Even if they are sometimes met with rolled eyes, we all tend to be big fans of action movies. Sure, they tend to sometimes be nothing more than big “shoot-em-ups” with a lot of explosions, scantily-clad women, and very little storyline to speak of. But, herein lies the biggest problem with most action movies – they tend to be very centered around male heroes. Women tend to be relegated to object of desire or derision, and their characters can feel rather tacked on to give some semblance of drama.
In truth, action movies tend to exclude female heroes, but the tide seems to be turning. With the overwhelming success of “Wonder Woman” this year, there has been an added emphasis on making more roles for women where they are the clear lead character & manage to also be the clear hero.
While this spells optimism for movies coming down the line in the future, it’s important to look back at some of the more impactful movies that featured a female hero. Here are five of these films:
“Foxy Brown” – If there were ever a female hero for her time & beyond, it would be the titular character of this mid-70s Blaxploitation film starring Pam Grier. Not only did this movie serve as one of the first powerful female lead roles, it ruffled feathers as to whether the role should be celebrated or criticized, but no one could argue about its importance.
“Aliens” – Sigourney Weaver stars as Ellen Ripley, perhaps one of the finest example of female heroes in not only the sci-fi, but in all of cinema. The character Ellen Ripley contends with the ineffectiveness of her voice & experience, fear & anxiety from a violent recent past, and a deep-seeded nurturing & maternal instinct to fend off some of the most frightening creatures in film history.
“Point of No Return” – Bridget Fonda stars as Maggie Hayward, a drug addict facing the death penalty for murder. Unbeknownst to her, her death is faked & she is brought into the world of becoming an assassin for hire. Contending with addiction, a burgeoning relationship, and a forced duty to a job she never wanted, it’s hard not to be moved by this movie’s lead character.
“The Long Kiss Goodnight” – Geena Davis takes on one of the most explosive female-led action movies to ever hit the silver screen. She stars as Samantha Caine, and by way of amnesia, she cannot remember her past as a trained killer. Think “Leave It to Beaver” meets “The Bourne Identity”.
“Kill Bill: Vol. 1 & 2” – As the controversial last entry on this list, this movie is perhaps one of more astounding turns for a woman turned hero that harkens back to the something in the vein of “Foxy Brown”. Uma Thurman stars as The Bride, a former assassin trying to go straight that is left for dead in a violent turn of events on her wedding day. Throughout both films, The Bride takes the viewer on a long trip of ultra-violence & vengeance, but perhaps the most striking difference to other movies of this type is the distinct admission of guilt by other characters regarding their actions toward the main female character.
There are far more action movies out there that feature a female hero, and a recent one in particular featured in a trilogy that all movie buffs are screaming about due to its omission. Nonetheless, the need to point out action movies with female heroes perhaps best indicates just how many movies there aren’t in the genre. Hopefully, this is a thing of the past.