A few months back I wrote a piece lamenting the lack of action movies starring kick-ass ladies. It was an article brought on by comments made claiming there could never be a successful superhero movie with a female lead because there isn’t, one, an iconic enough female superhero and, two, an actress capable of making such a movie work. Of course, reasonable people understand this is utter bullshit.
Women aren’t only capable of making successful “chick flicks”, period dramas, and mother/daughter coming of age stories. Look at the success of the outrageous and at times downright crude comedy, Bridesmaids. How about The Hurt Locker directed by Kathryn Bigelow, who then went on to be the first lady to ever win a Best Director Academy Award. And, how can I not mention the staggering success of The Hunger Games which not only catapulted Jennifer Lawrence into mega-stardom but proved action movies starring women can make bank just as easily as those starring men. In fact, if we really want to start comparing figures, The Hunger Games’ opening weekend gross was $152 million while The Expendables 2, which opened this past weekend, raked in only $28.6 million. Obviously there are more factors at work here than one starred a woman and the other starred a whole slate of burly, beefcake men, but it’s hard to argue with that dough.
Women make up a larger percent of the population in the U.S. In many families, it’s the women who are in charge of expenditures. Businesses, and in particular studios, should be bustin’ their asses to market to the ladies and not this glorified demographic of men 18-35.
Which brings me to the news that broke over the weekend. It’s been confirmed an Expendables 3 is on its way, only difference is this time they’re looking to drop the macho men and instead cast a league of lady ass-kickers! It’s like Christmas came early! Adi Shankar, producer of The Grey as well as the upcoming Dredd, is spearheading the project of an all female Expendables and will back it with his production company, 1984 Private Defense Contractors. Tapped to write the script is Dutch Southern, to me a relative unknown, and Variety reports they’re already in talks with, “several prominent actresses affiliated with the action genre.”
Hells yea. The news has spurred dozens upon dozens of lists casting potentials for packing heat in an all female Expendables, and not to be left out, I’ve compiled my own list of ladies prominent in the action genre who I think should get a call. I’ve included some of the obvious and necessary choices but hopefully there’s a few surprises in here, too.
You shouldn’t even be considering an all female Expendables movie if this lady isn’t at the top of your list. Her Ripley is the grand dame of kick-ass women and gave American action cinema a big, “Fuck you!” to its perceived notion of gender roles. Weaver’s proven she’s still tough as nails with her recent role in Avatar as chain-smoking, doesn’t-take-shit-from-anybody scientist, Grace Augustine. Plus, the woman doesn’t mind lampooning herself, just see her roles in either Galaxy Quest or Paul.
If you’re looking for a woman who could easily face off against 80s action heavyweights Schwarzenegger and Stallone, look no further than Sarah Connor herself. Did you see her pump that rifle one-handed in T2?!?! Yeah, bad day to be a T-1000. Sadly we haven’t seen handling much artillery since her Terminator days, and if anyone needs to be seen blasting dudes full of bullets in an all female Expendables, it’s her.
Jovovich skyrocketed into our awareness as a major kicker of butts when she starred alongside Expendable, Bruce Willis in The Fifth Element. Since then she’s been reigning as the queen of ass-kicking as Alice in the Resident Evil series, and all you need to do is catch a clip from one of those flicks to see why she’s an obvious choice for an all female mercenary team. The girl can handle her guns, is what I’m sayin’.
Is there a more bankable female action star, or shit, a more bankable actress in Hollywood than Angelina Jolie? She brought to life a video game icon and managed to do it with class, style, and plenty of ammunition. She squared off against husband and equally badass, Brad Pitt, in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, cementing her place in the action hero pantheon. Even when he action flicks flop (Beowulf, Salt) she still manages to come out on top. There’s no way I’d consider leaving this woman off the list.
Here’s where I start to get a little crazy with my picks. Zoe Bell would be a shoe-in for a mercenary team made up of ass-kickin’ women, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you don’t know her by name. She’s been a stunt double for many ladies who could also easily be on this list, including Lucy Lawless in Xena: Warrior Princess and Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. She played herself in Death Proof, performing her own death defying stunts like hanging on to the hood car during a high speed chase. I believe Bell deserves more exposure for her top-notch badassery and what better way than as a member of an all female Expendables?
Because an all female Expendables couldn’t have too many Zoe’s. Beginning her film career as a bitchy ballerina in Center Stage, Saldana’s come a long way, but that classical training surely paid off. She’s held her own with scurvy pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, assumed the iconic role of Lt. Uhura in Star Trek, and played a badass Na’vi in Avatar while running around a sound stage in a mo-cap suit. That takes skill. On top of all that she’s starred in her own action flick, Columbiana, which is a big, progressive step for the action genre as a whole.
Kuriyama is another wild choice of mine but I think she’d be great addition. She’s really only had two roles you’d know her from, Takako Chigusa in Battle Royale – y’know, that film The Hunger Games lovingly ripped-off – and Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill. In both roles Kuriyama proves she’s not a lady to be taken lightly, and while she doesn’t survive either film I think we deserve to see her come out on the winning side in all female Expendables. Oh, and I’d be totally cool with her donning a school girl outfit again, too. It only seems to make her more deadly.
Doesn’t this image even look like it could come from a promo for an all female Expendables? Of course, it’s actually from Machete which is one in a long list of action flicks she’s been in. Breaking out in 2000’s Girlfight, Rodriguez has made a name for herself playing tough chicks who can easily do a man’s job, often better than the men she’s working with. And if you’re looking for someone to drive that get-a-way car, Michelle’s your gal.
Why can’t there be two Sarah Connors in an all female Expendables? I think that’d only raise the levels of feminine badassery. Headey is all about the strong women. For one there’s the aforementioned stint on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and now she’s starring as the powerful and lustful, Cersei in HBO’s Game of Thrones, I’m sure you’ve heard about that little show. Plus, she’ll be in Dredd which is produced by Adi Shankar making her basically a shoe-in for when he casts his lady Expendables. And have you seen the scar she’s sportin’ in that flick!?! Talk about commitment.
And lastly, every Expendables movie needs a great villain and I think it’d be frickin’ fantastic if they went with a truly unexpected choice. I nominate Lynda Carter, easily best known to the world as Wonder Woman. How amazing would it be to see once mighty Amazon in a villainous role? It’s be momentous and possibly revolutionary for the actress’ career.
All right, these are my picks, what are yours? I know they’re plenty of kick-ass women I’ve left off the list (Michelle Yeoh, Vivica Fox, Lucy Lawless, Summer Glau, Gina Carano, Sarah Michelle Gellar), so let me know who’d comprise your dream team of female Expendables.