10 Stellar Sci-Fi Films With Empowering Female Characters

A List of Movies with Inspirational Women
Women in Glasses with Blue and Red Lighting
Image by Marcus Vinícius A. Ribeiro on Pexels

Science Fiction films have come a long way since the days of films like Planet of the Apes where the only woman dies in the first 10 minutes. Now, female characters are becoming much more common and even seen as the lead role. Representation in media is important, and strong female characters give young woman heroes to look up to.

Let's celebrate female empowerment with these inspiring women on the big screen in some of the best Sci-Fi films. 

1. Ellen Ripley in Alien

Alien is an iconic sci-fi horror film where you guessed it, almost everyone gets eaten. Everyone agrees that the Alien franchise is one of the best sci-fi franchises, especially with a female lead. Winona Ryder absolutely kills it. She outsmarts the alien at every turn and we can rely on her to save the day. Her character and wardrobe choice also show us women can be smart and practical and not just there for looks.

2. Samantha in Her

In Her, we watch as a man falls in love with his personal assistant, who is actually just a voice on his phone. The AI in Her is the only non-human on this list, but she does act as an inspiration for women. Throughout the movie, she shows independence and searches for meaning outside her relationship with the main character. She teaches us that while love is pleasant, we can always strive for more in our lives.  

3. Louise Banks in Arrival

Based on the fantastic short story, Arrival is a great film where a linguist learns how to communicate with an alien race that comes to Earth. Louise struggles with difficulty in her personal life but puts it aside to focus on humanity's greatest challenge. The twists revealed at the end make her decisions and sacrifices even more meaningful. 

4. Jyn Erso in Rogue One

Rogue One is perhaps of the best films in the Star Wars universe. We follow Jyn Erso, who goes on a journey to help the Resistance fight the Empire following in the footsteps of her father. Unlike other females characters in Star Wars who are famous royals or politicians, she's an ordinary person. While she starts as an underdog, she eventually completes the most important mission that explains the whole Star Wars franchise that follows.

5. Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road

In the post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max: Fury Road, women have little to no freedom and basically act as property. Sure, Max is technically the lead, but Imperial Furiosa rocks in the spotlight. It's one of Charlize Theron's best performances. She risks her life to save her fellow women with Max's help. While watching her we can all learn how to take charge and take no shit. 

6. Leeloo in The Fifth Element

The Fifth Element is a classic sci-fi film and you'll fall in love with Leeloo right away. We follow her on her journey as she learns about humanity and why we're worth saving (or not). It's got everything from comedic moments to action scenes. She might not technically be the lead character, but she still manages to steal the show from her counterpart, Bruce Willis. 

7. Zoe Washburne in Firefly

Firefly is a classic TV show that ended too soon. We watch as a group of space cowboys goes on dangerous missions to survive in the harshest elements. It was eventually was wrapped up properly with the film Serenity. Throughout the show and movie, Zoe Washburne kicks ass. She exudes confidence and shows us what it means to be in a healthy relationship with her husband while still being independent. 

8. Dolores Abernathy in Westworld 

While it is technically a series and not a film, Westworld is a fantastic show by HBO that everyone should watch. We explore Westworld, a place where AIs are so lifelike that you can hardly tell them apart and there are not laws or repercussions. Dolores is one of the main characters and we see her develop and lead a full rebellion against humans. 

9. Paprika in Paprika

Paprika, a Japanese Sci-Fi Thriller, is a fantastic film that will blow your mind when you watch it. Throughout the various dream sequences, the animation constantly outdoes itself. As for Paprika, she's another strong character whose true identity comes into play towards the end of the film. She's powerful and enigmatic throughout the film.

10. Dizzy Flores in Starship Troopers

Starship Troopers is a brilliant science fiction film and satire about going to war with aliens. It follows young soldiers as they join the army and go up the ranks. In the beginning, Dizzy may be a side character whose sole purpose is to fawn over the main character. However, as the film progresses she evolves into a total badass as she slays aliens left and right. 

In Conclusion

Women are badass and deserve more recognition. This list is just a few of the female characters in films for us to look up to, and as time progresses, we will see plenty more. What female characters inspired you as a woman? 

Writer, podcaster, and nerd. BFA in Psych and Creative Writing. Follow along for Humour, Health & Wellness, Pop culture and my Opinions.

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