I can think of no greater female action hero than Ellen Ripley, who starts out somewhat unlikeable in Alien with her “everything by the book” attitude and progresses to her kick-ass iconic “Get away from her, you bitch!” character in Aliens.
In both Alien and Aliens (I’m going to pretend that those inferior Alien 3 and 4 movies were never made) Ripley is not over-glamorized and, for the most part, she’s rarely under-dressed. She looks nothing like Barbarella or Princess Leia with their perfect make-up, clothes, and hair. In fact, some could argue that she’s not all that sexy in the Hollywood sense of the word. Instead, Ripley is strong, capable, intelligent, maternal, and authentic. She is not a super hero. She is not invincible. But when those around her panic, she relies on her own strengths – both physical and mental – to survive.
In 1986’s Aliens, Ripley became an icon and role model for future female action heroes as well as young girls. She’s heralded as the character who paved the way for strong female leads in films and has been dubbed the 8th greatest hero in American cinematic history by AFI, though I would have ranked her a bit higher.
Just thinking about her fighting acid-blooded aliens or operating that yellow power-loader thingy gives me chills. I want more Ellen Ripleys!