If you’ve read my post about the costumes worn by female superheroes , then you’ll know that one of my biggest pet peeves is when female characters were overtly sexy and impractical outfits to fight in.
I recently finished the Resident Evil film series and as much as I love the films I found it hard to ignore the completely impractical costumes which the main character and some of the other female characters chose to wear for the zombie apocalypse.
As a quick disclaimer, I’ve never played any of the games, so I don’t know how much of the costumes were designed to resemble the outfits worn by the characters of the game. Everything that I write is relevant only to the Anderson version of Resident Evil, although if the costumes do emulate that of the game then it is still true that the costumes are unnecessarily revealing for combat so the points I’m about to make still stand.
Resident Evil (2002)
In the first film, Alice wears the iconic red evening dress. I can see why Alice’s choice of outfit was impractical for this film. With no memory, Alice had no idea of what she was walking into. Therefore, she can’t really be blamed for picking the red dress which was laid out on her bed. (Although a quick search in the wardrobes would have resulted in more practical clothes. She even opens a few drawers and finds white shirts before she finds the guns.) At least she thought to wear boots instead of heels which would normally be worn with a dress such as this. Most female characters would be given heels that are difficult to walk in, never mind running for your life.
Alice does take Spence’s jacket due to the cold in the hive and wears it fully zipped up for a portion of the movie. And she is wearing clothing under the dress, however under it is a small black mini skirt which is revealed when the dress is ripped. She also wears no bra, which has got to be one of the worst ways to fight.
In regards to the other main female character in this film, as a member of the Special Forces Commando Unit, Rain wears combat ready attire including a black shirt, heavy duty black jacket, black combat pants and big black boots. Her hair is also tied up in a ponytail, although there is still hair in her face which would obscure her vision.
Overall, this film isn’t so bad. Given the timeframe, there’s no cause for the characters to change outfits, therefore it does make sense that Alice remains in the red dress that she chose before she knew where she was being taken.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
When Alice awakes after the events from the previous film, she is completely naked apart from two very thin sheets used to cover her. Maybe the scientists wanted to preserve her modesty but still have the opportunity to ogle? Anyway, Alice finds herself a lab coat to wear until she finds a store and can find herself some clothes. In this film, Alice wears a cropped tank top over which she wears a mesh shirt. She also wears black jeans and dark cowboy boots.
According to IMDB, it was Milla Jovovich’s idea for there to be a heat wave in Raccoon City which explains why both Alice and Jill Valentine wear very skimpy clothing. However, since the film is set almost entirely at night-time anyway, the temperature would have dropped. At least Alice doesn’t have to worry about protecting her skin from the zombies, as she is already infected and wouldn’t fear being bitten. Jill however, has no such excuse.
Jill Valentine essentially looks like Lara Croft in this movie, wearing a blue strapless shirt and a short black skirt. As a former police officer, Jill should really know how to dress in a crisis.
Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)
Extinction beings with one of Alice’s clones, wearing the same red dress which she wore in the first film. I can see why the Umbrella Corp would utilise the same outfits in an attempt to trigger her memories. I just find it pretty funny to think that they probably have a department dedicated to generating copies of that dress. Interestingly, all of Alice’s clones have the blonde hair which she had at the beginning of the series. According the Resident Evil wiki Milla Jovovich justified Alice’s changing hair colour throughout the series by saying that Alice started with dyed blonde hair, which grew out, returning her hair to its original black. Now forgive me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that if you grow clones of someone, then those clones would have the original hair colour, not the dyed one. They also wouldn’t have the exact same haircut, their hair should be long as it would grow at the same rate as the rest of their bodies. Maybe the Umbrella Corp styles their hair before they wake them up?
According to IMDB , Alice’s outfit in this film was designed by Milla Jovovich’s clothing line Jovovich-Hawk. I do think this is one of the more functional outfits. As they’re in the desert, the skimpier outfits for all the women are more justified. The film being set during the day does make the heat a lot more believable. However, as well as skimpy clothing, Alice also wears an overcoat and a scarf. Both of which are utilised to keep her warm during the night and to protect from the sand.
Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)
Afterlife opening with a group of Alice’s clones invading the Umbrella Corps base. In a surprising twist, they are all wearing combat ready clothes. They even have their hair slicked back in a ponytail in a way which doesn’t leave hair all over their face (unlike Rain from the first movie). I was pretty impressed with this, until it’s revealed that the real Alice still have short hair which she leaves down.
Alice later wears a large green jacket, lined with fur to keep her warm during her trip to Antarctica. All in all, most of the characters seems to wear clothing appropriate to their situation. Crystal is wearing a vest top, but so is Luther. Which contrasts to Apocalypse where most of the male characters were wearing full body armour whilst the girls worn strappy/strapless shirts.
Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)
For the most part, Alice is combat ready in this film. She didn’t choose her own outfit, after waking up naked (covered by two small sheets of paper again) Alice finds her outfit in her cell after the security systems are hacked. Rains suburban clone does refer to this outfit as an “S and M get up” and I have to agree, but I do prefer it to some of the other outfits Alice has worn.
The functionality of Alices outfit is justified by the ridiculous nature of Adas. As an agent, Ada had advanced knowledge of the mission, including where she would be going and what she would be fighting. Despite knowing that she would be fighting throughout the mission, Ava chose to wear a skimpy red dress (which emulates the dress which Alice wore in the first film). She also wears heels and a black choker with dangling ends which makes it terrible for fights as it can be easily pulled (which would ironically chock her with her choker).
The other main female wears a purple body suit which is unzipped to reveal her chest. I’m guessing that Jill had no say in this outfit as she was brainwashed at the time. I can see why the outfit is so revealing, as this is the only way that the brain-washing spider can be seen all of the time, however, the same didn’t happen when Claire was brainwashed, and the audience still knew what was happening, so it wasn’t exactly necessary.
Towards the end, the action takes part on a frozen tundra in Russia. Alice is dressed appropriately for the cold, wearing a winter coat which she uses to keep both herself and Becky warm. The other female characters don’t have the same luxury. Despite the cold, Jill’s chest, the umbrella Rain clone’s arms and Adas… everything are exposed to the cold. Considering Ada knew where she would be surfacing, you’d think she would have dressed more appropriately. Even when they’re being rescued, she still has no other protection from the cold other than her flimsy dress.
Alice’s Time Naked
Throughout the film, our heroine is naked in pretty much every film. Which, although realistic at times, is a bit unnecessary.
In the opening of Resident Evil, Alice wakes up in the shower, mostly covered by a shower curtain. The film both opens and ends with Alice naked, ending with her covered by two flimsy pieces of paper after being experimented on. Apocalypse follows from the end of the second film, Alice soon dresses herself in a lab coat. Apocalypse ends with Alice naked in the water tank. In Extinction a clone of Alice wakes up in the shower, the same way Alice did in the first film. There are also countless clones in the water bubbles, they are all naked but most conveniently have their arms covering their chest. Interesting, Alice doesn’t appear naked in Afterlife despite the pretty clear opportunity to have her naked in the first shower scene (when Wendell is spying on her). And in the final film Retribution, Alice wakes up in the Umbrella facility, covered by two thin sheets of paper again.
This probably wouldn’t have been as bad if it wasn’t for the fact that is only ever Alice who is naked. We never seen the male characters naked so it seems a bit unbalanced.
One thing I hate about any apocalypse movie is that despite having limited access to supplies, the women always seem to have access to make up and shaving equipment. This is definitely true of this film, as all of the women are perfectly made up despite how bad the circumstances get.
That’s all I have to say on Resident Evil for now. Leave a comment to let me know what you think of the costuming throughout the Resident Evil series. I’d love to hear if there’s anything that I overlooked, whether it’s from the games (which I’ve never played) or the movies (which I’ve only seen twice each). I’d love to get other opinions on the costumes designs for the series.