I’m decidely not feeling kick-ass today. I have a nasty cold, and have stayed home from work to try to get some sleep. Unfortunately, sleep eludes me. And my mind keeps wandering back to the Action Heroine Blog-a-thon.
I’ve spent a lot of time putting together lists of shows and movies with kick-ass women. But so far, I’ve largely avoided committing to any sort of ranking. Sure, the first list of movies and the first list of shows had more of my favorites than the later lists in those series. But I generally have listed things by order of release date. So here I climb out on my limb, to make some sort of ranking.
Mind you, these are not necessarily my all-time favorite movies and shows, though many of those provide the source of the characters. It seems my list is a bit heavy on TV vs. movies, but let’s face it, TV shows give more opportunity for character development. And this list is about the characters themselves.
These are kick-ass women I’ve most admired for all their talents, skills, wit and strength. The kick-ass women I’ve most wanted to be like.
7 kick-ass women I’ve wanted to be (or at least wanted to be more like)
- Emma Peel
The Avengers (1965-1967)
For me, it all started with Emma. I stumbled across the Avengers when I was in high school, watching late night TV on a local channel. The show, with its British tongue-in-cheek humor and its 60s style, had me charmed right from the start. But the kicker was Emma Peel. I had never met a character like her before. She was in charge. Martial artist, sharpshooter, fencer, scientist, spy. And she had such intelligence, such a keen wit, and style to boot. (And yes, she had stylish boots.)
- Charly Baltimore
The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
It’s just possible that this is my favorite kick-ass woman movie. Sure, it’s not the best movie ever made. Sure, some of it was over-the-top. But hell, it’s an action movie. We’re not asking for real life. It had what we like to see in an action movie: action. Suspense, chases, fight scenes, unlikely escapes, plot twists, rescues, explosions and quirky characters. Samuel Jackson was great in this movie. So was Brian Cox. But the movie was about the kick-ass character played by Geena Davis. I’ll have a lot more to say on this topic at some point, but not one, but two, cool websites just independently wrote up reviews about this movie that are worth checking out: Heroine Content and The Hathor Legacy.
Firefly (2002-2003), Serenity (2005)
The show Firefly and the movie Serenity, featuring the same cast of characters, have quite a few strong women. There’s the gifted mechanic, the independent diplomat/courtesan, and the multi-talented and brilliant, if largely insane, teenager. But the woman that I fell for, that I most wanted to be, was the warrior woman, Zoe. I love her attitude and her dry wit. The sense that she was dangerous. A force to be reckoned with. And I love her relationship with her laid-back and playful husband, Wash. This is a woman with serious strength, but serious depth.
- Starbuck/Kara Thrace
Battlestar Galactica (2003, 2004-????)
When I was a teenager, I wanted to be a pilot. I’ve always loved flying, and couldn’t think of anything I wanted to do more. Starbuck is the pilot. An all out kick-ass, ace pilot. Plus she’s got some serious attitude. There is a character who is not afraid to speak her mind, who doesn’t shy away from a bit of confrontation. Qualities I could use a bit more of, myself.
- Chief Inspector Yang
Okay, so in part I’ve wanted to be Michelle Yeoh, probably more so than this particular character. I don’t know a thing about her as a private individual. But I do know that she’s played some seriously kick-ass roles in a bunch of great action movies: Crouching Tiger, Tomorrow Never Dies, Wing Chun, to name a few. And you just gotta love that. Her role in Supercop was a particularly kick-ass woman: she was daring, competent, calm and man-oh-man, could she kick ass. Plus she had a prestigious job, and was well-respected in her position. If you want to read more about why I liked her character in this movie, I have a lot more to say on the subject.
- Samantha Carter
Stargate SG-1 (1997-2007)
Explorer. Adventurer. Scientist. Does she have the ultimate glam job, or what? Maybe most of what she talks about on the show is just pseudo-science, but I sure do love to see a strong, smart woman do her job. This is another case where the character’s gender is not really an issue. I can recall very few episodes where the plot was moved forward due to her being, gasp, a woman. For the most part, she’s just part of the team. And a particularly smart and kick-ass one, at that.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)
It may shock some of you that Buffy is showing up kind of late on this list. After all, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of my all-time favorite TV shows. I’ve watched the whole series a number of times. (These are the DVDs that we put on when we go down to our basement to work out.) I love the cast of characters, the dialog, the bizarre scenarios. And the action. Buffy, as I’m sure you all know, kicks ass. However, this list is about women I’ve wanted to be, or at least be like. And well, while I’d love to the have the super strength and skills, be able to jump, flip, spin and kick like she does in so many of those fight scenes, there’s nothing in this world that would make me want to be a teenager again. And there’s the whole weight of the world business. That would be a bit much.