If you want some variety in your car chase and explosion-packed action movies, here’s a list of the best female action heroes of all time. They say that behind every great man is a great woman, but these badass chicks are the ones to shove the guy out of the way and fire some hot lead into their enemies before the man can even move a muscle. It’s not just me – click any of the links in this post to see notable bloggers who agree. Let us know if you think anyone was missed.
Furiosa – Mad Max: Fury Road
Going into the most recent Mad Max movie, we’re led to believe that Max is the main character – which he is. However, the person who steals the show and drives the action more than anyone is Imperator Furiosa (played by Charlize Theron). As pointed out by Chase Magnett over at comicbook.com, Max is the main character because without his help Furiosa couldn’t have accomplished her goal. He saved her. What he didn’t do was lead the charge. The Fury Road was won by the deadshot aim, brutal fighting skills, and expert driving of Furiosa – the most hardcore woman of 2015.
Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games series
It’s easy to dismiss heroes who aren’t hulking brutes like Furiosa, but Katniss shows her mettle in a big way by being extremely skilled and tactical. A hallmark of a hero is knowing when to step up. Katniss knows when to be vulnerable (as the BBC points out), draw the line, and stand for something she believes in despite the odds – even if she’s only armed with a bow and arrow (which is an awesome weapon anyway).
Hermione Granger – Harry Potter series
Don’t mess with Hermione! As Buzzfeed proved, Hermione was the one who more often than not got things done throughout the 7 Harry Potter movies – and was the most powerful of the 3 main wizards in the story. Harry may have had the destiny, but Hermione blazed her own trail of spells and destruction. Who would you rather have on your team, Harry or Hermione? Thought so.
The Bride – Kill Bill series
The body count says it all. You always see action heroes walking away from explosions, but no one ever walks away from The Bride – alive. Uma Thurman’s character from Quentin Tarantino’s two-part opus shows what would happen if any of the women from this list had nothing left to lose. Step aside, The Hulk, don’t make The Bride angry.
Rita Vrataski – Edge of Tomorrow
When you think of hard-training drill sergeants you think of Gunnery Sergent Hartman from Full Metal Jacket and you think of Rita. She’s the type who knows what’s on the line, is tough as nails, and sets herself apart from other female action heroes. She may not be the star of the show, but she teaches the star how to be a badass – by shooting him in the head when he doesn’t get things right.
Alice – Resident Evil series
Alice will always come back. Leading lady Milla Jovovich is quick to prove that zombies and strong women go together perfectly – especially when you put a good spin on the genre. Having Alice on your side can mean the difference between living and being taken down by an army of T-virus monsters. If you have a thing for seeing a hero crash through the glass ceiling of a corrupt company, then every minute of every Resident Evil movie is for you.
Selene – Underworld series
For quite a long time, vampires were associated with Victorian garb and drafty castles. When Underworld hit the scene, vampire stories were male-led and relegated females to killing with their glamour. Kate Beckinsale’s Selene was a personal challenge for her, and a rebranding for the gothic immortals to be badass, fast-action creatures. Pale and slight of frame, Selene exemplified the power that vampires – and women overall – have in the action department. She certainly was tough enough to simultaneously hold her own against an army of both huge werewolves and her own kind.
Letty Ortiz – Fast and the Furious series
It’s hard to stand out in an ensemble cast, but Letty definitely does it. She’s a character that was able to play both bad and good with equal success. Many of the women on this list are physical powerhouses, and while Letty is of small size, she still holds her own amongst a group of huge male leads. Muscles don’t give any man the advantage when it comes to driving skills and prowess with a monkey wrench. Letty constantly gets herself out of her own scrapes and has remained a consistent force for heart-stopping action throughout the Fast series. As Filmschoolrejects points out, Hollywood can learn a lot from Furious 7’s woman warrior.
Ellen Ripley – Alien series
You’ll find Ripley on many of these lists, and for good reason. While Aisha Harris of Slate was quick to point out What Fury Road’s Furiosa Really Owes to Alien’s Ellen Ripley (not overly much) the one-woman alien-killing machine is still a force to be reckoned with in the action movie canon. She sternly walks through the movies with a gravity that is possessed by very few women in movies to date. Her presence is felt in so many action/sci-fi movies since, that it’s impossible to deny her influence. And to be honest, she will always be a someone that any character on this list would want by her side in battle, both because of her keen, analytical mind and her willingness to brute-force her way through a situation. She exemplifies any good action movie icon – both male and female.
Brienne of Tarth – Game of Thrones
What? A TV action hero? Brienne is so hardcore that she definitely belongs on this list. Any woman who can get by in the cruel, dangerous world of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire adaptation is without a doubt one of the most amazing action heroes in ages. She’s single-handedly taken down some of the most dangerous characters in the Seven Kingdoms, while proving to be one of the only few honorable people in the entire series. After seeing Stylists’ article Gwendoline Christie: Natural Born Warrior, it becomes even more clear how awesome this character is. Step aside, technology. Brienne doesn’t need it to be badass.
Know of someone else who belongs on this list? Let us know. Go check out all the articles in this post and more in my entertainment folder.