The Most Controversial Movie Costumes Explained
A character’s outfit can be more important than you might think. It might simply grab the audience’s attention, or it can help define who the character is in the context of the film — particularly when it comes to period pieces and superhero movies, in which seemingly tiny incorrect details can make a huge difference (and cause a huge uproar).
Regardless of the project, what a character wears immediately should tell you everything you need to know about them. When done poorly, a film costume has the potential to ruin a film or franchise, or at the very least cause a lot of controversy. Fans especially tend to raise their pitchforks when a film costume shatters conventions about a character or a world, or when someone’s outfit is way off from how they’ve been depicted in the past. Oftentimes, too, a costume will be controversial if it’s just plain scandalous. Here’s a look at some of the most controversial movie costumes in recent memory, as well as the explanations for their existence.
Karen Gillan — Jumanji
In September 2016, audiences got their first look at a set photo from Jake Kasdan’s "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle," a new adventure inspired by 1995’s Robin Williams-led adaptation of the Chris Van Allsburg children’s book. In the photo, Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, and Jack Black are each wearing jungle-appropriate outfits … alongside co-star Karen Gillan, who’s wearing what amounts to child-sized clothing. The photo prompted immediate criticism, prompting Gillan to try and defuse the controversy by telling The Hollywood Reporter, "The payoff is worth it, I promise!"
The first footage for the film was later screened at CinemaCon in March, and it does explain Gillan’s skimpy outfit. Once it was clear that the main cast would be playing video game characters rather than actual flesh-and-blood people, the cartoonishly revealing and wildly impractical costume made a lot more sense. Gillan’s character is a shy girl (Madison Iseman) who transforms into her adult character, and the costume choice is a satirical reflection of the way video games portray women. Fans must have understood the joke, because Gillan’s outfit remained virtually unchanged in the film’s sequel, "Jumanji: The Next Level."
George Clooney — Batman & Robin
Joel Schumacher’s "Batman & Robin" was a disaster, to put it mildly. Setting aside the cartoony elements, the terrible dialogue, and poor plot choices, fans will never forget the movie’s costumes — specifically the Bat-nipples.
"There’s no way I can explain it to you other than I had no idea that putting nipples on the bat costume were going to [make] international headlines," Schumacher explained in a Batman special. "The bodies for the suits — the inspiration for them are Greek statues that have perfect bodies. And so, we’re molding this perfect body in rubber, and they’re anatomically erotic. So it never occurred to me not to put nipples on the men’s suits because I didn’t know the male nipple was a controversial body part."
That all sounds reasonable enough — and if "Batman & Robin" had succeeded on many other levels, audiences might have been able to look past the costume distractions. Alas, the movie sent the entire franchise into limbo for almost a decade, leaving fans with years to mock the worst misstep in the franchise’s long cinematic history.
Ryan Reynolds — Green Lantern
This costume caused controversy the second fans caught a glimpse. An all-CGI Green Lantern? Original stills and trailers for the film looked pretty awful, and although the studio insisted it would look amazing onscreen, the animated costume has been widely held up as one of many reasons for the film’s failure. Star Ryan Reynolds later admitted he didn’t care for the CG ensemble. "I mean, it’s brutal doing a film where you’re wearing a motion capture suit for the whole time," he pointed out. "I didn’t even get to see the Green Lantern suit until the first trailer. I never even knew what it looked like."
The filmmakers wanted to do something new for a superhero, and costume designer Ngila Dickson came up with the idea that the suit was his power manifesting outside the body — an interesting idea, but the special effects just didn’t hold up, and Dickson agreed. "We were literally doing like what you would sculpt in a studio, but we were doing it with a computer," she recalled. "In many respects, we were following all the same principles, but you never got the tangible result that you get from the build you do in a costume house."
Rebel Wilson — Pitch Perfect 3
Even before "Pitch Perfect 3" made its way to theaters, the production caught flak for potential discrimination against its plus-size stars. Rebel Wilson posted a photo on Instagram of herself alongside co-stars Brittany Snow and Chrissie Fit; while the latter two were wearing sleeveless tops, Wilson was in short sleeves. The photo prompted accusations of size discrimination, which arguably had intensified since Wilson has been a public advocate for female body positivity.
