With the final Hunger Games film slowly approaching and the end in sight for the popular female-led trilogy, we celebrate our top 10 film heroines of all time.
From Disney’s Mulan to Katniss herself, these badass ladies lead a wave of female empowerment on the big screen, particularly in the realm of young adult book-to-film adaptations.
Mulan (Mulan, 1998)
Challenging stereotypes, and fighting like her male counterparts in this Disney animated film, Mulan personifies internal strength. Though she finds love at the end of the film, it’s not before she wards off the entirety of the Hun army, and saves her kingdom from being invaded.
Hit-Girl (Kick-Ass, 2010)
Not all the heroines on this list can say their dad is also a vigilante, but Hit-Girl (Chloe G. Moretz) can. Made popular in the Kick-Ass comic book series, Mindy McCready is trained in martial arts and the use of various weapons to be a skilled assassin.
Unaffected by blood and guts, Mindy is also a fan of Hello Kitty, and all things girly. Unfortunately, Mindy left the world of crime fighting behind at the end of Kick-Ass 2.
Neytiri (Avatar, 2009)
Zoe Saldana has a reputation for portraying strong female heroines on the screen, and giving an entire performance as this CGI warrior did not stop her. Neytiri is cautious about befriending human Jake, an outsider to her world, and doesn’t let love impinge on her freedom or saving the Na’avi people.
Hanna (Hanna, 2011)
Hanna explores the life and training of its titular heroine, Hanna, and focuses on her loyalty to family and her superior fighting skills. Her longing for friendship and a childhood are simple additions to her character development when she is exposed to the world.
However, it’s her lack of sexualisation as a female character that makes her so important; a welcome counterpoint to the legions of sexy cinema spies (thanks, James Bond).
Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games,2012)
In the fight to please the rich, Katniss led a revolution within District 13 to overthrow the brutal regime of the Capitol. Katniss is highly skilled, and is a tough, hostile and calculating character.
She is brutal and is emotionless in films, while the male leads, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Gale (Liam Hemsworth), wear their hearts on their sleeves. Changing the roles up in teen fiction, Katniss became a leading lady with both heart and fight throughout the trilogy.
Imperator Furiosa (Mad Max: Fury Road, 2015)
Charize Theron dons the role of a resourceful warrior so easily in 2015 action film. Snatched away from her people, the Vuvalini, Furiosa becomes a part of the tyrannical Immortan Joe’s scheme to keep the Citadel citizens begging for his aid. Proving that she answers to no one, she carts off the last remaining fertile women in the hopes of saving their lives. Badass, much?
Lisbeth Salander is a fearless, skilful, and emotionally distant hacker – and an ideal partner for her foil, Blomkvist. Rooney Mara portrays Lisbeth as a misunderstood woman who surpasses the expectations of her peers and family.
She is a woman of great foresight and intelligence, and her strengths eventually liberate her from her abusive guardian. In a dysfunctional social system, she rises as a beacon of independence.
The Bride (Kill Bill Vol 1 & 2, 2003 & 2004)
Leaving a blood bath in the wake of her katana, The Bride is on the road to revenge. Having her story pan across two films, she was left for dead at her wedding, and is looking for bloody vengeance.
The film is a personal story for the bride, but like all Tarantino films her name isn’t important and her motives are not what drives the movie. It’s the plan, her strength and determination, and the trumping of her male teacher that makes her so kick-ass.
Honourable mentions go out to the Disney princesses that also weren’t just stereotypes: Princess Merida (Brave), Elsa and Anna (Frozen) and Pocahantas (Pocahantas). Shout-outs also to the leading ladies that were close to making the cut: Hermoine Granger (Harry Potter), Tris (Divergent) & Pai (Whale Rider).