Cara Delevingne has been in the spotlight since age 17, when she signed with a British modeling agency and quickly became one of the world’s most sought-after models. She started making inroads in Hollywood with a non-speaking role in Joe Wright’s 2012 adaptation of Anna Karenina. Since then, she’s taken increasingly bigger roles in small indie films, mostly in England.
Over the next year and a half, American audiences will get three major opportunities to see Delevingne’s acting on display (not including her brief appearance in Taylor Swift’s star-studded “Bad Blood" music video). Delevingne stars in the upcoming adaptation of John Green’s novel Paper Towns and plays a mermaid in Wright’s Pan blockbuster arriving in Fall 2015. However, her biggest showcase yet comes in 2016, when Delevingne steps up as the Enchantress in the DC extravaganza Suicide Squad.
The Suicide Squad adaptation was co-written and directed by David Ayer (Fury), with Delevingne's costars in the supervillain team-up film including Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis and Jared Leto, among others. However, while she thinks quite highly of her coworkers, Delevingne has some issues with the superhero genre - as she discussed briefly during an interview with Empire (via Yahoo! Movies):
“There are only three girls in ['Suicide Squad’] but in my opinion they have the best roles. Generally though, superhero movies are totally sexist. Female superheroes are normally naked or in bikinis. No-one would be able to fight like that. Wonder Woman, how the hell does she fight? She would be dead in a minute.”
To clarify, the 'girls' Delevingne's referring to here are Margot Robbie (who plays Harley Quinn) and Karen Fukuhara (who plays Katana), not counting Davis playing the authoritative Amanda Waller (who assembles the eponymous squad to carry out dangerous missions in exchange for reduced prison sentences). Delevingne also recently admitted to EW that “I’m not the biggest fan of superhero films. There are so f–king many. I love the Batmans but some of them I’m not that keen on."
It’s unfortunate that these interviewers didn’t get a chance to ask, or Delevingne wouldn’t say, which specific superhero films and characters bother her, but there are a number that easily come to mind as examples of what she's talking about (Catwoman, Barb Wire, etc.). Female superheroes have gotten a better deal on the big screen in the past decade than they did before (see Marvel characters like Black Widow and Scarlet Witch), but that's not exactly saying much. Beyond that, others have cried foul at the sexism both in the scripts and in the representation of female superhero leads in superhero movies in recent years. Gender imbalance and questionable choices for the few onscreen female superheroes are pretty hot discussion topics right now, for those reasons.
Delevingne’s comments represent one example of someone involved in the production of a superhero movie who has a clear-eyed and critical perspective of the world that employs her. One hopes it’s only a matter of time before more writers and executives make strides with their efforts to better represent women in ways that honor their complexities (with upcoming superhero films like Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and so forth). And all eyes will be on Suicide Squad and its portrayal of women - to see if Delevingne’s claims about the movie hold water.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will be in theaters on March 25th, 2016; Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman – June 23rd, 2017; Justice League – November 17th, 2017; The Flash – March 23rd, 2018; Aquaman – July 27th, 2018; Shazam – April 5th, 2019; Justice League 2 – June 14th, 2019; Cyborg – April 3rd, 2020; Green Lantern – June 19th, 2020.