Monthly Archives: April 2015

Resident Evil and Representation

The Resident Evil series qualifies as a horror series, a sci fi series and an action series. Given the genre, Resident Evil is surprisingly diverse. The main character is female, the supporting cast are a mix of genders and race, men are more likely to die and there’s very little romance throughout the series. Let’s face it, even when a female is the main character in an action film, she’ll inevitably be surrounded by white male companions, one of whom she’ll fall in love with by the end of the film. So the Resident Evil films are surprisingly refreshing, which isn’t what I expected when I first came across the series.

In this post, I’ll be looking at the composition of Alices teams to demonstrate just how diverse the cast is. By Alices team, I mean anyone who Alice joins/fights with over the course of any film (in the Anderson film universe, not the games). This post contains massive spoilers, mostly regarding who dies and who survives, so make sure that you’ve seen the films first if you don’t want to ruin them for yourselves.

Resident Evil (2002)
In the first film, Alices team consists of three women:
• Alice- Caucasian
• Rain Ocampo- Hispanic American (Umbrella special forces commando unit)
• Olga Danilova- Russian (Medic)

And seven men:
• Matt Addison – Caucasian (Activist)
• Spence Parks- Caucasian (Security operative)
• James Shade- African American (Leader of the special forces unit)
• Chad Kaplan- Caucasian (Computer technician of special forces unit)
• JD Salinas- Hispanic (Special forces unit)
• Vance Drew – Caucasian (Special forces unit)
• Alfonso Warner- Caucasian (Special forces unit)

Making this the most masculine group in the series.

Olga, Vance, Alfonso and James are killed by lazers. JD is killed by zombies and Spence is killed by the licker. Chad is then killed by the mutated licker. Despite being bitten shortly after the laser room, Rain is the last to die, being shot by Matt after she turns.

In this film, only Matt and Alice survive, both being taken away to be experimented upon. So it goes from being a masculine dominant group, to an even split.

Apocalypse (2004)
The team in Resident Evil: Apocalypse consists of three women:
• Alice
• Jill Valentine- Caucasian (Police officer)
• Terri Morales- Hispanic (News reporter)

And four men:

• Peyton Wells – African American (Police Officer)
• Carlos Olivera – Caucasian (Played by an Israeli actor) (Umbrella biohazard counter measure force)
• Nicholai Ginovaef – Caucasian (Umbrella biohazard counter measure force)
• LJ (Lloud Jefferson Wayne)- African American (Former Walmart employee)

Alice meets Peyton, Jill and Terri first. LJ then joins the group, followed by Carlos and Nicholai. Another member of Carlos’ team Yuri (Caucasian, male) dies before meeting Alice. Yuri and Peyton both infected early in the film. Yuri is shot by Carlos after he turns. Peyton is killed by Nemisis. Terri is eaten by child zombies and Nicholai is killed by zombie dogs.

Interestingly, Terri and LJ are not special ops and have no combat training. (Although LJ owning customised guns suggests that he knows how to shoot.) Despite being the most inexperienced of the group, Terri dies 3rd (after the police officer and an umbrella operative) and LJ survives the film.

Similar to the last film, despite the fact that there are more men in the team, it ends with an even split of gender. Two men survive; Carlos and LJ go on to join the Nevada team. And two women survive; Jill is kidnapped and although Alice technically dies in this film, she is brought back to life by Umbrella.

Extinction (2007)
The team for Resident Evil: Extinction consists of four women:
• Alice
• Claire Redfield- Caucasian (Leader of the human convoy)
• Betty- African American (Nurse)
• K-mart- Caucasian- (Role unknown. Member of the human convoy)

And five men:
• Carlos – From the last film
• LJ- From the last film
• Mikey- Caucasian- (Electronic operative)
• Chase- Caucasian- (Police sheriff)
• Otto- Caucasian- (Bus driver)

Both Betty and Otto are killed in a raven attack. Mikey and Chase are killed in the Vegas attack, during which LJ is turned and killed. Carlos then sacrifices himself.

