"The Enhanced Body"
(Spring 2014)
Written for Warner Bros. Pictures - Freelance

Augmentation to Fashion Superhumans

Mankind has continuously seemed to have a fascination with the enhancement of their physical form to give them heightened abilities. Shoes that promise you’ll run faster and jump higher. Energy drinks that promise to give you a boost in agility for an extra five hours. Science fiction has latched onto this notion and taken the desire to be better to the next level: making a Six Million Dollar Man, giving Ellen Ripley a Power Loader to combat Aliens, and building the mammoth jaegers to fight in Pacific Rim

In the upcoming Tom Cruise film Edge of Tomorrow, the next level of this concept is revealed. Soldiers in the film are fitted with cybernetic Exosuits that they have nicknamed “jacket technology.” These suits give human soldiers the edge over their alien opponents by allowing them to punch harder, jump higher, and have the firepower of a heavy artillery vehicle literally strapped to their back.

The suits are brutal, dangerous, and make the soldiers of Tomorrow absolutely deadly.


“This isn’t CGI. The audience feels the weight of these machines.”
- Tom Cruise

“You don’t wear the Exosuit, the Exosuit wears you.”
- Bill Paxton

The Exosuits in Edge of Tomorrow thrust soldiers into battle quite literally. The mechanized and armored suits provide stability and protection for falls from great heights, allowing paratroopers to drop into combat without the aide of a parachute. Once they’re on the battleground, soldiers within this “jacket technology” are armored from the enemy’s weaponry and from melee attack. They can sprint at an increased rate and leap like Superman to have the mobility and dexterity of the quickest of combatants. This increased physicality is ironic as the real-life suits worn by the actors on set were actually incredibly heavy. Since battles within the suits would be so physically demanding, they couldn’t be made from lighter weight plastic materials because there could be zero fragility to their design. They had to be hardened and tough and ready to undergo strenuous filming scenarios.

In order to move gracefully in her heavy suit, Emily Blunt employed a wide variety of tactics to strengthen her body. “I did gymnastics, yoga, weight training and a lot with a weight vest on, just to feel what it would be like to run with the suit,” says Blunt. To Blunt, the extra effort was worth it for her performance, “I think you can always tell when something’s created with CGI, and I think this action looks so real because it was. We were doing it.”


“You become a human bulldozer with machine guns.”
- Bill Paxton

“You start to really enjoy the power of the suit.”
- Emily Blunt

In Edge of Tomorrow there are three very distinct types of Exosuits that the humans utilize to fight the enemy, each with very specific roles on the battlefield.

Comprising the majority of the army are grunts, the infantry that marches en masse to complete the mission parameters. Fitted with basic Exosuits, grunts have a common machine gun strapped to one arm and a grenade launcher on the other. Grunts have the purpose to fight more as a group, rather than an army of one.

Where the grunts lack firepower to cut down a path, tanks pack quite a punch. Heavily armored to protect the soldier inside, a tank only has one primary weapon: a large electromagnetic railgun strapped onto the back. Tanks are the big guns on the field but because of their cumbersome nature don’t have the same mobility as a grunt.

Rounding out the Exosuits are the dogs. If grunts and tanks comprise the rest of the army, the dogs are their Green Beret-like special forces. Taking the railgun technology from the tanks and strapping two miniaturized versions of them to each shoulder, the Dog suits are ready to make the enemy hurt. The guns are affixed to the dogs’ backs in an “angel-wing” configuration, butterflying up and out to either side of their shoulders. The guns also swivel to allow them fire around a full 360 degrees of their location. Their suits are fast, agile, and a genuine threat to anyone that dares face them.


“Building the Exosuits alone took four to five months.”

- Doug Liman, Director

It was incredibly important to Edge of Tomorrow director Doug Liman that the film remain grounded and that the Exosuits be closer to science fact rather than science fiction. Bringing them to life would take an elaborate collaboration between the costume department, props, and stunt department of the film.

Conceptually, the Exosuits were inspired by real technology being explored for the near-distant future. “Our Exosuits take cues from actual developments that the military is doing,” says Production Designer Oliver Scholl. “In developing these exoskeletons, we’re going back to more traditional forms and shapes that convey real mechanics and hydraulics, rather than slick engineering.” For that reason, the suits had to be functional. Every one of the 650 components in each Exosuit had to move fluidly and with purpose. To assemble over a hundred real Exosuits for filming, the production had to build their own factory at the Leavesden Studios headed by Exosuit modeller Pierre Bohanna. “At their peak, the team was producing over 650 castings of components a day,” says Bohanna of the massive team that worked around the clock to make sure each soldier had an Exosuit.

“The Exosuit has been something we’re all incredibly proud of,” says Costume Designer Kate Hawley. “It’s such a complicated process, and I have to say so much goes to Pierre and his engineers for making that work.”