The controversy intensified when people pointed out that Ester Dean, one of Wilson’s co-stars, also wore a similarly sleeved version of the striped sailor top in a photo posted on her Instagram feed. Movie costume designer Salvador Perez ultimately took to Twitter to try and put out the fire. "I let each actor decide how their costume fit, it was their choice," Perez wrote. "Rebel, Ester & Hana Mae wanted sleeves." In another photo posted by Kelley Jakle, each of the stars is seen wearing a variety of styles of the same sailor top. It appears that the photo that ignited the controversy in the first place may have been taken out of context.
Margot Robbie — Suicide Squad
Harley Quinn’s big-screen debut in David Ayer’s "Suicide Squad" was one of the movie’s biggest draws, especially since Margot Robbie was playing the famed villain. As with any other comic book character, a lot of media attention focused on her movie costume — particularly how little of it there was.
When asked about her body-hugging costume, Robbie told The New York Times she was "wearing hot pants because they’re sparkly and fun," but that didn’t mean she necessarily enjoyed the experience. "As Margot, no, I don’t like wearing that," she admitted. "I’m eating burgers at lunchtime, and then you go do a scene where you’re hosed down and soaking wet in a white T-shirt, it’s so clingy, and you’re self-conscious about it."
Ayer offered his perspective, saying he "didn’t think denim overalls would be appropriate for that character" and insisting Robbie understood "that’s part of the iconography." He may have a point: Harley initially wore a jester suit in "Batman: The Animated Series," but over the years, her wardrobe has changed significantly as the character went from being a jester to more of a sex symbol in the comic book industry — who’s now made her way into Hollywood, hot pants and all.
Marilyn Monroe — The Seven Year Itch
Everyone’s seen photos of Marilyn Monroe standing on a subway grate in a free-flowing white dress. The shot filmed for Monroe’s 1955 release "The Seven Year Itch," was totally intentional — but the filmmakers didn’t imagine it would cause such a stir. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that filming Monroe in public might generate some buzz for "The Seven Year Itch," so they shot on a real New York street, invited 100 photographers, and let a crowd of over 2,000 watch the action. Photographer George Zimbel was there and said the crowd went wild every time Monroe’s dress flew up.
However, baseball star Joe DiMaggio, Monroe’s husband at the time, unexpectedly arrived at the raucous set. After watching his wife get ogled and hollered at, he decided to leave with his friend and columnist Walter Winchell. Zimbel recounted the moment, recalling, "They were very publicly leaving and everything stopped for their exit … There was a changed mood on the set and everyone could feel it." According to The New York Times, Monroe and DiMaggio got in a terrible fight after filming, and the next day on set, Monroe needed makeup to cover the bruises. Though the revealing dress wasn’t the only problem in the marriage, it did seem to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, as Monroe filed for divorce three weeks after the infamous scene.
As for the dress itself, costume designer William Travilla didn’t imagine it would become his most memorable piece. He took care to give Monroe an outfit that would convey her sweet, innocent nature, while still letting her sexiness shine through. Despite his detailed work, Travilla always called it "that silly little dress" and didn’t seem to appreciate all the fuss.
Carrie Fisher — Return of the Jedi
20th Century Fox
Princess Leia’s metal bikini struck an immediate chord with adolescent male fans of the "Star Wars" series from the moment it debuted in "Return of the Jedi." But not everyone fell in love with the "slave Leia" outfit; many viewers found it to be a prime example of the series’ sexual objectification of its only notable female character at the time. Carrie Fisher, who played Leia and had to put up with decades of discussion around the outfit, warned Daisy Ridley, star of "The Force Awakens," "Don’t be a slave like I was. … You keep fighting against that slave outfit."
The designers of the infamous two-piece have insisted they never intended the movie costume to be demeaning. Aggie Guerard Rodgers and Nilo Rodis-Jamero based the design on Frank Frazetta’s artwork for the cover of "A Princess of Mars." George Lucas loved the idea, and since he wanted something "special" for the scene, he got it.
Fisher got extra attention on set while wearing the getup—for more reasons than one. Since it was literally made of metal, the outfit wouldn’t stay in place. "After the shots, the prop man would have to check me," she recalled. "He’d say, ‘Okay t**s are fine. Let’s go.’" Though Fisher may not have loved the revealing outfit, she refused to be victimized by it; during a controversy over "slave Leia" figures decades later, she quickly pointed out that the character’s brief time in captivity ends with her killing Jabba — with her own chain. "That chain only ‘enslaved’ me," tweeted Fisher, "until I could use the frabjous thing to KILL THAT DROOLING SWOLLEN SUPERTONGUED SLUG & whirl him off into infinity." As always, Fisher had the last and best word.
