There was a time when women didn't lead superhero movies. That was before 2017 (sorry Elektra!). But when Wonder Woman crushed at the box office, studios began to add more and more action films with female leads to their rosters. Now some of the most anticipated films coming in the new two years have women top billed. Here's what you can look forward to in 2018 and beyond.
I Kill Giants
Action films with female leads usually don't have a 15-year-old as their protagonist, but I Kill Giants is no ordinary film. It's the adaptation of a critically lauded comic of the same name. It follows 15-year-old Barbara Thorson (Madison Wolfe), who spends the trailer trying to get people to believe her about giants and then killing actual giants LIKE A BOSS! Thorson's inspiring monologues in the trailer are particularly empowering given that she's willing to sacrifice herself for all the people who fear what they don't understand, and she's 15! She's Batman in bunny ears!
In the trailer for Breaking In, Gabriel Union grabs the stem of a wine glass and jabs it in her attacker's chest. YAS QUEEN CHEST STAB! That's exactly what I want to see in my trailers for upcoming action films with female leads!
The movie feels like a reverse home invasion movie where it's the bad guys who are trying to keep out the hero. Another trailer highlight is Gabriel Union cracking her neck with a dead look in her eyes as if she's the hulking killer from a slasher film. In fact, much of the trailer is just that: Union hunting the men who are holding her children hostage in her deceased father's Panic Room style home.
While I'm super pumped to see a female action movie staring a woman color, I'm afraid of being burned again after seeing Proud Mary. Proud Mary ended up being a drama with the most superficial of action movie trappings (and a lot of b-roll of Boston, and cars pulling in and out of parking spots).
Breaking In is written by Ryan Engle, who wrote the Liam Neeson vehicles Non-Stop and The Commuter, and the forthcoming Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson video game adaptation Rampage. And the movie is directed by frequent Wachowski director James McTeigue. So, hopefully Breaking In actually will be 75 minutes of Union hunting her attackers like a serial killer.
It might seem like Ocean's 8 is one of the upcoming action films with female leads that's actually just a gimmick. But the movie is written and directed by Gary Ross, who's been nominated for the Oscar for best screenplay 3 times for Big, Dave, and Seabiscuit. So, when you combine a great cast with a great screenplay, you have the recipe for a great heist film! And, honestly, Hollywood has made enough bad movies staring predominantly white men where women are little more than props that, hey, they can just start making diverse and female led movies and let them be duds too. The opportunity to not be defined by one's failures is a sign of true equality.
Captain Marvel is one of the most anticipated action films with female leads. Expect it to dominate at the box office! The casting of Brie Larson as Captain Marvel inspired plenty of fans to exclaim, "Captain Marvel has been cast - and she's perfect!" Captain Marvel is Carol Danvers, a U.S. Air Force pilot who has superhuman strength, flight, and can shoot energy from her finger tips because she merged with some alien DNA.
The script is written by the team of Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Meg LeFauve (Inside Out), and directed by the husband and wife duo Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. Boden and Fleck typically direct character driven films. Of Danvers, Larson has said, "She's fighting between the flaws that are within her and all this good that she wants to try and spread and make the world a better place." Woo wee woo waa, this movie sounds like it'll be bridging the gap between Marvel's aliens and cosmic entities with a character driven narrative. Given Black Panther's emphasis on character, that sounds like a winning combination!
Captain Marvel will also be making an appearance in the 4th Avengers movie, due out May 3, 2019.
Ant Man and the Wasp
It might seem like Ant Man and the Wasp is an unlikely choice to be one of the most anticipated action films with female leads. After all, the title has the word "man" right in there! But the Wasp is a woman. She's also the best part of the trailer! She's more competent, a better fighter, and has better tech. You can even anticipate that a lot of the movie's humor will be derived from this dynamic. In the comics, the Wasp is one of the original members of The Avengers and one of its leaders.
The Avengers: Infinity War
The Avengers: Infinity War may seem like a dude-heavy movie, but it's for sure one of the action films with female leads. It includes Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Black Panther breakouts Danai Gurira as Okoye, and Letitia Wright as Shuri. That's a lot of strong female protagonists! The success of the film could even open the door for 6 female characters we should see soon in the Marvel cinematic universe.
Wonder Woman 2
Hopefully Wonder Woman will have been the first of many superhero movies with female leads, chief among them Wonder Woman 2. Both Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins are set to return, with Kristen Wiig confirmed to play Cheetah, the film's villain. What we know so far is that Wonder Woman 2 takes Diana into the Cold War and little else. Whatever they decide, Wonder Woman 2 is likely to crush at the box office just like the original.
Alita: Battle Angel
Alita: Battle Angel is the live action adaption of the popular manga Battle Angel Alita directed by Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, Spy Kids, Sin City) and produced by James Cameron (Titanic, Avatar, Terminator 2). These are heavy hitters working with a budget between 175 to 200 million dollars. Among the film's supporting cast are Academy Award winners Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, and Mahershala Ali. People are betting big on this one!
Salazar is already known her role in The Divergent Series: Insurgent and the Maze Runner films The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure, but in Alita, Salazar may find a career making part. Alita, a robot with amnesia who hunts criminals and plays a brutal sport called Motorball, quickly finds herself in a web of intrigue and on her way to being what appears to be the salvation of a dystopia. This is potentially the most exciting of the action films with female leads in 2018!
Mortal Engines is the directing debut of Christian Rivers, the storyboard artist for every Peter Jackson film since 1992's Braindead. The film is the ambitious adaptation of the novel by the same name by Philip Reeve. The trailer begins by drawing a direct parallel with the opening of Star Wars: A New Hope, which is enough to make this one of the action films with female leads generating the most excitement. It's about cities on giant vehicles that are always in motion! If this is Star Wars meets Mad Max: Fury Road, then count us in!
Not all the action films with female leads are about punching someone in the face or pulling a heist. Some of them are about strong women like Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg making history by going up against systemic oppression and powerful cultural forces. That's what we get in RBG, a CNN produced documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. The Notorious RBG is as much a hero as the leads of any of these female action movies! And she works out as much as one too, prompting one journalist to report that, "I did Ruther Bader Ginsburg's workout. It nearly broke me."