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Badass Female Characters in Film

Women’s History Month is a great time to check out some of the most badass women in the history of movies — but face it, there’s never a bad time to settle in for some action and revenge with the likes of Lara Croft, Princess Leia, Domino and more.

Whether you prefer your strong women in animated form like Merida from “Brave,” straight out of the pages of a comicbook like the Black Widow or wielding a sword like Michelle Yeoh and Uma Thurman, there’s a formidable female movie hero for every taste on this list.

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Most Badass Female Characters in Film

Most Badass Female Characters in Film
Most Badass Female Characters in Film

Women’s History Month is a great time to check out some of the most badass women in the history of movies — but face it, there’s never a bad time to settle in for some action and revenge with the likes of Lara Croft, Princess Leia, Domino and more.

Whether you prefer your strong women in animated form like Merida from “Brave,” straight out of the pages of a comicbook like the Black Widow or Carol Danvers in “Captain Marvel,” or wielding a sword like Michelle Yeoh and Uma Thurman, there’s a formidable female movie hero for every taste on this list.

Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron)

Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron)
Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron)

Film: “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Although the film shares a name with Tom Hardy’s Max Rockatansky, “Mad Max: Fury Road” is really Imperator Furiosa’s story. Throughout her journey to free five wives of Immortan Joe, she proves she has no equal when it comes to driving or shooting — two excellent qualities in their apocalyptic world.

Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh)

Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh)
Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh)

Film: “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”

Perhaps the character with the greatest fight scenes on this list, the Yu Shu Lien martial arts scenes throughout Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” were highly lauded.

The Bride (Uma Thurman)

The Bride (Uma Thurman)
The Bride (Uma Thurman)

Film: “Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2”

After her groom and wedding party are killed by her ex-lover, Uma Thurman’s Bride goes on a revenge-fueled murder spree. How does someone described as “the deadliest woman in the world” not make the list?

Shuri (Letitia Wright)

Shuri (Letitia Wright)
Shuri (Letitia Wright)

Film: “Black Panther”

The princess of Wakanda is basically the brains of this insanely high-tech wonderland. Shuri helped create most of the technology that powers the vibranium-rich world ruled by her older brother T’Challa (aka the Black Panther). And she’s no slouch in a fight either, known for her panther-headed gauntlets Shuri kicked butt in “Black Panther.”

Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher)

Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher)
Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher)

Film: “Star Wars” franchise

Carrie Fisher’s Leia Organa exemplifies moxy, and from the second she’s broken out of her prison aboard the Death Star she’s calling the shots. She eventually goes on to lead the Rebellion against the Empire and later becomes a General in the Resistance against the First Order.

Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver)

Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver)
Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver)

Film: “Alien” Franchise

Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley remains one of the most iconic women in film to date. Ripley was the only survivor of the xenomorph attack on the Nostromo and became even more of a bada** in the sequel “Aliens.”

Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton)

Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton)
Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton)

Film: “The Terminator” film franchise

After learning of Judgment Day — where machines unleash a nuclear holocaust on the human populace — Sarah Conner becomes a warrior woman on a mission: to protect her son John Conner and prevent Judgment Day from ever happening.

Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz)

Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz)
Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz)

Film: “Kick-Ass”

“Kick-Ass'” Hit-Girl, aka Mindy McCreedy was a strong, smart, and well trained hero. Kick-Ass himself may have bumbled himself to a few victories, but Hit-Girl did most of the heavy-lifting.

Harley Quinn (on-screen portrayals by Margot Robbie and VO by Kaley Cuoco, Tara Strong and Arleen Sorkin)

Harley Quinn (on-screen portrayals by Margot Robbie and VO by Kaley Cuoco, Tara Strong and Arleen Sorkin) 
Harley Quinn (on-screen portrayals by Margot Robbie and VO by Kaley Cuoco, Tara Strong and Arleen Sorkin)

Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Harley Quinn (“The Suicide Squad,” “Birds of Prey” and 2016’s “Suicide Squad”) is the perfect cocktail of chaos, charisma and kick-assery. With her signature baseball bat in hand and a devil-may-care attitude, she flips the script on what it means to be a badass female character. From her colorful wardrobe to her unpredictable antics, Harley dances to the beat of her own (often maniacal) drum. But Robbie’s Harley Quinn isn’t the only one who’s a certified badass; voice actors like Tara Strong, Arleen Sorkin and Kaley Cuoco bring their own brand of mischief to the character. From Tara Strong’s iconic rendition in the video game “Batman: Arkham City” to Arleen Sorkin’s classic portrayal in “Batman: The Animated Series” and Kaley Cuoco’s fresh take in Max’s raunchy, animated series “Harley Quinn,” each actor infuses Harley with sass, spirit and a whole lot of spunk, proving that whether it’s in animation or live-action, Harley’s voice is always loud and proud.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence)

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence)
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence)

Film: “The Hunger Games” franchise

Originally offering herself up in place of her sister for the annual Hunger Games, Katniss — the archer from District 12 — survived multiple games and became the spark of rebellion through the Districts against President Snow.

