Representations matter, especially in films. We all have that inner desire to see someone who looks like us on the big screen. However, even today, the majority of blockbuster movies are headlined by men. It’s only recently that we got to see women starting to make their way to the top of major franchises with the release of Captain Marvel, Black Widow, and similar titles. Of course, we still have a long way to go, but the future looks bright.
When it comes to science fiction, this genre used to be accused of being a male-dominated world. Women were usually portrayed as these damsels in distress who were waiting for the strong male lead to save them. Luckily, this has changed over the years. As the popularity of science fiction increased, powerful and self-assured female characters also emerged.
Authors like Ursula K. LeGuin and Margaret Atwood envisioned futures through a feminist lens. This shift was readily accepted by sci-fi fans around the world. Hollywood took note as well. In the 1970s and 1980s, fearless female leads showed us they could save the world and look great while doing it.
To honor those ladies (and those who came after them), we decided to take a look at five sci-fi heroines. Some of them faced dangerous aliens, others were a powerful weapon Earth needed to destroy the Great Evil. In short, they were and are epic and unstoppable.
We’d choose you as our fighters any day, ladies!
Ellen Ripley (Alien)
We’re pretty sure there isn’t any hero or heroine who could last in the ring with Ellen Ripley for longer than ten seconds. She’s a real badass and we can’t imagine anyone else facing those nasty Xenomorphs from Alien. Ripley is often not likable, but the audience is willing to overlook this fact. We mean — she’s Ellen Ripley. She fights, she saves lives, and she’s as brave as a lion.
Ripley is clearly one of the best sci-fi heroines, if not the best. Some even say that it’s impossible to create a heroine as compelling as she is. And that’s maybe true. Ripley is so brave that she tells an alien to “get away from her, you bitch!” Seconds later we see her give that creature much deserved bashing.
Indeed, the glorious Ellen never shies away from a fight, not even when her opponent is three times her size. She’s such an iconic character that she’ll probably serve as inspiration for new generations of sci-fi writers and creators.
Princess Leia Organa (Star Wars)
Perhaps one of the most famous sci-fi heroines of all time, as well as one of the most beloved fictional princesses, Leia Organa is truly memorable. She looks like a true royalty, but she’s completely indifferent to her own appearance. But good looks isn’t the only thing this lady has. Leia shows that her bravery knows no bounds in numerous scenes where she’s casually hanging with the boys from this franchise. But do you know why she deserves to be mentioned with other sci-fi heroines?
She was once a prisoner when Darth Vader traced the rebel spies to her. However, she evolves throughout the movies and eventually must fight against her captor knowing well how much pain he brought to her. Instead of retreating and crying over it, she plucks up the courage and gives her all when faced with her enemy.
Sarah Connor (The Terminator)
When we first meet Sarah Connor in The Terminator, she’s a Los Angeles college student and waitress who is trying to find herself (aren’t we all, huh?). She’s sort of drifting through life without any goal. But that quickly changes. Her transformation into one of the strongest movie characters, both male and female, inspires us even today.
We have a chance to meet the new Sarah in the 1991 sequel, Judgment Day. Just one look at her and you know she isn’t the same meek waitress anymore. Quite the contrary, Sarah is now a completely different person on many levels. In fact, she looks like a ferocious warrior who has only one thing on her mind — to protect her son at all costs. Plus, she needs to train him if she wants him to fight Skynet in the future.
Her motherly love and awe-inspiring transformation make her one of the most memorable sci-fi heroines to grace the screen.
Dana Scully (The X-Files)
She is a medical doctor, a scientist, an FBI agent, and an all-around likeable gal. There isn’t an unsolved case she won’t try to crack. Just don’t expect her to believe in every word you say about your strange encounter — she needs to see it for herself. She’s Dana Scully, one of the most rational sci-fi heroines ever created.
Even though Scully is all of these things, her character wouldn’t have shone so brightly without Fox Mulder. They are a team and the reason why viewers around the world keep watching The X Files even today. Mulder is the “believer” character, the guy who acts on hunches and is certain that something supernatural exists. On the other hand, Scully needs evidence and is skeptical about almost everything she hears.
Furthermore, her character is well-defined, but she’s willing to change when that’s necessary. It’s commendable that she won’t cling to the same beliefs just for the sake of them!
And now, let’s take a look at the last lady who’s joining our sci-fi heroines!
Leeloo (The Fifth Element)
The last sci-fi leading lady is so powerful that she can stop the Great Evil and save all of humanity. Leelo’s not a damsel in distress who needs a strong man to protect her. It was Leelo who was sent to protect the world and prevent total annihilation, and she doesn’t need anyone to survive.
She is the perfect biological weapon designed to stand up against the ultimate evil. But Leeloo isn’t only an object. She’s a fearless woman who is able to hold her own in a fight. At the same time, she’s good and has an ability to love — this is probably what makes her a powerful force to be reckoned with and one of the best sci-fi heroines.