Last year, Karen Gillan’s Jumanji outfit created a storm of controversy on the internet when the first images of the cast in costume surfaced. Recently, in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Gillan again stressed that there was a valid reason behind her character’s costume choice when she was asked about what she thought of people’s reaction to her Jumanji outfit,.
The actress says that she had already experienced a similar sartorial backlash with Doctor Who, the BBC TV show that first propelled her to stardom.
“I’ve experienced something similar when I worked on Doctor Who and there was such an uproar about my costume when that was first revealed, so I thought it was happening all over again. But I have to say, I’d never take on a role that was truly gratuitous for no reason. There’s a really valid reason why she’s wearing that. My character is really not happy about it!”
In Doctor Who, objections voiced toward Karen Gillan’s outfits were, according to Express, centered around the fact that her character was seen perennially wearing short skirts (an objection that is perhaps inextricably tied to fans’ longtime criticism towards showrunner Steven Moffat’s portrayal of female characters), whereas Gillan’s outfit in Jumanji has been lambasted for its over-sexualization and its lack of, well, sense in a tropical jungle environment.
Instagram photos from Dwayne Johnson and Karen Gillan‘s accounts show us that Gillan’s Jumanji outfit consist of shorts, a tight-fitting red top that bares her midriff, and leather straps that wrap around and highlight her breasts. As websites like The Mary Sue have rightly pointed out, the overall effect of the actress’s costume brings to mind associations of a Lara Croft costume.
Critics are not the only ones that have called out Karen Gillan’s Jumanji outfit as a form of over-sexualization. On social media, some Twitter users have commented that it’s sexist for Gillan’s character (who is called Ruby Roundhouse) to be so scantily dressed, especially compared to her male counterparts.
— Courtney B (@CourtneyButlerB) January 15, 2017
How come the men have to cover their abdomens in the new #Jumanji? That's so sexist.
— HaydnMillington (@HaydnMill) September 23, 2016
Dwayne Johnson and Karen Gillan have both promised that the character’s costume choice is tied to the plot and that it will all make sense to fans once they see the movie. On Instagram, Johnson posted, “Our dope 90’s vintage costumes will all make sense when our plot’s revealed,” while Gillan tweeted that there will be a pay off for viewers and that there’s a reason she’s wearing “child sized clothes.”
— Karen Gillan (@karengillan) September 21, 2016
There has been speculation that Karen Gillan’s Jumanji costume may be a play on stereotypical tropes or even a parody. Last year, the Hollywood Reporter published an article that came up with nine theories as to why the actress was wearing a seemingly sexist costume. The tongue-in-cheek article is full of outlandish guesses, from positing that Gillan’s character, Ruby Roundhouse, had just been teleported from a Michael Bay movie to a theory that she must be best friends with Jurassic World‘s Claire, a female character that spent the whole movie running from dinosaurs in high heels.
When asked which was his favorite theory, Dwayne Johnson responded that the theory that Ruby had accidentally shrunk all her clothes because of incorrect usage of a high-powered dryer was his favorite.
@lorenaoneil it's early here in Hawaii and just showed all 6 ladies of my house your story (I'm the only dude:). #5 guess is our fav.????????????????????.
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) September 21, 2016
Whether or not Karen Gillan’s Jumanji outfit will ultimately be justified by the story remains something that can only be proven when the audience sees the film. Jumanji, which is a sequel to the 1995 Jumanji film starring Robin William, will be released in U.S. theaters on December 22 this year.
[Featured Image by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]