Women in film and television have become a force to be reckoned with, battling tirelessly to put a spotlight on issues of inequality in the industry and bring change to a culture that has been guilty of showing women as mere sidekicks and convenient love interests.
While there’s still some way to go, thanks to the courage and determination of those both in front and behind the camera, 2018 is shaping up to be a year of change.
As we celebrate this shift and look forward to getting acquainted with a new breed of female warriors such as Jennifer Lawrence’s Red Sparrow and the all-women squad of Ocean’s 8, let’s also salute some of the characters who inspired us to fight towards this, like the arse-kicking Lara Croft and Jessica Jones, who both make a welcome return this month.
If the current climate has taught us anything, it’s that there’s a little bit of Lara and Jessica in all of us. You might even recognise some of these courageous superheroes in your own circle…
The titular character of the Tomb Raider franchise made her first appearance as a video game character in 1996, with the film series that catapulted Angelina Jolie to fame following in 2001.
Now 17 years on, the courageous archaeologist is back for a new generation, portrayed by the awesome Alicia Vikander.
Talking about the role, Vikander recently explained: ‘She’s not an action hero when we meet her in the beginning of this film. She’s a girl who lives with her friends in East London, like I did when I was in my early twenties!’
Independent and fit to boot, you’re most likely to find a Lara in your local gym putting the guys to shame with her super-strength.
Based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, Jessica Jones took the world by storm when she hit Netflix in 2015.
Striking a cord with anyone who’s had to pick themselves up after being knocked down, the story sees the former superhero (Played by Krysten Ritter) rebuilding her life as a private investigator following an abusive relationship.
Talking about the character, Ritter said: ‘[She is] very rough around the edges, and dry and sarcastic and a total asshole sometimes. But I think at her core she’s a good person.’
Unashamed of her demons, you’re most likely to hang out with a Jessica in your local bar, drinking the guys under the table and outwitting everyone.
The protagonist of the Hunger Games film series, based on Suzanne Collins’ book trilogy of the same name, volunteers to take her sister’s place in a contest enforced by the totalitarian government where 24 teens must fight to their death.
Initially a long shot to win, the heroic archer quickly proves herself as a threat to all evil.
Dating is the last thing Katniss has time for, but her love triangle with brooding Gale and nice boy Peeta makes her one of us. And the fact that she’s played by Jennifer Lawrence just makes us love her more.
Fiercely loyal, you’re most likely to find a Katniss amongst your old school friends, keeping in touch with everyone no matter how life changes.
Just because the film’s called Mad Max: Fury Road, doesn’t mean there’s only one lead. If anything, Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa is more integral – and arse-kicking – than Tom Hardy’s titular character.
The skilled soldier betrays her captor in order to free ‘The Five Wives’, aka Immortan Joe’s concubines, and create a better world.
Talking about her role, Charlize explained: ‘Women thrive in being many things. We can be just as dark and light as men. We’re more than just nurturers, more than just breeders, we’re just as conflicted.’
Tough yet tender, you’re most likely to find a Furiosa filling your inbox (she’s far too busy to meet in real life) with inspirational topics about everything from the environment to equality.
After first appearing in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the character that propelled Emma Watson to fame quickly became a firm favourite, frequently impressing Ron and Harry with her quick wit and genius brain.
J. K. Rowling supposedly based the Hogwarts student on herself as a teen, so it’s easy to imagine Hermoine growing up and turning into a phenomenal success.
Thanks to the author’s brilliant writing, a character that could come across as a know-it-all instead appears smart, ambitious and focused.
A team player, you’re most likely to meet a Hermione in the office filling the role as your work wife, encouraging productivity but also having your back.
Even if you’ve never watched The X-Files, you’ll most likely be familiar with Gillian Anderson’s Dana Scully, the grounded skeptic to Mulder’s more easily convinced believer.
It’s that reversal of a gender stereotype that makes the show such a success – it’s currently airing on Channel 5 for its eleventh series.
We like to think that the FBI agent, who’s also medical doctor, inspired a whole generation of young girls that they could achieve whatever they wanted, even if that didn’t quite stretch to zapping aliens.
A brilliant mentor and role model, you’re most likely to find a Scully amongst your old tutors, the one who encouraged you to reach for the stars.
Although one of Game of Thones’ youngest characters, Arya Stark (played by Maisie Williams) has become one of the show’s most dangerous.
After several narrow escapes, the tough teen is now a skilled swordsperson, which has been coming in very handy as she avenges her wronged family.
She’s also feisty and clever, refusing to conform to the gender norms of society. Her and her sister Sanza represented the ultimate in sisterhood, working together in unity despite others pitted the characters against each other.
Scrappy and determined, you’re most likely to find an Arya in your family – that little sister or cousin who was insistent about joining your gang and then ended up being cooler than you anyway.
Writer and Director Joss Whedon might have faced criticism over Black Widow’s sideline position in the Avenger film series, but he is credited with creating the character of Buffy, who subverted the stereotypical horror role of females as mere victims way back in the early-90s.
The ballsy yet relatable cheerleader turned vampire slayer first appeared on the big screen played by Kristy Swanson, with a television spin-off later launching the career of Sarah Michelle Gellar.
Seemingly ordinary yet secretly extraordinary, you’re most likely to find a Buffy living next door, constantly surprisingly you and proving you should never judge on first impressions.
Played by British actor Daisy Ridley, Rey first appeared in the much-anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
With so much hype, the character could’ve easily faced a backlash, but the orphaned scavenger turned resistance fighter quickly won hearts.
Talking about her character’s male friendships, Daisy explained: “I don’t think in films you always need a romantic relationship and I think friend relationships can be romantic in their gestures and their intimacy and all of that.”
How refreshing is it to hear that in Hollywood?
Strong and without the need of saving, you’re most likely to find a Rey amongst your fave tweeters, boldly speaking out and changing the agenda.
Where to start? 2017’s Wonder Woman has broken multiple records, including biggest opening weekend for a female director (Patty Jenkins) and the highest-grossing live action film directed by a woman. Hoorah.
In fact, the story of the immortal Amazon warrior became the highest-grossing superhero origin film ever, topping 2002’s Spider-Man.
It’s been recently claimed that lead actor Gal Gadot is refusing to sign up for a sequel unless Warner Bros severs ties with producer Brett Ratner in the wake of sexual assault allegations made against him.
Respected and principled, let’s face it, you’re most likely to find a Wonder Woman in the form of your mum – or whoever raised you, putting you first no matter what. Don’t forget to send her a card on March 11!