January 26, 2015

Strong, Beautiful, & Dangerous: Celebrating Women Who Kick Ass in Action Flicks

Action flicks are tons of fun, but to be real -- they tend to be major sausage fests. Sometimes it's nice to see some tough, strong women on the big screen who can pull off a terrifying death stare, as well as a perfect spinning back kick.

Editor Clara Darko made this supercut of women in action films.


This supercut is definitely an entertaining exploration into the world of action heroines, but it definitely brings to mind the serious issues regarding the representation of women in the genre (and film in general). Of course, many filmmakers and filmgoers would like to see more female leads playing roles that are more diverse and complex than the mostly passive archetypes they embody -- a deviation from the mother/whore dichotomy.

Even if progress is slower than many would like it to be, it's important to remember that things are getting better for women in film. These days, you don't have to go back decades in time to find your Ripleys, Sarah Conners, Thelmas and Louises, or Catwomen -- roles that would seldom come to major actresses.

The first few years before and after the millennium also gave us a few classic female action characters, like The Bride, Foxy Brown, Leeloo, and Jiao Long, but women who did a lot of work in the action genre, like Michelle Rodriguez, Milla Jovovich, and Lucy Lawless, didn't find the same commercial success as their peers who worked in other genres.

Today we're seeing that an action role, sometimes a leading one, can actually launch a woman's Hollywood career -- Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games), Zoe Saldana (Star Trek, Avatar), and Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass) -- or take it to the next level -- Scarlett Johansson (The Avengers). Even women who you'd never guess would be cast in action roles are getting in on this (ahem -- Anne Hathaway). It certainly seems to be more normal today for films to not only include, but star women in non-passive roles: Lucy, Maleficent, Gone Girl -- the list goes on. 

Now, if we can only make more action flicks that focus less on their female characters' sex appeal, that'd be awesome. Let's do it -- female action heroines in clothes (that includes shoes, Tarantino).     

Your Comment


Hopefully casting for kick ass women exits the fetish stage and gets more believable. Roles like Katniss for hunger games are well casted but I'm tired of seeing 90lb models throw 200lb men like nothing. Or them throwing a flimsy jab and badguys never being heard from again. Lot of action with men do this too. Television being the most guilty.
Need more Gina Corano caliber action heros for all the heavy lifting.
I wish Amy Blunt got the role of black widow. Just don't buy scarlet johanson as kick-ass without other worldly powers. But Box office talks, right?

January 26, 2015 at 10:01PM

Vincent Gortho

"hot scarjo throwing around dudes greater than your idea" - Box Office

January 27, 2015 at 1:05PM

Dre Kahmeyer

What about Helen Mirren in Red 1&2? She may not be doing round house kicks, but what action she does she pulls off pretty well, especially for a 70 year old woman.


January 27, 2015 at 9:28AM

You voted '+1'.

I think Milla Jovovich has had MORE commercial success than many of her counter parts. The Resident Evil franchise is built around her. What are they up to, number 6? Her action movie list (starring in) is longer than anyone else listed in this article. If you tallied up her income from all those films, I bet Milla would be pretty close to her Catniss.

January 27, 2015 at 1:00PM

Story Teller

And then there are some women that I really would not want to p*ss-off...

Jeeja Yanin in "Chocolate"

January 27, 2015 at 8:20PM, Edited January 27, 8:20PM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

I find thin anorexic supermodels "kickin' ass" of strong muscular guys more offensive than not having so called "physically strong female characters" on screen at all. Gals like Gina Carano at least look like they can convincingly destroy average guy's bones.

January 27, 2015 at 11:12PM, Edited January 27, 11:12PM

Terma Louis
Photographer / Cinematographer / Editor