Hermione Granger (Emma Watson)

Hermione Granger (Emma Watson)
Hermione Granger (Emma Watson)

Film: “Harry Potter” Franchise

Perhaps the smartest student enrolled at Hogwarts, without Hermione’s help Harry would never have been where he needed to be to stop Voldemort.

Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss)

Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss)
Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss)

Film: “The Matrix” franchise

Trinity served as first-mate to Morpheus on the Nebuchadnezzar and worked to help him free people from the Matrix. On top of that she’s a skilled computer hacker and programmer who also quite successfully dabbles in martial arts.

Mulan (Ming-Na Wen)

Mulan (Ming-Na Wen)
Mulan (Ming-Na Wen)

Film: “Mulan”

Refusing to sit on the sidelines in the war against the Huns, Mulan joins the army (disguised as a man) and quickly proves herself to be the creme of the crop.

Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett)

Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett)
Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett)

Film: “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”

Angela Bassett exhibits great strength and wisdom as Queen Ramonda in “Wakanda Forever,” as she grieves the death of her son T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) while still playing a key role in defending her country. Alongside her genius daughter Shuri (Letitia Wright), Wakanda is known for female leaders of unparalleled intelligence.

Storm (Halle Berry)

Storm (Halle Berry)
Storm (Halle Berry)

Film: “X-Men” franchise

One of the staples of the X-Men, the weather-controlling mutant has served as the team’s leader and mentor to the younger members.

Leeloo (Milla Jovovich)

Leeloo (Milla Jovovich)
Leeloo (Milla Jovovich)

Film: “The Fifth Element”

Milla Jovovich’s breakout role was playing a young woman who is secretly the most powerful weapon in the universe.

Eowyn (Miranda Otto)

Eowyn (Miranda Otto)
Eowyn (Miranda Otto)

Film: “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”

Eowyn, a noblewoman of Rohan with dreams of being a warrior, gets her wish in the final “Lord of the Rings” film when she participates in the Battle of Pelennor Fields. More than fight, Eowyn slays the Witch-king — who no living man can kill — uttering the famous line “I am no man.”

Alice (Milla Jovovich)

Alice (Milla Jovovich)
Alice (Milla Jovovich)

Film: “Resident Evil” franchise

Throughout the six-film “Resident Evil” series, Milla Jovovich’s Alice has become a recognizable action hero as she’s blasted her way through waves of the undead in her mission to take down the Umbrella Corp.

Jobu Tupaki (Stephanie Hsu)

Jobu Tupaki (Stephanie Hsu)
Jobu Tupaki (Stephanie Hsu)

Film: “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Weaponizing a vortex-like everything bagel that threatens the entire universe, Jobu Tupaki (Stephanie Hsu) is the most powerful character in the 2023 best picture winner, which spans multiple dimensions. While initially depicted as a wrathful villain out to get Michelle Yeoh’s Evelyn and the entire human race, Jobu is really an incarnation of Evelyn’s daughter Joy, who is reconciling her complex relationship with her mother.

Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara)

Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara)
Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara)

Film: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

Played by two separate actors (Noomi Rapace in the Danish version of the film and Rooney Mara in the American version), Lisbeth Salander is a hacker-turned-crime fighter who quickly proves she’s the wrong person to mess with.

Cassie Thomas (Carey Mulligan)

Cassie Thomas (Carey Mulligan)
Cassie Thomas (Carey Mulligan)

Film: “Promising Young Woman”

Cassie Thomas frequents nightclubs and bars pretending to be too drunk to function and waiting to see if men will take advantage of her — only to drop the fake drunk act and confront them for their predatory actions. Cassie embarked on this revenge mission against such men following the assault of her friend Nina. Talk about a best friend.

Selene (Kate Beckinsale)

Selene (Kate Beckinsale)
Selene (Kate Beckinsale)

Film: “Underworld” franchise

Appearing in every “Underworld” film but one, Kate Beckinsale’s Selene has become a recognizable action hero as one of the greatest warriors in the fight between vampires and werewolves.

Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson)

Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson)
Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson)

Film: Marvel Cinematic Universe

Black Widow has appeared in many of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films through the years, beginning with “Iron Man 2” and most recently in “Captain America: Civil War” — and it takes a certain kind of bada** to stand against gods and monsters with nothing but guns and gadgets.

Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez)

Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez)
Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez)

Film: “Fast and Furious” franchise

In the testosteron-fueled world of the “Fast and Furious,” Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty Ortiz stands at the top of the franchise’s most bada** characters. Since the beginning of the series — as a mechanic and thief on Dom’s squad — she has battled everything from international criminals to dibilitating amnesia to prove she’s one of the squad’s best.

