The Wasp Isn't The Only One With The Boob-Armor Issue
Of course, Wasp is far from the only big-screen superhero dealing with boob-armor problems. From the tendency to give warriors metal boob-armor, to the superheroes wearing a wide variety of look-at-my-boobs costumes, female superheroes rarely get to wear something that doesn't flaunt their chest at the audience. The results range from simply eye-rollingly pointless to actually dangerous - as plate armor shaped this way not only directs sword-blows straight to the center of the chest, but risk a broken breastbone should the unfortunate woman be shoved into a hard surface chest-first.
Within the Marvel universe, multiple female heroes deal with over-sexed costumes, although it's encouraging to see that not all of them deal with this indignity. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), the first major female hero in the MCU, doesn't have boob armor per se, but does wear her catsuit unzipped to reveal some major cleavage. Any opponent can essentially pull her suit off by yanking the zip down, but instead of keeping it done up to minimize that, Widow spent her early on-screen appearances making sure she looked good in battle. Lady Sif's (Jaimie Alexander) shaped metal breastplate isn't quite as egregious as it could be, but it still curves to emphasize her breasts, while leaving her upper chest and throat bare and exposed. One of Marvel's most recent female heroes, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), initially has a somewhat reasonable black outfit (although one that is still not flat over the chest), but changes into her official Valkyrie armor, which includes gold cups over the breasts.
It seems that the only heroes allowed to have costumes that don't focus on the boobs are those who don't wear costumes at all. Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), who fights crime in jeans and a hoodie, looks like a normal person. Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) also manages to wear street clothes while fighting, and so while they occasionally involve some cleavage, they also look like normal outfits. Marvel clearly recognizes that street clothes don't outline or exaggerate boobs, so why must the majority of their super-costumes be designed to draw focus to the heroes' chests, not their faces?
Hope Van Dyne Wouldn't Take This
In some cases, it can be argued that the character themselves are intentionally sexy. Black Widow is known for using her womanly wiles while on the job, and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) has no compunctions about doing the same, so seeing these two in slightly sexed-up costumes makes a degree of sense. However, Hope Van Dyne is certainly not someone that we can imagine wanting a costume that makes her look sexy. In Ant-Man, we saw a Hope that wore workout clothes or classic black suits - a woman who does not tolerate fools, who is capable and independent and who absolutely does not accept being underestimated or talked down to because of her gender. Her reactions to Scott Lang's assumptions that she couldn't win a fight against him are hilarious, and in the trailer for Ant-Man And The Wasp, she is seen saying that had she come with him during Civil War, they wouldn't have been caught. Even her father admits that he gave her tech that he didn't give to Ant-Man, because she's simply more capable than he is.
So if Marvel has established a Wasp who takes no guff, and a father who recognizes how capable she is... why would that father design a costume that includes exaggerated boob armor, and why would Hope consent to wear it? The Hope that we got to know in Ant-Man would have given her father a stern talking to about how female anatomy works, and told him to make her a suit that is flat across the chest. Unless she's packing some extra weaponry in there, a la the Austin Powers Fem-Bots, the eminently practical Hope wouldn't be on board with these boobs. This just doesn't make sense from either a character perspective or a practical one.
There are ways to create costumes that fit and flatter the female form without this kind of cartoonish outlining - and we can only hope that future female heroes in the MCU get to wear them. Thankfully, it does seem that Marvel is moving in this direction, as at least the first shots of Brie Larson on set as Captain Marvel show a suit that (while controversial for other reasons), protects the hero without sexualizing her.
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018