Top 10 Big Screen Female Role Models

With the opening today of THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1, it felt like a good time to list the best female role models in film. Now, this is not a list of the sexiest babes or kickass women holding guns. This is a list to showcase positive females in substantial lead roles in major movies who don't have to wilt behind a dude or succumb to stereotypical behavior expected of women. Every single woman on this list could hold her own with any big screen male. Every character on this list should be a welcome role model for our daughters and female relatives. If your favorite didn't make the list, feel free to add it to the talk back below.

#1 - Ellen Ripley

When you think of Ripley, you probably think of "get away from her, you bitch!". There is a reason for that. Ripley is the strongest female character, possibly in any genre movie. She has gone toe to toe with the most vicious alien in the universe and even death could not stop her. She has been a victim, a fighter, a prisoner, a mother, a lover, and an alien herself. Through it all, I doubt anyone ever stopped to say "but she is a woman". No, she is Ripley and that is beyond gender. That is pure badass.

#2 - Hermione Granger

She may have started the Harry Potter franchise as a know-it-all with an attitude, but by the end of the series, Hermione Granger is easily recognized as one of the smartest witches of her age. She goes through the series dealing with racism, sexism, and all sorts of other boundaries and manages to make it through it all with her friends by her side. Love comes in the form of her best friends but she never sacrifices emotion for getting what she wants. Everyone should want to be as smart and talented as Hermione, regardless of gender.

#3 - Princess Leia

Most of the characters on this list owe their creation to George Lucas. Princess Leia starts the series looking like your standard royalty but quickly showcases she is adept with a blaster and won't sit idly by while the men do the rescuing. Even after being turned into a sexual object in the immortal RETURN OF THE JEDI bikini scene, Leia still manages to kick ass everywhere from Hoth to Endor. The romance between her and Han Solo is anything but conventional but goes to show you don't have to curtsy to be a strong woman in a galaxy far, far away.

#4 - Katniss Everdeen

The complete opposite of TWILIGHT's Bella, Katniss Everdeen is a female character worthy of being a role model. Smart, strong, and badass, Katniss is exactly the type of action hero girls need more of. Sure, she looks great in a sexy dress, but you would much rather see her in battle gear with her bow drawn as she defends the innocent from the corrupt government. Jennifer Lawrence has done better acting in her career but Katniss will forever be the role she is remembered for.

#5 - Gamora

Zoe Saldana is the only actress to be featured on this list twice and could have made it a third time for her role in AVATAR. Saldana is an absolutely beautiful actress, but she also manages to hold her own as both an action hero and a strong character in films populated by men. Gamora is never relegated as the token female in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and in fact represents one of the reasons the film works so well. She is funny, smart, awesome with a blade, and will fight for what is right.

#6 - Clarice Starling

The prototype for THE X-FILES' Agent Scully, Clarice Starling is a smart, adept, and talented FBI agent. She manages to go right up against Hannibal Lecter not once but twice. Julianne Moore and Jodie Foster both bring a level of vulnerability to their portrayals of Starling, but in different ways. Neither is on display as a sexualized object but both manage to exude a level of sexy based on their brains and intellectual prowess.

#7 - Sarah Connor

Sarah Connor, the mother of humanity's last hope, debuted in THE TERMINATOR as your stereotypical damsel in distress. But, when TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY rolled around, she was a lean, mean, cyborg killing machine. Sure, she had some psychological issues, but she was determined to not let the world run over her and would do anything to protect her son. Maybe not the most mentally sound role model on the list, but Sarah Connor certainly shows she is not going to take the apocalypse sitting at a tea party or cowering behind a man.

#8 - The Bride

KILL BILL is Quentin Tarantino's exploitation epic that combines every conceivable martial arts and assassin cliche and presents one kick-ass movie. To boot, the characters that could easily have been played by men are all portrayed by strong female actors. With Uma Thurman in the lead, The Bride is a woman on the hunt for vengeance for the loss of her daughter, a core gender ideal, but she takes down everyone in her path regardless of whether they sit down or stand up to pee. This is a female hero who is not a machine nor a mumbling housewife.

#9 - Black Widow

Yeah, she is sexy as hell, but she is also one of the strongest S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There is an emotional core to Natasha Romanoff that peeks out in THE AVENGERS and CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, but she never stays away from doing what she needs to do to protect the innocent and fight evil. There is no time when Black Widow is on screen that viewers think about her gender as compared to the men surrounding her, they just think about how worthy she is to be amongst these super-humans.

#10 - Uhura

Where Uhura was more of a token character in the Original Series, the J.J. Abrams' take on the character is a strong character who doesn't take crap from Kirk and tells lover Spock how it is. She is able to hold her own in a fight while not preventing herself from being an emotional being. Clearly a realistic portrayal of a woman in a military setting, Uhura is not a wilting lily but a girl who can go toe to toe with the boys, regardless of species.

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