With Hunger Games: Catching Fire on approach in less than two weeks, our staff decided to take a look at some of the most iconic heroic women in film and television. Of course, nobody mentioned Jennifer Lawrence as the role of Katniss Everdeen, but there’s just so many to choose and honor. In the comments section, name your personal pick for strongest cinematic heroine.
Without further ado… Here is this week’s Staff Picks!
Heroic Female Characters
The Women of Joss Whedon
Brandon Groppi – Strong female characters are few and far between to come by in film. Sadly people still have this idea that women cannot do much as a character because “all women are the same” or some old crap like that. But Joss Whedon has a more progressive mind than that. So I can’t choose one but I will say all of Joss Whedon’s female characters. Buffy, Zoe, Inara, Kaylee, River, Echo, Sierra and November just to name a few. They all have purpose, they aren’t damsels in distress. Hell, half of the time they save the male characters or are the prime character to help save the day. They are smart as well. And most importantly each of them has an actual CHARACTER. Not like Mila Jovavich in those Resident Evil films. All of Whedon’s characters have depth. So this is why I say Joss Whedon’s female characters. And to quote Whedon when he is asked “So why do you write these strong female characters?” Whedon: “Because you are still asking me that question.”
The Women Who’ve Faced Jason Voorhees & Lived
Caliber Winfield – The Women Who’ve Faced Jason Voorhees & Lived –
In one of the reviews done for a Friday film, Gene Siskel said that these films are man’s response to the woman’s movement, telling women to get back in the kitchen! Thus proving what moron he truly was. These films are ALWAYS about empowered women, who survive the night, and save the day. They’re always having to rescue their boyfriends, if they weren’t already disposed of. They stand up to tremendous terror, and always come out on top. In part 7, The New Blood, the ante was upped when Jason went against Tina, a girl with telekinetic powers who brought it to Jason like none other. She electrocutes him, sets him on fire, and even drops a freaking roof on him. Come Jason X, the female android blows Jason to bits, and would have saved the day, had the nano-robots not rebuilt him. Happens every time…
Xena: Warrior Princess
Tamica Phipps – Great. I pick the Warrior Princess, Xena (played by Lucy Lawless). No one kicks @$$ like Xena. She is a tall Amazon-like beauty and so fierce she’s scary. She’s intelligent, skillful, and always ready to fight ’til she drops to protect others. Since she once fought for the other side, she can be ruthless and out think the evil/bad guys. Back in the ’90’s when the show came out, she/it was the perfect compliment to Hercules. And I suppose since they made her a spin-off rather than killing her on Hercules like they originally planned, I’m not alone in this thought. I also liked her attire and I want a Chakram (her trademark weapon). Honorable Mention: Echo from Dollhouse.
Mike Luxemburg – ‘Aight, let’s be real for a second. This one kinda has a right answer. As awesome as Katniss, Sarah Connor, Bonnie Parker, and Peggy Carter are (and they’re VERY VERY AWESOME), I gotta go with Ellen Ripley. Buffy is her only real competition, but Buffy never fought an alien with a cargo loader (she did inspire tons of women to find their inner-strength, in the show and real life, but come on alien vs. robot suit). Ripley spends the first movie being told that, as a woman, she isn’t a valuable part of the team. She proves all of them wrong time and time again. Eventually she takes care of that giant, stupid deathbug. In the second movie she’s a RIP ROARING BADASS! Ripley overcomes institutionalized sexism and kills the F out of a bunch of scary ass aliens. Ripley kinda dropped the mic on this question, years before that phrase was even a thing. Let’s not talk about Alien to the third power and that fourth thing, Ripley rules in those too, but those movies are kinda stupid and not worth getting into here.
Rick Tym – I’ve gotta agree with Mike Luxemburg and go with Ellen Ripley from the Alien saga. In the first film, she is the sole survivor of the Nostromo, employing bravery, fear and smarts in equal measure to vanquish her terrifying foe. Ripley’s journey in Aliens is the best of the lot in terms of character and portrayal, as she faces her fears and lets her mama bear roar to keep a promise and protect her adopted Newt. Even the sometimes maligned Alien 3 shows Ripley’s strength as she proves herself worthy of respect from an all-male inmate population, fighting the Xenomorph yet again alongside unfamiliar brothers, and eventually making the ultimate sacrifice to put an end (?) to the alien threat. Heck, I’d even call her a badass in Resurrection, cloned or not. Ellen Ripley, you are not only my favorite female hero, but my favorite cinematic hero off all time.
