While there is lots of talk concerning female characters, in games and films, being portrayed as weak or only utilised for sexual, visual or even ‘achievement’ reasons, I think there are also a lot of examples of strong female role models out there that we can enjoy – and guess what, they’ve always been around.
While I don’t disagree with some of the things critics such as Anita Sarkeesian say about female roles in games (she’s obviously the most prominent person to mention), I think we can get so wrapped up bashing the other side that we forget we can take solace in the fact that there are some awesome female characters out there to enjoy – in games, books films and TV – take notes from (and cosplay) to our heart’s content.
Here are my top leading ladies:
Let’s ignore old Lara Croft with her boobs that were so big she could use them as a life vest and her orgasm noises when she jumps, and instead focus on the new and improved Lara we’ve come to love from the 2013 Tomb Raider game. This Lara is a force to be reckoned with as she battles through the game picking up all manner of injuries and overcoming fears to defeat the freak attempting to sacrifice her friend. And hey, not a giant breast or cringe worthy grunt noise to be found! Pat yourselves on the back Square Enix.
Buffy will also live on for me as a true role model, sure she had her ups and downs with heartbreak and friend dilemmas throughout the show that might have left most of us shouting at the screen ‘YOU ARE BUFFY, STOP CRYING AND SORT THIS SHIT OUT!’ but I guess that’s what Joss Whedon did so well, he made her vulnerable and human. She’s strong, determined and knows when to seek help to fight the good fight.
I’ve mentioned Valentine before but I can just never get over how much I love her character. She might even be more badass than Alice but I hate what they did to her in the later films. at first I didn’t even realise it was her (the blonde makeover didn’t help). I don’t know the character from the games, simply because I haven’t played them because I can’t cope with games that have things running at you, but I always get excited when she comes on the screen in Apocalypse and starts shooting zombies in the police station – she just walks right in there, telling everyone how it is and not taking any grief for it.
The Last of Us is one of my absolute favourite games, and Ellie is a character we get to watch develop and grow into something special. Her wit, charm and badassery is great to witness, and she isn’t afraid to let everyone around her know she isn’t happy with a situation – something I should really take notes on.
We see her deal with some challenging themes in the game, I feel like she understands what she needs to sacrifice for the cause and her selflessness saves Joel numerous times – we see exactly how in the DLC Left Behind. She also has to cope with the attempted sexual attack and brutality from David (who is scarily also voiced by Nolan North), who she kills and ends up not broken but more determined to finish her attempt to reach the Fireflies. She’s also a fantastic character for the LGBT community, as we see her relationship with her best friend blossom into romance before it is snatched away in Left Behind. I’m so excited to see her all grown up in the Last of Us 2 and how she has been developed further.
I am a little obsessed with Adventure Time and regularly quote it in conversation (cue tumble weed effect) however I initially hated the character of Princess Bubblegum, simply because she seemed so uptight and disruptive but I’ve grown to love her over time. She’s straight forward, knows what she wants and goes to great lengths to ensure the security of her kingdom, something we can all take note of.
Not only does this woman rock engine oil as make up but she’s also one of the fiercest female characters I’ve seen in a long time. I was left feeling a little meh over the latest Mad Max but Furiosa was definitely one of the redeeming features (along with the guy shredding on the guitar, hanging off the front of a giant truck). Furiosa is a stereotypical ‘I was taken away from my family and wronged so now I’m seeking vengeance’ character type, but she is selfless, giving up everything to save the brides and also kicks ass plenty of times, as well as recovering from a punctured lung in under a minute.
We’re not talking X-Men Evolution or Anna Paquin Rogue, but the classic X-Men animated series Southern Belle who could fly, rocked yellow spandex and was sassy as hell (plus she managed to bag herself Gambit). No Rogue has ever been the same since. I was always jealous of a girl at my school who had a mallen streak at the front of her hair, like Rogue and I was always a little jealous.
Of course Harley was going to make the list! The saviour of puppies, the rejector of abusive relationships, the girl who can rock pigtails any day of the week! Harley is an absolute badass and Margot Robbie’s portrayal of her in Suicide Squad has spread the love and created an even bigger Harley fan base, which I think is amazing.
As soon as I came across Morrigan in Dragon Age I fell a little in love with her (even more so maybe than when I first met with Alistair). I think it’s her voice, Claudia Black is such an excellent voice actress who creates characters that come across as confident, all knowing and pretty damn sassy. Morrigan has that dry, sarcastic tone to her voice that works incredibly well for an anti-social Witch of the Wilds. I also love that she can wear that plunging piece of material as a top and not experience any nip slip – that is magic.
Elizabeth is a character that you definitely grow to love while playing Bioshock Infinite, I’ve seen lots of comparisons of her to Rapunzel from Tangled after she escapes from the tower but after she SPOILER kills Daisy Fitzeroy she becomes a stronger, hardened version of herself. Elizabeth can hold her own in the game and proves to be a pretty helpful character to have around, she quickly loses the little girl act and quickly becomes a female character to be reckoned with.
The Arkham games’ Catwoman is one of my favourite depictions of the character so far – it’s possibly even better than Michelle Phiefer’s portrayal. I love this Selena Kyle because she really depicts the characters struggle between good and bad and while you get the choice throughout the game whether you help Batman or not (I definitely just left him to die when I first got the choice) you know that deep down she can’t help herself when it comes to being a bit of a hero.
I’m talking book Hermione here, not the Emma Watson version (although the gif above made me laugh so had to go in). I loved book Hermione because she never came across as pompous or like a know-it-all to me. She was just a clever girl, a little bossy and everything I aspired to be when it came to school – plus I could relate to her when it came to the frizzy hair. Hermione was always proof for me that hard work and friendship was all you really needed to succeed.
Who is your favourite female character? Is there anyone you don’t agree with on the list?