I may spend most of my time sitting around in my pants, watching Arrested Development and eating cheese straight from the packet, but I’m fairly sure that in another life I’m kicking ass, taking names and generally being a nuisance with a large gun (or at the very least, a machete).
I’m sure I’m not the only one, yet Hollywood continues to serve us up cookie-cutter female characters; even those who are allegedly multi-faceted and interesting spend 90% of their screentime semi-clothed and dripping wet. Where are the genuinely unhinged vigilantesses? The fully-formed, unadulterated, one-of-a-kind lady badasses?
In order to feed my (potentially sectionable) combat fantasies and to counter the generic mush of unthreatening stereotypes we’re usually presented with, I’ve compiled a list of the most badass female characters in film.
1. Shoshanna Dreyfuss – Inglourious Basterds
With the help of her black lover (his mere existence being pretty badass, considering the circumstances), cinema owner Shosanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent) decides to splice her own laughing face into a print of Goebbels’ fictional propaganda masterpiece, the film-within-a-film, “Nation’s Pride”. She then calmly informs the audience of Nazi bigwigs (one of whom is Hitler himself) that they are about to die by the hand of a Jew. Where armies failed, a dainty woman in a fascinator succeeded. It’s worth noting that, not only does she set fire to Hitler, she does so while sporting impeccable hair.
2. Hit-Girl – Kick Ass
Three things. First of all, Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) has Nicolas Cage as her (Big) Daddy, which automatically makes her badass. Genetics innit. Secondly, by the age of eleven she’s already capable of wasting a substantial number of heavily armed thugs. Thirdly, this:
3. Coffy – Coffy
Coffy (Pam Grier, in a role she’d perform variations on for years afterwards) is a gorgeous, afro-ed sexpot who uses her killer figure to lure unsuspecting men to their deaths. Pretty much a textbook example of a vigilante, she effortlessly slaughters anyone whom she thinks may have slighted her or her family. She also has an unparalleled wardrobe full of dresses I could only dream of pulling off and is the perfect example of how “sexy” and “badass” are not mutually exclusive categories. A woman who uses her sexuality in film is often merely portrayed as a sex object: Coffy shows how female sexuality exists alongside other human traits. And guns. It also exists alongside guns.
4. The Bride – Kill Bill
The second Tarantino character on the list, The Bride (Uma Thurman) shrugs off the murder of her husband-to-be, the loss of her child and repeated sexual abuse before going on to massacre anyone who crosses her. This is a fantasy I’ve had myself, but instead of fighting eighty-eight Japanese swordsmen, it’d just be me against some bloke who looked at me a bit funny in Tesco one time. I’ve also considered visiting vengeance on the receptionist at my local library, to whom I owe £17 in overdue fines, but I’m pretty sure The Bride would still outshine me and rack up a terrifying bodycount in the process.
5. Ellen Ripley – Alien
Although Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley may have the least impressive hair on the list (in space, no one can see you’ve run out of conditioner), she may actually be the most impressive human being. While the rest of her crew are variously impaled and dismembered by slobbering, overgrown dust mites, Ripley keeps calm and smoothly annihilates them (she probably had a mug with that printed on it). Ripley may, potentially, be the most iconic female character in film history and the best thing about her is that she almost definitely wouldn’t care.
- Cherry Darling (Grindhouse). Her leg is a gun. I repeat: Her leg. Is a gun.
- Sarah Connor (the Terminator films). She may have started her cinematic life looking like Jason Donovan on a bad hair day, but proceeds to kick considerable ass.
- Trinity (The Matrix). Wears sunglasses reminiscent of those favoured by my Partridge-esque driving instructor, but is frighteningly intelligent as well as having mad martial arts skills.
- Buffy. Only failed to make the list because she’s off the telly (the 1992 comedy film version starring Kristy Swanson so doesn’t count).
To finish, a disclaimer. Although I may have hinted that I was homicidal, the whole “I aspire to be a mass-murdering, Nazi-hunting vigilante” thing is just a joke. I promise, Mum.