Hit Girl (Kick-Ass)
When Matthew Vaughn was trying to secure financing for his ultra violent graphic novel adaptation Kick-Ass, one of the recurring obstacles in his path was studio insistence that the target demographic wouldn’t want to watch an eleven year old girl save the day. So Vaughn went ahead and raised the funding himself. Once it came to trying to get distribution for the film however, those very same studios all said the same thing; “Can you add more of that girl? The target demographic will love her”. Central to the best of Kick-Ass’s dizzying action sequences and instantly likeable (thanks to a wonderfully charismatic performance from Chloë Grace Moretz and a razor sharp screenplay) Hit-Girl became a cult icon seemingly overnight, just like the studios (eventually) said she would.
Words by Harrison Abbott
Black Widow (Marvel Cinematic Universe)
Slick, deadly and as fiery as her bright auburn hair, Black Widow is a superhero who stands just as firmly on-screen as her fellow Avengers. Following Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of the Russian S.H.I.E.L.D agent – also known as Natasha Romanoff – in Iron Man 2, Avengers Assemble and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the character’s popularity and subsequent prominence as a female action-hero in movie culture has increased to no end. Unlike her male comrades, she doesn’t need a super suit or gamma radiation to fuel her power; she can kick ass – and look flawless in the process – all by herself.
Words by Anneka Honeyball
Despite being mostly known for her vampire slaying escapades in the genre-mashing cult TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon’s fan-favourite teenage badass was actually born on film. Originally embodied by 80s-star Kristy Swanson, Buffy was a little more naive in her first incarnation in 1992, but her classic retorts and stake-slinging ways were still somewhat in tact. It may well be Sarah Michelle Gellar’s turn as the action icon that’s more well known today, but no matter the actress, Buffy’s punchy charm proved to be a giant leap forward for feminism.
Words by Ben Robins
Being the supporting actress in science-fiction action film Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise, it would be safe to assume that Emily Blunt would fall into any of the typical, slightly sexist character tropes that these films consistently are known for; whether that be the damsel in distress, the sexy-yet-deadly eye candy, or the narrative tool to push the male protagonist. However, this is most definitely not the case.
As mechanized bad-ass Rita Vrataski, also known as ‘The Angel of Verdun’ and ‘The Full Metal Bitch’ (straight away showing two interestingly opposing sides to her character) we see Blunt take on an expertly portrayed role of balance: presenting a real woman that simultaneously commands respect and exudes power and authority. Blunt is the perfect example of what female action heroes should be – she presents a character that is fully rounded; whilst she still has the feminine qualities of emotion and softness – she isn’t only a love interest. She is a support to Cruise and furthers his story line – but without sacrifice to her own integrity (in fact, he respects and looks up to her throughout the entirety of the movie rather than this being the other way around). The characters need each other right up until the very end – and through this mutual reliance a sense of equality is achieved that challenges all previous representations in similar roles. Filmmakers everywhere should take note of Doug Liman’s intelligent character creation and interaction within Edge of Tomorrow; as his innovative approach is notably a leap in the right direction for women.
Words by Ashleigh Millman
While a lot of the women in this feature are steely-eyed badasses, with bows, guns, and power loaders, Anna Peterson (Maika Monroe) is just nifty with a mix CD. But as The Guest descends into its gleeful final act, we see that she’s not limited. She’s smart and inquisitive, and displays remarkable courage and strength when faced with the death of people she cares about. Anna continues and fights back to protect what she has left. Anna isn’t a superwoman. Anna is a normal woman, and is all the more awesome for it. She also gets to deliver the best closing line of 2014: ‘What the Fuck?’ indeed Miss Peterson.
Words by George Seabrook