Star Trek Into Darkness, Alice Eve, and expensive underwear

Feature Simon Brew 17 May 2013 - 05:57

Was Alice Eve's Star Trek Into Darkness underwear scene justified, or merely a distraction? The latter, Simon writes...

Slight spoiler: the name of Alice Eve's character is mentioned in this article, in case you weren't already aware of it.

The first three films of summer blockbuster season 2013 had a common thread to them. In Oblivion, it's not long before leading actress Andrea Riseborough had shed clothes, and gone for a swim. In Iron Man 3 meanwhile, off comes Gwyneth Paltrow's top, and she's left standing in her bra. Both of these do, at a push, have some link to the story, whether you agree with them or not. Woman shedding clothes does seem to be a theme, though.

However, those two have nothing on Star Trek Into Darkness. It's been two weeks now since I saw the film, and truthfully, I'm still struggling to wrap my head around Alice Eve's sudden disrobing, to the point where she's left standing in some reasonably posh-looking undercrackers.

What's odd about the scene is how it sits in the film. It doesn't lead anywhere. There's no obvious build up or impact to it. It's just an attractive woman standing around in lingerie, in the middle of a big science fiction blockbuster, which promptly then moves on.

That Alice Eve was going to disrobe wasn't a surprise. She appeared in this state in one of the trailers for the film, and I remember thinking then that the moment stuck out a little bit then. The internet thought the same thing, as a few seconds with Google can testify. It was as if wasn't really a natural fit. Dara O Briain has a skit about "something for the dads" in his most recent stand-up tour (Craic Dealer), and this has it stamped all over it. 

When watching the film, it still came as a surprise. What was even more of a surprise was that the film cut away immediately afterwards. There was no sexual tension per se, and there was certainly no sex either. So, er, what actually was the reason it happened?

There's an argument of double standards here, of course. Would we be reacting the same way if it was a man in his pants? Quite possibly not. But here's my big, big problem with Carol Marcus' undressing in particular (even appreciated where her and Kirk's relationship sits in the history of Trek): it took me out of the film. It was such a jarring inclusion, that you're out of the story for a minute, while the letters WTF go across your mind.

To be clear: if Alice Eve wants to stand around in her underwear, then fair enough. The world is far more interested in seeing her in her pants than it is me in mine, and that's a status quo I have no desire to challenge. If it fits the film, as it did in the quietly impressive Starter For Ten, then it's not really much of a grumble. That's what, ultimately, differentiates Star Trek Into Darkness from Iron Man 3 and Oblivion here. In the latter two films, you don't go out of the story, no matter if you feel the flesh there was gratuitous or not. In Star Trek Into Darkness, you do. I'm pretty certain, by the debate that's raging online, that I'm not the only one to feel this way. 

Of course, in the last Star Trek movie, it was Zoe Saldana's turn to undress, in her case to her bra, but again, there was a sense it was at least something to do with something. With Carol Marcus, can you say the same thing?

I was interested to read, then, an interview that Alice Eve gave to StarTrek.com, where she was asked about whether her character's impromptu underwear moment was gratuitous. And she does touch on the issue of double standards.

"There is sexuality throughout the movie", she said. "Chris (Pine) comes in in a very skin-tight suit and you… can see him. He has his top off at the beginning. Benedict (Cumberbatch) did a shower scene that wasn’t in the movie. I think that to ignore an element of sexuality is to ignore an element of humanity", she argued.

This is a bit unfair on Alice Eve, as there's a sporting chance that her comments aren't quite in the right context for this piece. But no matter how many times I read them, it doesn't really sound like much of a defence. Appreciating I didn't really notice Chris Pine's penis at any point in the film (crikey, that phrase alone will do the search traffic into the site no harm), it was hardly Gene Roddenberry's thing to send his crew off to the Marks And Sparks lingerie department (although, to be fair, skimpy outfits were not in short supply). In the new films, I'm not sure I walked away from either thinking sexuality was a major theme. Appreciating Eve's argument that sexuality is a part of humanity, it still doesn't seem like an answer to the particular question here.

