History books, legends, and fables are dominated with stories of gods and men committing heroic acts and setting the standard for what it means to be a true badass. Needless to say, this very same trend is continued on the silver screen, with beefy ’80s action heroes, suave super spies, and every-day normal guys that rise to the call when the need comes knocking.
But the title of badass isn’t something that belongs solely to the patriarchy. Sprinkled amongst the manly exploits of most movie heroes, one can find a different kind of badass: mothers. Women who not only fought alien hordes and toppled empires, but also created and raised children.
In celebration of the many matriarch powerhouses, here are the 12 Most Badass Movie Mothers.
Xenomorph Queen – Aliens
In the spirit of inclusion, not all badass moms are human. Or good. The Xenomorph Queen is responsible for spawning an entire army of Xenomorph soldiers. After the Weyland-Yutani Corporation founded Hadley’s Hope on the planet LV-426, with the express purpose of studying the Xenomorph aliens, the settlement became overrun when the experiments went wrong. The Xenomorph Queen took up residence in the atmospheric processor in the sublevels of Hadley’s Hope, laying egg after egg, populating an entire Xenomorph hive.
Far larger, smarter, and stronger than all the other Xenomorphs, the Queen doesn’t only give birth to Xenomorphs, but also takes the survival of her hive very seriously. When Ripley and the Colonial Marines destroy her egg chamber, burning her children to ashes, she chases them down, using previously unknown Xenomorph ninja tactics to stow away on Ripley’s ship to seek revenge.
Although she ends up flushed out the airlock, the Xenomorph Queen puts up quite the fight, taking on Ripley in her Power Loader suit. If the fight had taken place anywhere else, the Queen likely would have had the upper hand.
Ryan Stone – Gravity
Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) was an X-ray imaging technician who was awarded a spot in a NASA mission after her invention of a new scanning device. Grieving the loss of her young daughter, Stone commits herself to the job at hand, appreciating the silence and isolation of space.
When the mission is endangered by the destruction of a Russian satellite, Stone is let loose in the Earth’s orbit, out of touch with mission control, trying to fight her way back to solid ground in a fashion safer than Earth’s gravity would normally dictate.
Stone MacGyvers her way through multiple orbital installations, narrowly avoiding destruction by both high speed space debris and damaged space stations. When she finally gets back to Earth, the shot of her rising to stand is one of the more powerful moments in cinema in recent years.
General Leia Organa – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Princess, Senator, Soldier, General, and Mother, Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) has held a wide variety of titles over the years in Star Wars. Having fought the oppression of the tyranny of the Empire from a young age, Leia lost almost everything in the Galactic Civil War when her home planet, Alderaan, was destroyed.
After the fall of the Empire, Leia continues to stand as the sole political and military opposition to the rising First Order. When her son falls to the dark side and she’s separated from her husband, Han Solo (Harrison Ford), she remains steadfast, duty bound to stop the First Order, even leaving the New Republic in order to serve as General over the forces of the Resistance.
Never one to run from a battle, Leia can often be found on the front lines of any major conflict. Her royalty and position in government could allow her much cushier (and safer) occupations, but that’s just not her style.
Valka – How to Train Your Dragon 2
As a young mother, Valka (Cate Blanchett) was kidnapped by dragons, taking her away from her family on the island of Berk. She had been trying to dissuade the people of Berk from waging war on the dragons for years to no avail, so when the dragons took her to the Dragon Sanctuary, she saw the opportunity to help save dragons, leaving her family behind.
Years later, she meets her grown son, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), who has learned to train dragons and brought peace between the flying beasts and the people of Berk. Together, they’re able to confront the tyrant Drago Bludvist and his corrupted Bewilderbeast.
Commanding the full respect of the Bewilderbeast and the dragons he commands, Valka is somebody to be taken seriously. She may not be the actual mother of dragons, but she’s the next best thing.
Helen Parr / Elastigirl -The Incredibles
As a young superhero, Helen Parr railed against the Patriarchy. Female superheroes were not very common, and Elastigirl scoffed at the mere suggestion she should “leave the saving of the world to the men” and settle down.
As it turns out, the saving of the world wouldn’t be left to supers at all. When “capes” are outlawed, Helen and Bob Parr are forced into witness protection. Leaving the life of a superhero behind, Helen focuses on raising her 3 super powered children and running a household.
Able to stretch and contort her body to extremes and nearly impervious to damage, Elastigirl was a force to be reckoned with in her heyday, so when Mr. Incredible is captured by Syndrome, Helen suits up once again to save him, leading her family against the new threat as a badass superhero matriarch.
Molly Weasley – Harry Potter
Molly Weasley (Julie Walters) was a student at Hogwarts and a member of the revived Order of the Phoenix. She met her husband, Arthur, at Hogwarts, and together they had 7 children. Her youngest son, Ron, was a close friend and classmate of Harry Potter, whom Molly often treated like one of her own children.
