A while ago we wrote an epic ten part list of our 100 favourite graphic novels. We liked it and the feedback we got was very positive. I though we’d do video games but fortunately we have writers who have great ideas, and we loved Jes’ suggestion that we could look at the 100 greatest female characters in pop culture. We went with that idea! Before we unleash the first of five parts of this epic list, we’ll outline the criteria we settled on. The characters had to be female and be a part of modern pop culture. We decided not to include books in the process because that could produce a Top 100 list on its own. Our nominees come from comics, film, television and video games. We chose not to rank these characters from best to worst, instead celebrating each as an individual role. Our list of nominees was MASSIVE and we made some tough cuts, so we tried not to include to many from any one franchise. We hope you enjoy our selections and give us feedback in the comments. We’d love to hear about the characters we haven’t had room for! Remember…they’ll be another 20 in the next instalment.
First Appearance: All-Star Comics #8
Who is She? Wonder Woman is Princess Diana of Themyscira who comes to Earth as a superhero and eventually joins up with the likes of Superman and Batman to lead the Justice League in protecting it.
Why She’s Great: With her lasso of truth and invisible jet Wonder Woman has become the main female face of superheroes, and a feminist icon. She stands for justice, love, peace, and equality and is known to be morally just. She is a constant reminder that women can do anything men can do, and just as well. As a superhero she’s practically unbeatable but that’s not her entire charm. Wonder Woman has been around for almost 75 years and is an icon to comic book loves and instantly recognizable by almost everyone. Over the years Diana deals with plenty of issues, some human (like love and acceptance) and some more difficult to relate to (like being an Amazonian princess). Wonder Woman paved the way for other female superheroes to be three-dimensional and equal to their male counterparts.
First Appearance: Orange is the New Black Season 1 (Portrayed by Laverne Cox)
Who is She?: One of the inmates of a federal prison, serving time for credit card fraud perpetrated to fund her gender reassignment surgery. She passes the time running a beauty salon for the other prisoners.
Why She’s Great: Man, this was a tough call. There are so many phenomenal characters in this series we could have filled out twenty slots on this list from the first season alone. In the end we nominated Sophia, played by Laverne Cox, as she represents a shift in social attitudes regarding people of fluid gender. Played by a post-operation transgender actor (and her real life twin brother in pre-op flashbacks) Sophia opened up a public discussion about how transgender people are accepted into the world and the personal struggles they face in their relationships with family and friends. Even better, she isn’t cast as comic relief or a tragic figure (in spite of her circumstances), but a fully realised character making the best of a difficult situation. Sophia is a positive, brilliant character who makes the prison a brighter place.
First Appearance: Sleeping Beauty (Voiced by Eleanor Audley
Who is She?: A witch, sorceress, “Mistress of All Evil” and sometimes dragon bent on destroying the happiness of the people who shunned her from the christening of princess Aurora.
Why She is Great: Maleficent is one of the most powerful, terrifying and beautiful villains in the Disney pantheon, she has been imitated and reimagined for decades, from Enchanted to the newest Malefeicent live action film. She is one of those evil characters that is just a joy to watch because she encapsulates the role so well, her actions are evil, the way she tortures the royal family for a simple slight to her pride should make us loathe her, and yet she is still amazingly popular and loved. It is rare for a Disney female character to not be a the good princess or the ugly hag, she isn’t royal, she comes out of nowhere, literally appearing in a shock of green light, even with no backstory or motives explained she enthralls us. There is no romantic entanglement causing her actions, no man at her side, she is strong, independent, black hearted and come on she becomes a dragon!
First Appearance: Avatar: The Last Airbender Season 1 (Voiced by Mae Whitman)
Who is She?: Growing up as the only water bender in a peaceful small tribe at the South Pole, Katara had a simple life of gathering food and living day to day. When Katara and her brother Sokka find the lost Avatar – the balance of power in all the world, lost for 100 years – they join him on a journey to defeat the mighty Fire Emperor and bring peace to the world.
Why She’s Great: With any lesser writer Katara could have annoyed the living hell out of us. Motherly and bossy, she takes responsibility for Avatar Aang and her brother Sokka, acting like she knows best and getting angry when challenged. Like all character in The Last Airbender Katara is a complex and well crafted role model. Having lost her mother at an early age she grew used to filling that role, in part, to her brother, and although stubborn she learns to accept people for their own strengths. As the journey continues Katara becomes a powerful water bender and a wise leader through her mistakes and the influence of others.
First Appearance: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992); Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 1 (Portrayed by Kristy Swanson and Sarah Michelle Gellar respectively)
Who is She?: Buffy Summers is the vampire slayer, the chosen one, and a young woman who is destined to fight vampires, demons, and all manner of evil trying to destory the world all the while surviving high school.
Why She’s Great: If you don’t know this by now, stop what you’re doing and go rent BTVS Season 1. Buffy is one of the greatest characters in any medium of all time. She’s a fierce warrior who defends the planet. She’s an insecure girl (then woman) who deals with family, friends, and a crazy love life. She’s a student, a guidance counselor, a sister, and a slayer. Buffy has had a movie and 7 seasons to evolve into the fantastic character that she is. We can relate to her on so many levels but at the same time, we have no idea what it’s like to be the one true slayer. Yet her character makes it easy for us to emphasize with her, to root for her, to sometimes be frustrated with her, but to always love her.
*These are no in particular order and this is only part 1 of 5 so plenty of ladies are on their way.