And the question is this: did the (male) creative team of Star Trek Into Darkness strip Alice Eve down for the good of the story, or the good of the promotion of the movie? I'd like to say the former, as each of them has real pedigree in shepherding quality female roles. Unfortunately, whatever their intentions, it simply feels - and I accept lots of people disagree with this - more like the latter.

That said, if that Benedict Cumberbatch shower scene ends up a deleted scene on the DVD, expect Alice Eve's smalls to find themselves relegated down the Google rankings a little...

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The scene is laying the foundation for a sexual component between Kirk and Carol Marcus. Anyone who remembers the original films can tell you her character is the future mother of Kirk's child from the wrath of Kahn. The scene is an Easter egg of sorts giving fans a tease of what's in store for the future. The scene fits right in with the obvious attraction Kirk feels when he first meets her in the shuttle, and the consideration he gives her later during the films climax.

Of course if you insist on taking the scene in question completely out of context than of course it doesn't make sense and seems completely unnecessary. As someone who actually knows what's going on in the overall narrative I felt that it was short enough to not seem gratuitous, but long enough to establish her character to be on equal footing with the infamous Star Fleet ladies man. She's completely comfortable in her own skin and confident enough to throw James T Kirk off his game. A man who has shown to bed not one, but two females of any species at a time.

Where you choose to see and read into what you want, I actually look at the overall story.

You should try it sometime

and with one post you have completely destroyed this article haha :)

I disagree. I think it sticks out like a sore thumb in the film, and don't think it fits. If there were crumbs leading to or from it, then I'd agree. But taken in the context of the two hour film, I just don't feel it works.

I'm fully aware of the history of her character, and was going into the film. But, for me, at that moment, the film simply stopped. It seemed the weakest way to establish the attraction between Kirk and Marcus. And I think there are better ways to establish Carol Marcus on an equal footing than her taking her clothes off.

I do look at the overall story. I just came to a different conclusion to you :-)

Simon

I've seen the movie twice now. Not nearly as good as '09, which was my favorite that year.

This scene?

Clearly gratuitous, though she is changing uniforms for a very good reason. And as the fellow below says, it's a harbinger of a sexual relationship we all know is in the cards.

I wouldn't call it a strip tease, as she's wearing nifty but hardly slutty bikini briefs, and it lasts for a split second.

It does take me a little out of the picture in a way that the Paltrow sports bra stuff in IM3 and the Riseborough nude swimming in Oblivion certainly does not.

I have to say, though, that you've got Original Star Trek all wrong in this regard.

TOS is non-stop T&A and especially LEGS!!!

Micro-miniskirts EVERYWHERE. Roddenberry was totally into it. Poor Nichelle Nichols had to work to avoid Basic Instinct-style crotch shots every time the camera showed her seated while facing away from her workstation.

Then later on, we have Seven of Nine doing her awesome constant stripper strut in that cat suit in Voyager. A woman with the body of a centerfold and the mind of a physicist.

And in Enterprise, there is T'Pol, who absolutely smolders in every scene. She's so distractingly striking and sexy, and costumed that way, that I forget that her acting may be a bit on the dodgy side.

DS9 has the holosuite honeys plus the dabo girls plus, well, I won't continue.

It's really only the PC TNG that does not have the big sex element.

PS: Alice Eve is a smashing lady. Very glad she's part of the crew.

>it was hardly Gene Roddenberry's thing to send his crew off to the Marks And Sparks lingerie department.

I can't even believe this is being discussed. films are littered with eye candy shots of men and women. I think if she and kirk had hooked up before the end then you would't think about it.
Was it really necessary to dress Carrie Fisher in the Gold Bikini in ROTJ. No, it could have been a far less revealing costume. Does Hugh Jackman really need to go Topless so often? No?
There were two reasons for this, start the chemistry between her and Kirk and yes eye candy, but that happens everywhere from Ads to TV and it is a bit unfair to pick of Star Trek for it

Yep, fully accepted. Article updated to reflect this.

I agree with Informed watcher that it is was a small nod to the relationship they will have in the future. It was a little bit jarring, but I found Kirk's reaction interessting, he didn't say anything, which I felt was pretty interesting.

