We’re not yet to the point where we can honestly say we’re happy with the way every Hollywood film portrays women, but we can admit this was a banner year for women in film. At least when it comes to our favorite genre properties.
We started off with The Hunger Games and collectively held our breath when Jennifer Lawrence took the screen as Katniss for the first time... and was exactly how we imagined her while reading the novels. Not only that, the film became a mega-hit, making almost $700 million worldwide. This was good news for a few reasons. The studio found out they made a good investment, so we would now get to see the remaining two books adapted. And it proved a female lead didn’t have to take her clothes off to make her film successful. Or do anything even remotely demeaning. Yes, Hollywood, it really can be that simple.
Then came Black Widow. She had a lot on her shoulders as well. Not only were we disappointed she’d be the only Marvel woman on the Avengers team, it meant she’d have to be that much better. And then she totally was. Armed with just one gun and her Widow’s Bite (which she only felt compelled to use once), she held her own on a team full of Gods and supermen (and a guy with arrows), and she didn’t have to seduce anyone. Intelligent, extremely capable, and willing to make the tough choices. Natasha Romanoff, can we be you?
Merida was quite the wildcard, wasn’t she? Both in real life and in her film, Brave. Pixar was giving us their first female protagonist, and that meant she had to deliver. Brave may not have blown theater-goers away like most Pixar films do, but Merida blew me away. Determined and kooky, Merida was also rash and, well, a teenager. But it was all those qualities and more that made her a character to watch. Merida aimed high, fell hard, and pulled herself up again. My kind of heroine.
And then there’s Catwoman. Actress Anne Hathaway wasn’t the only one freaked out about the legacy that came before her. Catwoman can be done right, and Catwoman can be done so very wrong. She basically had a 50/50 chance of going down in history as “that other really bad Catwoman.” Instead she kicked ass, kept her bodysuit fully zipped, and helped save the day. While Christopher Nolan isn’t known for fantastically well developed female characters, he gave us a Catwoman to be proud of again.
It’s safe to say all of these characters had a tremendous amount of pressure on them in 2012, but they managed to give us plenty of fodder for “Most Awesome Ladies” lists for years to come.- Jill
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