We knew the minute Charlize Theron threw down with Teri Hatcher in 2 Days in the Valley (one of the best cat fights put on celluloid) she was a badass. It just took Theron awhile to start high kicking and doing flips in the air. When she did, it was Aeon Flux. Flux isn’t what one would call cinematic gold. In fact, Lou Lumenick of The New York Post called it, ” the year’s worst movie, a most dubious achievement.”
Theron has more than made up for Aeon Flux. Mad Max: Fury Road was off the charts insane, but it was Theron’s Furiosa everyone was talking about when they left the theater. Now Mad Max fans want a Furiosa stand alone movie. Whether or not that happens is still up in the air.
From there Theron tackled Fate of the Furious. Theron’s Cipher may not have been swinging kicks and throwing punches all over the screen, but she was quite the evil badass (except for the part where she hacks hundreds of cars and drives them all over the city. Hey, we don’t watch the Furious movies for realism).
Atomic Blonde looks to take Theron to the next level of badassness. It’s being called “bigger and bolder than Bourne” and calling Theron “the next 007.” No disrespect to Theron, but she wasn’t the first woman to bring badass to the screen.
Fanboys weren’t overly exited when it was announced Gal Gadot would be swinging the lasso of truth. Fanboys criticized everything about Gadot. Everything. They commented on the size of her breasts, on her lack of “muscles” and even her armpits (I’m shaking my head at the very thought that someone would poke fun of armpits). Comic books geeks had been exposed to a Wonder Woman drawn by other comic book geeks. In the comics, she’s drawn like an adolescent’s wet dream- big breasts and an ass in tight fitting bottoms. The fanboys wanted a flesh and blood version in the movie.
Those critics were silenced, and humbled, when the box office gross kept climbing and climbing. She proved she could kick ass, swing a weapon, and be a badass just as well as the boys. Gadot absolutely owned the character. More impressive is not the fact that she served in the Israeli army ( service isn’t really a choice), not the fact that she gained 17-pounds of muscle (Many of us could do the same thing with paid trainers, dietitians, and our job on the line), but the fact that she filmed the movie while she was five months pregnant. Take that, fanboys!
Gina Carano was dropping bodies to the canvas long before Ronda Rousey came onto the scene. Carano brought all her badassness to Steven Soderberg’s Haywire. After she’s burned and betrayed by government officials, Mallory Kane (Carano) goes on a mission to kick ass and take names. Along the way she smashes up Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender, and Ewan McGregor.
Carano keeps kicking ass in movie after movie. Her latest outing was as the mutant Angel Dust in Deadpool (Got to love those comic book names). It felt kind of ripoff watching Carano put the smack down on a CGI character and the “nip slip” may have been uncalled for, but we’ll take Carano being a badass anyway we can.
Who would have thought eighteen year old Milla Jovovich who barely had a line in Dazed and Confused would go on to be a badass all over cinema? But that’s exactly what she did. The model turned actress lit up the screen in The Fifth Element. She’s kept the Resident Evil franchise alive well past its expiration date. When not saving franchises Jovovich is makes movies like The Three Musketeers and Ultraviolet much better than they would have been without her.
In the 80’s and early 90’s, the marital arts/kung fu movie was at the height of its popularity. Names like Steven Seagal, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, and Michael Dudikoff were cranking out the movies. It was an all males club. That is until Cynthia Rothrock came along and broke the club with a side kick to the face.
China O’Brien put her on the martial arts map. Once there, she wasn’t going away. Rothrock has starred in more than 60 movies in her career. Most of these movies were made for the straight-to-home video market, but make no mistake Rothrock is the real deal. The fight scenes, including weapons, were all Rothrock. At age 60, she’s not showing any signs of slowing down.
Sigourney Weaver is a franchise maker. Okay, she hasn’t starred in a lot of franchise movies. Two if you count Ghostbusters. Three if James Cameron ever starts to work on his threatened Avatar 2-4. Franchises past or future aside, Weaver has starred in one of the best loved franchises ever- Alien.
As Ellen Ripley, Weaver survived an alien attack not just once but four times. She lead us to the outer colonies and back and even into the future, further into the future than when the first film was set. People didn’t go to see the Alien movies because of the new alien design. We went to see Weaver’s Ripley kick alien ass. Ripley isn’t a super hero. She doesn’t have any other powers other than the will to live and kill aliens.
Sadly, Neil Blomkamps’ Alien 5 will never happen. The studio says they killed the project because of Ridley Scott’s planned sequels to Alien: Covenant. Some websites place the blame at Scott’s feet. It depends on who want to believe, but the fact is that neither Prometheus or Alien: Covenant have lived up to the Weaver/Ripley legacy.
Pam Grier may not be the “original” badass chick, but she sure does come close. Grier started back in the 70s with movies like Black Mama White Mama. Foxy Brown, and Coffy. Movies such as Escape from L.A., Original Gangsters, and Jackie Brown have propelled Grier into the 21st Century. Yes, Grier may not be the “original” but with a career that has spanned more than forty years it’s hard to argue against it.
No list would be complete without Michelle Yeoh. Yeoh already had an impressive resume even before she came to most folks attention in Tomorrow Never Dies and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Since then she has only added to her impressive body of work. She’s proved she can take on the likes of Jackie Chan, Vin Disel, and Jason Statham. This fall she’s going boldy where no one has gone before in CBS’s Star Trek: Discovery.
Not all badass women have to throw a punch or kick someone in the head. Diana Rigg hasn’t stab anyone in Game of Thrones, but she cuts people deep with her tongue and devious plots. The best character in Downton Abbey was Violet Crawly, played by Maggie Smith. Smith also entertained a lot of kids in the Harry Potter series. Neither Judi Dench or Meryl Streep have hung on wires for a movie, but both should get Oscars every time they grace the screen. Helen Mirren? Helen Mirren is just an all around bad ass.
Who’s your favorite badass woman of cinema? Let us know on our Facebook page or hit us up on Twitter.