With the dominance of DC and Marvel exert over blockbuster season growing as formidable as ever while each powerhouse grows its respective expanded universe, much discussion surrounds the presence and characterization of the select few female superheroes in these franchises. With a Black Widow film in high demand and a Wonder Woman movie in the way, ground is just now being broken on female equality in the comic film universe. However, we have no shortage of female characters in film who have been nothing short of heroes, and they have proven themselves to be ‘super’ all on their own merit as women, with super powers such as love, selflessness, and bravery. Here are five of the most heroic, cape-less superheroes in film:
Clarice Starling: The Silence of the Lambs
Although Clarice earns major points for growing up in West Virginia, her somber tenacity and low bullshit tolerance propels her through the ranks as one of the best heroines of all time. Clarice’s frankness and intelligence, rather than her appearance, is why Hannibal Lecter becomes intrigued with the detective. Jodie Foster infuses this character with a sense of bold, independent bravery that combines both wonder and skepticism. Not only does she have to lead the hunt for a truly evil serial killer, she balances those uncertainties with a mind game of conversation with another dangerous but brilliant man and manages to use the second’s intel to defeat the first.
Erin Brockovich: Erin Brockovich
A single mother of three children is compelled to take on an entire gas and electric company when she discovers members of the town have fallen severely ill from chromium contamination in their water. Julia Roberts’s Erin Brockovich is never anything but true to herself, not wasting one second sugar coating her opinions or intentions, and not willing to compromise her sense of self, whether it’s the way she talks or the way she dresses, to bend to the will of the corporate world. One of the most important qualities of a hero is her willingness to help those who can’t help themselves, and Erin Brockovich never shies away from doing just that.
It takes a lot of courage and heroism to live your life struggling with who you are and your special abilities all while carrying the burden of being a big sister and an imminent queen. It takes even more of a hero to be the little sister, the one who loves both her family and her community enough to face both the elements and her own sister in order to bring her home. Anna searches for Elsa even though she’s facing a power that no one quite understands, and a world of prejudice and fear surrounding the unknown from those who are supposed to be looking up to Elsa. Love is the most heroic emotion, and Anna possess it in spades.
Minny Jackson: The Help
Every single woman of color in Jackson, Mississippi who was courageous enough to tell their stories of how they were each treated while taking care of privileged white families: cleaning their houses, cooking their meals, and raising their children. But time after time Minny Jackson took a stand against her mistreatment at the risk of losing her job, her reputation, and her family’s safety. Minny is the one who allows a starkly identifying story to be placed in Skeeter’s book as a bold move to keep the subjects of their tales quiet. She is bombastic enough to trick her boss into literally eating her shit, yet modest and open minded enough to befriend and genuinely care for an employer who deserves a chance that no one will give her. One of the best qualities a hero can have is to know when to stand up to the bullies and when to sympathize with them.
Marge Gunderson: Fargo
A pregnant chief of police in Minnesota during a brutal winter conducts a homicide investigation. Is it really a surprise to know she won the Oscar for Best Actress? Frances McDormand is kind, hardworking, and intuitive as Marge Gunderson, a breath of sweetened fresh air surrounded by hot air and murderous masculinity. Marge proves that integrity, focus, and goodwill sure can catch a criminal. You betcha!
Who are your favorite superheroes without capes? Head over to the comments and let us know!