Seven of the toughest female heroes in film today
Cinema is littered with so many women doing extraordinary things and showing an extraordinary level of toughness, from the scene where Gal Gadot charges down the Germans in the first Wonder Woman movie or joins Superman (Henry Cavil) and Batman (Ben Affleck) in fighting Doomsday or the sight of Kate Beckinsale’s Selene ripping Marius’s spine out of his body in Underworld: Blood Wars.
However, there is something to said about Natasha Romanoff’s exploits in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, given the many adventures and the many foes she faced alongside a god, super soldier, a hulk and super trainer assassin.
It’s easy for vampires and demi-gods to face and vanquish fierce foes given the enhanced powers, however, another for someone with nothing but her wits and skills to do so.
It is against this background that I decided to come up with a power ranking for the toughest women in film.
Please note that the only criteria for this is that these women do not possess any superhuman strength but still proved to be tough beyond reproach.
After the standard definition of the word tough is “able to endure hardship and pain”.
- Riley North (Jenifer Garner) peppermint
There is a special corner in which this 2018 American vigilante action thriller belong, as it is as perfect a film as one is ever going to get.
The film follows Riley North, a suburban mother and wife, witnesses her husband and daughter get down during a family night out to celebrate the latter’s birthday.
When the law fails to get justice for her, she disappears for five years only to return and wage a war on a drug cartel led by man called Diego Garcia (Juan Pablo Raba).
What makes this woman and film so special is the fact that North was everything she appeared to be-a suburban woman.
What fuels her rampage on the city of Los Angeles and against the Garcia drug cartel is Vengeance.
She was not some secret spy or retired military person, she was just a loving wife and mother who lost her entire family and fell victim to a corrupt system.
The little skills she learns are limited to hand-to-hand combat, something she taught herself by getting into illegal fights around the world, and how to use a gun and explosives.
She rides her luck as sets about to kill everyone that was involved in the murder of her husband and daughter.
- Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) Hunger Games Franchise
Much most women of this list Katniss Everdeen does not have much in terms of powers and special skills except maybe survival instincts and knowledge of using a bow and arrow.
Set in a dystopian nation of Panem, Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen volunteers to participate in a barbaric game being used on the 12 districts as punishment for a failed revolt.
The game is to the death and sees this heroin survive a forest fire, genetically modified venomous wasps, a minefield, hunger, their players in the game and a beast.
Her actions in the first movie catches the attention of the rebellion, led by Alam Coin (Julianne Moore) who asks her become the “Mockingjay”—a symbol of the rebellion—as part of a “hearts and minds” strategy.
She helps orchestrate a rebellion, killing two cruel warlords Alam Coin and Snow (Donald Sutherland), in the process, during The Hunger Games: Mockingbird Part 1 and 2 sequels.
- Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) Salt
2010’s action thriller Salt remains one of Angelina Jolie’s finest performance, and this is one of the tougher female characters the American actress played.
Jolie plays a double agent spy, who revolts against her Russian programing and unearths a secret plot that has sleeper agents imbedded into the United States whose mission is to bring down the country from within.
The role was originally for a male lead, with Tom Cruise poised to play it, but had to be rewritten for Jolie.
Still, it takes nothing away from Jolie’s performance and the mere toughness of her character who works her away through hordes of Russian all the while evading the law enforcements agents after her.
- Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez)
You know you are tough when you willingly get into a fist fight against UFC fighter Ronda Rousey, and you don’t necessarily lose the fight.
That is was Michelle Rodriguez’s Lett Ortiz does midday through Furious 7, during the Dubai mansion fight.
Granted, it wasn’t Rousey playing Rousey but a character.
Throughout the Fast and Furious franchise movies, Letty Ortiz has proven herself to be one of the toughest members of the Dominic Toretto crew.
She even dies during the early part of the franchise, only to later get revived.
Rousey is not the only UFC fighter she comes up against, as she also fights former EliteXC and Strikeforce fighter and actress Gina Carano
- The Bride (Uma Thurman) Kill Bill Vol 1&2
No other film and actress on this list screams out tough more or better that the Kill Bill, Quentin Tarantino blood and gore masterpiece.
Thurman plays a lethal assassin by the signature ‘The Bride” who gets attacked and left for dead.
She survives and sets out to kill all those responsible for the attack, that also killed her soon-to-be inlaws, and savagely kills them all.
The height of her toughness comes midway through the first film when she kills Lucy Liu’s O-Ren Ishiri and her gang.
During said scene she kills Oren’s gang The Crazy 88 and her chief assassin Gogo Yaburi (Chiaki Kuriyama).
She also survives the brutal training she goes under a sadistic martial arts master Pai Mei (Gordon Liu), and it is later revealed that she managed to survive giving birth after being brutally beaten to death.
- Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) MCU
As one of two powerless members of the Avengers, Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff is the embodiment of toughness.
During her time in the MCU, the Black widow comes against an alien army the Chatari, Thanos who is believed to be one of the strongest beings in the universe and Ultron who is an android.
This is not excluding the many missions she embarks on for Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D, and her time as a hired assassin.
Over the many films of the MCU, we are given glimpses of the training in the Red Room she endured to become a Widow, and this includes but is not exclusive to getting all her reproductive organs removed.
She survives all this and only dies when she sacrifices her life so that her Avengers’ friends get successfully undo the snap
- Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) Terminator franchise
If we are talking about toughness then it doesn’t get any bigger than the original Sarah Connor Linda Hamilton, not to be confused with the pale imitations like Emilia Clarke or Lena Headley.
Tasked with protecting her only son John Connor from robot killers from the future eager to ensure the enslaving of the human race, Hamilton’s Sarah Connor was the embodiment of female toughness in film before such a term existed.
Watching her beat the living hell out of hospital orderlies and watching maul Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1984 Terminator movie happens one of my favourite movie scenes of all-time.
Every other strong character that came after borrowed something from Hamilton’s Sarah Connor, whether its primal protective instincts, scenes or presentations.