This list of five may seem random, but I assure you it’s not. As a connoisseur of entertainment and fandom scholar, I chose these women specifically as they have typically been marginalized for one reason or another (i.e. color, age, stature, or the most obvious one, they’re women). Therefore, I decided to make this list to celebrate those who have been ignored by bigger outlets on their fancy lists.
You would think that the second in command and love interest of Rick Grimes would get more notice [well, actual mentions] in various articles and lists that talk about powerful women, beautiful women, badass women, leading women, etc. And yet, every post I’ve across the last several months has curiously omitted Michonne. This includes posts specifically pertaining to The Walking Dead [the show she actually stars in, as if she doesn’t exist] as well as, oddly, “women who wield swords” posts. It’s baffling that this character, who is well developed, well-rounded, strong, sensitive, a leader, a fighter, a lover, and a mother is continuously left out. This is due to not only [low key] racism at play, but colorism as well. Danai Gurira’s Michonne deserves all of the accolades. I’m glad the folks at AMC (Scott Gimple & Co.) got this character right. There hasn’t been a female character this well done in forever, and that’s why Michonne is my #1.
2. BLACK WIDOW
Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanov/Black Widow has played major supporting roles in four big blockbuster Marvel films post her introduction in “Iron Man 2.” Thanks to Joss Whedon, we got more of a background on Natash in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” She is arguably the First Lady of the MCU, as well as strong enough and popular enough to carry her own film. And yet…she has none. The PTB’s seem content to let Romanov continuously kick ass and take names, just as long as she is never the lead. In spite of all of the groundwork we have for this character, she isn’t allowed to truly take point. And yet, we have a “Wonder Woman” film, who’s only recently been introduced, dropping her solo film later this year…Due to her major cinematic snubbing, this is why I’ve decided to add Black Widow to this list of marginalization.
You’ve seen the posters; “You know his name.” Everyone can’t get enough of Jason Bourne, the wildly popular franchise starring Matt Damon (mostly–totally ignoring that one where he didn’t). Hell, I love it to. But no one seems to remember the original amnesiac spy that hit the silver screen back in 1996– Geena Davis’ Charly Baltimore from “The Long Kiss Goodnight.” What made her character so amazing is that she wasn’t just this six foot tall badass–she was snarky; she was fun. She used a pie as a weapon. Charly Baltimore had the misfortune of being too ahead of her time. If there is any film that deserves a sequel (and not a bloody reboot), please put your money behind this character. We need more Charly’s in the cinematic verse. No, we need Charly herself.
4. CORDELIA CHASE
When folks talk Joss Whedon, typically what comes to mind first is Buffy Summers, which is understandable. However, Joss was behind a lot of tremendous female characters, including Cordelia Chase. While she started as a bitchy rich girl who spent more time turning her nose up than anything, if you followed Angel, you got to see Charisma Carpenter’s Cordy blossom into a woman, a warrior, and a bona fide hero. Cordelia offers to change what she is in order to help others, and in order to save Angel. She gives up a reality in which all of her dreams come true–fame, fortune, and star of her own TV series–to continue to be a hero. She decides to become a demon. Given the stigma behind demons in that universe (especially as someone who comes from Sunnydale), she brushes that aside for the greater good. She refuses to see it as a burden; she refused to ever be a victim. This all in spite of her body getting hijacked and used. It must also be said that things carried out while her body was taken over was not her (i.e. killing Lilah, sleeping with Connor, releasing Angelus, etc.). Cordy remained true to form from beginning to end. She may not have been a slayer, but believe me when I say, she slayed.
5. BRIENNE OF TARTH
When people talk about the women of Game of Thrones, it’s usually about Dani and her dragons, Cersei, and Arya Stark. And they’re all badass, don’t get me wrong. But Brienne is often overlooked. She’s taller and larger than the rest, so I’m guessing this is a pure aesthetics thing. She’s “no lady,” as she has says herself. What she is, is a powerful woman, both in strength and in heart. Her word is her bond, and she will give her dying breath to make sure she doesn’t let you down. I am curious how she came to be–what are Brienne’s origins? Why isn’t there an ep mostly about her? She is one of the best on the show, going head to head with the Hound and knocking him on his arse, gaining the respect and (dare I say) devotion of Jamie Lannister… Gwendoline Christie’s Brienne needs more recognition, respect, and frankly love. Here’s hoping GoT gives her some in its remaining two half seasons.
Note: How cool would it be to have these ladies in an Expendables type of film [with proper budgeting/marketing/not going directly to Netflix]? I’d pay to see that.