Since the beginning of cinema, female characters have been evolving and diversifying to include a wide range of roles for actresses in current day Hollywood. Although there is still a disparity between the number of leading roles offered to men and women, the past 40 years have introduced viewers to a number of fantastic heroines. Whether they’re battling robots or aliens, leading a rebel resistance, or succeeding where their male counterparts have failed, no one would dare call these female characters damsels in distress.
Here are Screen Rant’s 10 Most Badass Women in Popular Movies.
One of the most iconic badass women in film is Sigourney Weaver’s cat-loving heroine from Ridley Scott’s Alien franchise. The role was originally conceived with a male hero in mind, but Scott decided to cast a woman in an effort to flip convention. The resulting movie gave fans a heroine who would be the final crew member of the Nostromo left standing against the xenomorph. Ripley would go on to be the hero of Aliens as well and cement her spot in the badass female movie character hall of fame.
The archer from District 12 first earned the love of viewers when she sacrificed herself as a tribute to Panem’s annual death match in order to save her younger sister. But, after defying the odds and winning in The Hunger Games, Jennifer Lawrence’s character went on to be the face of a rebellion as the Mockingjay and lead the districts against the dictator President Snow. Though Katniss has her moments of vulnerability, they only help to make her a more badass character when she stands up and does the right thing for Panem.
Not every badass female character has the most noble intentions, though it’s debatable whether the assassin seeking revenge against former colleagues in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill is noble or not. After The Bride’s groom and entire wedding party are murdered by her ex-lover, Bill, she goes on a mission of vengeance until everyone responsible is dead. Described as “the deadliest woman in the world,” Uma Thurman’s character certainly earns the title as she slices through the Deadly Vipers with ruthless drive.
After playing the waitress in distress when a Terminator cyborg from the future comes calling, Linda Hamilton returned for the sequel to John Cameron’s sci-fi action thriller as a veritable badass. Using what she learned from Kyle Reese, and other skills she picked up along the way, Sarah Connor is as instrumental to protecting her son John in Terminator 2: Judgement Day as the T-800 sent by his future self. Plus, Sarah is the future leader of the Resistance against Skynet – though it isn’t shown in the film, it’s easy to see the waitress-turned-badass as a rebel leader.
Making her first appearance as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent infiltrating Stark Industries in Iron Man 2, Scarlett Johansson’s spy and master assassin has proven her skills over and over again within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Whether Black Widow is helping her fellow Avengers take on an alien army invading New York City, or aiding Captain America root out the Hydra agents that have infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D., she has become one of the most notable heroines within the Marvel franchise. Fans love the character so much, they’ve been calling for Black Widow to receive her own standalone movie for years.
Yu Shu Lien
Ang Lee’s martial arts film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon tells the story of a warrior wishing to retire who bequeaths his sword to Michelle Yeoh’s heroine in order to see it safely delivered as a gift to his friend. But, when the sword is stolen, Yu Shu Lien and Li Mu Bai must team together in order to retrieve it. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon received overwhelmingly positive reviews for many aspects of the film, including it martial arts scenes between Shu Lien, Mu Bai, and their adversaries.
First introduced as Princess Leia and a member of the Rebel Alliance in George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode IV, Carrie Fisher’s character became an integral member of the heroic trio in the original trilogy. In the newly released episode 7, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Leia returns as a general in the Resistance against the First Order. In each of her appearances, Leia has been portrayed as a capable character and, as a result, has become one of the most iconic heroines in Hollywood history.
Introduced in The Fast and the Furious as the tough-as-nails member of Dominic Toretto’s crew of street racers and thieves, Michelle Rodriguez’s character has been established as a key member of the team throughout the series. Although she was thought to be killed at the end of Fast & Furious, Letty overcame amnesia of her former life with help from Dom in Fast & Furious 6 and returned to the fold in Furious Seven. Portrayed as a capable mechanic and member of Dom’s team – as well as his wife – Letty is certainly one of the most badass characters in the entire Fast & Furious franchise.
Played by Charlize Theron in George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road, this lieutenant to Immortan Joe goes rogue during a supply run, making a break from the dystopian society in an effort to save herself and the tyrannical dictator’s five wives. From the subtle scenes when she proves herself a better shot than Max, to her larger heroic moments such as when she kills Joe, Furiosa steals the show in Fury Road as both a badass female heroine and one of the most compelling characters in the film.
First appearing in the second film of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Two Towers, Miranda Otto’s character is a noblewoman of Rohan and the niece of King Théoden who wishes to be a warrior. Though she may not get to fight as much as she would like throughout the film, she does take part in the battle outside Minas Tirith in The Return of the King. During this battle, Éowyn fights and defeats the Lord of the Nazgûl, giving fans of badass female characters the iconic line: “I am no man!”
The first Underworld film hit theaters in 2003, introducing viewers to its dark universe in which vampires and lycans are deep in a longtime war between their races. Enter Kate Beckinsale’s Death Dealer, an important warrior on the side of the vampires. But, when Selene falls in love with Michael, who becomes the first vampire/lycan hybrid, she finds herself caught in the middle of the war. Between her lethal killing style and her penchant for standing up for what’s right, Selene has become a beloved action heroine and a staple of the Underworld franchise having appeared in all but one film.
Based on the horror video game series, Resident Evil pits Milla Jovovich’s amnesiac heroine against the outbreak of a zombie virus in a secret underground facility. Alice has returned for each of the Resident Evil sequels, killing zombies and attempting to save the world from the scourge. Though Alice doesn’t prevent the apocalypse, she has become one of the more well-known and popular action heroines in film thanks to the Resident Evil series.
So what do you think of our list? Did we miss any of your favorite badass female characters from popular movies? Let us know in our comment section and don’t forget to subscribe to our channel for more videos like this one.