By now we’re all very aware that the winner of the movie theaters of 2017 is Wonder Woman. Having already grossed 800 million worldwide, and counting, it’s clear that the pesky idea that a female-lead comic book hero movie doesn’t do well is completely false. What I do think it proves is that when a character is complex and interesting, gender does not matter. Young boys can look up to Diana Prince just like little girls can dream about becoming Tony Stark someday.
However, it’s funny how some people are acting as if Wonder Woman is new. I mean, she’s been around since 1941. The man behind her, Dr. William Moulton Marston, a Harvard graduate in Law and Psychology, created her to become a role model for the progressive women of the future. In his words, “Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who, I believe, should rule the world.”
Since then, Diana Prince has had many versions and outfits. But her message seems to be the same: Be strong and stand up to those who will underestimate you based on their own bias and prejudice.
In an incredible piece for The Atlantic, that only a fan could write, Maya Rupert tells the story of growing up loving Wonder Woman and seeing her own real struggles reflected in her favorite character’s story, “But as a girl, I most commiserated with Wonder Woman when she sought to reconcile her inner strength and ferocity with the need of others to see her as peaceful and feminine.” And it’s true; the Amazonian princess is pretty badass. She never has to apologize for being able to take down an entire room of bad guys. She doesn’t have to change into pants or chainmail to get the job done either. She can embrace her femininity and be a warrior all at the same time. Also, it’s her choice. Nobody is opining on how she should act. And, even if they were, she’d probably say it’s nobody’s business but hers.
So yes, Wonder Woman is pretty cool. But, there are plenty of other kick-ass women from film that are favorites that often get left out. Geena Davis recently spoke about how, after Thelma and Louise became a hit, she kept hearing how the industry was about to change. And yet, it didn’t. But, here’s to hoping that after 2017, we finally find gender equality in movies. Meanwhile, here are a few characters who broke the stereotypes before the latest film version of Wonder Woman came out.
Imperator Furiosa (Mad Max: Fury Road)
A general who risks her life to take a cult leader’s wives to a place where their children will not be taken from them? Furiosa’s story arc is both amazing as it is cool.
Ellen Ripley (Alien series)
Unlike many female characters presented in the horror genre, Ripley does not just run and scream from the monster. The whole franchise is her against this thing that kills or infects everyone else.
Thelma and Louise
This is a two for one with good reason: it presents women standing up for each other and going against the ideas and standards expected of them. They also quickly learn to fend for themselves in a world where they could easily be destroyed.
Sarah Connor (Terminator series)
Nobody is a born fighter. But at times, resisting the current is the only thing that will keep you safe and sane in this world. Sarah loses everything and yet continues to give her entire strength for the cause and those she loves.
The mind is a powerful thing. This little girl has big dreams, but she’s born into a family where nobody understands her. Yet through finding like-minded people who support her and trusting her intelligence, she overcomes that.
Leia (Star Wars franchise)
She’s a princess but also a rebel. People can criticize her character all they want, but her story arc deals with finding who you are amidst what you believe in. And because of that, she becomes General Organa later on.
A few months before Wonder Woman was released in theaters, this young hero won all of our hearts. Just because she can slice some guy’s throat with her claws one moment does not mean she cannot bond and form deep connections with the people around her. Laura is noble and caring to those around her, making her a strong role model even at the age of eleven.
So those are just some of my favorite characters who’ve become our personal heroes. Did we miss any of your favorites?