Hollywood has had a problem over the decades when it comes to the portrayal of female heroes. While there have been plenty (though not enough) of leading ladies, they are few and far between in action and adventure franchises. Try for a moment to think of an action heroine from the ‘80s or ‘90s – I’m betting no one comes to mind.
Somewhat abruptly in the last few years, this appears to be changing. There’s a distinct new focus on female heroes in action and adventure films, and while they’re generally performing stunts and actions we can’t really aspire to specifically, they’re still conveying a general message that’s valuable to girls everywhere: adventure isn’t reserved just for men! Consider in this argument the following globe-trotting, butt-kicking, all-around awesome female heroes we’ve started to see and will continue to see in the near future. It’s really quite the trend.
Rey (Daisy Ridley)
Rey is the new hero of the Star Wars universe, and the first female Jedi to occupy a central role. Daisy Ridley – relatively unknown when she secured the role – was wonderfully enjoyable in The Force Awakens, and the early reviews for The Last Jedi indicate that we’ll be seeing more of the same. Rey is a little different than the rest of the women on this list because she doesn’t give us a sense of adventure in the real world. Nevertheless, she’s a galaxy-trotting heroine who should inspire young women in all kinds of other ways.
Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot)
Wonder Woman, too, lives as much in fantastical locations as real ones, but she does jaunt across Earth accomplishing various feats to save humanity. In fact, travel is a major part of her story. At the outset of Wonder Woman, which came out earlier this year, the character is uncertain about leaving the bubble of her homeland and venturing out into the world. She does so for the greater good, however, and essentially finds herself in the process. Granted, most of us don’t have the opportunity to tour from country to country mingling with superheroes and saving the world – but the core of Wonder Woman’s story is that of a woman boldly overcoming limitations to realize her full potential.
Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander)
Since the Angelina Jolie films early last decade, Lara Croft has resumed her role as, primarily, a gaming character. A modern slot arcade uses old Tomb Raider themes and images of Lara true to her original look. A mobile puzzle game based on the character works similarly. And new console games reimagine her completely with more modern visuals. Now, however, we’re about to see the character back on the big screen, with Alicia Vikander taking on the role. Perhaps more than anyone else on this list, Lara Croft inspires women to be adventurers – perhaps not finding treasures and solving dangerous traps and puzzles, but romping through the world nonetheless. She’s essentially the female Indiana Jones, and it’ll be great to see her again.
Atomic Blonde (Charlize Theron)
The lead character in Atomic Blonde isn’t necessarily someone to emulate. She’s essentially an assassin with unknown or ambiguous allegiances. She may also be our best modern female action hero, however, and that’s saying something. This film has a chance to launch a franchise in the image of, say, James Bond or John Wick, both of which show confident, capable male heroes having adventures in cool locations all over the world. In this role, Charlize Theron could do the same thing as a female antihero.
Meg Murray (Storm Reid)
In case you never read the book or you’ve forgotten the name, Meg Murray is the young lady who serves as the protagonist in the wonderful fantasy A Wrinkle In Time. This book is finally getting the major adaptation it’s so long deserved, and young actress Storm Reid will bring the role to life. While many of Meg’s travels are entirely magical in nature, it is unfortunately rare that a fantasy tale revolves around a young girl rather than a boy. It should provide girls everywhere with a renewed sense of adventure and potential – indeed, there are already stories to that effect!