Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar)
Creator Joss Whedon stated that in Buffy he sought to invert the Hollywood formula of “the little blonde girl who goes into a dark alley and gets killed in every horror movie”.
Thus, Whedon’s Buffy, as played by Sarah Michelle Gellar is the very antithesis of this female stereotype. A hugely complex character, Buffy is likeable, witty, intelligent and above all incredibly courageous. She may wish she wasn’t the ‘Slayer’, struggling with the task at times, but ultimately there is little question that she is aware of her responsibilities.
Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton)
Not only a force to be reckoned with, Sarah Connor is the ultimate maternal figure: importantly and unusually, it is her maternal nature that is the source of her strength.
The physical transformation that she undertakes between the first and second Terminator films is purely for the protection of her son. She equips herself with the knowledge that she needs in order to keep her son safe: familiarising herself with firearms.
Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver)
Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley is without a doubt an iconic figure, entirely self-sufficient, Ripley feels no need to answer to anyone but herself.
Entertainment Weekly stated that Ripley was “one of the first female movie characters who isn’t defined by the men around her, or by her relationship to them”.
River Tam (Summer Glau)
Highly intelligent and highly skilled, River Tam may not be as emotionally complex as Whedon’s prior creation Buffy Summers, but her lack of fear and her physical capabilities make her an extremely strong, independent character.
Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie)
In a script that was originally written with a male lead, Angelina Jolie’s Evelyn Salt emotional ties to her husband help to develop her character.
Salt’s driving force is the love she has for her husband, but rather than this emotion weakening her, it only ensures and enhances her strength. Her attempts to seek vengeance for her husband’s death provide emotional depth to a character that could have been one-dimensional.