/Answers: Our Favorite Female Badasses In The Movies

Every week in /Answers, we attempt to answer a new pop culture-related question. This week's edition, tying in with the release of Wonder Woman, asks "Who is your favorite female badass in the movies?" As always, we have submissions from the /Film writing crew and podcast team.

If you'd like to share your pick for your favorite female movie badass, please send your thoughts to slashfilmpitches@gmail.com for a chance to be featured on the site. Find our choices below!

Christopher Stipp: The Bride

The Bride. Black Mamba. Beatrix Kiddo. Pick any name you like. The fact is she's the hardest mo-fo to ever wield a true Hanzo. She didn't make it look easy, she made it look like a true Sisyphean task as she peeled off baddies one-by-one by one until all that was was left was Bill and a Five-Point-Palm Exploding-Heart-Technique standing between her and sweet sweet revenge.  What is so revealing about Uma Thurman's quest for blood is the equally well-prepared obstacles that want to deny her what she wants most. It's incredibly satisfying to watch a woman wield weaponry just as smooth as she wields a quick wit. Of course, were it not for the writing of Quentin Tarantino, and his words, we wouldn't have such a badass to revere and extol as one hardcore matriarch.

The fights still resonate with their physicality and their weight. The flecks of soil that sully Beatrix' face with every punch she focuses on a spot of wood in her shoddily assembled coffin (that she was buried alive in, of course) just adds to the overall amazement at how focused and relentless she is about not going out at the hands of Budd. She will not die there, she will not die at the hands of the Crazy 88, and she will not stay down when she should have retreated. She is the embodiment of taking what's rightfully yours and stopping at nothing short of complete success before even considering slowing down.

Hoai-Tran Bui: Elle Woods

What constitutes a badass female character? Is it her physical strength? Her witty quips? Her ability to stand up next to fellow male characters in the battlefield? Those all can be and are true of many of the most iconic strong female characters, but they shouldn't be the only standards to which we hold them. Because female characters are strong without having to echo male characteristics — aka, that of brute strength and repressed emotion — they can, in fact, be feminine too.

Elle Woods, played with brilliant glee by Reese Witherspoon, from Legally Blonde is a prime example of this. She's girly, she's vain, and she's superficial, but she champions the values of self-love and self-betterment. Just because she appreciates the pinker things in life doesn't make her any less strong. It only makes her more triumphant when she upstages the skeptical men and women who doubt her abilities because they judge her by her surface qualities. It's her innate traits of perception and compassion that allow her to rise in the courtroom and impress her classmates. In the man's world of Harvard Law, where even the women are pressured into rivalries with each other for the attention or affirmation of male colleagues or bosses, Elle is able to win the case on her own terms (and teach us all the rules of hair care and the term ammonium thioglycolate).

Today, Legally Blonde is still years ahead in its portrayal of female friendship and communities. Elle is strengthened not only by her own traits but by the support system of her friends, her female professor, and her rival-turned-ally Vivian. Too many "strong female characters" in action franchises portray women alone and isolated within communities of men, the lone representative of their gender. But Elle and Legally Blonde show the real-world power of women helping women — and how all of them, no matter how different, are strong together.

Jack Giroux: Hermione Granger

I wish I had a friend like Hermoine Granger when I was in school. A lot of us probably do. You can always rely on her for the correct answers, to question authority, to be there for her friends or put them in check, and to always know right from wrong. She speaks the truth. Unlike Harry and Ron, she rarely, if ever, considers throwing in the towel when the chips are down. Hermoine, who once spent a year in school time traveling, solves a ton of conflicts in J.K. Rowling's stories, and she usually does so with wit, intelligence, and warmth. She remains an impressive character over the course of eight movies by staying true to her principles, even if she gets cruelly ridiculed everyone now and then. For over 16 hours of entertainment, this super-smart witch remains fun and inspiring.

Hermoine Granger also taught us one valuable lesson never to forget: it's Levi-OH-sa, not LeviosAR. In addition to being a badass who values friendship, kindness, and knowledge, she's endlessly quotable.

Jacob Hall: Imperator Furiosa

Imperator Furiosa, like her newfound ally Max Rockatansky, is a person of few words. When she does speak, it's often to deliver exposition and orders: go here, do this, turn in this direction. But the miracle of Mad Max: Fury Road, of Charlize Theron's all-timer of a performance, is that everything you could possibly want to know about this wasteland warrior is communicated through knowing glances and decisions in the heat of battle. Furiosa may not say much, but she doesn't need words to get her point across.

