Captain Marvel has just released and I’m sure most of us have probably seen it. I’m sure we’re all very happy to see such a strong female lead, and not for the first time! So we discuss our favourite female leads in movies.
I am going to stick with the superhero theme here and go with Gal Gadot in the lead role of Wonder Woman. For all the praise that Marvel is getting for their first female lead movie in the MCU, it’s worth remembering that DC beat them to the punch with this one.
When I first heard that DC and Warner Brothers were working on a Wonder Woman movie, I wasn’t exactly excited. She was never really a character that appealed to me growing up as I always just viewed her as the female Superman, another hero I have never really cared for. But after introducing her in Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, that all changed! She was arguably the most exciting part of that film, coming off as a complete badass who felt a genuine threat every time she appeared on screen, with an awesome soundtrack to boot. The question was, could Gal Gadot pull off the same achievement in as the lead in her own movie?
The answer was a resounding yes! She went on to charm and captivate audiences in her 2017 stand-alone film, which to this date is still considered by many as the best entry into the current run of DCEU movies. Her story was great and Gal Gadot did a fantastic job in making Wonder Woman not just relatable, funny and interesting but also extremely powerful. It goes without saying that I can not wait to see her back on the big screen in the next entry in the franchise, Wonder Woman 1984.
I was debating between two ultra badasses, but out of Sarah Connor (Terminator franchise) and Dr. Ellen Ripley, I had to go with Ripley of the Alien franchise as my top pick. She’s not only a badass in her own universe, but she was truly groundbreaking in our reality, too. I say this because, at the time of the original movie’s release in 1979, female leads were still so very new to active roles. It was the middle of second-wave feminism, and the media were still wrapping their heads around the whole ‘women are people with their own motivations’ thing – Charlie’s Angels, for example, had only premiered three years earlier in 1976, and it’d be a few more years til T.J. Hooker and other procedurals with female heroes. So for a horror film like Alien to subvert the status quo like it did, when it did, really helped pave the way forward.
Consider how the movie actually goes. Ripley is just another character in an ensemble cast, in a sci-fi movie that promises death and terror – she doesn’t really get any extra screen time or anything, just her ‘don’t break protocol wtf are you guys doing’ scenes, and Captain Dallas is really set up to be the hero of this whole thing, so why would you ever really think of her? But then about 3/5th through the movie, he just…dies. It’s unexpected, much in the same way the character deaths in Deep Blue Sea throw a viewer. So this hard-ass, nerd of a woman takes it upon herself to get the fuck out of there, and kick this creature’s ass as she does so, and it’s fucking glorious.
In Aliens, she willingly takes up the fight against the Xenomorph, giving up relative peace and safety without a combat background to take on the enemy once more. Her experiences in this movie, and Alien³, further solidify her into the strong heroine pop culture remembers. The heroine whose clone is taken to the absolute extreme in Alien Resurrection, coming back with a host of abilities.
So yes. Dr. Ellen Ripley not only kicked a lot of alien ass but showed that women were absolutely capable of being heroes in cinema; without her, would we have gotten Sarah Connor when we did? Beatrix Kiddo? A solo Captain Marvel movie..? I’d really rather have not waited for cinema to catch up to reality and miss out on absolute classics in the meantime! I mean, the fact that we are even making an article singling out women because they’re still somewhat of a novelty as leads is bad enough as it is, isn’t it?
If we’re talking about female leads then I’ve got to go way back to the first one I remember vividly. Princess Leia Organa. Thrown into the deep end with an adoptive father who started a rebellion, Leia was a shock to cinema goes back in the 70’s being a woman who didn’t need any help from the men at all. In fact more often than not in the original trilogy she shows up the male leads repeatedly. Showing herself to be intelligent, objective and strong-willed from the get-go.
I mean her first line upon seeing a stormtrooper coming into her cell, after having already been tortured once, is calling him short! Sure she lucks out that it was Luke in disguise but she had no idea! She just didn’t give a fuck! Once the fighting starts it’s also worth noting that you hardly ever see the Princess miss a shot with a blaster. She’s inhumanely accurate and drops more bucket heads than Han and Chewie put together! She’s a solid role model for anyone not just girls and she will be missed from the star wars universe while actress Carrie Fisher is definitely missed from our own.
Aight, something a bit less geeky, let’s go.
I’m a big fan of the movie Carol, a 2015 romantic drama starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. It’s a story about a young photographer, Therese, and a tense relationship with an older woman, Carol, set against the backdrop of 1950s New York. Not only is it a beautifully atmospheric movie with gripping dialogue and palpable emotion without getting sobby, but it’s a drama about a lesbian relationship that actually ends up being great rather than just a show-off of how progressive the writer is or revelling in it’s own gayness. Bravo, bravo.