With last week’s open letter about the “Lady Avengers,” some of you hoped for more discussion on the topic of gender politics in the realm of pop culture, and comic books in particular. After
drinking heavily while reading my open letter’s comments thinking deeply on it, I realized that you had a point and that maybe I did have more to say. Or, at least, something to say. However, I was without the Internet for most of the last week and unable to do all the necessary research (on Google Image Search), so the continuing article I really want to do will have to wait a bit. But the subject has been on my brain ever since, especially with this week’s radass news from the DOD. The topic of movie and TV female action heroines isn’t too far removed to function as apropos filler, yes? Yes.
Originally, I intended to compose a list of — simply, generally — The Kick-Assingest Female Characters in Pop Culture. But in the process of whittling that list down, it became clear that the most memorable characters, and therefore the most worthy of the title, tended to come from either film franchises or television series. There are a plethora of great-to-middling actresses who have kicked plenty of butts on screen, especially in movies, but those real live women almost always outshone the characters they played. This state of affairs probably exists because characters in series and franchises obviously get more time to throat-punch their way into our hearts and minds than those in standalone fare. Or, it merely illustrates my personal viewing habits. Regardless, I’m much more interested in characters than I am in performances, at least for this subject at this time, so the likes of Angelina Jolie*, Pam Grier, Grace Jones, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi, Gina Carano, Zoe Bell, Michelle Rodriguez, and Zoe Saldana won’t be present. They can be found elsewhere, though.
That’s probably disappointing and dispiriting for many of you, and doubly so because that means this SRL is almost entirely Whites Only. On the week of MLK’s birthday, no less. Don’t blame me, blame the casting directors. Because these are without a doubt The Most Kick-Ass Female Characters in Hollywood (Who Also Happen To Be In Franchises and Series)**. I’d be hard pressed not to include any of them in a gender neutral list.
Buffy Summers, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”
Sarah Connor, the Terminator franchise
Ellen Ripley, Alien (series)
Sydney Bristow, “Alias”
Beatrix “The Bride” Kiddo, Kill Bill v.1-2
Zoe Washburne, “Firefly” and Serenity
Nikita, the La Femme Nikita franchise
Xena, “Xena: Warrior Princess”
Trinity, The Matrix trilogy
Alice, Resident Evil (series)
Selene, Underworld (series)
* Yes, Jolie had the two Tomb Raider movies, but Lara Croft, either on film or in pixels, is part of the problem.
** Couldn’t decide who should get axed between Alice and Selene, so I settled on an odd number, but Catwoman doesn’t appear because only Anne Hathaway legitimately kicked ass and she was only in one movie; Black Widow doesn’t make the cut because she’s hopefully just getting started (same with Katniss and Brienne of Tarth); and actress Summer Glau is excluded because River Tam might be able to throw down but she wasn’t in control until the very end of Serenity, and Cameron from “The Sarah Connor Chronicles” is a damned Terminator, which is unfair.
Rob Payne also writes the comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter, tumbls on the Tumblr, and his wares can be purchased here. He bets Joss Whedon takes pride in the fact that Buffy comes up first in GIS of “action heroines.”