To anyone who was understandably upset, confused, or a mix of both when they saw Karen Gillan’s skimpy Jumanji sequel costume, fear not: the erstwhile Doctor Who and Guardians of the Galaxy star swears there is a very good reason behind her character’s attire — or lack thereof.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter from the set of her yet-untitled directorial debut in Glasgow, Scotland, Gillan addressed the controversy that arose last summer when a first-look photo of the film’s cast — which also features Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, and Jack Black — hit the interwebs. Gillan’s character, Ruby Roundhouse, was shown to be wearing short shorts and a belly top in the jungle, while all three men are fully clothed and wearing sensible attire for that environment.
While we definitely love Gillan — her funny, soulful Amy Pond is one of our favorite Doctor Who companions, and Selfie was an underrated gem — and have faith that the second Jumanji might actually be worth the price of admission, we still have our doubts about this very confusing costume.
We already know the film features four teen characters playing a new version of the Jumanji game, quickly getting sucked into the jungle, then having to play as avatars from the game in order to survive (something that definitely wasn’t a thing in the Robin Williams original), so we can safely assume that Gillan’s “reason” here is that Ruby is an avatar, and the character playing this “is really not happy about” her costume.
And that’s fine, in theory — there is nothing inherently wrong with a sexy costume (though there is with wearing one in the bug-infested jungle, tbqh) and we hope the bit lands, and that Ruby herself is a funny and nuanced character who adds a lot to the film. But the problem here is that she has to be, because Ruby is the only female main character in the cast. There are two young teen girls in smaller roles — a shy, nerdy one becomes Ruby in the game, while the popular girl becomes Black’s Professor Shelly Oberon — but presumably, the main focus of the movie will be on its four movie stars.
We probably don’t even have to say this anymore since a lens has been on the issue for quite some time (and y’all, presumably, have functioning eyes), but one chick in a gaggle of dudes (who is probably getting paid less, but we digress) has been the norm in big budget studio movies since, well, forever. So when the one, very badass lady in Jumanji shows up dressed like one of the safari girls in Big Buck HD, it’s a natural response to be a bit saddened by the reminder that to Hollywood, a woman’s value — even if said woman is an in-demand actress like Gillan — lies in her youthful, slim, preferably European-looking body. Black can wear a sensible pair of khakis and a lab coat that will likely ward off mosquitos, Hart and even Johnson can cover up, too, but Gillan is the one who gets stuck with the bright red belly top and Daisy Dukes.
Again, we honestly do have some nostalgic excitement for Jumanji, which sounds goofy and fun. But we’d be a whole lot less wary of the Ruby plot if the film had considered actually, you know, hiring another female star. During a time when 78 percent of films have male leads and even the ones that don’t give its male characters overwhelmingly more dialogue, we’d love to see a Leslie Jones or a Rose Byrne or a Constance Wu kicking ass right alongside Gillan in the jungle.
… Just, you know. In pants. There are mosquitoes out there, ladies!