Every week in /Answers, we attempt to answer a new pop culture-related question. This week’s edition, tying in with the release of Wonder Woman, asks “Who is your favorite female badass in the movies?” As always, we have submissions from the /Film writing crew and podcast team.
If you’d like to share your pick for your favorite female movie badass, please send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured on the site. Find our choices below!
Christopher Stipp: The Bride
The Bride. Black Mamba. Beatrix Kiddo. Pick any name you like. The fact is she’s the hardest mo-fo to ever wield a true Hanzo. She didn’t make it look easy, she made it look like a true Sisyphean task as she peeled off baddies one-by-one by one until all that was was left was Bill and a Five-Point-Palm Exploding-Heart-Technique standing between her and sweet sweet revenge. What is so revealing about Uma Thurman’s quest for blood is the equally well-prepared obstacles that want to deny her what she wants most. It’s incredibly satisfying to watch a woman wield weaponry just as smooth as she wields a quick wit. Of course, were it not for the writing of Quentin Tarantino, and his words, we wouldn’t have such a badass to revere and extol as one hardcore matriarch.
The fights still resonate with their physicality and their weight. The flecks of soil that sully Beatrix’ face with every punch she focuses on a spot of wood in her shoddily assembled coffin (that she was buried alive in, of course) just adds to the overall amazement at how focused and relentless she is about not going out at the hands of Budd. She will not die there, she will not die at the hands of the Crazy 88, and she will not stay down when she should have retreated. She is the embodiment of taking what’s rightfully yours and stopping at nothing short of complete success before even considering slowing down.
Hoai-Tran Bui: Elle Woods
What constitutes a badass female character? Is it her physical strength? Her witty quips? Her ability to stand up next to fellow male characters in the battlefield? Those all can be and are true of many of the most iconic strong female characters, but they shouldn’t be the only standards to which we hold them. Because female characters are strong without having to echo male characteristics — aka, that of brute strength and repressed emotion — they can, in fact, be feminine too.
Elle Woods, played with brilliant glee by Reese Witherspoon, from Legally Blonde is a prime example of this. She’s girly, she’s vain, and she’s superficial, but she champions the values of self-love and self-betterment. Just because she appreciates the pinker things in life doesn’t make her any less strong. It only makes her more triumphant when she upstages the skeptical men and women who doubt her abilities because they judge her by her surface qualities. It’s her innate traits of perception and compassion that allow her to rise in the courtroom and impress her classmates. In the man’s world of Harvard Law, where even the women are pressured into rivalries with each other for the attention or affirmation of male colleagues or bosses, Elle is able to win the case on her own terms (and teach us all the rules of hair care and the term ammonium thioglycolate).
Today, Legally Blonde is still years ahead in its portrayal of female friendship and communities. Elle is strengthened not only by her own traits but by the support system of her friends, her female professor, and her rival-turned-ally Vivian. Too many “strong female characters” in action franchises portray women alone and isolated within communities of men, the lone representative of their gender. But Elle and Legally Blonde show the real-world power of women helping women — and how all of them, no matter how different, are strong together.
Jack Giroux: Hermione Granger
I wish I had a friend like Hermoine Granger when I was in school. A lot of us probably do. You can always rely on her for the correct answers, to question authority, to be there for her friends or put them in check, and to always know right from wrong. She speaks the truth. Unlike Harry and Ron, she rarely, if ever, considers throwing in the towel when the chips are down. Hermoine, who once spent a year in school time traveling, solves a ton of conflicts in J.K. Rowling’s stories, and she usually does so with wit, intelligence, and warmth. She remains an impressive character over the course of eight movies by staying true to her principles, even if she gets cruelly ridiculed everyone now and then. For over 16 hours of entertainment, this super-smart witch remains fun and inspiring.
Hermoine Granger also taught us one valuable lesson never to forget: it’s Levi-OH-sa, not LeviosAR. In addition to being a badass who values friendship, kindness, and knowledge, she’s endlessly quotable.
Jacob Hall: Imperator Furiosa
Imperator Furiosa, like her newfound ally Max Rockatansky, is a person of few words. When she does speak, it’s often to deliver exposition and orders: go here, do this, turn in this direction. But the miracle of Mad Max: Fury Road, of Charlize Theron’s all-timer of a performance, is that everything you could possibly want to know about this wasteland warrior is communicated through knowing glances and decisions in the heat of battle. Furiosa may not say much, but she doesn’t need words to get her point across.
While Furiosa is one tough lady, the kind of action hero who can drive like no one’s business and kick the shit out of anyone who threatens her and the makeshift family she has built, the real beauty of this film is that it never diminishes her femininity. So many female action heroes are tough male characters in disguise, just “another one of the guys” despite their gender. But Furiosa is defined by the fact that she’s a woman. Her role in the film is to refute the patriarchal society that she formerly served, to rescue Immortan Joe’s “brides” from captivity and spirit them away to a society of women far removed from their abuser’s reach. Furiosa may share some surface similarities with Max (taciturn, rebellious, a survivor), but she couldn’t be more different than the man whose name is in the title – all of her actions are in the name of compassion. Max just survives. Furiosa combats the poisonous masculinity that killed the world in the first place.
And yeah, she also rips a bad guy’s face off and that’s pretty rad.
The post /Answers: Our Favorite Female Badasses in the Movies appeared first on /Film.
Source: Slash Film