This leaves only three women alive: Alice, Claire and Kmart. This is the first instance of one gender completely outliving the other and from this series, it isn’t surprising that it’s the women who manage to survive.

Interestingly, this is the first film to incorporate romance, with LJ and Betty’s date and it being implied that Kmart has a crush on Carlos.

Afterlife (2010)
The team in Resident Evil: Afterlife consists of three women:
• Alice
• Claire – From last film
• Crystal Waters- Caucasian (Waitress, aspiring actress)

And six men:
• Luther West- African American (Sports personality)
• Angel Ortiz- Hispanic
• Bennet Sinclair- Caucasian (Director)
• Kim Yong- Asian (Bennets assistant)
• Wendell- Caucasian
• Chris Redfield- Caucasian (Soldier)

This is the second most masculine group and is the least trained in combat. Unlike the other teams which have comprised of Umbrella operatives or police officers, Chris is the only one with military training.

Wendell is killed by zombies after attempting to spy on Alice in the shower. Crystal proves to be one of the most useful members of the group, announcing that she is a swimming champion, she is unfortunately killed immediately after she swims to the armory. Angel is killed by Bennet during his escape (I’m still not sure why he had to kill Angel to get to the plane…). Kim is reluctant to go in the sewers and due to his hesitancy, is sliced in half. And Bennett is presumably killed by the bad guy after being locked in.

Similar to the first and second film, despite being a masculine group, two men (Luther and Chris) and two women (Alice and Claire) survive the film.

Retribution (2012)
In (what is currently) the final film in the series, we have an equal split gender wise, with five women and five men. The women consist of:
• Alice
• Suburban clone of Rain- From previous film
• Jill Valentine- From a previous film
• Becky- Caucasian (Child)
• Ada Wong- Asian

And the men are:

• Luthor- From previous film
• Barry Burton- Caucasian
• Leon Kennedy- Caucasian
• Sergei- Caucasian
• Tony Rosato- Hispanic

Despite this being the most even grouping in term of gender, it ends up being the most uneven (in favour of the women). Tony is killed by Plaga Undead in Moscow before meeting Alice. Sergei is then killed by a licker in Moscow. Suburban Rain is also killed by licker. Barry is killed by Carlos’ umbrella clone and Luthor is then killed fighting Rains umbrella clone.

This leaves Leon as the only man standing. Conversely, only one of the women died, meaning that Alice, Jill, Ada and Becky all survive.

This film is similar to Extinction in that it is one of the few that has a (albeit brief) focus on romance- Leon puts his hand on Ada’s knee and is immediately rejected. The focus is more firmly on the friendship between Alice and the members of the team such as Luthor and Jill, as well as her motherly relationship with Becky, her clone’s daughter.

Children in the series
Interestingly, the only children in the film series (ignoring the red and white queens) both look alike, and both have physical defects. Angela Ashford (Angie) has a degenerative condition which would have led to a life in a wheelchair had it not been for the T-virus and Becky was partially deaf. The part of Becky wasn’t interestingly designed to resemble Angie. The part could have easily been a boy as the casting call was for a boy or girl of around 6 years old for a character named either Ben or Becky, dependant on the gender of the actor. Becky also wasn’t designed to be deaf, Aryanna Engineer (who is partially deaf) was simply the best actress for the part, which is incredibly rare for deaf actors.

Bad Guys
The enemies throughout the film series are normally white male. Unlike Alice’s teams, there is far less representation in the Umbrella Corporation. Arguably, this is intentional and is demonstrative of the corruption in business. It also furthers the notion that minorities and women are the underdogs, which encourages you to support them.

All things considered, the Resident Evil movies are fantastic when it comes to representation. It passes the Bechdel test with flying colours, with little to no emphasis being put on the female characters love lives. The mix of gender and race throughout Alice’s teams are refreshing and it’s great to see a lot more representation in films like this which can get pretty stuck in their traditional tropes. Let me know what you think of the series. Did you notice the difference in representation? Love it? Hate it? Let me know!