I started the Kick-Ass Fictional series a while back, with the intention of a one off post of ten amazing women from films, television, books and cartoons. That list rapidly grew, and so became an ongoing series, ten at a time, of these awesome characters. Inspired by all the amazing female heroes at WLFCC, I thought it was time for the next installment.
Merida is the central character of Pixar’s Brave, and Pixar’s first ever female protagonist. Merida’s whole story is about gender conventions. She rejects her traditional role, preferring to pursue archery over needlework, and competing to win her own hand in marriage, so she may choose for herself. I also love that the central relationship in Brave is between Merida and her mother, not a love interest. These two women have to overcome their own struggles and help each other come to a mutual understanding and respect. Unusual stuff, for a Pixar film.
Sabriel is the star of Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom trilogy. Sabriel’s father is the Abhorsen, a powerful Necromancer. When his sword and bells are delivered to her, Sabriel believes he has been trapped in death and sets out to rescue him. Starting the series as a child, Sabriel grows throughout the books, finishing as an adult, married with children. She finds incredible strength to allow her to wield the Abhorsen’s tools and take over her Father’s role.
Catelyn Stark is yet another badass woman from Game of Thrones. She’s a rare character in the Thrones world, in that she is overtly opposed to another War. She has survived one bloody War, and lost loved ones to it, and she will do anything to protect her family from this one. She is given immensely hard decision to make. Stay with her crippled son or head to the capital to warn her husband of a betrayal that puts the whole Kingdom in danger? Should she stay with her younger children, or accompany her oldest son into war and advise him? She is intelligent, and tough. She endures all these hardships, the loss of her husband and daughters and she keeps on, as best she can.
We couldn’t miss out the youngest Stark woman, could we? Arya is a favourite Game of Thrones character for a lot of people. Brave, clever and fierce as hell, Arya is not taking any crap from anybody. It wouldn’t even occur to her to be anything less. Rather than let her families enemies overwhelm, Arya goes on the run, keeping herself with her wits, and her remarkable ability to lie. Despite her limitations, she outlives plenty of older and stronger characters.
Road Dahl’s Matilda was one of my favourite characters growing up. Here was a little a girl using her brains and love of reading to triumph. After beginning by playing pranks against her parents, Matilda’s superior intelligence becomes telekinetic powers, which she uses to help her teacher, Miss Honey. She’s smart and curious about the world, as well as kind. Her bond with Miss Honey is a strong friendship, something which is not often portrayed between female characters. She also faces discrimination because of her gender, often being told by her father that girls should be seen and not heard, and being excluded from her father’s talks with her brother about the family business. She was my hero, as a kid, and I still love her.
Little Women might not seem like the obvious place to look for tough characters, but Jo March is a badass, if you ask me. In a time where women were expected to make good marriage matches, Jo prefers her independence, and supports herself with a writing career. When family friend Laurie proposes to her, she turns him down, despite the lucrative nature of the match. She treasures his friendship and dreads being tied down into marriage. Though she does later marry, she chooses a man she loves, rather than her friend with a higher standing in society and greater wealth. Her independence is her most treasured possession.
Disney’s Mulan is based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan. Mulan steals her father’s armour, disguises herself as a man and sets off to help fight. While not physically strong, she is quick-thinking and self-motivating, and goes on to save China. Her victory actually takes place after she’s been outed as a woman. Her gender will not stop her.
Katniss, from The Hunger Games, is a hugely popular character at the moment. As well as being strong and clever, Katniss is a great portrayal of a female character, because she’s flawed too, dodging that ‘strong woman’ trope. We see her doubts and fears as well as her strengths. Katniss’s strength is from need. She becomes strong, and skilled, in order to protect her family. She has to do it, so she does.
I love Kat Stratford. Since seeing 10 Things I Hate About You, she’s been a serious hero of mine. She was the first person I’d ever seen talking about male privilege, which was a big deal. She was independent and intelligent, and advocating being yourself, regardless of what people thought of you. To quote the lady herself, “Why should I live up to other people’s expectations instead of my own?”
I love Wednesday. She makes me laugh so much. She’s scary as crap though. Wednesday is clearly the more central of the Addams children, with a much bigger and better part than her brother. She leads all their schemes with skill, all with that famous deadpan expression. I admit it, I kind of wanted to be Wednesday as a kid.
Have I missed your favourite? Tell me in the comments!