Princess Merida — Brave
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) from "Brave" has been hailed as one of Disney’s least princess-y princesses. From her refusal to marry to her amazing archery skills and her insistence that her curly hair run free, audiences felt Merida was a step in the right direction — so it was all the more disappointing when Disney dolled her up later on.
When Merida was officially announced as the 11th Disney princess, the corporation debuted a new illustration of the Scottish lass, and a number of fans weren’t pleased. The 2D drawing gave Merida a slightly slimmer figure, bigger eyes, and an all-around more glammed-up look. "Brave" co-director Brenda Chapman didn’t mince words, saying, "I think it’s atrocious what they have done to Merida. When little girls say they like it because it’s more sparkly, that’s all fine and good but, subconsciously, they are soaking in the sexy ‘come hither’ look and the skinny aspect of the new version. It’s horrible! Merida was created to break that mold — to give young girls a better, stronger role model, a more attainable role model, something of substance, not just a pretty face that waits around for romance."
Disney responded to the controversy by saying all the princesses are given new looks from time to time, and that particular version of Merida would just be one of many. The company argued it had chosen that design because Merida would want to "dress up" for the special coronation. The fact that Merida hates getting dressed up in "Brave" and tears apart her fancy gown at the first opportunity didn’t factor into the character design, apparently.
Ryan Reynolds — X-Men Origins: Wolverine
20th Century Fox
You may have blocked it from your memory, but Ryan Reynolds certainly won’t let you forget that he played Deadpool before "Deadpool." During his first outing as the character in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," which Reynolds continues to mock incessantly to this day, the filmmakers decided to do everything they could to insult the fans. They took away Deadpool’s suit, including his mask, and sewed his mouth shut — leaving a character who’s literally referred to as "the merc with a mouth" physically unable to speak. Even director Gavin Hood admitted Deadpool came out all wrong in his film (via the Independent), explaining it was hard to fit Deadpool’s personality into a PG-13 movie.
Studio ADI, who applied the creature effects for the film, made a video explaining their whole side of the Deadpool tale. The artists believe the studio didn’t intend for Deadpool to be fully formed in "Wolverine," just a setup for what he could become in a later film. "If you think of this as an embryonic Deadpool," suggested one artist, "it might make more sense." Not that that makes much sense. Anyway, the earlier Deadpool paved the way for Reynolds to make subsequent, much more-praised films with the character, and he seems to enjoy ribbing on the earlier bastardized version we got in "Origins."
Gal Gadot — Wonder Woman
If you had a nickel for every time Wonder Woman’s costume caused a controversy, you’d have … probably 10 nickels or so. From the comics to the screen, the DC superhero’s attire has been the focus of attention numerous times over the years, so it’s no surprise that from the second Gal Gadot signed on to play Wonder Woman in the DC Extended Universe, a number of pundits and fans immediately chimed in about how wrong she was. Her performance in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" silenced many who claimed she was too thin and didn’t have a hero’s figure, but the controversy didn’t end there. The Amazonian’s latest costume seemed fairly appropriate, though a lot of people were unhappy about the shoes — Wonder Woman has to run around and kick ample butt in heels, which many argued were unnecessary and put the emphasis on sexiness over strength.
Though the heels might not be the most practical thing for a superhero, the rest of the movie costume was thoroughly thought out. Designer Michael Wilkinson spoke to Pret-a-Reporter about his ideas behind her signature look. "We wanted to create something incredibly strong and portray her as a legitimate fighter," he assured fans. "There was a lot of love that went into all the details, making her really look like a powerful, legitimate warrior." Now people have moved on to complaining that Wonder Woman doesn’t have underarm hair — it seems the hero will never get a break.
Bryce Dallas Howard — Jurassic World
Though audiences generally loved the dinosaur action and the guy carrying two margaritas as he ran from prehistoric monsters, there was one big problem with "Jurassic World": Bryce Dallas Howard’s heels. Howard played Claire, an uptight executive who ends up running around in mud, rain, and wet concrete and never for a moment takes off her nude pumps. Even when escaping a T-rex, those heels stay glued to her feet. It’s not hard to see why audiences had a problem: Heels would be the worst possible shoes to wear in that situation, and the pumps must have been made of magic since they never came close to falling off in any of her off-road adventures.
