Every Coat Worn By Charlize Theron in “Atomic Blonde,” Ranked

This intro includes some spoilers for the movie, so if you want to avoid those, scroll down to the coats!

On the first day of third grade, when asked by my teacher to write a journal entry including a summary of my summer and a brief introduction of myself, I instead opted to write a plot synopsis of the film Mighty Joe Young and a short profile of Charlize Theron. In other words, I have been under Charlize Theron’s spell since 1998. That, coupled with my devotion to the James Bond franchise since middle school, made Atomic Blonde my most anticipated movie of the year. Atomic Blonde isn’t a perfect movie, but it thrills and delights, and Theron gives a searing performance that reinforces just how magnetic she is as an action star. I walked out of the theater hoping to one day be lucky enough for Charlize Theron to kick me in the face.

Helmed by David Leitch, who started out in Hollywood as a stuntman and stunt coordinator before breaking into acting and making his directorial debut with 2014’s John Wick, what Atomic Blonde lacks in coherent plot, it more than makes up for with brilliant action crafted by someone who understands what makes a compelling fight sequence. There are fewer cuts and more wide shots than in the fight scenes tediously fashioned for superhero films. (Oh my god, remember the horrendous Iron Fist fight scene that somehow had 56 cuts in 35 seconds?! My sister and I crafted better action sequences in the James Bond parody, titled Jenny Bond, we made in middle school with our family camcorder.)

Who cares that the actual story only barely makes sense? Who cares that the story employs an unnecessary flashback framing device? Who cares that the script is, at times, laughably trite? Atomic Blonde is a stunning, queer action thriller, which is something I feel like I have been waiting my whole life for! Theron captivates in the action scenes as well as in her quieter, sexier scenes with Sofia Boutella, who plays Delphine Lasalle, a French operative tracking Lorraine in Berlin. Theron and Boutella crackle on screen together, and their sex scene is one of the hottest things I’ve watched in a very long time. But the most egregious turn in the show’s plotting is Delphine’s death, which isn’t ultimately necessary for the story and is a pretty blatant replication of the harmful Bury Your Gays trope. It’s especially a let down since Delphine is a genuine love interest for Lorraine, who doesn’t sleep with her to get information or for any other ulterior motive other than just wanting to sleep with her.

The only other dynamic duo in the movie on the same level as Lorraine and Delphine is Lorraine and coats. The costuming in Atomic Blonde contributes to the brilliance of the fight sequences. Lorraine’s coats billow and swing behind and around her as she thrusts and twists her body in attack mode. The shape and movement of these coats have been emblazoned in my brain since I left the theater. So I present you with my definitive ranking of the coats worn by Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde, including the names I have given them in my head when I fantasize about them.


10. White Vinyl Storm

There’s nothing better than a raincoat when your life pretty much means you could be splattered with blood at any given moment. This is one of the first coats of the film, and it was custom-made by John Galliano, so it pretty much sets the coat tone for the rest of the movie. The killer boots are also worth noting. Those could puncture a jugular or two, and Lorraine no doubt considered that whilst purchasing them, because she’s a woman who thinks ahead.

9. Double Trouble Trench

Love a simple trench! Look at how effortlessly that collar is popped. I mean, that’s some Grace Hanson levels of effortlessly popped collars. Do you think Lorraine wears so many trench coats because she can use the belt as a weapon if needed? I do!

8. Killer Duster

Nothing like a long n loose black duster to make you feel like a shadow in the night. Lorraine is giving off some casual Catwoman vibes, and I’m here for it!

7. Winter Assassin

It’s cold in Berlin! So sometimes, you gotta throw on a wool coat and thigh-high boots and chill out, even though you’re a character in a movie with no chill to be found. I, too, owned a dark green wool coat in high school. Am I basically a queer superspy who thirsts for men’s blood? Ya.

6. Undercover Trench

Lorraine wears this one when trying to sneak through the streets of Berlin undetected. But what starts as her incognito coat transforms into one of the focal points of the film’s longest, most grueling fight scenes. Fight scenes that unfold on a stairwell are nothing new, but this one makes all the others look like child’s play. It also ends with Lorraine’s best one-liner.

5. Atomic Green

Lorraine doesn’t wear a ton of color in the movie, so when she does, it feels significant. The coloring and lighting in this movie is truly fantastic, neons popping against a bleak Berlin background. And the Boy London shirt she’s wearing underneath this coat reminds us we’re in the 80s (it’s bizarrely easy to forget that detail when watching the movie, even though Cold War news soundbites play throughout).

4. Leather Menace

I’m somewhat surprised Lorraine didn’t don more leather coats, but costume designer Cindy Evans has also noted that fabrics for Theron’s costuming were considered not only based on how cool they looked but on how well they performed in fight scenes. Lighter, looser fabrics than leather are no doubt better for maximum slayage, but at least we got this one strong leather look for Lorraine.

