From Captain Marvel (opens in new tab) to Star Wars 9 (opens in new tab)'s Rey, female action heroes are on the rise. However, no matter how female positive the characters and the stories are, they still fall victim to a handful of unrealistic and frankly ridiculous female movie action hero tropes. Like, leaving your hair down while fighting crime... or running in heels... or giving the bulletproof vest a miss in favour of a stylish dress! Does anyone still believe these are things that would actually happen in the real world?
It’s time to call out these dumbass rules and let our female action heroes save the world in jeans and practical shoes. Read on for six female movie action hero tropes Hollywood needs to forget and the worst offenders. I’m looking at you Black Widow...
1. When trying to avoid detection always wear a platinum blonde wig
Why is it that almost every female spy in modern cinema seems have platinum blonde hair at some point? I get it, they have multiple identities and disguises, but why is one of them so blonde that they would attract the attention of anyone searching for an undercover agent in a crowd? It doesn’t help that the bright blonde hair usually comes attached to a stunningly beautiful woman too. These women wouldn’t be able to get through a local Tescos without everyone stopping and staring, so why do they seem able to break into highly fortified secret intelligence agencies? Blondes may have more fun, but if you’re looking to go unnoticed, you’re better off staying a brunette. Surprisingly, this is perhaps the only dumbass rule Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow doesn’t follow… that is, until the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War (opens in new tab) in which, you’ve guess it, she goes blonde. Sigh.
2. Never take your high heels off… even when running
High heels might give you better posture and look good, but one thing they do not do is make running any easier. So many times in movies, female action heroes run after a target (or away from a dinosaur) in a pair of heels I’d struggle to get out my front door in. Just slip them off! Sure, you might need to wear heels because you’re undercover in a casino and a pair of comfy trainers just don’t go with your ballgown, but as soon as the action kicks off, so should the stilettos. Even the female action heroes in more recent years who look like they’re wearing boots (Wonder Woman, Black Widow, etc), have a heel built into the boot. Because a woman without a heel isn’t a woman at all, right? Don’t believe me? Next time Wonder Woman kicks someone in the face, take a closer look at her shoes...
3. Only use small weapons that fit into your purse
What is it with female action heroes only ever using small, cute-looking weapons? Knives that fit in your oh-so stylish boots, a mini gun you can strap to the inside of your leg, poisoned darts disguised as hair clips… While you might occasionally need to conceal your weapons because you’re going undercover, more often than not, a bazooka will get the job done in half the time and plenty of male action heroes know it. You don’t see The Rock using a gun smaller than his hand or a couple of pretty throwing knives which would barely scratch a puppy! It’s time for female action heroes to ditch the ‘feminine’ weapons and help themselves to a big old rocket-launcher.
4. Never tie your hair back before a fight
This is a personal pet hate of mine. As someone with long hair, I can barely do the washing up without it getting in my face and pissing me off, so you can be damn sure that if I’m cornered in a dark alley by some beastie or bad guy, the first thing I’m going to be doing is tying my hair back before kicking ass. Fact. You hardly ever see a female action hero with a practical hairstyle (Katniss Everdeen might be the main exception) and I’m pretty sure Black Widow even takes her hair down to break into Hammer Industries in Iron Man 2… how does that make sense?! Sure, it might look good wiping your hair back and forth while you take names and snap necks, but in the real world you wouldn't be able to see a thing through the mess of hair across your face.
Offenders: Black Widow (Iron Man 2), Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman), Gamora (Guardians of the Galaxy)
5. Make sure you wear little to no clothing when dodging bullets
Everyone knows that the less clothing you wear, the less likely you are to be hit by bullets… wait, what?! Oh no, sorry, that’s just a rule Hollywood’s made us believe by dressing almost every female action hero ever in as little clothing as possible. There’s just no way to explain away this worrying trend because even if you weren’t concerned about freezing to death, you’d still want to be dressed in bulletproof attire when going into battle, right? But forget the armour for now, most female action heroes would settle for a good pair of jeans and a t-shirt because, for some reason, they’re all wearing mini skirts and leotards with gaps in them... Seriously, what are the weird cutouts in Æon Flux’s costume supposed to be for? Can anyone tell me?
Offenders: Æon Flux (Æon Flux), Harley Quinn (Suicide Squad), Elektra (Daredevil), Alice (Resident Evil), Patience Phillips/Catwoman (Catwoman)
6. Super tight clothing will improve your fighting skills
This dumbass rule most often goes hand in hand with the last one. Where you find little to no clothing, you also tend to find super tight clothing. In fact, super tight clothing is probably more common for female action heroes nowadays because, while Hollywood has started to realise that it’s unrealistic to take out bad guys wearing just your underwear, it still hasn’t grasped the idea that it’s really hard to kick ass in a skin-tight catsuit. Can you imagine trying to do the sort of acrobatics Black Widow is known for in an outfit that barely allows you to sit down, never mind kick a leg over your head? It’s even worse if the female action hero is from an old-timey background like Sif in the Thor (opens in new tab) movies - she’s literally wearing a corset made of armour. How is she supposed to fight in that? I’d say at least she’s well protected, but there’s huge gaps between the breastplate and the shoulderplates...
Offenders: Sif (Thor), Trinity (The Matrix), Selene (Underworld), Selina/Catwoman (The Dark Knight Rises)