I followed the most adorable little girl into Wonder Woman this weekend, and it filled my heart with glee. This mini-Carrie Bradshaw in a t-shirt and white tulle skirt, had her hair in a braid and some sparkly shoes on, and she was very worried she was going to miss the movie if her parents didn’t pick up the pace, like, right now. (I practically adopted her on the spot.) It warmed my heart because she was just as excited about seeing this strong female superhero, as she could’ve been over a Disney princess, or a Barbie movie, and while both of those brands have come a long way, it was still really exciting to see. The film was epic and empowering for me as an adult, so I can only imagine how cool it’ll be for an entire generation of girls to grow up with a woman warrior role model.
We never really talked about equality in my family, but it’s always been important to me. Even when I was too young to understand something like a wage gap, I still knew I wanted all the opportunities that a man could have. My earliest memory of this, movie-wise, was watching Young Guns II (sorry if I’ve told this story before, dear readers!)–the actor in me wanted to be riding horses with the boys, not showing up for a five-minute scene in a whorehouse. I didn’t really understand the inner workings of a whorehouse at that age, but I knew I wanted more screen time than that. It was simple: I wanted to marry Christian Slater, but also be one of the boys. (Side note: clearly I wasn’t the only one who felt this way, because a little movie called Bad Girls popped up a few years later. Should’ve been a win, except, wait for it…yep, they were prostitutes.)
While I used to go see everything and anything, happy to give my support to the film industry in general, lately I’ve been more selective about where my money’s going. It’s becoming more and more important to me to see female-driven films at the theater, whether that means actresses, directors, or (magically!) both, like Wonder Woman.
There is more to female strength than just the physical kind, but in celebration of Gal Gadot’s record-breaking weekend, and Charlize Theron’s upcoming Atomic Blonde, here’s a few of my favorite “bad-ass” females:
- Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) Angelina Jolie’s early career was full of strong, capable women, but this is still one of her best characters, in my opinion. (She also made me question my sexual orientation for a hot minute.) I’m curious to see what Alicia Vikander does in this role next year.
- Point of No Return (1993) This is based on Luc Besson’s La Femme Nikita, but I saw this version first as a kid, so it’s the one I love. It doesn’t completely hold up–the cinematography is very ’90s–but it made a huge impression on me on at the time, and I still break it out every few years for another look.
- The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) I get all the feels when Geena Davis’ top-secret agent turned suburban housewife finally comes up for air after being tortured–that look! Side note: this is also my favorite Samuel L. Jackson movie–his dialogue is bananas, in the best way.
- Underworld (2003) Sure, she’s a vampire, but Kate Beckinsale held this genre down long before the tweens took over with Twilight, etc. I’ve never wanted a full-leather outfit so badly.
- Alias (2001-2006) I’m not ashamed to admit that I used to download (lol, Napster!) the songs from the show for my #exercisegoals. It was all walking in the neighborhood until some early ’00s club song came on, and suddenly I was running (ok, jogging) and thinking up secret missions. It should also be noted that I went as Sydney Bristow for a Halloween party in college–my love for her was strong!
- The Americans (2013 – ) I appreciate how unapologetically strong Keri Russell’s character is–she’s always an equal to her husband in skill, sometimes making tough choices that are typically left to the “macho” men in the spy genre. She’s ruthless, when her husband can’t always be–flipping the script on gender roles in an exciting way. She’s not always easy to like, but I love that we have a character like her.
Ladies, grab your Golden Lasso and go kick some ass.