It's always great when films can deliver on the promise of a badass woman. Strong, intelligent, independent, just as comfortable kicking ass and she is stick to her morals: a badass woman, it turns out, is both hard to find and hard to do justice to. Considering how few of these kinds of characters are available to us, it's disappointing to reflect on the far too many "badass" female movie characters who fall flat in the films they were featured in.
It's especially disheartening to see a female character fall flat when they are so clearly being set-up as a badass type. There's lots of ways this can happen. Sometimes, a woman who is given a strict moral or ethical code will suddenly betray that the minute a man is introduced into the story. Or, instead of being given screen time to move the plot along meaningfully, they are turned into devices to move along the character arcs of their male counterparts. Or, perhaps most dishearteningly of all, it just becomes evident very quickly that whatever form of badassery a particular female character was supposed to take just won't happen at any point in the film.
On that note, let's consider the following female characters who were clearly meant to be more badass than they turned out to be and in the end, fell flat on screen.
1. Aurora, Passengers
Poor Aurora. She's written as an independent, free-thinking woman who knows what she wants; it should be easy to cheers for her. But even after her consent is violated and she's awoken from her sleep by Jim, she loses all sense of herself and basically functions as this weak-willed woman who literally proclaims she would die if Jim died trying to save the spaceship they're on.
2. Elektra, Daredevil
Elektra has plenty of opportunities to show her skills in her own solo film, but it's her clumsy and bland introduction in Daredevil, where she is ultimately just the romantic interest who can match the titular hero skill for skill, that is her undoing.
3. Ramsey, Furious 7
You mean to tell me that Ramsey is the best computer hacker in the world and she defers to Tej during the mission in Furious 7? Oh, and she's really just there to become an unwilling romantic prize to be won? The potential for Ramsey's badassery goes right out the window the minute she's introduced.
4. Emma Frost, X-Men: First Class
Emma Frost, why did this happen to you? X-Men: First Class leans heavily into using Emma as a deadly but unbelievably gorgeous woman. Any hint of power or strength — which she brings in spades — is erased when she is used as a prop.
5. Casey Newton, Tomorrowland
Casey is the voice of the audience in Tomorrowland, and she's also styled as an intelligent young woman who seems almost destined to save the planet. But her story quickly takes a backseat to Frank and Athena's and she just becomes a supporting, forgettable character.
6. Dr. Poison, Wonder Woman
Don't get mad, because Wonder Woman is a great film, truly. However, the one chance the film had to really give us a unique female villain in Dr. Poison fell flat. You can count on one hand the number of scenes she gets to talk in and ultimately, she and Wonder Woman aren't given any meaningful interaction. She is, arguably, expendable to the story because of her function in the film and that's a real shame.
7. Freya, The Huntsman: Winter's War
Freya has one of the saddest backstories in this film and much of her villainy comes from being wronged by those she trusted; classic stuff in the fantasy genre. But watching Freya go from a straight-up baddie to the tool of her much more evil sister is a bit blah.
8. Peggy Carter, Captain America: The First Avenger
She may have been a badass on her ABC TV show, but damn, Captain America really let Peggy fall flat. Aside from one very tough moment where she tests the Cap's shield against a bullet, Peggy is reduced to the love interest very quickly. We know she's an army woman, but we don't really see her fight. If this is all we ever saw of Peggy, it would be pretty easy to peg her as a flat character.
9. Tauriel, The Hobbit
Tauriel is the victim of something that's a bit of a theme on this list: strong as an individual but a great chunk of her screentime gets used to soften the men around her and make her into a romantic interest. Not cool.
10. Tamina, Prince Of Persia
Pushing aside all the problems that come with casting a ton of white actors in a film set in Persia, let's look at Tamina. She's a smart woman who is really only utilized in the story to help propel Dastan, the male hero, to greatness. She rarely gets to show off her heroics, even though she has the knowledge and skills to do so.
11. Claire, Jurassic World
Claire was given opportunities to be just as strong and tough as Owen, but at every turn she was, at best, a capable assistant. No woman should have to run around a theme park in heels only to have her character sidelined.
It's a shame these characters didn't get to do more.