Anywho, it was a little pointless in terms of plot, but I think it is probably necessary for the later payoff. In terms of the even stevens of things, I did notice the men in the skin tight suits. It was pretty much as distracting for me at the lady in her bra and pants.

I have a confession, I'm a geek, I like partially clad ladies. So a geek film with partially clad ladies is better than a geek film with say Jason Stratham...I was going to say Jar Jar Biknks, but it's D.O.G :-)

I'm going to embrace my inner Geezer, tough it out and eventually go and see the film, I remember a certain major character in a gold bikini...for little apparent reason...(how exactly does a Hutt get jiggy with a human?) A simpler time maybe? a time when geeks were proud to be mildly titillated by scantily clad ladies, I'm not sure there was a storm in a D cup about that...obviously Leia was more of B cup but I know what I like.

Uumm..... for all those of us who have not watched the Wrath of Khan & are pretty new to the Trekverse ((i've only watched TOS, Voyager & TNG) never could get the ST movies1-7.) that was really a glitch... of course the guys loved it... but it had the feel of a strip tease for the 12-year-olds.. not a sophisticated scene meant for an older audience. She was wearing grand-ma underwear!!!!

Besides, how can you even tie the previous movies & TOS episodes here? I thought these new Star Trek movies were set in an alternate time line & therefore free to be manipulated any old how

I believe Zoe Saldana got down to her underwear (not just her bra) in the last film. And while it was infuriating, it at least had SOME sort of purpose.
PS Can we please stop calling her Carol Marcus? It's technically a spoiler and though you can see it coming a mile off the fact that it's entered the film review vernacular is just irritating.

Don't think you're exactly going to be saving the universe in a lace thong. Not very practical.

So it's basically 'oh everyone else is doing it, so why can't we'? Great.

And before you ask, no, I am not an original Trekker, so didn't know who she was before the film came out. Am I therefore 'allowed' to be exposes to spoilers because it's my fault for not knowing the source material? Discuss. (Similar issues are befalling those who haven't read The Great Gatsby.)

The sad truth is that the scene (OK the single shot) was probably orgininated and created specifically for the trailer and then fitted into the film.

no, it's basically these other films weren't criticised for it so why single out star Trek

Great.

Sorry but that's utter cobblers. It really is.

In the context *of the film* it's out of place, has no sexual chemistry whatsoever, is utterly irrelevant to the plot and adds nothing of value to their 'relationship'. Does Kirk react to her? Yep. Does he react to anything with a pulse? Ohhhh yes. And therein lies the problem, this particular Kirk is currently an adolescent frat boy looking to score at every opportunity. Hell we even get a scene in the first half of the movie at his apartment when he's sharing his bed with two women. Carol Marcus is nothing special in the context of this film whatsoever. There's certainly no need to establish a sexual component between the two as this Kirk doesn't seem to be choosy.

Now if that scene had continued, or for that matter if she'd stripped down and Kirk *hadn't* looked (and in so doing acted differently that he does normally) it might have had some meaning. Maybe there's a big deleted scene after that which would add something to it, who knows. But with the movie we have and what's actually up on screen... nope, sorry, your argument just doesn't hold up.

Umm, because this particular film inserts a scene *specifically* for this reason? Because she strips down, on camera, for a scene that stops immediately after the flesh is shown and could be chopped out of the film with no loss to the plot whatsoever?

if she was going to strip, then yes the lace thong please! Its HOLLYWOOD!

there wouldn't a pointless discussion if there had been a point to the scene. He looks, camera pans... that it. No tell-tale smirk on Kirk or Marcus. No eyebrows lifted above pointy ears... nothing.. She... Just.... Stood.... There...

And that golden watchamacallit... yeah... maybe someone somewhere in the production team had a kinky thang

That's exactly the thought I had.

I totally believe that if Gene Rodenberry could have gotten away with women in their underwear on TV in the 60s he'd have had them in Star Trek. Those skimpy outfits look amazingly short even by today's standards. Back then they must have been as close as he could get to having them undress!

