The Tomb Raider: An Underwhelming Outfit Doesn't Mean an Underwhelming Film

Costumes are just one piece of the puzzle.

UPDATE (February 9, 2017)
When I first posted it, I wasn’t thrilled with the original version of this article. I thought of it, wrote it, and published it within the space of forty minutes; as a result, it wasn’t particularly well thought out. It made the points I wanted it to, but messily.

I wasn’t thrilled with it when I first posted it, but a few hours later, I detested it. So, I decided to take another pass at it. Revised, it makes the same points as its predecessor, but is — I hope — a better piece of writing.

On February 5, a series of images showing a stunt double for 2018’s Tomb Raider reboot made their way onto the Web. Given that, so far, there have been very few glimpses behind the curtain of the upcoming film, this got fans pretty excited. The question, however, was when we’d get a look at the real deal: Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft.

As it turns out, we didn’t have long to wait.

The following day, photos of Vikander herself — in full costume — began to circulate, and, predictably, opinions began pouring in. Some loved the costume, other’s didn’t. Myself? I came down somewhere in the middle, and, not long after first laying eyes on the images, Tweeted as much.

I regret that Tweet. Not because it lost me a significant number of followers — though it did… — but because, as time ticked by, I realised that what I’d said wasn’t quite true.

I stand by what I wrote about having seen better cosplay, but, having thought about it, I don’t consider Vikander’s strong similarity to 2013’s Lara —

— to be a positive at all. In fact, might prove to be a resounding negative.



At present, there’s some confusion over whether the upcoming film will be an adaptation of 2013’s Tomb Raider. Certainly, it will borrow heavily from the game, but it’s never been definitively confirmed that it will follow the same story.

If it doesn’t — if it takes elements from the game, but does its own thing with them — then I consider Vikander’s similarity to the in-game Lara to be needlessly confusing. Casual gamers will flock to theatres expecting to see a story they’re familiar with, and, likewise, moviegoers may well pick up the games expecting to find the Lara they saw on-screen.

It may be overly cynical, but if this does indeed prove to be the case, then it would seem that the filmmakers are using the games as a crutch — hoping, perhaps, to sell a few more tickets by associating the film with something it may, ultimately, have little to do with. And, frankly, I find the potential addition of yet another canon — there are at least four already: Classic, Legend, Lara Croft, Reboot — to the Tomb Raider universe to be seriously questionable.

Why not use the films to chart the further adventures of the current Lara, to flesh out her character in ways that might not translate well to gameplay, further establishing a canon we’re still only just getting to know?

Still, I’ve meandered away from the original point of this piece: that an underwhelming costume doesn't mean the film itself will be underwhelming, too.

Striking similarity to the game aside, the outfit looks distinctly bland in the leaked images, the bandages — particularly the one on Vikander's leg — a little too clean. At first, I thought this disappointing, but then I remembered that The Tomb Raider — or whatever it ends up being called — is a film, and films employ all manner of methods (cinematography, colour correction, special effects) to improve their visuals, to make them look better than your average snaps, which is precisely what the leaked images are.

I have little doubt that, when we get our first official look at Vikander as Lara, the outfit will look fantastic.

And then there's the fact that the costume is just that: a costume. Films live and die by their stories, their scripts — a costume is just one piece of the puzzle, and unless it's a real stinker, a costume isn't going to drag the whole thing down.

That, I think, was the crux of people's problem with my Tweet: it may have led some to assume that I was suggesting the whole film would be a let-down, based on a single outfit.

I hope this article has cleared that up, shed some light on why I Tweeted what I did, and why I even came to disagree with it myself. Pre-judging anything without having all the facts just isn't my style, and is, I think most reasonable people would agree, a pretty shitty thing to do.

Reservations aside, I want this film to do well, want it to be as good as it has the potential to be. Whether it will or not, however, remains to be seen.

Tempus fugit, and only tempus will tell.