There has been talk since the Star Wars: the Last Jedi, and maybe even before that from 2015’s The Force Awakens that people were unsettled or threatened by the character of Rey, as a strong female character and that this was the reason for much of the animosity towards the films. Whilst I agree that there are certainly men out there who are threatened by a strong female lead, I don’t think that’s why most people who don’t like the film, don’t like it. Much of my disappointment with the films stems from Rey too but it has nothing to do with her being female, it’s all about the fact that she seems to channel the force far too easily compared to everything else we know about the Jedi and the force. However I also don’t think that it gives enough credit to the number of amazing strong female characters which keep us on the edge of our seats!
I think there is no way to deny that the characters I’m going to list here, and this is a personal list, not a be all and end all of female ass kickers, aren’t in their movies to add a hint of beauty, a dash of sex appeal and to tick some diversity boxes. These roles wouldn’t have been the same had they been played by men, and I’m so glad it never went down that route… Bring on the ass kicking women of the big screen!
Charlize Theron – Mad Max Fury Road
What a bad ass! I loved this character right from the start, before she even had to do anything! She’s lost an arm but has adapted it perfectly to driving a massive “war rig”, her head is shaved (part of me actually wanted to see her go full bald, I recon that would have been even more bad ass) and the top part of her face is smeared with engine grease. She’s dirty all over and has as much swagger as any guy you’ll see on the screen.
She puts her ass on the line for a group of women who need her help and whilst she accepts Max’s help in her endeavors, does she really need it? I think he certainly offers his services but she manages to do pretty damn well on her own too, whether that’s driving, shooting, fixing stuff or bashing someones lights out (and remember… with just one hand).
Damn! what a character and so well played too!
Carrie-Anne Moss – The Matrix Triology
In her previous life she was a computer hacker, and apparently a damn good one to boot, which meant that throughout the film her tech savvy isn’t rivaled by many. She’s Neo’s biggest believer and they become ever closer as the films go on, leading to her having to rescue you and between this and her other adventures both in and out of the Matrix she proves herself to be smart, good at martial arts and a damn good shot. All out ass kicking female character in an awesome film.
Kate Beckinsale – Underworld Franchise
If you want a master class in combining ass-kickability and sex appeal, look no further! Kate Beckinsale is the perfect posh persona for the character of Selene and plays the part incredibly well, including being mentally strong, emotionally mature, good at shooting, fighting like a martial arts expert and jumping off buildings. But (and possibly justifiably because she pulls it off so well), the character is most often remembered for being clad in latex and / or leather… Who knew death could look so good?
Milla Jovovich – Resident Evil Movie Franchise
So Alice is a whole different animal compared to the one’s we’ve had before… And to be honest the more you comb through the Resident Evil franchise, the more difficult it gets to know exactly who or what Alice is and whether the Alice on the screen is the same Alice as the one from the movie before that! Is she a clone, a zombie virus carrier, a mutant… Who knows… Honestly – Who cares?
All we need to know is that she is awesome! She shoots like she was black ops, I recon she could kick the crap out of Connor McGregor, and she is fearless, and I mean FEARLESS! Who lands a plane on a high-rise building surrounded by zombies!!!!
Sigorney Weaver – Original Alien Movie Series
You know what… Ripley isn’t the world’s best fighter, she’s not an amazing shot and she’s not full on action 24/7 BUT she is tough as old boots and determined… You could call it stubborn or pig headed, but what she wants to accomplish, she goes for – no matter what sort of alien is standing in her way… Some times being a bad ass is all about the attitude and the determination!
Uma Therman – Kill Bill
She’s a hell of a fighter and she can take a punch or to or 3. They tried to kill her and she ended having to 1 inch punch her way out of a coffin… I KNOW! But again just like with Ripley in Aliens, what makes the Bride such a bad ass is that she knows what she wants… She wants revenge, and she knows how to get it. There is no way that anyone is stopping her on her way to taking her revenge – there’s that attitude again.
Dr Harleen Quinzel
Margot Robbie – Suicide Squad
Harley Quinn, no matter which film or show she appears in, is probably the most bad ass villainess in the batman universe and it’s often excentuated by the fact that she (no matter in what context, even as a cartoon), oozes sex appeal and confidence. Again, being a bad ass is hugely down to mental state, and confidence is something she has in droves. This way she often catches guys off charge and beats the crap out of them.
But then I don’t think you’d get very far with the joker if you were a nice girl!
Linda Hamilton / Leslie Hamilton / Emilia Clarke / Jessi Fisher – Terminator Franchise
Sarah Connor is slightly different to everyone else so far. She didn’t start out as a bad ass, she had to become a bad ass out of necessity and it was at the cost of her family life, popularity and even mental well being. The terminator and her knowledge of the future meant that she had no choice but to learn how to survive – learn how to kill – learn how to steal and learn how to take the fight to the robot rebellion!
No one is more bad ass or dangerous than a mummy looking after her baby!
Princess Leia Organa
Carrie Fisher – Star Wars Movie Saga
She’s one of the original bad ass women, am I right?
She’s got a certain sex appeal that doesn’t (expect for that one very famous scene of course) need her to flaunt herself – it comes from the same place as everyone else’s attitude – confidence in herself. There is not much that’s more powerful than a confident woman who knows what she wants… Princess Leia, she knows what she wants, and she’s happy to dispense one liners and sarcasm a plenty to get it.
It is her sense of humor, wit and of course skills with the laser pistol which earn her a spot on this list.
