5 Best Heroines
As we approach our third Hunger Games weekend in as many years, I got to thinking about Katniss Everdeen’s spot in a list of the greatest heroines. I could spend a whole post on how criminally underused the heroine archetype is but perhaps that’s for another time. Today, I’ll instead count down my favorite five heroines in accordance with the release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 this coming weekend.
Before I get started, I did want to briefly mention that I consider a heroine to be a female character that conquers danger with courage and/or self-sacrifice.
Without further ado, here’s my list:
While I purposefully omitted Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Katniss on this list, I did want to give her some credit. Lawrence shot up the Hollywood ranks as an A-lister pretty fast but her coming-out party started with Winter’s Bone. Playing a character named Ree, Lawrence flawlessly shows off what one teenage girl can do to protect and save her family. This is an independent film but what it lacks in funding it makes up for in bleak intensity and, somewhat contradictorily, heart.
Although Hermoine Granger is generally considered a side character in the Harry Potter franchise, I don’t know if there’s a more resourceful character (both in the franchise or on this list). She does lack in screen time; however, she makes up it when it comes to courage. Despite her lack of a strong physical presence, Hermoine is more than half the reason Harry stands a chance against the Dark Arts.
Even though there are far less heroines than there should be, it’s still easy to get some stereotypes. Marge Gunderson (from the Coen Brothers’ Fargo) might not seem like a heroine on the surface. However, she’s just as unrelenting as any other character on this list when it comes to doing the right thing and catching the bad guy. Despite a truly horrific situation, Gunderson finds the courage to trudge on.
Men are truly the most dangerous thing for women. While there are probably plenty of off-color jokes to go along with this statement, I do believe it’s widely overlooked when it comes to character development. In the case of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movies, this idea isn’t overlooked. It’s explored through a scrappy, rough-around-the-edges, computer hacker that’ll do just about anything to bring down a guy who hurts women. If it weren’t for number one of this list, Lisbeth would take the award for biggest female renegade, too.
That brings us to what turned out to be a very easy choice for the top spot. Ellen Ripley of the Alien franchise, on the one hand, can be defined by just about every heroic synonym in the book. On the other hand, “badass” may be all-encompassing enough. We’re so used to seeing male heroes (especially when it comes to the sci-fi and action genres) that it’s always refreshing to see the script flipped. However, you could make a case that Ripley was the first true sci-fi hero, undoubtedly making her a great pick for any list regardless of gender. She’s the epitome of female empowerment and the poster-girl for all things women.
As for honorable mentions, I also wanted to highlight The Bride (The Kill Bill films), Meruda (Brave), Mystique (The X-Men films), Princess Leia (The Star Wars films), and Trinity (The Matrix films). Sound off below with your thoughts.
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