As a woman, there are few things more depressing and frustrating than going to the cinema to see the latest blockbusters and seeing no strong female characters. Oftentimes, any potential ‘heroine’ is a damsel in distress or love interest. But not in Captain America: The Winter Soldier! Here, we have, not just one, but four ass-kicking women!
Here, three actresses reprise their roles from the previous Captain America film and/or The Avengers. Scarlett Johansson is back in lycra as the Black Widow – but she’s more than just a hot bod. Natasha Romanoff is a key part of the team; Nick Fury plays her off against the Cap’ by assigning her a separate mission, leaving our hero (and the audience) unsure whether they can really trust her. Is she a closeted femme fatale?
How I Met Your Mother‘s Cobie Smulders also dons some shiny black gear as Agent Maria Hill. This time round she’s more than just a stone-faced agent; we get to witness her flexing her muscles and beating up some bad guys.
Our last returning character is Hayley Atwell‘s Peggy Carter, the strong and feisty love interest from the aged hero’s first cinematic outing. Of course, it being 70+ years later, she’s a bed-ridden old biddy, but it’s nice to have her back nonetheless.
We also have a new supporting lady added to the mix in the shape of nurse/agent Sharon, played by Emily VanCamp. I know and love her from the fantastic, but under-appreciated, Brothers and Sisters – you’ll probably recognise her from Revenge. If the final act is anything to go by, we should be seeing her again.
The big screen is seriously lacking in mainstream films that are driven by women. Sure, we’ve got our smaller indies where women are free to dominate (Happy-Go-Lucky, Morvern Caller, Pieces of April), but how many recent flicks have leading ladies that aren’t solely looking for love?
Thankfully, we’re starting to see a change in the pattern, especially with this year’s Oscar nominees, such as Gravity, August Osage County and Blue Jasmine. And, as Cate Blanchett proudly pointed out in her acceptance speech, these films make money!
As more blockbusters with strong supporting female roles emerge, surely a film with such a character in a leading role should be just around the corner? We’re way overdue a solo Black Widow film by now. In the meantime, Peggy Carter is getting her own TV series, which I’m really excited about, as she was my favourite thing about the first film. She was the perfectly-written female love interest, with the right amount of strength, independence and sass; Hayley Atwell played her superbly.
Now that superhero movies are starting to pass the Bechdel test (see video below for an enlightening experience!), maybe young women will soon start seeing inspiring representations of what it means to be a woman on the big screen, rather than another disheartening manic pixie dream girl or charming best bud/sidekick. Fingers crossed!
Got a favourite film with a female lead that isn’t a straight up rom-com? Leave some titles below to save my sanity!