. However, in The Avengers, his outfit was deemed way too cheesy by fans.
The colors weren’t toned down enough, he had a mask that was attached to his suit, and basically, the whole thing was a silly mess. Costume designers thought the viewers needed an old-fashioned hero at the time, but they quickly came to their senses in the next films and took it down a notch.
The X-Men – X-Men (2000)
If you’ve ever read the comics, or see the animated cartoon of X-Men, you know these guys really should be wearing blue and yellow suits. But in the Bryan Singer 2000 flick, X-Men, the group was wearing all black.
It seemed to trouble some fans, but overall Singer felt it was a good decision to keep the heroes low-key. It’s even referred to in the movie, when Cyclops says, “What would you prefer, yellow spandex?”
January Jones – X-Men: First Class
Another X-Men character, this time in X-Men: First Class, was the subject of some internet backlash. January Jones, who plays Emma Frost in the film, appears in a number of pretty skimpy outfits.
She either had major cleavage, or she was downright wearing lingerie. CIA agent Moira MacTaggert was also stripped down at one point in the movie – but none of the guys were. Jane Goldman, who co-wrote the script, said it had much more social commentary on sexism – but it was unfortunately cut during editing.
Matthew Goode – Watchmen
In Zack Snyder’s version of the sci-fi superhero comic Watchmen, was mostly like the original. However, there was one character who wasn’t quite loyal to its origins: Ozymandias.
In the comics, his costume consists of purple fabric and jewelry. The movie version, however, looks a lot more like the Batman costume – including those bat-nips and carved muscles in the suit. But Snyder felt this costume fits better with Ozymandias’ personality, so it was fully intentional.
Tom Hiddleston – Thor
When Thor came out in 2011, one character became surprisingly popular – even more so than Thor himself – Loki. Played by British dreamboat Tom Hiddleston, Loki is the bad guy everyone loves.
Loyal fans noticed a certain issue with Loki’s pants, who didn’t quite fit the actor and hence drew much attention to his “nether regions” (how fitting for Loki), which even inspired a great deal of teasing on set for Hiddleston. Eventually, costume designers decided it wasn’t a good decision, and changed Loki’s outfit for the next films.
Mickey Rooney – Breakfast at Tiffany’s
If you rewatch many of the old movies we used to love, you might just find that some of them were pretty offensive at time. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is quite the classic, but there’s one part that’s pretty controversial about it.
Mickey Rooney played an Asian character, who wasn’t only very stereotypically dressed, but also very stereotypical altogether. It’s pretty outrageous when you think about it, but we have to remember – those were completely different times.
Halle Berry – Catwoman
Batman fans were questioning the decision to make Catwoman a superhero and the star of her own film, ever since it was announced. But some of them were downright enraged to see that Catwoman’s iconic leotard had been replaced with some leather straps and shredded leather pants – in an attempt to make her more voluptuous.
The movie, of course, turned out to be a huge flop and reportedly one of Halle Berry’s biggest film regrets. The Dark Knight Rises made up for it with Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman, who was much better dressed.
Evan Peters – X-Men
Quiksilver was featured both in Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and the X-Men franchise, and proved to be one of the deepest characters. While in Avengers they went with the more traditional comic book look, in X-Men they decided to mix it up a little.
Donning a silver wig, a metallic jacket fitting with the ’70s vibe, and goggles, fans went nuts to see this superhero’s ridiculous outfit prior to the film’s release. But as it turned out, Bryan Singer was right, and his version of Quicksilver became a fan-favorite.
Jamie Foxx – Django Unchained
The Quentin Tarantino directed Django Unchained was a pretty awesome movie. However, some people noticed Django’s sunglasses – which had black-shaded lenses and a gold trim – didn’t quite belong there.
They’re actually an invention of the 20th century, so despite of how good Jamie Foxx looks wearing them, they had no place in the movie. But as it is a Tarantino flick, being one hundred percent realistic isn’t the number one priority, as long as it looks incredibly cool. And let’s face it – we totally love him for it.
Henry Cavill – Man of Steel
Not everyone was on board with Henry Cavill’s Superman. The superhero now has some darker sides, and while some fans found it much more interesting than his old version, some feel it’s too dark.
The costume has been changed as well to cause controversy among fans; the colors are much less bright than his usual costume, to fit with his darker personality. And most importantly, he no longer wears his undies on the outside. If you ask us, it was about time to retire that habit.
The Redcoats – Pirates of the Caribbean
Pirates of the Caribbean was a really fun movie, and it kickstarted quite the franchise. But remember those British redcoats that served under The King’s name? Apparently, they shouldn’t have been wearing red coats at all.
That uniform wasn’t used until the 1750s, while the movie is set during the early 1700s. This was simply a mistake made by the costume designers working on the film, but it certainly didn’t take away from the movie’s huge popularity.
Ben Affleck – Daredevil
Remember when Ben Affleck played Daredevil in the 2003 movie titled after the superhero? That’s right, playing Batman wasn’t the first time Ben Affleck playing a superhero pissed comic fans off.
Costume designers tried to make the suit just like the original, but they unfortunately decided to use red leather all throughout the costume. The end result was less than great, and some would go as far as saying embarrassing. At least the Netflix series did the costume some more justice.
Kristen Stewart – Twilight: Eclipse
If you’ve ever watched The Twilight Saga at all, you’ve probably noticed a wide array of incredibly bad wigs. Perhaps the worst one of all was the wig that Kristen Stewart wore in Eclipse, which made even the biggest Twihards wince.
The reason for the wig was Kristen’s previous movie role, in the film The Runaways. Stewart felt she had to cut her hair to play rock legend Joan Jett, but didn’t need her real hair to play Bella. Although Twilight filmmakers tried to convince her otherwise, she went ahead and cut those locks.
Willem Dafoe – Spider-Man
Willem Dafoe’s impeccable acting, and his ability to thoroughly creep us out, manage to compensate for the costume he was forced to wear in Sam Raimi’s Spiderman films. He looked pretty menacing in those armor and helmet, but it too far off from his counterpart in the comics.
Apparently, Raimi tested a different mask that used GCI, which was much closer to the original and pretty terrifying. But eventually, he opted to go with the helmet to the dismay of Spiderman’s fans.
Carrie Fisher – Return of the Jedi
It was pretty much every teenager’s dream. When Princess Leia was in captivity in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, she wore a golden bikini that was seared into the nation’s memory and became iconic.
But not everyone was a fan – many people thought it was demeaning to the only substantial female character the franchise had at the time. It was actually based on artwork by Frank Frazetta for the cover of The Princess of Mars. George Lucas loved it, and decided to use the bikini as “something special” for that scene.
All characters – Inception
Something you may not have noticed so much in the film Inception – because, let’s be honest, there were so many other things going on – were the costumes. It turns out they were hand picked to fit each character of the movie and they also helped the plot move along.
The costume designer made specific choices in clothing items for the characters’ personalities and the outfits sometimes even gave hints to what was going on that few people would notice unless paying very close attention.