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6 Women in Action Movies Who Need Their Own Spin-Off

Action movies have been a staple at the theater since the beginning and nearly all have been dominated by men. Nothing wrong with that, but few women have had the chance to make their mark in the genre. Currently, big names like Angelina Jolie-Pitt and Scarlett Johansson have helped change perceptions and expectations and there are many others who have helped to shape the female action movie star. That said, here is a short list of 6 women in action movies that would be great in their own spin-offs. We’re excluding superhero characters as that’s for another list.

Coast Guard Captain

Women in Action Movies
Colleen Flynn – Clear and Present Danger, 1993
FILM: Clear and Present Danger (1993)     ACTRESS: Colleen Flynn

You’re probably thinking: Huh? Clear and Present Danger! That stars Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan! He takes on a Colombian drug lord with the help of Willem Defoe! Where is there a Coast Guard captain? And why I am yelling? Relax. During the opening credit sequence we meet the woman. There is a brief moment when the U.S. Coast Guard runs down an American yacht. It’s been taken over by drug smugglers. The Coast Guard boat is helmed by a nameless character who has only has a few lines. But pow, does she deliver them. She’s future Emmy Award-nominated actress Colleen Flynn. Despite only a minute or so on screen, she is so convincing, so authentic in the role, it sets the tone for the entire film. A riveting little performance, you can’t help but wish there was more of her. A film about her story would be a great action thriller (or a thrilling television series). “Heave to and prepare to be boarded.” Sir. Ma’am!


Women in Action Movies
Natascha McElhone – Ronin, 1998
FILM: Ronin (1998)     ACTRESS: Natascha McElhone

Two words: Epic car chase. Okay. Three words. Deirdre is an IRA operative working in Paris. She’s with an assorted group of mercenaries and baddies looking to steal a mysterious metal briefcase from an armored car. We never find out what’s inside the darn thing, but it doesn’t matter. This movie is about the action. One particularly stirring bit is a wild car chase (seven minutes worth). Deirdre is at the wheel, bobbing and weaving her BMW through the crowded streets and tunnels of Paris. Robert De Niro is hot on her tail. They leave a swath of carnage behind like they were set decorators for a post-apocalyptic movie crew. How did she get that good? What got her so high in the ranks? How does she keep such healthy looking, lustrous hair through it all? A movie about her backstory could be set in Ireland and be a bitter tale of action and intrigue. With more car chases.

Lenina Huxley

Women in Action Movies
Sandra Bullock – Demolition Man, 1993
FILM: Demolition Man (1993)     ACTRESS: Sandra Bullock

Just to be clear, there’s not much we would change about this action movie. As it stands, it’s one of those really fun, cheesy action comedies that somehow finds a way to make the silly premise work. Sylvester Stallone plays John Spartan, a tough no-nonsense cop. After accidentally causing the deaths of some hostages, he’s punished by being frozen for rehabilitation. Along with him is the notorious thug Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes). Thirty years later, the city of San Angeles is crime-free and peaceful. When Simon is illegally released and begins murdering people, the cops have no choice but free Spartan. One of those cops is Lenina Huxley. She’s girl obsessed with pop-culture from the late 20th century. She teams up with Spartan to track down the Murder, Death, Killer and uncover a conspiracy. If there is one thing that makes this movie all the more watchable, it’s Bullock. She effortlessly charms her way into our action-loving heart. How cool would a movie be set prior to Spartan? We learn about what got her so fixated on 80s and 90s memorabilia and into law enforcement. Plus, how did Taco Bell win fast food franchise wars? How did sex without sex get to be a thing? Those darn three shells! We want answers.

Xenia Onatopp

Women in Action Movies
Famke Janssen – Goldeneye, 1995
FILM: Goldeneye (1995)     ACTRESSFamke Janssen

Bond films are filled with women who have great potential backstories. Who wouldn’t want to know more about May Day (Grace Jones) or Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman), just to name a few? But it’s the more recent Xenia Onatopp who is arguably the most intriguing. We know so little. She was born in Georgia (the country). She has a penchant for hugs . . . with her legs. Warm, embracing, air-sucking, chest-caving, legs. She’s cold and terrifyingly. She’s amused by the pain of others. And she’s hopelessly, psychotically loyal to her cause. Even the evil dude she works for is like, whoa, woman, you got issues. A film about her backstory could be really dark, especially in developing her discovery of her leg trick. Seriously. How does one figure that one out? We want to know. From a distance.

Rita Vrataski

Women in Action Movies
Emily Blunt – Edge of Tomorrow, 2014
FILM: Edge of Tomorrow (2014)     ACTRESS: Emily Blunt

We just wrote about Edge of Tomorrow and how that sci-fi time loop movie is one of the best in the genre. Much of the focus is on Tom Cruise, playing a soldier who becomes able to relive the same day over and over. He uses it to try and defeat an alien invasion with the help of Rita. She’s also soldier who once had the same power but lost it. Rita is a highly-skilled warrior with a colorful and heroic past that is only mentioned in passing. While she had control over time, she was able to defeat the alien forces at the battle of Verdun. We also know she lost someone very important to her heart, a man named Hendrix. This story alone would make for a great film, especially given how we love Blunt as an action star. Or any genre. Could we be more Blunt? Sorry.

Ilsa Faust

Women in Action Movies
Rebecca Ferguson – Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)
FILM: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)     ACTRESSRebecca Ferguson

Duh. Right? While Tom Cruise stole headlines again for his amazing stunt work, the fifth film in the Mission: Impossible series is considered one of the best. Aside from the great visual effects and pulse-pounding action, the story and characters made the experience not just exciting, but fun. A lot of that is due to Rebecca Ferguson, who floored audiences in only her second film role. She plays agent and alley (?) to Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his IMF team, Ilsa Faust. She is more than the typical leggy distraction that many of the female characters in the series end up being (though she does have the stems). Smart, highly-skilled, passionate, and an equal to Hunt in every way, she had everyone talking after the credits rolled with most wanting to see more of her. A stand alone film with her as the lead would be a knockout, detailing her origin story (maybe even with a Cruise cameo). Somebody make this happen.

Who are some of your favorite female supporting characters you’d like to see have their own story?

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