Although Molly had seemingly been retired from the wizarding world for many years to serve her family as a wife, mother, and homemaker, she wasn’t afraid or incapable of throwing down when it came time to protect those she cared for.
Molly fought the forces of Voldemort at the Battle of Hogwarts where her son, Fred, was killed. Shortly after his death, Molly defended her daughter, Ginny, from Bellatrix Lestrange, promptly attacking the Death Eater with such a ferocity that she overwhelmed Lestrange, killing her.
Meg Altman – Panic Room
When Meg Altman (Jodie Foster) and her daughter Sarah (Kristen Stewart) move into a new house, they don’t even make it through the first night before thieves break in looking for the valuables of the former owner. Locking themselves in the house’s panic room, Meg and Sarah find themselves in a stalemate with the intruders.
Meg is a force to be reckoned with. She’s tough, resourceful, and many have since compared her to a chess master. Her keen tactics successfully keep the attackers at bay, and she’s bold enough to even take risks like lighting the gas line on fire.
The house may not be the Nakatomi building, and the burglars may not be Hans Gruber, but Meg Altman is a John McClane-level badass, thwarting the intruders at every turn, proving to be more than just a thorn in their side.
Splendid – Mad Max: Fury Road
The Splendid Angharad (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) was Immortan Joe’s favorite wife before she convinced his other 4 wives to flee Joe’s Citadel with her. Hiding away in Imperator Furiosa’s War Rig, the 5 wives set off in search of The Many Mothers of the Vuvalini in the fabled Green Place.
Desiring a better life for the other wives and her child, Splendid goes as far as to use herself as a human shield to protect the War Rig, knowing Joe wouldn’t allow her to come to harm. Unfortunately, she still winds up under Immortan Joe’s wheels, killing herself and their unborn child.
Beatrix Kiddo, AKA The Bride, AKA Black Mamba – Kill Bill
Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman) is a member of the Deadly Viper Assassination squad, who goes by the name “Black Mamba.” She was romantically involved with her boss, Bill, but upon her discovery that she’s carrying his child, she fakes her death and flees the assassin group to live a “normal life.” Not one to take betrayal well, Bill tracks her down at her wedding, kills everyone in the chapel, and leaves Beatrix in a 4 year coma.
Upon waking from the coma and discovering that Bill took her child, Beatrix wants revenge. She’s going to kill Bill. She tracks down the legendary retired swordmaker Hattori Hanzō, and has him construct her a sword he claims is his best ever. She wields this weapon to take down each member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, eventually leading her to Bill, and her daughter.
Sarah Connor – Terminator
When the extermination of the humans doesn’t go as smoothly as intended, the sentient AI, Skynet, sends a Terminator back in time to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), the mother of resistance leader John Connor. The human resistance sends back Kyle Reese to protect Sarah Connor, and it turns out he’s also John Connor’s dad, because time travel makes no sense.
Years later, Sarah Connor is a patient in a mental institution when another Terminator is sent back to kill her. Escaping the institute and meeting back up with John, they defeat the new Terminator (with the help of an old Terminator), and she spends the next several years equipping John to mount a war on the machines.
Although Terminator continuity is highly suspect on all levels, one thing that’s not contested is that Sarah Connor is a badass. Whether she’s played by Linda Hamilton in T1 and T2, Lena Headey in The Sarah Connor Chronicles, or Emilia Clarke in Terminator: Genisys, she’s a hardened warrior fixated on providing the future with a John Connor capable of leading humanity to victory.
Marge Gunderson – Fargo
Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) is a seven months pregnant police chief from Brainerd, Minnesota. When a local state trooper and two civilians are murdered near Brainerd, Marge opens the homicide investigation.
A pro detective, Marge is able to effortlessly case a scene, picking up new details and finding holes in other officers’ investigations. Clues from the Brainerd crime scene lead her to interrogate several witnesses, slowly piecing the murder together until she finds herself in a shootout with the killer.
Ellen Ripley – Alien
Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) was the Warrant Officer for the Nostromo, a Weyland-Yutani Corporation freighter. After visiting the planet LV-426, an alien Xenomorph gets loose aboard the ship, killing all aboard except Ripley.
Years later, Ripley would return to LV-426 to find a colony completely overrun by Alien Xenomorphs. Most of her crew is killed again, but she does escape with a Colonial Marine, Hicks, and a young survivor, Newt, battling the Xenomorph Queen in the ultimate beat down.
Ripley is widely considered the first prototypical strong female protagonist — decades before such a term would draw controversy in the fan community — and she still remains one of the most significant female protagonists in all of science fiction.
As both a biological mother and adoptive mother, Ripley’s ruthless survival tactics and fearless exploits against the Xenomorphs earns her the top spot in the ranks of most badass moms.
Who’s you favorite? Any other movie mamas you think rise to level of a true badass? Let us hear about it in the comments!