6 Movie Actresses Who Kick Butt

  • May 20, 2011
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Once upon a time, kicking butt and taking names in movies was something that only men did. If there was the potential for any sort of dangerous situation, such as wars, kidnappings, and cars that inexplicably explode after being only slightly damaged, women would either be completely absent or else relegated to the role of "annoying screamer who everyone wants to kill after five seconds."

But it was inevitable that the equality movement would eventually reach mass media. We can't say for sure exactly when the switch occurred (sometime during the late 70's, we believe) but we're glad that it did. Otherwise we never would have these babes who give butt-kicking a good name.


Princess Leia Organa in Star Wars Franchise (started 1977)


Rarely has anyone wearing so little clothing done so much damage.

It's safe to say that Carrie Fisher in the original Star Wars trilogy is one of the first actresses assigned to a role that allowed her to do serious damage to her enemies. As early as 1977, she was shooting laser guns at people trying to take over her ship, refusing to bow down in the face of torture, and delivering wisecracks to her often bumbling rescuers. And she's a princess, no less. Disney, take note: now we all know that princesses can do more than put on dresses and get into trouble.

Perhaps George Lucas just wanted to show that his futuristic-but-still-long-long-ago world was much, much different from ours by having a strong female character, but it worked to get women in on the action scene. Plus, Leia's character only got cooler and badder as the years passed, so that by Episode VI she was capable of strangling a giant space slug with the chain he'd used to enslave her with. Well played, Leia. Well played.


Ripley in Alien Franchise (started 1979)


Are you sure you don't have any bigger guns? This one is a bit on the wimpy side.

Only a couple of years after Leia burst onto the scene as a female gun-slinger, Sigourney Weaver took it to another level. While the other members of her platoon fall like ants under a powerful magnifying glass, Ripley somehow manages to survive. She's smart, she's tough, and she's good with a gun. And she looks good in underwear. What more could someone ask for in a woman?

We also like the fact that she gets messy. She really looks like she's in the middle of a battle, unlike some of the women you see in movies nowadays. Because, seriously, no one gets attacked by aliens and blows a bunch of stuff up and maintains a perfectly clear complexion and silky, smooth hair. It just doesn't work like that.

Ripley also has a soft side. She can't help but lug the girl she finds in the abandoned base, Newt, along for the butt-kicking ride. Which we love, because our favorite tough girls always have a bit of a heart of gold.


Sarah Connor in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)


Those sunglasses mean business!

Okay, so we skipped the 80's. We know, we know, there are probably plenty of tough and awesome actresses that we missed. But we just couldn't wait to get Linda Hamilton on our list! She is by far our favorite butt-kicker of all time.

Have any doubts? Just look at that picture! Those veins! Those bulging muscles! And we admit that the scene where she does those pull-ups hanging off the bed in her room in the insane asylum absolutely makes us swoon. It's hard for most women to even do one pull-up - believe us, we spend a lot of time lurking around woman-only gyms.

The coolest thing about Sarah Connor (well, aside from killing robots from the future hell-bent on her destruction, and looking like the definition of a female badass) is the amount that she changes from the first Terminator movie to the second one. We don't think that we've ever seen an actress play such wildly different roles before in the same franchise. She goes from being a sweet, cute waitress with puffy hair to a woman trained to kill and skilled in the arts of war. If that's not a transformation, we don't know what is!


Buffy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)


It makes us sad that many of you may not remember this scene.

Okay, so we admit that Kristy Swanson's role as the titular vampire slayer in the more-or-less throwaway movie that came years before the much more well-known TV series isn't super memorable. However, she still makes the cut because she kicks a whole lot of butt virtually on her own, without a bunch of men to pick up after her if she makes a mistake. And Luke Perry as the love interest is pretty much the equivalent of the modern stay-at-home-dad as he stands around looking confused and moody while his girlfriends sticks sharpened pieces of wood into people's chest.

The thing that makes Buffy even tougher is that she doesn't have years of training or any particularly useful skills (unless you count cheerleading, of course) to help her on her quest. The only thing she really going for her is coming from a long line of vampire slayers, and being in really, really good shape. It's pretty much her brains and her brawn against the undead of the world. And we love that she does it all with a tubular valley girl accent.


Leeloo in The Fifth Element (1997)


Give me those damn chicken jelly beans, already!

Milla Jovovich, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways! There are plenty of butts in this world that need to be kicked, and if you're looking for some help, then Milla is your girl.

She's a force to be reckoned with in a lot of her movies, but we especially like this role because her character is literally designed to do damage. And we know this because there's some weird science scene in the movie which has something to do with coils of DNA helices. Anyway, Leeloo is resurrected from a little scrap of leftover flesh, and two seconds after she takes her first breath she's already punching holes in bullet-proof glass, choking people, flying through walls, and doing free-dives off of skyscrapers. This is a woman who never lets anything stand in her way, even if she has to mixed-martial-arts her way through a whole squad of alien baddies.


Trinity in The Matrix (1999)


Falling and shooting very, very, sloooooooooowly.

The ability to destroy that we see in Carrie-Anne Moss's Trinity character is out of this world! No, literally. She enters into a computer program that's actually just a virtual representation of the universe, and so she can do pretty much anything she wants to. But only because she, unlike most of the inhabitants, actually knows that none of it is real. So it's kind of like lucid dreaming, only much, much cooler than any sort of dream that we've ever had.

Some people might scoff at her skills, thinking "I could do that too, if gravity and electromagnetism and the rest of physics didn't actually exist. It's just like playing a video-game." But people in the Matrix can, and do, die because there are professionals in there hell-bent on killing them. Their line of work is not exactly without risk.

Trinity sees that risk, and laughs in its face. If the risk was dead, she'd walk all over its grave. You get the point. She's well-known for doing things in which she's got maybe a 1% chance of survival. And she's doing it all for the greater good. And that, friends, it what makes for a truly awesome badass.

Emma Larkins is a freelance writer. To learn more about her work, follow her on Twitter or check out her blog.

Written by Emma Larkins – Copyrighted © www.weirdworm.com

Image Sources

Image sources:

  • - Princess Leia Organa in Star Wars Franchise (started 1977): http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_0viO-Dm52sM/SN_4pmMwjdI/AAAAAAAAJnU/Xvdq0Vry9u0/s400/LeiaStranglesJabba.jpg
  • - Ripley in Alien Franchise (started 1979): http://www.empireonline.com/images/features/100greatestcharacters/photos/9.jpg
  • - Sarah Connor in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991): http://www.dollymix.tv/images/sarah%20connor.jpg
  • - Buffy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992): http://ginavivinetto.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/bvs.jpg?w=300&h=168
  • - Leeloo in The Fifth Element (1997): http://www.alicia-logic.com/capsimages/5e_020LeeLooGun.jpg
  • - Trinity in The Matrix (1999): http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/irvinem/CCT510/matrix-bullet-time-trinity.jpg