Star Wars begins our list of movies with heroines at the helm. 10 years after the last release, the franchise revamped itself with two female protagonists -- both of whom are forces to be reckoned with.
Rey, the lead character of "The Force Awakens," is a scavenger on the planet Jakku. When the droid BB-8 sweeps her away from her dull routine, it ignites an adventure on the Millennium Falcon. The film ends with an epic lightsaber battle with the dark (both in his soul and his luscious-looking hair) Kylo Ren.
Jyn from "Rogue One" is a criminal, but don't hold that against her. In a story set before "A New Hope," she embarks on a mammoth quest to find her father. This reluctant heroine leads a mission to steal the schematics for the Death Star, a moon-sized planet-destroyer.
Wonder Woman, also known as Diana, is from the island of Themyscira, solely populated by female Amazonian warriors. Diana rescues and falls in love with Steve Trevor, a spy for the Allies in World War I. Leading the way on the battlefield, she's infinitely wise in the values of love and believing in good. This is the very first film adaptation of the comic book character and it's a celebration of women.
Her name expresses her intent from the outset: Ellen Ripley rips the alien of "Alien" apart. A warrant officer on the starfreighter Nostromo, she's best pictured striding away from an explosion, gun in hand. You know she's iconic when her trademark shaggy hairdo and singlet are staples at Halloween. Ripley is the last one standing on the Nostromo and the last to go into stasis for a return trip to Earth.
The elite vampire-fighting Death Dealer of "Underworld: Blood Wars" is all about saving her daughter from the Lycans. (They're the grungy kind of werewolves.) With her leather outfit and Matrix-style long-coat, Selene knows how to bare her teeth. Oh, and she'll shoot you with not one, but two Beretta pistols.
Who needs guns when you read lots, sing and speak French? Belle, the "Beauty" half of "Beauty and the Beast" is considered strange for her bookishness in her small French village of Villeneuve. But she has a unique quality (well, mainly her beauty) that attracts the affections of Gaston, an arrogant ex-soldier. Too bad for Gaston, Belle's having none of it. It's the book-loving enchanted Beast for her. Let's not think too hard about that.
Katniss Everdeen volunteers to replace her sister in the titular "Hunger Games," a fight to the death with teenagers as the combatants. Katniss survives by shooting sharp with a bow and beating the system with her face-painting beau, Peeta Mellark. On top of all that, she knows how to braid hair. She becomes the symbol of the rebellion against the oppressive Capitol.
Based on a comic book character, Tank Girl drives a tank. Really? Yes. Bad things happen to her. Her boyfriend is killed in a Western-style shootout in the Australian desert, she's enslaved by a water-hoarding corporation, sexually harassed and tortured until she escapes with sidekick Jet Girl. The baddies get their end, don't worry.