Written and directed by James Gunn, Suicide Squad is based on the popular DC Comic of the same name which follows a ragtag a team of supervillians. Among male characters kitted out with armour, jackets and combat boots, Harley Quinn fights in hot pants and stilettos. Whilst this may be classified as a badass message about women’s combat skills, several of the shots throughout the movie, including the infamous stripping scene, are clearly targeted towards the male gaze.
Every Bond Girl, James Bond Franchise (1962-2021)
James Bond is the epitome of the typical male fantasy; he’s handsome, great at beating the bad guys and smooth with the ladies. It comes as little surprise therefore that the women of the Bond movies are little more than vehicles to excite or distract Bond, make him look cool and for male audiences to lust after. The use of women as purely sexual objects for Bond (and the audience) is even permeated through the language and names used.
Claire Dearing, Jurassic World (2015)
Jurassic World came under some fire for their characterization of female protagonist Claire Dearing. Many people including Buffy the Vampire Slayer writer and director Joss Whedon had something to say about the characterization of Dearing and her male counterpart Owen Grady. Whilst Grady gets to be an action hero and save the day, the same trope is relied upon yet again; the woman, in high heels of course, is left to be rescued by the capable male love interest.
Mikaela Banes, Transformers (2007)
Transformers (2007) is the action packed science fiction film based on the Transformers media franchise of the 1980s. Despite grossing 709.7 million dollars at the box office, many take issue with the depiction of female character Mikaela Banes portrayed by Megan Fox. From lingering camera angles to the “hot girl who likes cars” characterization, this character was clearly made for a male audience.
Dominika Egorova, Red Sparrow (2018)
2018 thriller Red Sparrow follows the story of Dominika Egorova, a prima-ballerina turned Russian spy who uses her sexual prowess to catch targets – aka. Sexpionage. Although to some it can portray a feminist message and highlight the horror of sexual violence, the focus on Jennifer Lawrence’s body and the of the sexual violence enacted upon her and other women in the film make this an uncomfortable watch which appears, at least in part, to be written for men.
Wendy Torrance, The Shining (1980)
For the author himself to call a film adaptation of his character “one of the most misogynistic characters ever put on film”, something must have gone horribly wrong. However, that is one of the things that made Stephen King hate Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of his famous novel. Kubrick changed Wendy’s character from the book so much so that she is unrecognizable, as instead of being the strong and independent woman she was in the book, she became an obedient wife and frantic victim.
Flower and Butterfly, Without a Paddle (2004)
Flower and Butterfly were the free-spirited hippies of the early 2000’s comedy Without a Paddle. Showing up just in time to give the male protagonists some sexual excitement, they help the boys fight off the men pursuing them. Although this 90’s classic is beloved among fans, and the characters are undeniably clear about their purpose, there is no hiding the reason why they were included within the film
Nadia, American Pie (1999)
Another raunchy 90’s comedy, American Pie, has its fair share of female characters being objects of desire for the four male protagonists and, of course, the audience. The most obvious is Nadia, the beautiful foreign exchange student who is not only ogled by not only Jim but also his friends when he accidentally live streams her stripping before their sexual encounter is… cut short. An embarrassing moment for Jim, but also a prominent moment when the audience and characters are watching a teenage girl undress.
Paige Edwards, House of Wax (2005)
Paris Hilton plays the classic slasher movie hot girl in the 2005 remake of the horror classic, House of Wax. A character with little substance or characterization, apart from the sexual chemistry between her and her boyfriend of course, Paige is chased mercilessly by the wax-faced killer whilst wearing just a bra and knickers with a loosely fitted hoodie draped over it.
All of the “Angels”, Charlie’s Angels (2000)
There has been much debate about whether this noughties classic action comedy was a feminist take where women were the badass fighters, or a sexist facade full of camera angles that got men hot under the collar. Perhaps it was a bit of both. But one thing is true about Charlie’s Angels, looking back through the 2023 lens, the angels were at least in part dressed, characterized and shot to be very pleasing to the male gaze; particularly given the tagline ‘Get some action’.
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