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The action genre has been dominated by male actors since it was first created. That’s not to say there aren’t some incredibly awesome male action characters, of course there are. But female action characters tend to be a bit more rare. But, there are always the one’s that stick out--female action characters that to this day we still are talking about, the iconic ones that newer action stars are inspired by. Those are the women that needed their own list.
Lately we’ve seen some awesome female action heroes from Emily Blunt’s Rita in Edge of Tomorrow to Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. While both are forces to reckon with, they can’t even compare to some of these great female action characters. These are the characters that have held guns, swords, but most of all intelligence. These are the women who are leaders of the action genre itself. And these are the 10 greatest female action characters that you would never want to piss off.
#10 Hanna Heller, HannaSaoirse Ronan’s Hanna Heller may be young, but she packs a powerful punch in the 2011 Joe Wright film Hanna. Raised by an ex-CIA operative, the young Hanna was trained in a number of different skill sets from hand-to-hand combat to target shooting. When we first meet Hanna, she is a 15-year-old girl, cold but thoughtful. From the beginning of her story, we can see that she has been a trained killer, but by the end we see how important those qualities are to her survival. Hanna not only is a badass fighter, but her intelligence and carefulness are two of the most interesting aspects of her character, especially considering her young age. Her dedication to the man who raised her, along with the slew of characters she meets in her journey are what made her believable. But as a trained assassin, raised in the wilderness, Hanna Heller is a force to be reckoned with.
#9 Trinity, The MatrixIt’s safe to say Neo would not have gotten too far with out Carlie-Anne Moss’ Trinity by his side in The Matrix movies. The Wachowskis’ sci-fi action trilogy featured a number of kick-ass characters, but the best female badass, Trinity sat high at the top. A computer programmer and hacker, Trinity knew her way around the Matrix and Morpheus’ ship, and though her role in the series is first and foremost to aid Neo in his quest, her skills go far beyond just a romantic counterpart. Trinity’s unique skills range from her use of weapons to operating a range of vehicles and aircrafts. While some of their skills are downloaded from outside of the Matrix, much of Trinity's were trained. She is known famed amongst the hackers for cracking on of the most secure systems in the Matrix to escape. And it’s not only her smarts that get her on this list, but also her crazy combat moves. Trinity’s signature "Double Eagle" move is one of the more memorable of the franchise.
#8 Hit-Girl, Kick-AssAnother young badass to make the list, Chloë Grace Moretz’s Hit-Girl has skills (and language) far beyond her years. Moretz had dreamed of starring in an action role as she compared to had Angelina Jolie in Wanted, and her role as Hit-Girl couldn’t be a more perfect fit. Though the Kick-Ass franchise focuses on the titular character’s journey to becoming a vigilante, it is Hit-Girl who dominates all of the action scenes. She’s smart, strong, precise, and truly loves take-charge and kicking ass. Oh that and her knives, she really loves her knives. Hit-Girl had all the moves, and at a mere eleven years old, she still could overpower an entire gang of thugs. The initial shock over her age quickly passes when you see how genuinely dangerous this girl is. Raised in an environment where she quickly learned the ways of her vigilante father, and was trained to be just as lethal, Hit-Girl may have missed out on a childhood, but she sure loves fighting the baddies, and we sure love watching her do it.
#7 Lara Croft, Lara Croft: Tomb RaiderThroughout the 2000s, Angelina Jolie was the epitome of an female action superstar. And though plenty of her characters should make this list, Lara Croft is definitely the most iconic baddie to take the prize. Based on the popular video game Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft was an intensely dedicated action hero who works tirelessly to defeat the Illuminati. Though the films of the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider franchise were not received well, Jolie’s embodiment of the female badass was the only redeeming factor. She is smart, stunning and highly athletic and uses her skills as an archaeologist to help in her collection of the ancient artifacts. And despite some of the negativity surrounding the sexualization of Lara Croft in these films, the character broke down big doors to lead towards more female action roles. Her resourceful ways, and smart tactical skills showed off a powerful female action character that no one wanted to mess with.