Now seems like a good time to mention Delphine’s studded biker jacket, which is the best coat in Atomic Blonde not worn by Lorraine (Lorraine does, however, rip it off of her).

3. There Will Be Blood

This gorgeous piece came from the Dior archives. Note! The! Pockets! Functional fashion! Lorraine’s sudden change to a bold color (and brown hair) accompanies a sudden plot twist, but the coat is more compelling than the twist.

2. Popping Collar

This black wool coat is sleek but pretty basic…until you notice the freaking leather collar that Lorraine pops for some edge and an air of mystery.

1 . Never Wear White To A Fight (Unless You’re Charlize Theron)

Um excuse me? How dare this Massimo Dutti white coat exist? It’s too beautiful and then somehow made even more beautiful in motion in another one of the film’s standout fight sequences.

In addition to coats, Lorraine sports a lot of excellent turtlenecks in the film, and as a lifelong turtleneck devotee, I feel extremely seen. Tactical turtlenecks are a spy tradition thanks to the likes of Archer and James Bond. When Lorraine pulls her black turtleneck up over her face in this scene, I almost stood up and clapped.

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is a Brooklyn-based writer, television critic, and comedian who spends most of her time over-analyzing queer subtext on television, singing "Take Me Or Leave Me" in public places, and assembling cheese platters. She has a cat named after Piper Halliwell from Charmed, and her go-to karaoke song is "Everywhere" by Michelle Branch. Her writing can also be found at The A.V. Club and The Hollywood Reporter, and she wrote the webseries Sidetrack. You can catch her screaming in all-caps about Kalinda Sharma, Jennifer Lopez, and oysters on Twitter and Instagram.

Kayla has written 171 articles for us.

42 Comments

  1. Hard same to almost everything here. I loved 007 as a tween and I was unreasonably excited to see this. While I would have infinitely preferred that Delphine survive, I fucking loved this film. The costuming and the music were ace. I talked about her coats, and that Paris outfit in particular, for a solid 10 minutes after we left the teatre.

  2. Love Charlize, love the coats, and was absolutely blown away by this movie.

    *spoilers*

    I’m torn on the fate of Delphine…On the one hand, I’d have loved to have her survive to maybe show up in a sequel. However, her character arc felt almost exactly to me like a classic “Bond Girl,” so maybe that’s some form of progression for LGBTQ cinematic equality? Also, she was a gender-swapped character from the book, and I believe the original (male) version of her character met a similar end.

    Interesting article about the portrayal of this relationship in IndieWire: http://www.indiewire.com/2017/07/atomic-blonde-charlize-theron-lesbian-sex-scene-lgbt-1201860628/

    • Thanks for linking to that IndieWire article! I’ve been on the fence about seeing this because I didn’t want to be mega-irritated by the way the f/f romance is portrayed. Not thrilled to hear Delphine gets killed off, but most reviews from women sound positive & I’ll give the film a chance.

  3. Charlize Theron is an Atomic BADASS in this movie! The color saturation and soundtrack are amazing. Her coats stood out big time as I was watching <3 Who needs an ass kicking liability-cape when you can punch, jump, roll, and run in gorgeous coats?

  4. BLESS YOU KAYLA, YOU JUST MADE MY WEEK <3 I went to see this on Saturday with my girlfriend and I left the theater with a burning desire to create a Pinterest board dedicated to Lorraine's wardrobe (because WANT) so this list is like an early birthday present for me.

    Also I whole-heartedly agree with your review of the film; it had its flaws and I'm upset that Delphine was killed off, but overall I LOVED it and spent the entire time swooning over Charlize. Now I want her to be the next James Bond SO BAD.

  5. @riese, can we make it an official autostraddle policy that writers under thirty aren’t allowed to talk about what grade they were in/their age in any given year?

    Otherwise, excellent article. I loved the movie’s clothes and music (somehow–I don’t remember loving most of those 80s songs in the 80s, but they were fucking awesome in the movie). I didn’t know how badly the world needed a ranking of her coats. Well done.

  6. I don’t think Delphine dying fuels the the kill your gays trope, because Lorraine got her happy ending. Delphine’s death actually brought out the humanity in Lorraine, she genuinely felt sadness and she genuinely wanted Delphine to get out alive. I was truely convinced of Lorraine’s love for Delphine by the reaction to her death. It was kind of beautiful and the moment Lorraine found her dead pulled on my heartstrings. Because you never knew who was on whom’s side and everybody was lying to one another, Lorraine’s reaction to Delphine’s death brought out an authenticity you would not have normally seen in that type of setting. I related to Delphine so much and although it can be argued that Sofia Boutella is white passing there is something in my little brown heart that relates to her so much. I hearted this movie so fucking much.

