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Fantasy Armor Part I

Updated on August 30, 2014

Female Fantasy Armor: The Wrong Way and The Right Way

In this article, I would like to look at something that has plagued the fantasy genre of literature and movies for quite some time, which is absurd female armor. In my second article on this topic, I will look at male armor, but it does not have nearly as many problems with fanservice as female armor does. In this article, I will discuss both illogical and logical female fantasy armor. I will also be looking at some excuses that I have heard used to justify idiotic costume choices.

Doing It Wrong

I will not be touching on the most obvious offender in this general area for long. This offender would be Red Sonja’s chainmail bikini. I quite frankly cannot help but laugh when anyone actually refers to what she wears as armor. It is not armor by any stretch of the imagination because it protects nothing.

I will instead in this section be focusing on two costumes that approximate armor far better than Red Sonja’s but still fall woefully short. These two would be Wonder Woman’s new armor for the movie Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Xena’s armor from Xena: Warrior Princess. These two sets of armor actually look remarkably similar as you can see.

Similar Designs

Lead to similar flaws
Lead to similar flaws

Now, I’m going to admit that Wonder Woman’s new outfit for this movie is a vast improvement over her previous costumes. But even though it actually looks partially like armor, it is still something that no self respecting warrior would ever wear. Why? Because it still leaves way too much unprotected. Her stomach is protected, which is a good thing. After all, wounds in the stomach area are supposed to cause a painful death. I obviously do not know this from experience though. The problems start up at her shoulder area. The neck is a very vulnerable part of the body. That is why there was this piece of armor designed called a gorget. A gorget protects the neck. Note that both Wonder Woman and Xena’s armor lack a gorget. Moving on down, they leave part of their chests exposed. The upper chest is not as vulnerable as the stomach, but it is still a good idea to cover it. Another thing is that for some reason, their arms for the most part have been left completely bare. Arm wounds can be painful people. Finally, I’m trying to figure out where people ever got the idea that Greeks do not wear pants. Let’s stop for a moment and understand something about the legs. There are veins and arteries in the legs. These being cut, pierced, or otherwise damaged by say a sword, could lead to bleeding out and therefore death. They should at least be wearing some sort of leather. On Wonder Woman’s, we also have the added issue of high heels. When they announced that they were going to do a new outfit for the movie, I thought that we might finally get something logical, but instead, we got more fanservice.

Excuses

Excuse #1: Men get so distracted that they cannot fight.

As a man, I object to my gender being portrayed as a bunch of drooling neanderthals. We can figure out that a woman with a sword, who knows how to use it, is a dangerous thing. You see, contrary to what seems to be popular opinion among those that have formed this excuse, men do have this little thing in our heads called a brain. Just because someone flashes a little skin at us does not mean our threat detectors go offline.

Excuse #2: It’s fantasy; get over it.

This excuse is right up there with the “well it’s magic” excuse to explain any plot inconsistencies. I’m fine with suspending my disbelief to a point when reading fantasy. In fact, I am a big fan of the fantasy genre. I would not be writing this article if I was not. However just because I like fantasy does not mean that I abandon common sense. I can accept worlds with dragons, wizards, trolls, elves, and a whole host of other mythical and fairy creatures, but I cannot accept a world where a self respecting warrior seems more concerned about how sexy her armor is than how protective it is.

Excuse #3: Well, a woman wants to look feminine.

And a warrior should want to survive the battle.

Doing It Right

In the rest of this article, I would like to give three examples of basically logical armor. That is not to say that there are no problems with these sets of armor, but they are far more like real armor than what we have just looked at.

Doing It Right #1 Sif

She actually looks like a warrior goddess
She actually looks like a warrior goddess

Thor: The Dark World

The Asgardian goddess, Lady Sif’s, armor in the Thor Movies is an excellent example of doing it right. There is one main problem, which is that she does appear to be wearing high heels. However, she has protection for her neck, but she probably could afford to have a bit more. She is also wearing pants. It is almost as though, she wants to survive a battle.

Doing It Right #2: Mulan

She looks ready for a fight
She looks ready for a fight

I can find very few faults if any with Mulan’s armor from the tv show, Once Upon A Time. While there are from what I understand some uses for a cape, there are also drawbacks, so I personally would prefer no cape. The cape is not completely illogical though. She has a full gorget. Her arms are completely protected. She is wearing pants. Her arms are also covered She is also not wearing high heels. She actually looks like quite the dangerous warrior.

Doing It Right #3: Brienne of Tarth

I'd be terrified of fighting her
I'd be terrified of fighting her

The Books the Series is Based On

Brienne of Tarth’s armor is without a doubt the most obvious example of doing it right when it comes to fantasy armor. The HBO show Game of Thrones in fact does most of their costuming quite well for what they are trying to accomplish. This is not to say that I necessarily like everyone of their costuming choices. Brienne of Tarth, to return to the subject at hand though, has a brilliant set of no nonsense armor. Her neck is protected. Her arms are protected. Her legs are protected. She looks like a brutal tank of a warrior, which is what she is supposed to be. I know that I would not want to go up against her in a fight.

Conclusion: What is the Big Deal?

The big deal is simple. In my opinion, fantasy as a genre has often been undeservedly maligned. A whole host of idiotic reasons is given for this. It is simplistic. It is escapist. It is just stupid. This has been happening since the days of Tolkien himself. The critics hated his work. They thought that it would not last the decade. Therefore it annoys me when fantasy writers give some credibility to criticisms of the genre by following fanservice rather than actual logic in their armor design choices. This fanservice armor makes fantasy fans appear to be a bunch of drooling, sex obsessed teenage boys in their parents’ basement, which is the general media’s usual portrayal of them. This is why so many tv producers seem to think that all they need to do to make a good sci-fi or fantasy show is throw in some scantily clad women (perhaps in chainmail bikinis) and not worry about such things as plot, logic, or character development. As a person who wants plot, logic, and character development rather than fanservice in my fantasy and sci-fi, this result aggravates me. This is why I believe that The Thor Movies, Once Upon A Time, and Game of Thrones deserve praise for their costuming choices, despite the other issues all three have. They have at least moved away from fanservice towards logic.


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