But Howard defended the choice, telling Yahoo! News, "I’m better equipped to run when I have shoes on my feet. So that’s my perspective on it. I don’t think she would carry around flats with her. I think she’s somebody who could sprint a marathon in heels. … For me, it was actually logical for her to be in that very illogical situation because she doesn’t belong in the jungle and yet she finds herself there and has to adapt." Whether or not you like the pumps, you have to be impressed by Howard’s ability to run in them without breaking an ankle.
Sylvester Stallone — Judge Dredd
"Judge Dredd" is less than great for a number of reasons, one being a lot of screentime for Rob Schneider and another being the ridiculous way Sylvester Stallone hollers "I AM the law!" But for longtime fans of the character, that wasn’t the worst of it.
In the comics, Judge Dredd famously never takes off his helmet, but Sylvester Stallone takes it off in under 20 minutes. Director Danny Cannon’s original idea was to keep Dredd dark, violent, and NC-17. He wanted the film to stick closer to the comics and have an overall gritty tone. Stallone, on the other hand, wanted a flat-out comedy. According to Cannon, Stallone wanted countless rewrites and always pushed for more laughs. Plus, he had a less-than-reverent view of his character. " Dredd? A role model? You’ve got to be kidding! This guy’s a nut!" In addition to making script changes, Stallone also wanted a say in the character’s fashion.
The movie costumes were partially designed by Emma Porteous and Gianni Versace, as Stallone wanted the fashion designer’s take. Apparently, Versace thought the future would run on codpieces since they were heavily featured in his original, unused designs. Alan Grant, co-writer of the "Dredd" comics, said, "The story was subservient to Stallone, who, I think, takes himself too seriously." When Karl Urban was announced as the star of the 2012 "Dredd" reboot, he immediately assured fans he’d be leaving the helmet on.
Maureen O’Sullivan — Tarzan and His Mate
Tarzan has always roamed around the jungle in a loincloth, and nobody ever seems to mind. But when Maureen O’Sullivan donned a similar ensemble to play Jane in 1934’s "Tarzan and His Mate," it caused an uproar. O’Sullivan, reprising her role from "Tarzan the Ape Man" two years previous, wore a small top and a very revealing skirt. Jane’s skimpy outfit was all over the film and it freaked a lot of women out.
Maureen O’Sullivan stated that the filmmakers wanted sensuality; at first, Jane was going to have no bra or top at all and she’d be covered by strategically placed leaves and such. That didn’t work out. When O’Sullivan eventually got her costume, she felt it was perfectly fine and never thought it would be considered scandalous. "But it caused such a furor," she recalled. "The letters came in … thousands of women who were objecting to my costume … I was offered all kinds of places where I could go in my shame to hide from the cruel public who were ready to throw stones at me."
The Hays Office (where films were censored to avoid indecency) was just as outraged. In all subsequent sequels, Jane wore a much more traditional dress. "Tarzan and His Mate" was one of the last pre-code films, marking the final glimpse of side boob and upper thigh young boys would get in theaters for quite awhile.
Theda Bara — Cleopatra
When you think of a movie costume being too risque for 1917, you probably picture a girl showing a little too much ankle. But Theda Bara wore some very revealing outfits in 1917’s "Cleopatra." A major selling point of the film was Bara’s 50 separate costume changes, and though not all the outfits were scandalous, there were a few that left little to the imagination. The New York Times‘ review stated "[the costumes] are so thoroughly in attune with the period that they are likely to cause not a little comment."
But Bara wasn’t going for cheap thrills. She delved deep into the role and reportedly worked with a curator of Egyptology at the Metropolitan Museum to research authentic details for costumes and jewelry of the period. Bara didn’t stop with the costumes, she was thoroughly filled with the spirit of Cleopatra. "It is not a mere theory in my mind. I have a positive knowledge that I am the reincarnation of Cleopatra. I live Cleopatra, I breathe Cleopatra, I am Cleopatra."
