By Rohma Sadaqat
These past few years have proven to be a good time for anyone looking to see more of powerful female characters on the big screen. We have seen everything from royalty-turned-combat generals to superheroes, cyborg battle angels, and even a power-hungry Asgardian diety. Well, maybe not everything — still waiting on a full length Black Widow movie — but the future looks bright.
With the Middle East Film & Comic Con 2019 underway at the Dubai World Trade Centre, I took the opportunity to jot down a list of all the incredible and inspirational women that had graced the silver screen recently. I ended up with a list that was a good four pages long, before I decided to limit myself to picking five that I could comfortably label among my favourites.
Sitting proudly, or shall I say regally, at the very top of the list is Princess Leia Organa. Played beautifully by Carrie Fisher, it is hard to put into words just how much she inspired me. Like many other girls, I grew up with Princess Leia; I have seen her go from being a princess to a senator, to a rebel leader, and finally to a general. Watching the Star Wars original trilogy, there is no shortage of absolutely delightful moments when Leia is on screen. My favourite scene, though, would have to be the prison break in A New Hope. Shortly after retrieving the princess, our band of misfits, which include a Jedi in training, a wookie, and a smuggler, find themselves pinned down under enemy fire. After trading a few barbs with our smuggler, Princess Leia takes matters into her own hands… literally. Grabbing Luke’s blaster, she shoots an escape route into the side of the hallway, before uttering the immortal line, “into the garbage chute, flyboy.” I am going to need that line on a T-shirt.
There is something to be said about courage, battlefield camaraderie, and epic one liners. Which brings me to my next entry — Eowyn from The Lord of the Rings. Anyone who had read the books before watching The Return of the King, knew exactly what they were in for during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. As the Witch King of Angmar bears down upon a dying King Theoden, Eowyn puts herself between them, proving exactly what it means to be a shieldmaiden of Rohan. Despite her fear, she manages to slay the Fellbeast before being knocked down by the Witch King. After that you can’t help but cheer loudly as she gets up, removes her helmet, and taking full advantage of the opening provided by Merry, stabs the foul being right in the face. I am no man, indeed!
Eowyn’s situation, of being a lone woman on the battlefield, reminded me of the powerful Furiosa from Mad Max. The first we see of Furiosa is when she is walking towards the War Rig. As she approaches it, we get a fleeting glimpse of her missing left forearm and crudely built metal prosthetic. The next shot is of her sliding into the driver’s seat and attaching what has got to be the coolest steering wheel in existence, screeching skull and all, into position. We learn then, from Immortan Joe’s little send-off speech, that Furiosa is his top Imperator, a title not given lightly in the wastelands. Throughout Immortan Joe’s speech, we see Furiosa sitting unfazed with none of the devotion that the rest of the war boys are displaying. Those first few shots of her, with her buzzed cut hair, piercing eyes, and black grease smeared on her forehead, had me hooked. Throughout the film, she commanded attention to the point that it was almost impossible to look away.
And speaking of command, Marvel knew exactly what they were doing when they cast Danai Gurira as General Okoye in Black Panther. From the very first moment that we see her, it is clear that this woman is a fierce and capable warrior. If her prowess with a spear wasn’t enough to win my heart, then her amazing side eye in Avengers: Infinity War definitely sealed the deal. You have to wonder how poor Bruce Banner didn’t melt under the power of that gaze inside the Hulkbuster. However, I think the moment that made the biggest impact on me was when Okoye stood defiant with her spear raised at her husband and declared that she would not hesitate to kill him for her country. Seeing a bit of a trend with the epic one liners yet?
Lastly, I don’t think the list would be complete without the inclusion of Carol Danvers. Captain Marvel was everything that I ever wanted to see in a superhero movie. Sincere, engaging, with fully fleshed out characters, and a story that will capture the imagination of any girl that had to overcome the odds. Brie Larson can only be described as a treasure; her take on our hero is confident, sassy, and fun. Carol puts baddies in their place and she isn’t afraid of letting out whoops of joy when she does so. While one can argue that her powers make Carol extraordinary, there is a small flashback montage towards the end of the movie of our heroine picking herself up after various falls throughout her life; the scenes end with her saying, “I’ve been fighting with one arm tied behind my back, but, what happens when I am finally set free?” Sitting in the cinema, I heard that message loud and clear.
Rohma currently has a long list of TV shows that she wants to binge watch, but you are welcome to come and ask her to geek out about superhero movies over coffee.