Shawn S. Lealos – I got to be boring and go with Ripley as well. In the first movie, she was really just a “final girl” in a horror movie but she started really kicking butt in Aliens when it became more sci-fi military and continued on in Fincher’s disappointing third take. By the time Joss Whedon, Dan O’Bannon and the amazing Jean-Pierre Jeanet (three amazing talents) turned in possibly their most disappointing movie, she was a full on bad-ass. There are a lot of interesting female heroes but Ripley stands tall above all others. And just for the record, Buffy was one of my least favorite characters on her show (which I loved the show) and Faith was twice the bad ass that Buffy was.
Ben Jones – Star Sin playing Alexandra DD Cups in Twice Hung Jury….wait…that may be in a different type of move. Kidding..and yes I made that up. Actually this is a good question, and kind of difficult for me to answer cause I kinda dig the leading lady heroine movies they have out lately. I like Katniss role and think she is way ahead of Kristin Stewart in the Twilight stuff. However let’s go back a few years to a woman with attitude and hot none the less and that is Charlize Theron in Aeon Flux. Maybe not the best movie of all time but hey…it wasn’t bad. That with a extremely close 2nd is Kate Beckinsale in Underworld. Women not teens kicking sphincter and taking names.
Derek Johns – Lisbeth Salander is probably at most 120 lbs. soaking wet but make no mistake she is not somebody you want to mess with. She has proven to be more than a match for guys twice her size. She’s also a world class computer hacker and has pretty good detective skills to boot. She has used these skills to get revenge on a sadistic guardian,catch a serial killer and take down a corrupt billionaire. Put all of that together and I would not want to get on her bad side.
Aidan Green – My pick is Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth Salander from David Fincher’s 2011 THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, an entirely welcome remake that tightens and improves upon the storytelling and style of the original film. She has a mousy sexiness to her that seems effortlessly natural, and unlike most cinema heroines, the film’s establishment of Lisbeth as a badass don’t seem forced or heavy handed – she is just literally a girl you don’t want to f**k with. Rooney Mara’s transformation here is remarkable, totally worthy of her Oscar nomination, and I went to see the film – which is nearly three hours long, mind you – three times in the theater to re-experience her spellbinding performance.
Tony Beaulieu – Kitana from Mortal Kombat. Kicks ass, not afraid to get her hands dirty, is a princess. Also she’s a Female character literally rebelling against the paternalism of her home realm. Positioning her directly opposed to her father, Shao Kahn.
Kara “Starbuck” Thrace
Bethany Lewis – Kara “Starbuck” Thrace from Battlestar Galactica. She was physically strong, professionally skilled, utterly capable, completely stubborn, willfully independent, and adamantly true to herself in whatever she did. She was a woman that her male counterparts and co-workers would turn to for help, a strategist like no other in the fleet. She could drink anyone under the table, play a mean game of Pyramid or Triad, and could be counted on in any fight. Whatever flaws she had or mistakes she made, she owned up to them and faced them head on. And there was never any question about her capabilities or intelligence based on her gender. There was simply no need to question it. She was one of the crew and the best viper pilot in the fleet, plain and simple. No one ever tried to deny her worth because she was a woman – there was simply no way anyone who knew her could.
Jesse Blume – This is a extremely difficult and painful category for me to nail down, because there are several strong female characters that deserve to be represented on any kind of list, but we’ve only got one pick per person. I’ve been wrestling with this choice all week, but my final vote goes to Marge Gundersen from Fargo; because any list about strong female heroes that does not have Marge Gunderson is incomplete by definition. Marge is extremely intelligent, very humane and compassionate, and all-around “great police.” She pursues her suspects across the frozen Northern plains to get the men responsible for the grisly crimes which drive the film’s plot, and bring them to justice. Now if that doesn’t sound impressive enough, remember that she did all this while she was eight freaking months pregnant!
Honorable Mentions: Mary Hatch Bailey, Arya Stark, Danaerys Targaryen, Hermione Granger, Mindy “Hit-Girl” McCready, Scarlett O’Hara.
D-Rock – There are so many to choose from when it comes to strong female protagonist. If it wasn’t an obvious favorite, I’d choose Ripley in a heartbeat. I’m not sure if there will ever be a greater badass female in cinema outside Sigourney Weaver’s portrayal of Ripley against the Xenomorph. All that said, I have to show some love for a new character that was introduced a few years ago. The film and character I speak of is Joe Wright’s 2011 film Hanna, which starred Saoirse Ronan as a young girl raised in captivity by her father to become an assassin. What I found fascinating about Wright’s direction is the obvious connection to fairy tales this movie explores. Hanna is like Snow White being chased by the evil witch played by Cate Blanchett. Keep in mind, some of the strongest of female characters originated from fairy tales. It’s so cool to see old school add-ins such as this, mixed with an action film in the same vein as the Bourne franchise. Plus, this girl can kick some serious ass.