Made for a man but played by a woman
I have always been a tomboy and loved movies, comics, or books that were never really aimed for my gender. If there was ever a female character in these works, she was usually “girly” in some sense or was little more than a romantic interest. Now that action movies are being watched more and more by women, they’re putting in female characters that they feel women would approve of. But it seems like they’re always still defined as women first and everything else is second.
For me, I’m a nerd first, artist second… I don’t think lady made the top ten. Maybe it’s because I always hung around my big brother, and always had guy friends. I never saw myself different from them and they never treated me like I was different due to my gender. I was never treated like I couldn’t do something because I was a girl and so never set this boundary between what it was to be a girl or to be a boy. Sure there were obvious physical differences, but I could fight just as well as they did and enjoyed the same action packed movies as they did.
It wasn’t until years later that I came to realize that I was considered weird for not liking romantic comedies or spending most of my childhood having slumber parties with girls and braiding hair. I was looked at as odd for not trying to be a girl first and putting other ambitions second.
I love to see action roles that are usually played by guys but a woman is there instead. By which I also mean, most writers are guys, so they don’t think about a guy being a guy when writing a character because it’s something they’re familiar with… so you get past that and get to other traits that make the character both badass and memorable. Ripley and the rest of the crew in Alien were originally written with neither men or women in mind, for example. But even then it’s not so easy to find. Sometimes you find a woman playing a tough action role, but they still tend to function mostly as a romantic interest for the actual (male) hero. Which is fine, I guess, but I always like it best when I see a female character in a movie, comic, or book that is memorable for more than just happening to have boobs. She’s more than just “the chick”. Here are some of my favorites.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Princess Leia is a terrible example because of the bikini number she wears in Return of the Jedi. Sure, she falls in love with Han Solo and needs to be rescued several times, but there were certain scenes that made me pick her as a female character that is usually played by guys.
There is a part in the movie where Princess Leia is instructing the pilots on what to do as the Empire is closing in. I remember spending hours memorizing that speech as a kid and wanting to one day stand in front a group of people giving orders like her. Normally you would see a male character placed here to instruct the pilots, but Empire Strikes Back decided that Princess Leia should be the one to instruct the pilots and wish them luck.
This scene is the big reason why I feel she was (even though only at times) a leader first and a woman second.
It was hard for me to pick between Carrie Stetko or Lily Sharp from the comic book Whiteout, but I ultimately choose Lily because I really felt like she was a character that usually is played by a guy. And sadly, they did make her role into a guy in the movie (which I don’t recommend watching).
But she was a great partner to Carrie and feels like she’s the muscle out of the pair. She’s tough, knows a lot about guns and has a strong pair of brass ovaries.
I mentioned above how this character wasn’t written with a woman in mind (“Ripley” is actually a name change from the original script, and “Ellen” added later as well). What I like about her in the movie is that she’s playing a character that isn’t liked by the crew because she’s the ship’s warrant officer.
I love her because we aren’t meant to like her at first. She’s the annoying middle manager who follows rules and regulations. But she’s also a tough survivor and I love her in the first Alien movie because of that.
Now I know a lot of people who didn’t like the Resident Evil movies. But I was a fan of the game (played way too much Resident Evil 2 during this time) and zombie movies in general. I tend to like the cheesy stories and action scenes in zombie movies (like Evil Dead or Night of the Living Dead).
Rain Ocampo quickly became my favorite character in the movie because of her tough military attitude. It was also when I started my girl crush for Michelle Rodriguez. Seriously, I would probably be a gibbering mess if I ever met her and she said “Hi Dawn. Love your artwork”.
I love Rain Ocampo, but we can’t do this without the original military bad ass. Vasquez was by far my favorite character in the Aliens movie. She has some of the best lines and isn’t some rear echelon support girl carrying a small gun or left behind to drive the tank.
Vasquez really reminds me of what it was like hanging out with my guy friends. They treated me like an equal and would come to me when they needed someone to do the heavy lifting.
I know a lot of people were angry that Starbuck was turned into a girl and I can fully understand that. And I am in no way saying that the 2004-2009 Battlestar Galactica’s Starbuck is better than the original. Hell, I’m not even saying that the series was better than the original because I’m one of those people that really hated the ending of the newer series.
But I will say that I did enjoy the beginning and that they didn’t make her a girly girl. Later on they just screw everything up, but that’s a different story to tell another time.
Usually a little girl in a movie is a recipe for annoying. They want to go shopping or complain that they want to hang out with their friends. They joke with this in the movie a little before she says she’s kidding and wants her dad to buy her some new weapons.
They also don’t treat her like a frail girl from the very beginning. All these things makes her seem tough and capable of winning a fight.
She is blind but is self reliant, she’s small but mighty. She’s a great contrast to Katara’s femininity and prefers practical clothes to pretty.
There are more that I could add to the list and there are some I probably have forgotten, but I figure that this is good enough for now.