    • I mean… nothing you said contradicts the bury your gays trope lmao? If anything it’s just ‘bury your gays’ with a sprinkle ‘a woman needs to die for the character development of the hero’ trope flavoring

      (it doesn’t mean it can’t be an enjoyable movie! still tropey tho)

      • The kill your gay trope (in my opinion) argument is weakened by the fact that
        1. there was another queer main character that had a happy ending. The trope is usually present when straight cisgender people or a straight cisgender romance dominates the movie. It did not in Atomic Blonde. Queer romance was central.
        2. Delphine wasn’t killed as punishment for being gay
        3. People actually die in spy movies, a lot of people, therefore Delphine’s death wasn’t much of a shock and did not come off as punishment for being gay
        3. Delphine’s death was not a part of the story’s creator’s subconscious belief that gay people should be punished. (As far as I know)
        4. Delphine was not a magical queer who sacrificed herself to save the straights. Nor was she a “depraved homosexual” or “psycho lesbian” further proving to me that she was just a lesbian character who died.
        5. Even after Delphine died there was still strong queer representation, Lorraine.

        Also in a movie where there were not a lot of love scenes and the one’s present are predominately queer love scenes (minus James Mcavoy *or however you spell his name* waking up in a bed of women which isn’t really a love scene) and the only real “love story” that is shown is Lorraine’s I’m not convinced that Delphine’s death fits into the trope.

        I know it is different when characters are on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, but Delphine just seemed like another casualty. It also leaves the story open for a new lady lover if there is an Atomic Blonde

      • Also….
        Delphine had the same opportunities for romance, motivation, developed backstory, and the same odds of death as the straight people in the film.
        Well as much backstory as you could get in this movie lol
        The kill your gays trope usually comes at me when lgbtq+ characters don’t have the same opportunities as straight people and Delphine did.
        But that’s just my opinion when I saw the movie three days ago. If I watch it a few more times maybe my mind will be changed.

      • Anndddd one more thing that builds my argument further
        ******MAJOR SPOILER ALERT********

        Delphine’s death was because she had hard evidence about a British spy who went rogue, once he found out(I’ll omit names to) she had to go. Her death wasn’t punishment for being gay (which is a central theme in the kill your gays trope) which further convinces me that her death is not tropey.
        This movie is pretty analyzable…….. my inner english major is pulsating

          • I think your initial comments were spot on. It’s the nature of the beast with the spy thriller genre. Delphine’s death moved the plot forward and gave another layer to Lorraine; who only showed some semblance of humanity when with Delphine. I think for someone like Lorraine, to not be able to reach Delphine in time was much more effective storytelling than having her seek revenge in the name of a broken leg. 🙂

          • She could have been, but that doesn’t prove that Delphine’s death fits into the trope just that her story could have went different ways. Also her living would bring up other ends to tie up in an already complicated plot. I didn’t understand what the hell was going on until 2/3 of the way through the movie lol.

            (Not trying to sound rude or anything, I just love analyzing me some Movies.)

        • @blanche
          How?
          Delphine had the same opportunities for romance, motivation, developed backstory, and the same odds of death as the straight people in the film. All of this points didectly oppose the bury gays trope.
          Also Delphine was not killed off to further another straight character’s storyline.
          This also opposes the guidelines to the kill you gays trope.
          I’m not seeing how any of the things I am listing is tropey.

          • But: she still dies? Isn’t that what the Bury Your Gays trope is literally about?

            Gay characters with no backstory, etc. would be another trope. Bury Your Gays is literally a trope where the characters can’t be together because the one or both die, and that is exactly what happens here.

        • @blanche
          I thought Delphine and Lorraine couldn’t be together because Lorraine was so deep undercover (she was essentially a triple agent). If she did end up with Lorraine she would have to reveal who she really was (I’ll omit specifics just in case someone stumbles upon this and hasn’t seen the movie).

          I thought the bury your gays trope was much deeper than a gay character dying and not being able to be with their lover. The thoughts and system behind Bury your Gays is a commentary on how society sees the LGBT+ community and has a list of rules, such as dying as punishment, for the character to fit the trope. Like if a lesbian dies on the L word their death would not fit into the trope because the cast is predominantly lgbtq+ and queer friendly therefore making the character’s death, just a death.

        • @blanche
          Also a trope is defined as “a figurative or metaphorical use of a word or expression.” Therefore Delphine dying with no negeative connotation/metaphor behind her death such as punishment or homophobia would make her death just a death.

          *100% not trying to be argumentative just trying to understand.
          If you have any links or books that would be great. The stuff I studied explained tropes and the trope this way.

  7. Currently congratulating myself as I did not read the very first sentence and stumbled across a massive spoiler in an instant – Not your fault, Kayla, it’s me being an idiot. Screw it! Still can’t wait to see the movie and coat #7 in action!

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