& Warrior Women in Modern Pop Culture
The original female
superhero had her beginnings in DC Comics in 1942. Originally Princess Diana of
the Amazons, she had a number of "super" abilities/props. These included
indestructible silver bracelets, and an indestructible lasso that required the
encircled victim to speak the truth.
Diana came to the small
screen as a TV movie with Cathy Lee Crosby and later television series in 1976
with Lynda Carter.
Cathy Lee Crosby as
Lynda Carter played Diana
for 3 seasons
Created in 1960, The
Avengers television show ran for 6 seasons (with breaks) through 1969.
Throughout the last 5 seasons, John Steed (played by Patrick McNee) was
partnered successively with Cathy Gale, Emma Peel, and Tara King. Gale, played
by Honor Blackman (who left after 1 season to play Pussy Galore on the Bond
film "Goldfinger") introduced the leather outfits that later became a hallmark
wardrobe look for the early Emma Peel, played by Diana Rigg. Emma was an expert
with gun, sword, and martial arts (not to mention publishing papers on
physics!). Emmas's kick-butt
ability was continued in the person of Tara King (Linda Thorson). Returning to
the small screen for 2 seasons in 1976 and a feature film in 1998 with Uma
Thurman as a newer Emma Peel.
Left: Diana Rigg as
Mrs. Emma Peel. Publicity shot from the first Emma Peel season of The Avengers
television series (filmed in B&W).
Right: Uma Thurman
in the 1998 film version.
The final segment of the
animated feature film Heavy
Metal introduced Taarna, the last of
the Tarakian race of protector warriors who comes to the aid of a city under
attack. Arriving too late to save the victims, she sets out to rid the world
(wherever that world is) of the leader of the barbaric villains.
Xena. Originally created as a villain during the first season of
television series Hercules, the Legendary
underwent a personal transformation that was continued in a spinoff series Xena, Warrior Princess in 1995.
Dressed in leather, an armored breastplate, and sword carried on her
back (after the first few episodes), her trademark weapon was the chakram, a
sharp-edged circular throwing weapon actually used by Sikh warriors in slightly
Xena's path in life is to
atone for her evil past, although it is evident that she will never allow
herself any real redemption. It is also revealed early in the series (and
repeated later on as a reminder) that her darker "evil" side is a necessary
part of making her who she is, and is a source of part of her strength. (This
aspect is blatantly obvious by the use of Yin-Yang imagery).
Her more violent
tendencies are tempered by her companion Gabrielle, who in many ways is her
voice of conscience (not too unlike Jiminy Cricket is to Pinocchio in the
Disney classic animation). Beginning as an "annoying" tag-along, Gabrielle
learns to fight, then renounces all violence, only to become Xena's replacement
by the end of the series.
Beginning first as a tongue-in-cheek
motion picture starring Kristy Swanson in 1992, Buffy the Vampire Slayer became
a TV series in 1997 starring Sarah Michelle Geller as the lead character
– the latest in a long line of a vampire slayers that stretches back
centuries. While the mythology surrounding Xena was based largely on
classical Greek imagery, Buffy's
derives from the vampire and other occult legends. The show's main themes revolved about the difficulties of
making the transition from being a teenager to becoming a young adult, all the
while having to fight evil in many forms.
Introduced as the First
Officer of the Nostromo in 1979's Alien, Sigourney Weaver played Ripley
in 3 sequels – Aliens, Alien3, and Alien Resurrection. In Alien, she attempts,
unsuccessfully, so save the rest of her crew from being slaughtered by the
title character (in what is a thinly disguised haunted house horror movie)
and becomes the sole survivor. In Aliens Ripley becomes reluctant "Rambo"
while acting as the surrogate mother to a young survivor (Newt) of an alien
takeover of a human settlement on the planet where she originally encountered
the first creature. The last 2 films deal with the aftermath and are
progressively darker visions of the future.
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Last updated March 5, 2006