Female action heroes

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The rise of the female action hero?

We are slowly seeing a rise of all female or at least female dominated films in genres that have not traditionally been female friendly. Traditionally action films, whether they are specifically categorised as Action or Action slash (/sci fi, /western, /crime), have focused on varying interpretations of the masculine lead. Sometimes he is flawed, and sometimes he may as well be a plastic figurine for all the depth of character demonstrated, but always he is strong, determined and takes action, and is accompanied with weak or "temptation" women whose role is to look good half dressed. Yet a handful of recent films are starting to challenge the role of the female action hero.

The supernatural action genre has given us three intelligent, funny, and active women in ‘Ghostbusters’. The heist genre laid out eight women of varying skills whose expertise held up against the original male roles in ‘Oceans 8’. The sci-fi action adventure has most recently given us three power and diverse roles in the latest ‘Terminator’. However, the question is this – does this indicate a substantial change in Hollywood’s approach to the representation of women in film, or is this just a trend that will fade away again to be replaced with atypical machoism?

  • Shout out to Terminator: Dark Fates for its three female action heroes. The film is market poorly in this regard as Arnold shows up in much of the marketing but the film is truly dominated by Linda Hamilton, Mackenzie Davis, and Natalia Reyes who are all compelling in their own ways. Overall, Terminator and Alien remain two series where women have been the protagonists and have been fully realized nuanced characters for decades. – Sean Gadus 3 years ago
  • @Sean so very true and I was so happy to see the return of old Hamilton, with all her issues and bat-crazy attitude. I was really impressed with the actual film focusing in on the women, but I agree it is interesting that there was still such a focus on Arnie in the promotion - does this then undermine the focus of the film or is it a sign of the fact that we still can't truly promote a female action film without it bombing at the box office? – SaraiMW 3 years ago
  • The female action hero rose around three decades ago. – monkeylove 3 years ago
  • I truly want to believe that this change is here to stay. Even though female heroes may have been present in previous decades, they were sexualized and belittled by the presence of a man. I think that Hollywood is shifting, because there is a need for strong heroines. All the time in Hollywood films, you will notice that the woman only discovers her worth when the man comes along. People see this as a problem, because women are not helpless damsels. There is an increasing amount of mental health disorders, LGBTQ+ characters, and strong females present in modern film. Hollywood is finally starting to make changes, because they must change with the times. People simply won't accept the traditional standards for characters in movies anymore. Hollywood needs to continue to incorporate important topics and characters into their films. – nicolemadison 3 years ago
  • There have been fantastic female leads around for longer than the past few years, you only have to look to Sigourney Weaver in Alien to see that. Not to mention that Linda Hamilton was a driving force in Terminator 2, well before Dark Fate was an idea. It would be be good for the writer to examine the difference between these films that have female leads at the heart of their story and established/maintained an IP largely due to these characters, and those films that have come out in recent years that are aiming to use existing IPs to market a "female reboot" for better or worse. – CAntonyBaker 3 years ago