"Black Widow"/Natasha Romanoff, The Avengers
She may be the only chick in an all-boys club, but that doesn't seem to faze martial arts–doing, weapon-wielding Natasha Romanoff — aka The Avengers' Black Widow.
Although she hails from the dangerous planet of Pandora, Neytiri only shows fear when the people she loves are threatened. And even then, she channels that fear to rise up and fight to protect her home.
Sarah Connor, The Terminator
Sarah Connor suffers apocalyptic visions, a lengthy stint in an insane asylum, attempted assassination by robots from the future and your run-of-the-mill consternation at the hands of a teenage boy — but she still manages to kick some major a** and keep the world from ending.
Princess Leia Organa, Star Wars
One of the most iconic film characters of all time, Star Wars' Princess Leia is one gutsy gal. She acts as a spy for the Rebel Alliance, gets tortured for said spying, refuses to betray her people, gets rescued, helps lead the rebellion and, ultimately, helps defeat the Empire. All that while sporting those big-ol' side buns!
"The Bride"/Beatrix Kiddo, Kill Bill
You know what they say... you can't keep a good woman down. Not even — in the case of The Bride in Kill Bill — if you shoot her in the head on her wedding day, leaving her (and her unborn baby) for dead. After awakening from a coma, this tough-as-nails character gathers her resolve and exacts revenge on her nefarious former boss and pretty much everyone who stands in her path.
Hermione Granger, Harry Potter
Sure, Hermione Granger did sock Draco Malfoy in the face — which, admittedly, we enjoyed watching — but that's not what truly makes her strong. The Harry Potter heroine earns a spot on this list largely for her strength of character. She fights for what she believes in and never abandons a friend in need.
Much like Kill Bill's Beatrix Kiddo, Alice in Resident Evil tries to leave her unscrupulous work behind her. Unfortunately, it follows her in the form of an experimental drug gone wrong that turns most of humanity into flesh-eating zombies. Yow. Happily, she's one bad broad, and she goes on a mission to save the world from those nasty undead.
Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, The Help
Unlike her debutante peers in The Help, budding writer Skeeter asserts her independence by earning a degree and getting a job as a journalist. Then, seeing the mistreatment of her friends' black maid, she sets out to shine a light on such civil-rights injustices by sharing the stories of "the help." In doing so, she not only discovers the strength of her own spirit, but she helps others discover their voice as well.
Granted, Ripley looks a little scared here... but imagine if you had a ferocious alien breathing down your neck! In truth, she kicks some major alien butt, making her male comrades look like total chumps.
Lara Croft, Tomb Raider
What's not to love about Tomb Raider's Lara Croft? She's smart, she's independent, she's cultured, she's adventurous and, yes, she's tough as hell. Always ready for a new challenge, she'll traverse nearly any terrain and wander through all manner of musty temples to ward off evildoers.
Ruth and Idgie, Fried Green Tomatoes
Before there was The Help, there was Fried Green Tomatoes — and before there was Skeeter, there were Ruth and Idgie. In the Deep South during the days of segregation, these women never waver in their love and respect for Big George, Sipsy and their other black friends — so much so that Idgie is willing to go to jail to protect them. It's a tearjerker, but it'll make you proud to be a woman.
Abigail Whistler, Blade: Trinity
To play vampire hunter Abigail Whistler in Blade: Trinity, Jessica Biel seriously bulked up. After all, how else would she have been able to expertly whip out that crossbow and use it to take on droves of bloodthirsty assailants? P.S. Check out her biceps!
Foxy Brown, Foxy Brown
If you can handle the overt sexuality of this '70s flick, Foxy Brown is a cult classic worth revisiting. Pam Grier rules as the saucy title character fighting for revenge against the drug syndicate that killed her government-agency boyfriend. She's fierce and fabulous, for sure.
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