We have been blessed with strong female characters in cinema that are not only iconic but also complex. While we generally tend to think about heroes as being action stars like Imperator Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road or Alita from Alita: Battle Angel, there are also many powerful heroes that don’t require a raised fist or show of physical strength like Clarice Starling from The Silence of the Lambs or the magnificent heroines from Hidden Figures.
Over the past few decades, a lot has changed. The way characters are developed are more accurate, and they are much more closely tied to how things work in the real world. With gender equality and women empowerment becoming more prominent in the past few years, we have seen a rise in female leads, giving us a broader spectrum of characters that weren’t available to share their stories.
In the late 2010s and early 2020s, we now see female heroes that not only can save the world but are also leaders. While there are many examples, most recently, comic book heroines have been the most prominent, with Wonder Woman, Black Widow, and others showing the world what it means to be a strong hero. Again, the heroines’ role isn’t just being a physical presence but also showing intelligence and wisdom, like Shuri from “Black Panther” or the titular character from “Enola Holmes”.
Perhaps what makes all of these characters complex is that while they are all legends in their own right, being physically and mentally challenging, they still manage to maintain their humanity through it all. It doesn’t matter if they are taking down a whole organization or just fighting to save one soul; each character is still capable of exposing their vital cores. There is confusion, pain, and sometimes frustration. We, as an audience, also get to see celebration and joy.
Watching movies with these strong, sophisticated, down-to-earth, and emotional characters allows us to build a better understanding of the heroines we adore from the past and present.
What does the future hold? One can only hope that cinema will produce more and more heroes that are women with increasingly complex stories. Eventually, lines will cross, and heroes will just be heroes, regardless of gender, man or woman. Because in the end, heroes are still just people. People we admire and the ones that hold qualities that we hope to aspire to attain someday.