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21 November 2014

Why It Matters What a Female Action Hero Wears - Washington Post 20 November

Katniss Everdeen doesn’t dress to impress. The heroine of “The Hunger Games” movies is occasionally forced to don a pretty gown, but generally speaking Jennifer Lawrence’s character doesn’t make sartorial statements — she makes physical ones. She runs and hunts and shoots down planes with arrows, and in her earth-toned cargo pants and jackets, the feats are the focus.

That’s not often the case with female action heroes, who are somehow supposed to take down bad guys while oozing sex appeal. Katniss wasn’t the first femme-fighter to buck the trend, but when she first graced the big screen in 2012, she was the first in quite some time. And others seem to be following suit: In “Lucy,” “Divergent” and the upcoming “Jupiter Ascending,” the focus has shifted from the protagonist’s skin to her skill.

How did we get here? Take a look at the (by no means exhaustive) evolution of the female action hero over the last 40 years.

Xena Warrior Princess

Years: Heroine1995-2001

Image

Unlike Nikita, the protagonist of this television series stood out because she looked like she could actually overpower people. Lucy Lawless had played an Amazon before taking on this role of a warlord-turned-vigilante. But as the heroine got buffer, her outfits got smaller: She, like Leia, also sported a metal bikini at times.

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