Michelle Pfeiffer — Batman Returns
In "Batman Returns" — the second installment in his dark and gothic Batman series — filmmaker Tim Burton brought in Michelle Pfeiffer to play one of the Caped Crusader’s most famous and popular adversaries (and love interests): Selina Kyle aka Catwoman. Stalking through the night while committing crimes with the abilities and sensibilities of a feline, Catwoman dressed the part in a skin-tight rubber bodysuit and matching ear-topped headpiece. While the costume made it seem like it allowed for freedom of movement for Catwoman and Pfeiffer, that was far from the case.
"It was the most uncomfortable costume I’ve ever been in. They had to powder me down, help me inside, and then vacuum-pack the suit," Pfeiffer told The Hollywood Reporter. "They’d paint it with a silicon-based finish to give it its trademark shine." Once it was on, Pfeiffer had no way to use a restroom without completely removing it, and it left her face and body feeling crushed. "I’m talking painful," the actor told journalist Dominic Wells. "At first I couldn’t walk, breathe, hear, or talk."
David Bowie — Labyrinth
Much darker than his usual Muppet fare, Jim Henson’s 1986 fantasy film "Labyrinth" is about a teenager named Sarah, who gets sick of watching her baby half-brother Toby. When her little brother gets kidnapped, Sarah is whisked away to a magical land of goblins and other creatures. In this other realm, Sarah matches wits with Jareth, the Goblin King, whose romantic interests in her are about as untoward as his overly tight trousers and prominent codpiece are inappropriate in a children’s movie.
Jareth is complex and charismatic, a sort of mythological rock star who’s attractive and frightening. He’s portrayed by real life rock star David Bowie, who brought sex appeal and danger to the role. Costume designer Brian Froud played up all of that when creating the wardrobe for Jareth. "The way I built the Jareth character, I gave him other qualities. He’s also a romantic hero, he’s also contemporary with a leather jacket, has armor on it. This refers to 15th century knights. I gave him a swagger stick. It has a crystal ball, but if you look at it, it’s a microphone," Froud said in the documentary "Inside the Labyrinth." "You’re supposed to be a young girl’s dream of a pop star. We got in a lot of trouble about maybe how tight his pants were, but that was deliberate." Because ’70s and ’80s rock stars wore tight pants on stage and in music videos almost as a matter of course as an aggressive display of their sexuality, so too did Jareth.
Jane Russell — The Outlaw
During Hollywood’s "Golden Age," the major movie studios all agreed to a self-policing system of censorship and adherence to standards of decency. According to NPR, Former U.S. Postmaster General Will Hays developed a list of 36 "Don’ts and Be Carefuls" — nicknamed the Hays Code — that filmmakers dutifully followed for about 34 years, though they weren’t enforceable laws.
Celebrity billionaire Howard Hughes dabbled in filmmaking and directed "The Outlaw," a 1943 western about a vampy revenge-seeking femme fatale named Rio McDonald. The movie starred Jane Russell, in her feature film debut, and she wore a lot of revealing costumes in the film, all of which accentuated her chest. According to the Los Angeles Times, even the advertising heavily marketed Russell’s animal magnetism, using photos of her reclining on hay bales in a loose-fitting blouse without a bra underneath to drum up the film’s publicity.
During production, Hughes was disappointed that his cinematographer wasn’t capturing enough footage of Russell below the neck and above the waist. He also didn’t want shots of the actor’s chest to include any trace of a bra, which was a provocative notion for the 1940s. So Hughes used his aviation engineering background to design a seamless push-up bra for Russell, which would be invisible underneath the actor’s wide-open blouses. Hughes got the sexy shots he wanted, but once he submitted the final cut of "The Outlaw" to RKO Pictures, it couldn’t pass the Hays Code without the careful deletion of some of the racier images of Russell.
Milla Jovovich — The Fifth Element
"The Fifth Element" is instantly recognizable for its highly stylized world that feels like it’s straight out of a comic book. Nevertheless, the Luc Besson-directed project is one of the most beloved sci-fi flicks out there, even if it wasn’t always favored by critics. Starring opposite Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich — best known for the "Resident Evil" series — plays Leeloo, a young woman who happens to be the key to the titular element.
Leeloo’s instantly recognizable medical bandage outfit, as iconic as it is, is not without its controversy. This revealing costume isn’t worn by Jovovich throughout the entire film, but filming the scenes in it made her feel a bit uneasy despite her prior work as a model (via Yahoo). She went on to explain that the film’s crew "were whistling and stuff" whenever she’d be on set. It doesn’t seem like "The Fifth Element" was the most comfortable work environment for everyone involved.
