There Were No Female Action Leads Before Hunger Games, Says … – Screen Rant

According to Jennifer Lawrence, there had not been an action movie with a female lead before her casting in The Hunger Games franchise.
According to Jennifer Lawrence, action movies sorely lacked female leads before her casting in The Hunger Games. Lawrence got her big break when she landed her first Oscar nomination for 2010's Winter's Bone. Shortly after, she was cast as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is based on a popular book series by Suzanne Collins. The film was a massive hit, sparking a franchise that would ultimately see Lawrence playing the character through three more sequels.
In a candid conversation between Lawrence and Viola Davis from Variety, Lawrence made a shocking statement about female leads in action films. While discussing Viola's work in The Woman King, Lawrence remarked that "nobody had ever put a woman in the lead of an action movie" before The Hunger Games. She elaborates on how people are often defined by gender, pigeonholing them into certain types of roles. Check out Lawrence's comments on female action stars below:
"Goodbye! I want to circle back to you being “The Woman King.” I remember when I was doing “Hunger Games,” nobody had ever put a woman in the lead of an action movie because it wouldn’t work — because we were told girls and boys can both identify with a male lead, but boys cannot identify with a female lead. And it just makes me so happy every single time I see a movie come out that just blows through every one of those beliefs, and proves that it is just a lie to keep certain people out of the movies. To keep certain people in the same positions that they’ve always been in."
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With Lawrence's role in The Hunger Games, she quickly became an icon for young girls who saw an action star they could relate to. The franchise also made Lawrence and Katniss household names, with some parents naming their kids after the character, proving how impactful the films ultimately were. However, there are excellent examples of female-led action films that debuted long before The Hunger Games.
One of the most notable examples is Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley in the Alien franchise, which began in 1979. Weaver played the character through four films in the series, proving to be a formidable lead while taking on the horrific Xenomorphs. By that point, the Underworld franchise had also seen Kate Beckinsale front two films, playing a highly skilled vampire known as a Death Dealer. And while female leads in action films are often few and far between, there are numerous other examples, like Uma Thurman in the Kill Bill films, Demi Moore in G.I. Jane, Angelina Jolie in the Tomb Raider films, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and Salt, Milla Jovovich in several Resident Evil films. There were even two Charlie's Angels movies with Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, and Drew Barrymore as the stars.
Since the time of The Hunger Games, it's safe to say that there has been a rise in the number of female-led action films, correcting a long-standing gender bias. Recently, Gunpowder Milkshake featured an all-female cast of assassins with Lena Headey and Karen Gillan; Charlize Theron starred in The Old Guard. Mary Elizabeth Winstead led the film, Kate. Maggie Q starred in The Protégé and Viola Davis in The Woman King. In addition, Marvel has seen heroes like Black Widow and Captain Marvel starring in their own films. Even DC Comics has given audiences Birds of Prey, which featured a team of female stars, and two Wonder Woman movies starring Gal Gadot. So while The Hunger Games helped pave the way for many other female stars to shine in action movies, laying the damsel in distress trope to rest, Lawrence's assertions are somewhat misinformed.
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Source: Variety
Tim McClelland is a TV/Movie News Writer for Screen Rant. His screenplays have accrued more than 25 awards and selections in competition, including Best Original Screenplay at the 2021 Hollywood Blood Horror Festival and Best Horror Feature Screenplay 2020 from Bridge Fest, with his work being hailed as “complex, layered, and bloodcurdling.” He got his start when his short biography of Augusten Burroughs was published in 2008, and his career has seen him write video game walkthroughs, web content, and interactive fiction for mobile platforms. He even found himself with one of those nifty IMDB credits for a short film he wrote. Tim resides in Durham, NC, with a rabid passion for film, TV, video games, and comics, all of which he owns way too many of, and those collections are only rivaled by his overabundance of LEGO. He also happens to be an ordained Dudeist Priest, working to spread The Big Lebowski’s relaxed worldly philosophy, “Just take it easy, man.” Find Tim on Letterboxd or Twitter as tdm5003.


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