There has been a serious uptick, of late, in the amount of believably tough, kick *ss women in film and television. As Dustin pointed out last year, the familiar parade of toothpick-armed women who are supposed to convince us they can physically outmatch a heavily muscled male is growing a bit tiresome. No offense to Angie, Milla and Kate, but because their characters often exist in a heightened universe of comic books and video games, realistic body image has never exactly been the order of the day. And though seeing a stronger women is not a completely foreign concept (hats off to Michelle Rodriguez for handling the lion’s share over the past decade and generous nods to Michelle Yeoh, Katee Sackhoff and Lucy Lawless, etc. etc. etc.), it certainly wasn’t the most prevalent one. But if the last year is any indication, Hollywood is starting to get it. I’m not saying, of course, that slender women can’t take care of themselves. Lord knows the scrawny Lisbeth Salander did just fine for herself in 2011 flexing the most important organ anyone can possibly employ: her brain. All I’m saying is it’s nice to see a well-fed, fit as h*ll woman wipe the floor with anyone who gets in her way. Right? Right. So here are 5 recent female characters you wouldn’t want to meet dark alley.
Katniss Everdeen—The Hunger Games (2012): Of course Lawrence had to contend with people calling her “too healthy” (read: big) to play Katniss. And while I get that she didn’t quite jive with a certain idea fans of the books had, the whole argument smacked of a creepy body criticism that was wholly unnecessary. There may have been problems with Lawrence’s performance, but her biceps weren’t among them. When Katniss grappled with a hefty career tribute, it seemed completely believable to me in a way it never could have been if the frailer Chloe Moretz had won the role.
Brienne of Tarth—“Game of Thrones” (2012): Have we ever seen a women who looked like this on a major television show? A woman who wasn’t a villain or some sort of object of derision? While Brienne might endure some scorn in the books (she earned the ironic nickname “The Beauty”), I’d challenge anyone to call her that to her face. She had a smashing introduction last week in the episode “What Is Dead May Never Die” and I hope we get to see her pummel many a knight in the season to come.
Sif—Thor (2011): Look how much armor she’s wearing!! Actress Jaimie Alexander is no slouch physically, but one of the coolest things about the Sif character is how little her outfits objectified her. You know the drill by now with comic book females. How many shots of Scarlett Johansson and Anne Hathaway have we seen from behind? And their movies aren’t even out yet? Alexander’s Sif may have been the third-billed female in Thor’s first outing, but I’m holding out hope that she will play more of a role in future installments. At the very least, the film treated her with as much respect and dignity it afforded her fellow Valhallan warriors.
Agent Carter—Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol (2011): I finally caught MI 4 this past weekend and I really regret not seeing it on the big screen. It’s one of the best action flicks of the past several years. Just pure adrenaline-fueled, meticulously executed stunt work. Best of all, they let the well-muscled Paula Patton play along. When she ditches her heels in pursuit of her target and delivers one very memorable kick, she’s more impressive then all the women of the rest of the franchise combined. (Oh yes, even Maggie Q.)
Mallory Kane—Haywire (2012): A disappointingly few people caught Steven Soderbergh’s righteously badass film when it came out in January. Never fear, the DVD will be out on May 1st so you still have a chance to watch MMA fighter Gina Carano squeeze attractive men to death with her thighs. Soderbergh is no stranger to filming attractive women kicking ass; Jennifer Lopez did some of her finest work with that telescoping baton in Out Of Sight. But Carano is a whole new breed. A pure athlete who could believably take on any male and come out the victor. Check out her moves, you won’t regret it.