In a 2022 interview with Vogue, Jovovich spoke very highly of the Leeloo character and further defended the unique bodysuit. "Being in a hospital, they put a robe on you that is open in the back so they can reach in and put injections and tubes," she said. " "So you have to have as little as possible, but for the sake of modesty, you have to cover up." Evidently, there is a practical use for this outfit after all.
Rebecca Romijn and Jennifer Lawrence — X-Men films
20th Century Fox
At the start of the 21st century, the first "X-Men" launched the superhero movie craze by adapting the popular comic book heroes to the contemporary world. From the first "X-Men" through 2019’s "X-Men: Dark Phoenix," the X-Men’s adventures were chronicled on the big screen, with characters like Mystique completely reimagined. Played by Rebecca Romijn in the original trilogy and Jennifer Lawrence in the four prequel-boots, Mystique traded in her trademark white outfit from the comic books for, well, nothing actually.
Romijn and Lawrence both play reimagined versions of the Marvel Comics character, complete with an updated look that basically means Mystique is always walking around naked. Despite her ability to shapeshift clothing as well, Mystique’s "all-natural" appearance is pretty strange given that everyone else is fully clothed. However, Romijn enjoyed her time as Mystique, explaining, "Every single time they finished, and I would look in the mirror, I would just look at it like it was a masterpiece."
Conversely, when Lawrence took over the role in "X-Men: First Class," her eight hours of prosthetic makeup a day almost pushed her to quit altogether, she told "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." "I love these movies," she told Entertainment Weekly before the release of "X-Men: Apocalypse." "It’s just the paint." A few years later, Lawrence reprised her role in "Dark Phoenix" with limited screen time, though Mystique’s makeup changed drastically and barely resembled the character’s old appearance. Naturally, after four films, Lawrence had finally had enough.
Cara Delevingne — Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
From the mind of "The Fifth Element" director Luc Besson came another science-fiction epic, though unlike his previous work, this one has been all but forgotten. "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" starred Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne as two United Human Federation soldiers on a mission to save their home. If you don’t remember this one, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Regardless of whether you remember the film, you may have heard some controversy surrounding Besson’s choice of costuming, at least among long-time fans.
Delevingne’s character, Laureline, wears your standard sci-fi military body armor, but with a touch that ended up making headlines — and frustrating fans of the original "Valérian and Laureline" comic books. When comparing Valerian’s armor to Laureline’s, it’s hard to ignore the striking difference between the two. Delevingne’s armor was a bit bustier than usual, especially compared to what the character’s armor looks like in the original comics.
Ahead of the film’s release, Metro UK ran an editorial piece further examining the costume, comparing that to the non-gendered armor that a character like Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" wore, or even Mystique’s (Jennifer Lawrence) armor from "X-Men: Apocalypse," released a year prior. Due to the critical and financial failure of "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets," we’re unlikely to ever explore this world again, so maybe the costuming debacle will be forgotten along with Besson’s 2017 space opera.
Sigourney Weaver — Alien
20th Century Fox
This one might be a bit surprising, but Sigourney Weaver’s final costume at the end of "Alien" has proven to be a bit controversial in recent years. By the end of the film, Ripley (Weaver) is the sole survivor of an alien incursion on the Nostromo. Believing that she’s destroyed the creature for good, she prepares herself for hypersleep by stripping down and prepping her pod. Before she can put herself under, she notices that the fully-grown Xenomorph has tucked itself away within the ship.
For James Cameron, Ripley’s "striptease," as Weaver put it, stepped over the line. Cameron told The Chronicle when talking about his beloved sequel "Aliens," "I made it my goal to make women interesting without making them sex objects and I think I was pretty successful at doing that." On the contrary, when Sigourney Weaver explained the scene to Express, she said, "People have said, ‘Aw, how could you demean yourself by doing a striptease?’ And I say, ‘Are you kidding? After five days of blood and guts, and fear, and sweat and urine, do you think Ripley wouldn’t take off her clothes?’"
Despite Cameron’s objections, it’s worth noting that the opening scene of "Alien" features John Hurt’s Kane waking up from hypersleep in a similarly vulnerable state, making Ripley’s final moments in "Alien" a simple reflection of how the film began. Admittedly, this moment’s significantly briefer, but that’s mostly due to there not being a life-sized alien stalking the crew of the Nostromo just yet.