The Rise of the Strong Female Lead in Modern Cinema

In the last few years, we’re seeing a rise of strong female characters in lead roles – especially in Action Films (the most prominent being Rey, in Star Wars). These strong characters are everywhere in literature, but tend to be overshadowed by the sequel or the reboot – and if they are picked up, tend to be altered in some way to make the film more marketable: for example, making that female character more masculine (atypically stoic, cold natured, oblivious, and otherwise displaying a shallow level of emotional value – "beefing up" the character, whilst almost ignoring the duality of a strong female character, and their ability to rise to the occasion with a strength of mind and heart; Rose Dawson from Titanic, or countless literary figures from the age of Jane Austen). Are we stepping in the right direction, or is this another false Hollywood campaign?

  • By the way it's 'Rey'. I think an interesting point is how shallow her 'strong female character' really is. She doesn't have much of an arc ('I have to stay at home because some people might come back but we haven't established that they mean anything to me other than a brief memory' to 'I'm gonna find me a Skywalker!') and she's magically good at everything she does/touches, including Jedi mind tricks which she's apparently never seen before. – jackanapes 5 years ago
  • I agree to a certain extent. It is true that lately the presence of female characters has risen significantly in books and films, and also that such characters tend to be portrayed in masculine terms (see Ripley in Alien). At the same time, figures such as Katniss in the Hunger Games or Furiosa in Mad Max Fury Road, in my opinion, are redefining femininity onscreen, as they eliminate the idea that a film with a male character is more successful, and also offer a more complex and layered portrayal of women. In light of this, it would be interesting to explore such ideas in an article! – CostanzaCasati 5 years ago
  • I personally think that it is great that female actors are taking on such diverse roles in the film industry. – claraaa 5 years ago
  • I agree that we are seeing an increase in female lead characters, which is a positive for the film industry and women in general. But at the moment, I'm not sure if it's a huge problem that many of these characters are made more marketable, as we need to take small steps in the right direction. – Courtney 5 years ago
  • There is an increase in female lead characters recently. After seeing shows like Jessica Jones I can't help but hold onto the hope that maybe Hollywood is redeeming itself. Jessica was a complicated and flawed character whose strength wasn't just physical but mental too. The creators did a good job of portraying that and using other female character like Trish Walker and Hogarth really cemented the fact that women can be complex characters. on the other hand, Hollywood seems to be great at taking a strong, female lead and sticking her into the 'romantic subplot device' peg hole. Black Widow is the ultimate example of this (Avengers 2). – norcelona 5 years ago
  • The idea of "masculating" a female character to make her strong or tough is a really interesting one. People seem to forget that women can be and are often powerful and forceful people, without falling into a masculine role. Some examples of female characters that are both feminine and awesome are Mikasa in the anime Attack on Titan (her deep and emotional love for the protagonist drive her every move and allow her to be stronger than anyone else in the show barring one or two characters), and Buffy from BTVS (Buffy never gives up her femininity for her strength, she has boyfriends and wears makeup and cries and loves, but only grows stronger as she does so.) There are an unfortunately large number of Hollywood examples that fall into either the "woman is good character because she is big tough man on the inside" or "woman is a pretty lady who the protagonist gets with when he defeats the baddies" category. I adore seeing both strong and feminine characters on the big screen, we really don't need to pick one or the other, woman can and should be both. – Sabrina Thompson-Cook 5 years ago

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