What Women Want - is Action Movies.

Recently, I came across an article on Women and Hollywood regarding a survey Fandango did that looked at women’s movie-going habits. Women have often been an untapped market in both movies and comics. “The industry” often claims it knows what sells to which market, namely action movies for boys and romantic comedies for girls. This data thankfully pokes holes in that theory. Some data highlights:

  • The majority of women surveyed chose action movies (with 22% of the vote) as their favorite movie genre, while only 9% chose romance or romantic comedy as their favorite genre.
  • 82% are more inclined to see a movie with dynamic female characters.
  • 75% prefer to watch movies with diverse casts
  • 77% contend that female characters are often stereotyped in blockbusters.
  • 75% would like to see more female ensembles in the movies.
  • 62% feel that women are not equally represented in big screen roles.

This survey highlights some of what we ladies have known all along. We love action movies or a good Hollywood blockbuster. We also want more of them with diverse casts, especially female-led ones. We want to be able to see ourselves in these female characters. That means well-developed characters, complete with flaws, who are not fridged or victimized. Bonus points for not filtering that character though the male gaze.

The recent success of movies like Wonder Woman and Black Panther hopefully drives home the points from this survey as movie-goers vote with their feet and wallets. There have also been earlier films that paved the way and gave action movie loving women something either enjoy and inspiration to future film makers.  I've always loved these types of movies, so here are some of my favorites.

Tiny Doom’s recommendations for action movies with female leads

(in no particular order except for Fury Road which is my #1 ride or die):

  • Mad Max: Fury Road - I’ve already written a whole post on this one, but for me, this was a master class in creating a compelling female led action story with fully formed characters and women in leadership roles.
  • Black Panther - Not sure there is much I can say about this that hasn’t already been said better than I could say it, but I thought this movie was more feminist than Wonder Woman by a country mile. T’Challa may be king, but the women run Wakanda by being fierce, smart, loyal, and capable.

  • Atomic Blonde - I saw this recently and was pretty impressed by it. One of the things I loved the most about this movie was that the fighting was realistic. No waif-fu where the character never gets hurt or tired. We see Lorraine battered, bruised, and exhausted.

  • Aliens - Ripley is perhaps the progenitor of many female action heroes: tough, caring, and utterly bad ass. She's Mom Superior of kick ass ladies.
  • Terminator 2 - Yes, the Terminator is the headliner here, but remember when we first see what has become of Sara Connor since the first movie? Me too, and it made me want to be able to do 100 push-ups.
  • Kill Bill vol. 1 & vol. 2 - I am conflicted about putting this on the list due to the director, but it doesn’t change the fact that this is a female led movie, that highlights the strength of its protagonist. While it is for sure filtered through the male gaze, it features a diverse ensemble of women, which at the time was fairly unique.
  • The Quick and the Dead- A rare and totally underrated female lead western.

 Admittedly, while this list covers female movie characters, there is still a long way to go to diversify the actors and crews of these movies. The #timesup movement has already had an impact and will hopefully continue to do so. The decision makers in Hollywood are changing. With more women making decisions and heading up filming efforts, hopefully we will see more of what we want because the new decision makers are operating out of a place of representation rather than biased assumption.