While Furiosa is one tough lady, the kind of action hero who can drive like no one's business and kick the shit out of anyone who threatens her and the makeshift family she has built, the real beauty of this film is that it never diminishes her femininity. So many female action heroes are tough male characters in disguise, just "another one of the guys" despite their gender. But Furiosa is defined by the fact that she's a woman. Her role in the film is to refute the patriarchal society that she formerly served, to rescue Immortan Joe's "brides" from captivity and spirit them away to a society of women far removed from their abuser's reach. Furiosa may share some surface similarities with Max (taciturn, rebellious, a survivor), but she couldn't be more different than the man whose name is in the title – all of her actions are in the name of compassion. Max just survives. Furiosa combats the poisonous masculinity that killed the world in the first place.

And yeah, she also rips a bad guy's face off and that's pretty rad.

Ethan Anderton: Leia Organa

Yes, I know I went with Han Solo last week for my favorite (space) pirate, but I'm a die hard Star Wars fan. So how can I not pick Princess Leia as one of the most badass females to grace the big screen?

The very first thing we see Leia Organa do in Star Wars: A New Hope is defy the Galactic Empire by sending a secret message to Obi-Wan Kenobi to help her aid the Rebellion against the the most tyrannical force in the galaxy. When she's captured by Stormtroopers, she's not intimidated by Darth Vader – she's just annoyed with him. She stands her ground in front of one of the most feared men in the galaxy, because she's a badass.

Her defiance and confidence in the face of danger continues when she meets Grand Moff Tarkin, choosing to insult him several times rather than cower in fear when he threatens her. The only time the Empire gets the better of Leia is when they lie and destroy her home planet of Alderaan, which is just a dick move anyway.

Throughout the rest of the trilogy, Leia continues to stand in the way of the Empire as a key figure in the Rebel Alliance, giving orders on the Battle of Hoth, staying behind as the base crumbles around her on the snowy planet, leading a strike team on the forest moon of Endor, saving the skin of Han Solo (after doing it in A New Hope as well), hijacking a speeder bike and more. Princess Leia is easily one of the most tough, uncompromising, incredible women in cinema's history.

Ben Pearson: Marion Havenwood

Raiders of the Lost Ark is arguably the peak of the action adventure genre, and Marion Ravenwood has been my favorite action heroine for as long as I can remember. We're introduced to her character in a terrific scene in which she proves she can drink anyone under the table, a moment I consider to be one of the best intros in modern film history. Karen Allen's often-overlooked performance sells a deep backstory between Marion and the whip-wielding hero of this story – one that's not a good look for Indy at all.

When they meet again in Raiders, Indy finds someone who's not going to give him exactly what he wants: the rest of the world may see him as a heroic adventurer, but Marion isn't afraid to call him on his shit. She gives him a right hook to the jaw within 30 seconds of seeing him, and the sarcastic way she says, "See you tomorrow, Indiana Jones" is perfect. She's knowingly mocking his name directly to his face. Yes, there are moments in the film in which Marion is reduced to a glorified damsel in distress, and let's not even dwell on how Kingdom of the Crystal Skull hangs her out to dry. But overall, Marion Ravenwood proves again and again that she's capable, headstrong, passionate, ferocious, and every bit Indy's equal.

rey closeup lightsaber battle force awakens

Peter Sciretta: Rey

If I were to pick my favorite badass female character in movies it would have been Princess Leia from the Star Wars movies or Marion Ravenwood from Raiders of the Lost Ark, but my /Film colleagues beat me to it! I guess that's what I get for hiring writers with great opinions. While there are a lot of badass women in movies, but if you ask me, there aren't a lot of great ones. Many of the strong female characters are archetypes lacking interesting internal conflict. I think Hollywood is finally developing badass female roles, and a list like this will change dramatically five years down the line. Or so I hope.

So Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens is my choice for this week's question. The character is strong, independent, but not without flaws. She doesn't know who she is or why her parents left her on Jakku, but that doesn't stop her from eeking out a living as a scavenger in the desert wasteland. She has the strength and intellect to defend herself from the scum and villainy in Niima Outpost. When adventure calls, she is forced to leave not just the only home she knows, but her dream of being reunited with her parents. It's on this adventure that Rey becomes challenged by Kylo Ren, which ignites the Force hidden within her. The Force Awakens has my favorite lightsaber battle of the entire Star Wars series to date, not because it's flashy or fun (Phantom Menace probably wins out in that department) but because the fight is so based in the internal struggle of these characters.

My favorite moment is when Rey takes a moment to gather her strength and calm as Kylo Ren's unwieldy saber is crossed with hers. Rey is not a badass because she has Force powers, she is a badass because she is able to overcome her internal struggles and rise above them. And in the moment, when she could have dealt Kylo Ren a decisive blow, she hesitated. Not because she was afraid, but because she was angry. She could feel the dark side within her, calling out to deal that final blow. And she resisted.

Wonder Woman

What do you think of our picks? Who is your favorite female badass in the movies? Talk about it in the comments below or email your personal answer (a paragraph or more) to slashfilmpitches@gmail.com with the subject title "Favorite Female Badass." Our favorite responses will be featured on the site in a future post!

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