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10 Great Action Movie Heroines

Sisters are doing it for themselves (and to save the world). Our best action movie heroines are more than a match for Arnie, Sly and company. So let’s take a minute to celebrate the women who beat the odds and save the day, again and again.


action movie heroines
Appears in: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015, Director: J.J. Abrams) Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017, Director: Rian Johnson)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019, Director: J.J. Abrams)

With the first six films centred around male heroes (Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, then Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan), it was about time Star Wars had a female-oriented lead in the new sequels, in the powerful and compelling form of Rey (Daisy Ridley). And while we’re here, let’s not forget Felicity Jones’ equally strong performance as the tenacious Jyn Erso in 2016’s Rogue One. 

Lara Croft

Appears in: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001, Director: Simon West)
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life (2003, Director: Jan de Bont) Tomb Raider (2018, Director: Roar Uthaug)

Based on the phenomenally successful Tomb Raider video game series, the ludicrously silly-but-enjoyable Tomb Raider films originally starred Angelina Jolie as outrageous game character Lara Croft – the beautiful and smart heroine, who, like Indiana Jones, travels the world defeating baddies at numerous ancient historical sites. Alicia Vikander has since reprised the role in a reboot.

The Bride / Beatrix Kiddo

Appears in: Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003, Director: Quentin Tarantino) Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004, Director: Quentin Tarantino)

Uma Thurman’s ruthless anti-hero doesn’t let anyone stand in her way as she sweeps through hordes of enemies with her samurai sword in the Kill Bill series of revenge films. In fact, Tarantino’s homage to grindhouse cinema not only has a heroic female lead in Beatrix, but also stars Darryl Hannah as her cruel rival, Elle Driver.

Diana Prince / Wonder Woman

Appears in: Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016, Director: Zack Snyder) Wonder Woman (2017, Director: Patty Jenkins)
Wonder Woman 1984 (2020, Director: Patty Jenkins)

Gal Gadot stars as the immortal Amazon warrior demi-goddess Diana, who finally gets her own origin stories after first making an appearance in Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. Turning the action film genre on its head, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) takes a secondary role as ‘the love interest’, while Wonder Woman saves the world from the bad guys.

Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel

Appears in: Captain Marvel (2019, Directors: Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck) Avengers: Endgame (2019, Directors: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo)

Did you know the most powerful superhero in the universe is a woman? Well, not a human woman, but actually a ‘Kree’ warrior named Vers who has vague memories of being human fighter pilot in a past life. Brie Larson strongly plays Carol Danvers’ awakening into becoming Captain Marvel and one of Earth’s saviours in the Avengers series.

Katniss Everdeen

Appears in: The Hunger Games (2012, Director: Gary Ross) The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013, Director: Francis Lawrence)
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014, Director: Francis Lawrence)
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015, Director: Francis Lawrence)

A gifted archer, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) fights back against the dystopian regime of President Snow (Donald Sutherland), which pits individuals from selected districts against one another in televised fights to the death – aka the Hunger Games. Starting out as a young, terrified woman, in time she becomes a steely symbol for the resistance. 


Appears in: Resident Evil (2002, Director: Paul W.S. Anderson) Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004, Director: Alexander Witt) Resident Evil: Extinction (2007, Director: Russell Mulcahy) Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010, Director: Paul W.S. Anderson) Resident Evil: Retribution (2012, Director: Paul W.S. Anderson) Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016, Director: Paul W.S. Anderson)

Another action-packed film series based on a mega-selling computer game, Milla Jovovich leads the loud, violent, cheesy-but-fun Resident Evil franchise as Alice, slaying zombies left, right and centre as she battles the Umbrella Corporation, whose bioweapons triggered a zombie apocalypse. Alice remains a strong, consistent human character throughout the undead carnage.

Lisbeth Salander

Appears in: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009, Director Niels Arden Oplev & 2011, Director: David Fincher)
The Girl Who Played with Fire 2009, Director: Daniel Alfredson)The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (2009, Director: Daniel Alfredson) The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2018, Director: Fede Álvarez)

Played by three different actors (Noomi Rapace, Rooney Mara and Claire Foy) across a series of Swedish and English language films, computer-hacker Lisbeth Salander is the ferocious protagonist of the Millennium series of books by Stieg Larsson. In this character study movie, after suffering terribly at the hands of men, she transforms herself into a powerful crusader against corruption and abuse. 

Helen Parr / Elastigirl

Appears in: The Incredibles (2004, Director: Brad Bird) The Incredibles 2 (2018, Director: Brad Bird)

She’s not just a mother to a family of superheroes, Helen Parr is a superhero herself – Elastigirl (voiced by Holly Hunter). First introduced to us in the super-fun and witty Disney animation movie The Incredibles in 2004, Elastigirl took centre stage in a 2018 sequel, as she became the face of a new superhero PR campaign.

Ellen Ripley

The original (and perhaps best?) action movie heroine, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) was originally scripted to be portrayed by a man, but the change to define the protagonist of the ‘Alien’ series as an inspirational woman was a revolutionary move for cinema, helping to pave the way for more strong female roles in sci-fi and action films.

Appears in: Alien (1979, Director: Ridley Scott) Aliens (1986, Director: James Cameron) Alien 3 (1992, Director: David Fincher)
Alien Resurrection (1997, Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet)

Hopefully, this has given you some ideas to watch some exciting action films with strong female characters taking the lead (or even think about re-watching some of them). Agree? Disagree? Which films would you recommend? Drop us a line at or leave us a comment on our Facebook page.

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