The Top 10 Most Badass Heroines From the Big Screen

With the final Hunger Games film slowly approaching, and the end in sight for the popular female-led trilogy, we celebrate our top 10 film heroines of all time. From Disney’s Mulan, to Katniss herself, these badass ladies lead a wave of female empowerment on the big screen, particularly in the realm of young adult book-to-film adaptations.  So what are we waiting for? Let’s get stuck in to our girl power heroes!

10. Mulan (Mulan, 1998)

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Challenging stereotypes, and fighting like her male counterparts in this Disney animated film, Mulan personifies the internal strength that is so deeply embedded in us all. Though she finds love at the end of the film, it’s not before she wards off the entirety of the Hun army, and saves her kingdom from being invaded.

9. Hit-Girl (Kick-Ass, 2010)

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Not all the heroines on this list can say their dad is also a vigilante, but Hit-Girl (Chloe G. Moretz) can. Made popular in the Kick-Ass comic book series, Mindy McCready is trained in martial arts and the use of various weapons to be a skilled assassin. Unaffected by blood and guts, Mindy is also a fan of Hello Kitty, and all things girly. Unfortunately, Mindy left the world of crime fighting behind at the end of Kick-Ass 2.

8. Dylan, Natalie & Alex (Charlie’s Angels, 2000)

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This crime-fighting trio was inspired by the Destiny’s Child track, “Independent Woman,” and it shows. They are tactile, strong, smart, and work well together. Impressively, the women played by Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore & Lucy Liu are more competent than Bosley, their male sidekick, and save him multiple times throughout the course of the movie, while also complimenting and happily supporting each other.

7. Neytiri (Avatar, 2009)

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Zoe Saldana has a reputation for portraying strong female heroines on the screen, and giving an entire performance as this CGI warrior did not stop her. Neytiri is wry and cautious about befriending human Jake, an outsider to her world, and doesn’t let love impinge on her freedom, and the saving of the Na’avi people. Although she does find love with with Jake, Neytiri remains firm and strong in her beliefs, and her reverence for her natural surroundings.

6. Hanna (Hanna, 2011)

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Hanna explores the life and training of its titular heroine, Hanna, and focuses on her loyalty to family and her superior fighting skills. Her longing for friendship and a childhood are simple additions to her character development when she is exposed to the world. However, it’s her lack of sexualisation as a female character that makes her so important, as this goes against the conventions of female spies in film. Her character does not rely on emotion, but on fierce strength.

5. Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games,2012) 

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In the fight to please the rich, Katniss led a revolution within District 13 to overthrow the brutal regime of the Capitol. Katniss is highly skilled, and is a tough, hostile and calculating character. She is brutal and is emotionless in films, while the male leads, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Gale (Liam Hemsworth), wear their hearts on their sleeves. Changing the roles up in teen fiction, Katniss became a leading lady with both heart and fight throughout the trilogy.

4. Yu Shu Lien, Jade Fox & Jen Yu (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon,2000)

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One of the most successful foreign films of all time, Crouching Tiger is a martial arts epic that is full of empowered and badass women.  The female warrior Yu Shu Lien (Michele Yeoh), the deadly assassin Jade Fox (Cheng Pei-Pei), and our main protagonist, Jen Yu (Zhang Ziyi), the daughter of the Governor and secret martial arts expert, influenced the strong representation of women in martial arts films, as well as western films. The women may be trapped by their patriarchal society, but it gives them something to fight for; be it love, knowledge or freedom.

3. Imperator Furiosa (Mad Max: Fury Road, 2015)

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Charize Theron dons the role of a resourceful warrior so easily in 2015 action film. Snatched away from her people, the Vuvalini, Furiosa becomes a part of the tyrannical Immortan Joe’s scheme to keep the Citadel citizens begging for his aid. Proving that she answers to no one, she carts off the last remaining fertile women in the hopes of saving their lives. Can you say Girl Power?!

2. Lisbeth Salander (The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, 2011)

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Lisbeth Salander is a fearless, and greatly skilled hacker who is emotionally withdrawn, and an ideal partner for Blomkvist, the journalist. Rooney Mara portrays Lisbeth as a misunderstood woman who surpasses the expectations of her peers and family. She is a woman of great foresight and intelligence, and her strengths eventually lead her to a life of liberation from her abusive guardian. In a dysfunctional social system, she rises as a beacon of independence.

1. The Bride (Kill Bill Vol 1 & 2, 2003 & 2004) 

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Leaving a blood bath in the wake of her katana, The Bride is on the road to revenge. Having her story pan across two films, she was left for dead at her wedding, and is looking for bloody vengeance. The fact that she is a stereotypically beautiful woman doesn’t downplay her strengths, as it is not her looks that define her. The film has a personal story for the bride, but like all Tarantino films her name isn’t important and her motives are not what drives the movie. It’s the plan, her strength and determination, and the overtaking of her male teachers that make her so kick-ass.


Honourable mentions go out to the Disney princesses that also weren’t just stereotypes, Princess Merida (Brave), Elsa and Anna (Frozen) and Pocahantas (Pocahantas). And more special mentions go to the leading ladies that were close to making the cut: Hermoine Granger (Harry Potter), Tris (Divergent) & Pai (Whale Rider).


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