Seeing that scene, I couldn't help but remember the Saturday Night Live sketch with Andy Sandberg as the thirteen year old boy who makes sure every Game of Thrones episode has boobs in it (“I remember there was this one scene where a dude was talking to himself and I was like, why don’t we add two naked ladies…Let’s just say, the scene started working.”)

Benedict Cumberbatch did a shower scene?!! God dammit!!

I love the logic that a movie with Jason Statham + scantily ladies = best movie ever, mostly because it's true.

As soon as it happened in the film, my friend turned to me and said "well that was just for the trailer". He's right.

Yes, it does begin to lay down the sexual component of Kirk and Carol Marcus' relationship. However, there are far more subtle ways of doing this than randomly putting her in her underwear. It was jarring and completely off kilter with the rest of the film.

Slow news day?

Fit.

Really? At this late date, we're back to pretending there needs to be an excuse to have a girl strip down to her undies? Heterosexual men like watching explosions, fights, car chases, and attractive young women stripping down and ready for casual sex. It's not that complex.

That green bra and panties combo was "grandma underwear"? Who's your grandma?

Is your friend JJ Abrmas?

Oh wow. And yet you seem so confident.

The moment was bizarre in the extreme. Even the likes of Return of the Jedi (she was like a sex slave for a giant slug, right?) or Deep Blue Sea (she TOTALLY had to strip down in order to stand on her wetsuit, insulating her from the electricity) spent the time formulating a reason for the cast member get her kit off. Into Darkness didn't even bother.

Well, we got almost-naked Pine in the first one, so I guess we'll have to wait for the DVD to get BC in the shower...

In IM3 with Paltrow, if anyone saw that as sexy then they're pretty desperate

All I could think was 'my god, she must have worked out for this scene'. If my gut looked like that I'd be demanding 10 minutes screen time for them to justify all the efforts I'd put in.

Does a woman in her bra always equal sexy?

SPOILERS! FFS.

Doesn't she have some kind of wellness/fitness business going?

Frankly, I barely noticed what she was wearing. It was a sports bra.

i saw this last night...yes, this scene took me out of the movie. but there were SOOO many scenes that did the same thing and by the time the next one came along i had for gotten about how pointless that was.

I'm waiting for the extended Director's Cut :p

"Say my name!"

"Khaaaaaan!"

Hi Simon on a completely separate note, on the Star Trek into Darkness spoilers discussion page there has been a massive argument which has basically ruined the thread, is there any chance it can be removed so that people going their to view peoples thoughts and opinions can do just that rather than scroll trough a load of garbage.
PS Sorry to clogg this tread with it I could not find another way to contact you.
Kind Regards

I think it was an odd moment, but not entirely out of the blue. It did stick out a fair bit, but I think it's just foreshadowing Marcus and Kirk getting it on in the next film

I'm struggling to think how a Cumberbatch shower scene could have fit into the film... but I would still have liked to see it.

Is mentioning a character's name even slightly a spoiler? I imagine most people would scan a film's imdb entry before committing their time, and more especially their money these days.

Carrie Fisher get's away with the golden bikini because it paints Jaba the Hut as a creep, he even licks her.. there was no chemistry between her and Kirk whatsoever, the scene was just showing her off voyeuristically to the audience (this time painting the camera crew as the creeps).

because the scene wasn't called for, or even faintly excused.

That might be Hollywood's plan to boost DVD sales,,,

wrong, there was no need for Carrie Fisher, it was done because she was attractive and she looked good. you can shoe horn in some 'acceptable' reason but that's contrived. I'm fine with it and enjoyed seeing it but don't paint it as more worthy than Alice Eve's strip

I have no objection whatsoever to this scene. That is all.

Seriously, wtf?! There´s a brilliant new Trek movie out that is not afraid to touch directly on the whole Bush doctrine / fear manipulating / preemptive strike issue, and THIS is what you feel the need to discuss about? Obviously, for some puritans, the sight of a beautiful girl in underwear really is a weapon of brain cell mass destruction.

at least Lucas bothered, contrived or not.. Abrams just went straight for sleazy.. guess you could respect him for that but I won't.