Angelina Jolie – Wanted
I think Angelina Jolie is in herself a bad ass anyway so her characters often exude that feeling pretty easily, but that’s even more so the case when she’s a highly trained assassin who kicks the crap out of her protege and stands in his way as he learn to curl bullets around objects… An insane concept that would never work so don’t try it at home, but makes for one of the most confident acts you could ask for.
Michelle Rodriguez – Fast and the Furious Franchise
Just like Angelina, Michelle Rodriguez is a natural bad ass in real life… Wikipedia (which yeah I know as well as being the world’s largest collection of wisdom and knowledge is also the world’s largest collection of bull) cites her hobbies as including Djing, sky diving and tactical gun training… as a hobby!
I think Letty is as much reflecting the actress as she reflects the character… In terms of their attitude, confidence and potentially even skills in combat. Although of course I’m not saying that Rodriguez is likely mercenary, thief and illegal street racer. But who knows, she does seem to love her adrenaline!
What more do you want from a bad ass than one who can kick ass even in a cocktail dress and drives like an absolute demon.
Gamora Zen Whoberi Ben Titan
Zoe Saldana – Marvel Cinematic Universe (Guardians of the Galaxy & Avengers)
This is the first (and I think will be our only) alien in the list, and in her background story we find out that she’s a bad ass right from the word go. She doesn’t fear Thanos as a child, or if she does, she wants to defy him anyway – and from there, in order to survive alongside him as he grows, she needs to become a bad ass. She is trained extensively in combat techniques, but what really stands out for her (and maybe this is a space babe thing, because we saw the same with Princess Leia), she is a cornucopia of wise cracks and sarcasm, especially towards Star Lord. She’s got that bad ass attitude!
Chloë Grace Moretz – Kick Ass (1 & 2)
Mindy went through a lot and she hits back with her alter ego Hit Girl… In this film Jim Carey ended up feeling bad for all the violence (which I don’t know why he didn’t see in the script – I’m sure it shouldn’t have been a surprise for him) and didn’t want to be involved in promoting this film. Firstly, the film is awesome (especially because of the violence), and secondly, a pretty substantial level of that violence comes thanks to this character… Which Chloe played when she was just 13 years old! This makes Mindy by far our youngest bad ass on the list, but again her attitude and down right brutality get her that accolade.
Charlize Theron – Atomic Blonde
This is the second time we see Charlize on this list, and she’s an actress who can play just about any kind of character which means that she is as good blending in during parts of this film as she is shooting people in the confines of a hotel room, kicking asses in a stairwell (while getting pretty well beaten up herself) and using her enemies to help her jump out of windows. Part of what makes her such a bad ass in this film is her determination even in the face of the level of punishment she has to endure herself!
Angelina Jolie / Alicia Vikander – Tomb Raider Movie Series
Again, a second entry for our list, and this time it’s for Angelina! Lara Croft is one of her most quintessential and memorable performances… We could have chosen more, such as Mrs Smith perhaps? But Lara Croft is the thing we most associate her with, and she is the actress I think most people associate the character with – she was made for the part.
In this film she didn’t need to have that same attitude, although because she was confident in her abilities she did have a certain level of bad ass attitude too, but at the same time she was vulnerable in many ways, especially regarding the people around her.
Never the less she is awesome with a gun or a knife, and she can fight like hell – even against robots and rock monsters! But at the same time she seems fearless, and that’s a scary thing! Whether she’s jumping off stuff, climbing up stuff or sneaking in to stuff, she’s doing it without any doubts or hesitation!
Selma Blair – Hellboy (1 & 2)
Liz is a quiet character, one who was dragged in to the world of the BPRD and who doesn’t always want to be a part of it. She has a long standing internal conflict between wanting to help them save humanity and having a deep seeded hate for the side of humanity which sees her as a freak. Standing up for the people who are against you is a bad ass thing to do, especially when you’re able to do so by tuning yourself in to a walking bomb and napalm strike all in one!
And… Without wanting to lower the tone too much, presuming that everything is in proportion I guess you’d have to be one tough little lady (she’s not big) to get pregnant by Hellboy… I bet there were some literal fireworks between those two when that happened!
Scarlett Johansson – Ghost in the Shell
I know she’s a robot, but she’s part organic so when she rips the top of the spider tank off, and it is such hard work that she rips her god damn skin, and eventually tares her own arm off… she must have felt that! You can block out the fact that she’s a machine and concentrate on the fact that she jumps of buildings, smashed through windows, rips her skin off, kicks ASS and looks damn good doing it… She even retains a certain level of insecurity when faced with a blast from the past.
Although I don’t know how she could feel anything like insecurity or shyness when for much of the film she may as well be naked… She probably would have been a lot more comfortable wearing nothing than what was essentially just a body condom.
Miranda Tate / Talia al Ghul
Marion Cotillard – Batman the Dark Knight Rises
She’s a bitch!
She seems so damn nice and such a stand up woman for almost the whole film, and she does something special for Bruce Wayne… She brings him out of his shell and gives him company and comfort… And then the bitch rips his heart out (not literally, but she does also stab him for good measure).
What makes her a bad ass is not how she fights really, what the respect which she earns from all her minions… not least of whom is Bane! One last time that comes down to having the attitude of a bad ass. Standing tall and taking what she wants!
I know that’s not an exhaustive list of who is and isn’t an on screen bad ass… although I bet they’re all real life bad asses in their own rights as well! So tell me who I’ve missed in the comments please!