I think I’ve stolen this idea from someone, but I’ve been kicking it around in my head for over a month now and have completely lost where it came from. Despite thinking about it for a month, I’m still pretty sure I’ve forgotten about someone.
This list is in no particular order.
This will surprise no one, and shouldn’t. And no, not because of the slave bikini. Okay, maybe a little because of the slave bikini. Honestly, the Leia of the later Star Wars books has always been more interesting to me than the Leia of the movies, because they move away from “Princess” Leia and more into “uber-competent intergalactic diplomat, badass Jedi grandmother Leia” who is way more interesting. Rhundi from The Benevolence Chronicles is at least a little bit based on this later Leia, although Rhundi is less of a politician than Leia is.
2. Ellen Ripley, ALIEN franchise
Also from the “should surprise no one” category, and in fact the first name I came up with when writing this. Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley should have killed the idea that women can’t carry action films stone cold goddamned dead after Aliens. She was even good in the bad Alien franchise movies.
Honorable mention here goes to Dana Barrett from Ghostbusters, which is actually my favorite movie with Sigourney Weaver in it, and Gwen DiMarco from Galaxy Quest, which is probably Weaver’s most underrated role. But Ripley is easily her most iconic and her best role, and certainly her best character.
3. Buffy Summers and Willow Rosenberg, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
Yes, both of them; my blog post and I get to set the rules. Truth be told I think I prefer Willow slightly to Buffy; the character has a more interesting arc over the course of the show (and the episode pictured in the picture here was at least a minor part of the evolution of that character arc) but they both belong together. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my favorite television series of all time, basically, right up there with M*A*S*H, and I miss the hell out of it. I’ve never been able to get into the comics or the books, both of which are still coming out, at least partially because I hated Angel so much toward the end and I refuse to admit that anyone from that show is still alive. But it wouldn’t take much to get me to read more about Buffy or Willow.
Do you know what the definition of a hero is? Someone who gets other people killed. You can look it up later.
Why not, stick with the Whedonverse for number four. I love all of the characters in Firefly, but Zoe was the glue that held the rest of the cast together, and I wish to hell she’d gotten her own TV series somehow. Or a movie. Or anything, really. Where she brings Wash back from the dead with the sheer power of her own awesomeness, because I’m still pissed off that Wash is dead. If I ever meet Joss Whedon I’m going to hug him and then punch him in the mouth and tell him that was for Wash, and then while his security guys are hauling me away and beating me up I’m going to try and kick him and tell him that was for Tara from Buffy.
Joss is a dick, is what I’m getting at here, but Zoe was an amazing character and I wish I’d had more chances to see more of her.
Little-known fact: for most of the existence of the character, Pepper Potts and Tony Stark were not an item. In fact, over the 40-some-odd years since the character debuted (created by Stan Lee, by the way) she has spent almost all but the last seven or eight married to someone else. Pepper was always interesting to me because she was immune to Tony’s bullshit; the womanizing aspects of the Stark character just bounced off of her. Pepper was what kept Stark Industries moving when Tony was either off fighting bad guys or just being a drunken idiot, and when she finally got her own armor for a little while (I’m actually not sure if the Rescue persona is still a thing; I don’t think it really is) it felt like something the character had earned. (Incidentally, random Iron Man note: they’re making a big deal about Thor becoming a woman and Captain America being a black guy; Iron Man has already been a woman and a black guy and he did both in the eighties. So they’re making him an asshole instead. Sigh.)
6. Monica Rambeau/Captain Marvel/Spectrum/Whatever (Marvel comics)
Monica Rambeau doesn’t get enough credit. Hell, Monica Rambeau can’t even keep a proper superhero name. She’s been one of the umpteen Captains Marvel, she was… Photon, for a while, I think? and now she’s Spectrum. Here’s what you need to know about her: She has led the Avengers. You know how they complain about there not being enough women and people of color in comic books and in comic book movies? Monica Rambeau led the goddamn Avengers. And not the cheap-ass West Coast or Great Lakes offshoot teams. (I kid. I love the Whackos unreservedly.) No, she was in charge of the honest-to-goodness Actual East Coast God Damn Avengers, and she should have had three movies by now.
Okay, choosing a panel from Nextwave was probably kinda disrespectful, but god I laughed like an asshole when I first read that comic.
7. Éowyn, THE LORD OF THE RINGS.
“I am no man.”
Understand something: I have read The Lord of the Rings at least once a year since I was in second grade. I have the inscription on the ring tattooed on my left leg. I have bits of the book memorized. And the one thing that the movies did not get to fuck up was Éowyn’s reveal in The Return of the King. I was terrified going in that they were going to give that scene to Arwen, since they’d made such a big deal of pumping up her role in the rest of the movies. I would have burned down the goddamn theater.
Took down the Witch King. By her damn self. Badass.
Éowyn maybe should be higher on the list.
8. Arya Stark, A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE
I’ve been rreeeaallll vocal about my unhappiness with the later A Song of Ice and Fire books, right? And I’m not happy with them. Not at all. ASoIaF has degenerated more severely than any other mega-series I can remember reading, and as a lifelong science fiction and fantasy fan I have read a lot of them.
Finding out what happens with Arya– and maybe, maybe Tyrion, although absolutely nothing remotely interesting happened with him in the last book– is one of the very few things still keeping me invested in this series. It is entirely possible that when The Winds of Winter finally comes out in 2028 that I will just read the Arya chapters and then give the book to my wife.
Maisie Williams is pretty fucking awesome, too.
9. Lyra Silvertongue, HIS DARK MATERIALS
This is fan art, I think; I decided that since the His Dark materials movie series so seriously screwed up the books (unavoidable, unfortunately, if they wanted it to sell any tickets– and they still didn’t sell any tickets) I needed to find a picture of Lyra that wasn’t from the movie. The interesting thing is I’m not sure how to talk about her other than to say that you need to read the Dark Materials books right now so that you can learn about Lyra and how awesome she is. I love these books unreservedly; a snippet from the third one was actually read at my wedding, and I keep trying to come up with a way to make a good tattoo out of a compass, a knife, and a spyglass.
10. Hermione Granger, HARRY POTTER
Hermione was the best thing about the Harry Potter books. Everyone knows that, right?
Honorable Mentions: Scarlett O’Hara (GONE WITH THE WIND), Katniss Everdeen (THE HUNGER GAMES,) Lady Polgara (THE BELGARIAD), She-Hulk (Marvel Comics), Barbara Gordon (DC Comics), Mara Jade Skywalker (STAR WARS), and no doubt any number of others I’m forgetting.