Coffy (Pam Grier)

Coffy (Pam Grier)
Coffy (Pam Grier)

With a weapon tucked away in her afro, the iconic Coffy is known as a take-no-prisoners female vigilante. Pam Grier played similar characters in 1970s Blaxploitation movies, including “Foxy Brown.” These movies later inspired Quentin Tarantino’s 1997 film “Jackie Brown,” in which Grier also starred. While the Blaxploitation genre is controversial for its portrayal of crime and violence in the African American community, it is also praised for featuring powerful Black characters with agency who fight against injustice. Coffy and Grier’s other characters will undoubtedly be remembered as mold-breaking roles.

The Women of “The Woman King”

The Women of “The Woman King” 
The Women of “The Woman King”

Gina Prince-Bythewood’s “The Woman King” has no shortage of badass women. Based on the group of West African female warriors known as the Agojie, who defended the kingdom of Dahomey during the 17th-19th centuries, Viola Davis leads a group of fearless and bold fighters. When European slave traders arrive and fellow Africans are complicit in the trade, it is up to the Agojie and the young warrior Nawi (Thusu Mbedu) to defend their right to freedom and self-determination.

Lucy (Scarlett Johansson)

Lucy (Scarlett Johansson)
Lucy (Scarlett Johansson)

Film: “Lucy”

Scarlett Johansson portrays Lucy, a young woman who unlocks the full potential of the human brain, granting her incredible intellectual and physical abilities.

Ilsa Faust Rebecca Ferguson)

Ilsa Faust Rebecca Ferguson)
Ilsa Faust Rebecca Ferguson)

Films: “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” and “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”

Rebecca Ferguson’s character in “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” and “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” Ilsa Faust, is the epitome of a badass femme fatale. From her awesome motorcycle chases through the winding streets of Morocco to her electrifying skills in hand-to-hand combat, Ferguson commands the screen with a magnetic presence. As a double agent with her own agenda, Ilsa navigates a dangerous world of espionage with skill and cunning — able to outmaneuver even Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt.

Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie)

Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie)
Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie)

Film: “Tomb Raider” franchise

Angelina Jolie brought the globetrotting treasure hunter to life in the big screen adaptations of the videogame “Tomb Raider.”

Aeon Flux (Charlize Theron)

Aeon Flux (Charlize Theron)
Aeon Flux (Charlize Theron)

Film: “Aeon Flux”

Charlize Theron dyed her blonde hair to play the title character, a warrior in a post-apocalyptic 25th Century. The film was based upon the MTV cartoon series of the same name.

Merida (Kelly Macdonald)

Merida (Kelly Macdonald)
Merida (Kelly Macdonald)

Film: “Brave”

Headstrong and free-spirited, Merida would rather hone her archery and sword skills than live the life of a princess.

Domino (Zazie Beetz)

Domino (Zazie Beetz)
Domino (Zazie Beetz)

Film: “Deadpool 2”

This member of the X-Force is more than just “lucky,” she can ride, shoot, skydive and flip and kick higher, stronger and faster than most of her co-stars.

X-23 (Dafne Keen)

X-23 (Dafne Keen)
X-23 (Dafne Keen)

Film: “Logan”

Newcomer Dafne Keen plays Lara/X-23, a clone of Hugh Jackman’s Logan/Wolverine. Like her “father,” she possesses adamantium claws (and toes) and a killer fighting instinct.

Grace (Samara Weaving)

Grace (Samara Weaving)
Grace (Samara Weaving)

Film: “Ready or Not”

Grace takes the phrase “in sickness and in health” to a whole new level. From the moment she realizes she’s married into a deadly game of hide-and-seek with her eccentric and murderous in-laws, Grace doesn’t hesitate to fight for her life. Weaving portrays Grace with a perfect blend of vulnerability and determination as she navigates the twisted game night from hell. From wielding makeshift weapons in her wedding dress to outsmarting her wealthy and deranged relatives at every turn, Grace proves that she’s not your average damsel in distress but rather the ultimate badass bridezilla.

Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt)

Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt)
Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt)

Film: “Edge of Tomorrow”

From her first introduction, where she effortlessly dispatches alien invaders with precision and grace, to her intense combat training sessions that leave Tom Cruise’s Cage reeling, Blunt’s portrayal shows us why her character is known as the “Full Metal Bitch.” Rita fearlessly leads humanity’s fight against the alien threat, showcasing her remarkable skills in every action-packed sequence: she’s not just a soldier – she’s a force to be reckoned with.

Ramona (Jennifer Lopez)

Ramona (Jennifer Lopez)
Ramona (Jennifer Lopez)

Film: “Hustlers”

“Start ’em off with a single, then a double, then a triple, then back to a double and back to a single. You want ’em drunk enough to get their credit card then sober enough to sign the check.” This iconic line shows nobody does it better than Jennifer Lopez’s Ramona from “Hustlers” — from her mesmerizing pole dancing routines that defy gravity to her fearless confidence as she orchestrates the ultimate hustle, Lopez commands every scene she’s in. Whether she’s teaching Constance Wu’s character the ropes in a steamy strip club sequence or leading her crew of cunning con artists in a daring scheme to fleece Wall Street wolves, Lopez exudes power, poise and undeniable charisma.