Strong Female Characters in Modern Cinema

In a previous post I talked about my favorite heroines, and I listed a few – Leelo (The Fifth Element), Trinity (The Matrix), etc.

A recent article calls out heroines like Trinity, which made my heart break a little, but I think their criticism needs to be reviewed. They think she’s not very strong because she’s introduced as an awesome, kick-ass character who is then not given anything much to do. She can do kung fu! And wear black leather! And run away from agents! And then all she does is tell Neo to trust the oracle, or whatever.

I completely disagree.


First of all, the movie is about Neo. He’s “the one,” not Trinity, so he should be the one who does everything, including at the end. The Little Mermaid pisses me off to no end because the prince has to save the mermaid by holding his breath in the bottom of the ocean (while she’s a frickin’ fish! How is it possible that she does not save herself???) while Mulan rocks because it’s her movie and she saves everyone. If the movie is about a person, man or woman or animal, the titular character should do the most awesome stuff. The end.

The article said something about the difficulty of pulling off an ensemble movie, but The Matrix is not an ensemble movie. It’s about one guy gaining the super power over killing robots in his mind. (Sorry if I just ruined the plot!) Everyone else in the movie – Morpheus, Trinity, the crew of the Nebuchadnezzer, all of the agents including Agent Smith – are present to illuminate his journey.

Second, Trinity is totally kick ass the whole time. Clearly the reviewer didn’t rewatch the movie before making their review. She is wearing her leather and adds some awesome sunglasses for the scene at the end where she assaults the bad guys’ building lobby, saves Neo by shooting an agent in the head (something many consider impossible, and which she wouldn’t have even attempted at the beginning of the movie), flies an attack chopper, and save Morpheus.

Third, if kicking ass weren’t enough, Trinity bestows true love’s kiss and wakes Neo up from death. He’s dead, Morpheus has given up, the evil robot thing is lasering apart their hover ship while the pilot looks uselessly, and Trinity is having a sweet emotional life-resuscitating conversation with dead Neo about how she liked him all along. She kisses him AND HIS HEART STARTS BEATING. Apparently she kissed him with her nitroglycerin lipstick. Her next instruction is “Now get up,” and later she encourages him to return to the ship. Aside from Neo, she’s the only character doing anything useful at all.

Conclusion: Trinity is a strong female supporting character, and people should rewatch movies before they make points about feminism in cinema in Vanity Fair.

I mean, sure, I’d like more movies starring awesome heroines. And I love that secondary female characters are more hardened, like the wife and daughter of The Rock’s recent movie San Andreas. I think Trinity passes the awesome test.

The article also called out The Lego Movie heroine “Wyldstyle,” who similarly kicks ass and then “does nothing” except “give herself to the hero as a reward at the end.”

But once again, I’m pretty sure the reviewer missed that the movie was about the doofus guy. Also, Wyldstyle doesn’t exactly go home and make somebody a sandwich at the end. She directs everybody to break out of their prison, finds someone their pants, gets on interdimensional TV to rally everyone to fight, and then dives in.

If the only real complaint is that she should have taken some time to find her inner child and explore her feminine side before dumping her old boyfriend (publicly! Awkward…) to date the guy she actually likes…well, whatever. People are going to judge you even if you are a fictional character. But I don’t think that is honestly taking away from all of the kick assery she did earlier. I think it just acknowledges that some of us movie-watchers like a little romance with our action.

Again, I would love to see even more awesome female characters in The Lego Movie II, because gender-wise it was a little sparse.

Regarding the criticism of the random female elf in LOTR: The Hobbit and useless female scientist (?) in Star Trek II…yeah. They were both completely superfluous and probably made the movies worse for their inclusion. I would have loved for an established character to have flipped the gender. Female Bilbo? Ms. Sulu or Ms. Scott? Female Khan???? Mind blown. In a good way.

I’d love to see them remake any famous, awesome movies with a gender-reversed cast. Take that, Pride + Prejudice + Zombies, or President Lincoln, Vampire Slayer.