#6 Leeloo, The Fifth ElementLeeloo is the most adorable badass to make the list. Milla Jovovich’s breakout role in the 1997 sci-fi action flick The Fifth Element was one of best action films to date (another ranking higher in this list). The supreme being who is a necessary element in preventing the Earth’s ultimate destruction looks cute and completely innocent. She has little social skills or understanding of cultural norms, but you mess with her, and you bet that you will be on your knees begging for mercy. The aspect that made Leeloo such an awesome female badass though, was how fragile she actually was. When you saw her fight, it made jaws-dropped, but she was emotionally vulnerable just like any human. Despite being an alien, she was one of the most relatable characters in the film, which it that much cooler to see her in action. Her fight scenes were top notch, but the depth of her character made her the ultimate female action hero.
#5 Alice, Resident EvilA former security operative turned resistance fighter Alice is the ultimate female fighter. She’s survived years fighting off zombies as well as those who want to take her down for turning against the Umbrella Corporation. Though Milla Jovovich has made this list with another one of her female action heroes, Resident Evil’s Alice is her own iconic character. Loosely based off the Capcom video games of the same name, the Resident Evil franchise wouldn’t bring in terrific critical reviews, but the character of Alice stands as one of the most iconic female action stars of all time. Jovovich's Alice was an original character created for the films, based on many of the strong women in the Resident Evil games. She is a smart leader, a killer fighter, and dedicated to her cause. Her skills grew even greater as the films progressed, and Alice has become the iconic figure associated with the franchise.
#4 The Bride, Kill BillBeatrix Kiddo, known primarily by the name The Bride is not only one of the best female action heroes, but best action heroes, hands down. In true Quentin Tarantino fashion, the two part Kill Bill series features a number of graphic, gut-wrenching battles, but with a cold-faced Uma Thurman portraying the vengeance-seeking protagonist, it makes the fight sequences that much more thrilling. Uma Thurman’s The Bride is scary. It is only till later in her story do we start to sympathize and realize the anger that lingers behind her fight. She doesn’t have to speak too much, which sometimes makes your skin crawl, but in seeing her fight to the finish, we realize how deadly of a force The Bride truly is. She is disciplined and highly trained, but more so than her extremely impressive fighting skills, her deadliest weapon is her focus.
#3 Furiosa, Mad Max: Fury RoadThe newest action lady to make this top 10 list also ranks high above some of the rest. Mad Max: Fury Road’s Furiosa is quite the extraordinary female action character. While she drives front and center in the newest Mad Max film, it is her intelligence that makes her an even fiercer warrior. Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa is the lead antagonist’s top imperator and driver. On what is supposed to be a routine supply run, Furiosa goes against the everything she stand for to help save a group of women. On the run, we see how deep her character goes. Not only has she lost one arm (which does not hinder her fighting skills in the slightest) but she also knows what it is to fight for survival. And that’s why she risks everything for these women. So that they can raise their children away from such awful conditions. Furiosa never gives up, and by the end of her journey, she is praised by the people of her land, a true heroine, with a heart of gold and a warrior’s fight.
#2 Sarah Connor, Terminator 2: Judgement DayThere’s been many portrayals of Sarah Connor over the years, and that’s what makes this female action character so iconic. Her story is one that still holds, and her fight is one that we still want to watch over and over again. In the first Terminator film, we didn’t see the Sarah Connor we came to love and respect. Still a damsel in distress, it wasn’t until Terminator 2: Judgement Day that the true badass came out to play. Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor transformed herself into a ferocious warrior all to protect her son. She may sometimes be a bit violent and mentally unstable, but her behavior all stems in being the greatest protector she can be. She is cautious and careful when it comes to any technology and takes much time in building a relationship with Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-800. But what makes Sarah Connor rank so high on this list, is that she is first and foremost a mother. Her action-heavy role is created because of her concern for her son. And if that’s not the most incredible feat, I don’t know what is.
#1 Ellen Ripley, AlienThere’s really no debating that Alien’s Ellen Ripley sits atop the list of the greatest female action characters. She is the #1 female action character. Portrayed by Sigourney Weaver, Ripley is not only considered an iconic action hero, but also considered one of the best female protagonists of all time. When the first Alien was released in 1979, putting a female at the lead of a science fiction action film was unheard of. And with Weaver behind the role, it would prove to be even more powerful. Weaver earned an Oscar nomination for the role, but more so than anything, Ellen Ripley became an iconic character in cinema. She’s never a sidekick, only a hero. Ridley Scott’s Alien features a highly aggressive extraterrestrial baddie, and Ripley is one of the few smart and savvy enough to survive it. Through the many sequels of the franchise Ripley had many trials and tribulations, but she was always a relatable character that you admired.