The movie was awesome, but that scene annoyed me. I think you're overanalyzing it; it was pretty obvious they just wanted a hot chick in her underwear. I just thought it was pointless and you're right, it took you out of the movie for a second.

JJ lied about this scene.

"It's great to have these women in the movie and while Alice Eve's character gets down to her underwear, so does Kirk. There's equal opportunity flesh. But it's a critical thing for me that the female voice is center stage as the male voice."

If Kirk did strip down to his underwear in that scene, it must have been cut because after he finally turns around, the scene ends. Could he be referring to the scene where he wakes up with two scantly clad female aliens with him? Maybe, but it's a bad example for two reasons. First, despite showing Kirk getting out of bed, the camera stays focused on the two alien girls still lying his bed wearing their underwear. Second, even if you were to argue that we see Kirk in his underwear in that scene, it still doesn't fit his "equal opportunity flesh" because there are two girls and one guy.

I hope it isn't, because really, I truly admire Cumberbatch as an actor but his body is not THAT hot... He's pretty average. Now I'm gonna hide, because a group of women is probably coming to kill me... *hiding under the covers*

I think there are two Alice Eves - because her Wikipedia photo looks NOTHING like this

No. What's your point?

you are either ok with strip scenes and characters dressed like alice eve and carrie fisher or you're not. you don't get to pick and choose because a director came up with some contrived reason

I read your article before I saw the movie, and I disagree with you. At first (before seeing it) I figured it would be gratuitous but it wasn't. She was changing a told him to turn around so he wouldn't see her.

He turns around to look at her and she reprimands him. It didn't take me out of the movie at all, and I had no problem with it in the context of the story.

There's a spoiler warning at the top of the article........

It didn't really take me out of the film, but.. yes of course it was rather gratuitous. If Kirk were going with her on the away mission it would at least make some sense (i.e. she is changing on the way) but she actually went on the mission with Bones, and there was no reason her conversation with Kirk needed the changing scene.

That being said I found the snug fitting uniform she wore probably just as raunchy. Speaking as a heterosexual man, she's a nice figured lady and neither particularly offended me, but the scene with the lingerie made me think "wha-?"

I found it quite amusing though. Particularly the way she said "turn around", after he had has a peek, but yeah, it was rather tacky.

well, you're wrong and you don't get to not deal with it.

It was just knockoff Viacchi, wasn't it?

"As someone who actually knows what's going on in the overall narrative"... blimey- and you think that the writer of this piece- and 99% of the people reading it DON'T know what's going on? Thanks for the patronising tone- really helps....

A reference to ideas and scenes from pre-existing texts is all very well (and in fact this movie swamps its latter part with geek-appeasing self-referential scenes). Having Carol Marcus most memorable moment be about appearing in her skimpies rather than, let's say, turning out to be a red-hot uber scientist or a future soul mate for Capt James T demeans and traduces the character.

I'm mostly thinking of the character in terms of the over-arching message that the original series aimed for- and which this particular brand of Trek seems happy to on- empowerment and equality for all.

I'm looking at the overall story.

You should try it sometime...

I beg to differ, saw BC quite close up in Frankenstein and he has a delightful body and really nice bum. also how dare they delete the shower scene, now because of that Star Trek is the only thing I've seen him where he doesnt get his kit off. they broke the long standing tradition of BC getting his kit off in everything he's in, including radio shows (sarcasm alert). although technically he did get naked, but it was cut in edit.

That scene was ridiculous. A lot of tutting/eye-rolling in the cinema I saw it in.

You know what is from out of space? Alice Eve's naked boobs ;)
famousnakedcelebrities.

Smells like a studio-enforced decision to me. Marketign jerks, etc.

They actually played the scene completely wrong. They're both Starfleet officers in the future. Then why the ancient Puritanical morality? She should have stripped down like it was nothing, because changing into uniform was part of her job. She shouldn't have been in sexy panties; more like, high-tech, military underwear. The awkwardness should have been on Kirk's part, because, as we've seen, despite his ingrained, natural military genius, he's still very young and a little immature. I would have liked to have seen more of that that than what we got, which was a derivative (and hopelessly illogical) story and muddled characterizations.

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