While the entertainment world in 2018 has had its ups and downs, one major positive feature it brought was a spike in movies with strong female leads. In many of this year’s films, including Black Panther, Ocean’s 8, and Annihilation, female characters have been portrayed as intelligent and fearless people who aren’t secondary to their male counterparts. These movies come thanks to the increasing impact of feminism and an all-time high of female empowerment in the entertainment industry, People want to see strong female leads, and this year, they got what they wanted.
In the hit Marvel movie Black Panther, female cast members portrayed some of the most memorable characters in the film. Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, and Letitia Wright, who play Nakia, Okoye, and Shuri respectively, all act as characters that deviate from stereotypical female attributes. In particular, Okoye, who is a female warrior, and Shuri, who is a scientist and engineer, defy the stereotypes associated with women by being both extremely intelligent and as skilled in combat as male characters such as T’Challa. In today’s world, where women can still be insulted as “feminazis” (or something even worse), such capable female casts are a big positive change. With their arsenal of strong female citizens, Black Panther’s Wakanda proves to the audience that women can be just as fearless and intellectual as men.
In Ocean’s 8, the main cast is an all-female crew who take part in a plan to stage an elaborate heist. This film, along with Annihilation, have made enormous strides in the film industry by having their main casts consist women with strong and intelligent temperaments. In Ocean’s 8, for example, all of the women have very different occupations that are not typically associated with women, such as thief, pickpocket, and hacker. This generation’s extensive feminist issues also create a need for bonds between fellow women, and Ocean’s 8’s ensemble cast supports this unity. The bond between the women allows the eight women in the movie work together and use their skills to form an elaborate plan. This showcases their abilities by demonstrating that women have the intelligence to pull off a heist, something that was left to the macho men (think Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible) in older movies. Throughout the movie viewers are able to see women as stronger and more innovative than ever before.
In Annihilation, Natalie Portman, who plays Lena, is a cellular-biology professor who was once a soldier. These professions, which used to be seen as unfitting for a woman, are now accepted in 2018 as career paths people of any gender can pursue. This movie normalizes career-driven women, which is representative of much of the female community in 2018. Additionally, the movie also features a main cast that mostly consists of women who must work together with their smarts to brave an electromagnetic field called “the Shimmer”. Some of the women in the movie include Dr. Ventress, a psychologist, Josie and Cassie, who are scientists, and Anya, who is a paramedic. The actresses in these roles portray these women as being very intellectual and STEM-oriented, which is impressive considering the STEM workforce is a career field that is still fighting for even better female representation. By using their smarts, the women brave dangerous obstacles throughout their journey.
In 2018, female representation has taken the box office by storm and changed the way people think about a woman’s role in the household and in the workplace. The resurgence of feminism today has resulted in women portraying characters that show their capabilities and skills instead of reducing them to mere objects. Because of this, more and more women can be brave enough to pursue their passions, just like they do on screen.
Graphic: Erin Kim