I’ll be blunt, I usually despise females in warrior roles. Why? I feel like they aren’t characters at all, just cardboard cutouts. They either aren’t allowed to have flaws or their flaws are excused by virtue of femininity. (Whole other blog post in that.) Anyway, here are the first three action heroines that come to my mind when I think of my favorites and they are my favorites with good reason.
Evelyn Salt (Salt, 2010)
I keep seeing all these people whine about the lack of female action heroes and I want to hit them in the face with this. Salt is an incredible portrayal of a female spy/assassin who is not invincible, makes miscalculations, gets knocked down, but always gets back up. She basically leads a one-woman war against two governments and is pretty much as hardcore as they come. She’s probably my favorite action heroine in film, but not many seem to have heard of her (and judging by their mewling online, that includes Feminazis).
If we’re talking vulnerabilities and relatability, Vin takes the gold without batting an eye. Insecurity and softness mixed with awesome power and a capability for terrible destruction, Brandon Sanderson really set a standard here. It is impossible to be in possession of a heart and not want to protect Vin, even though she’s the character who tears through 300 soldiers and comes out with nary a scratch (seriously, that happened once).
Cara the Mord Sith (The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind/The Legend of the Seeker, 2007-2009)
Cara is pretty much all the things I usually dislike in a character—sassy, sarcastic, dominant, sometimes outright cruel. But the author (and the writers of the television series) spent huge amounts of time humanizing and sympathizing the Mord Sith order as a whole. The reader/viewer is shown how much pain these women are in (physically and emotionally) every second of their lives. We see Cara cry and regret and mourn, then turn right around and level entire an entire battalion while dragging an evil sorceress by the hair.
I really wish there were more action heroines like this. Not one-dimensional tropes like Black Widow in Iron Man 2 or Andromeda in Wrath of the Titans. These three ladies are characters that feel real and I think that’s what all characters should be.