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Celebrate Women’s History Month with 10 Iconic Female Characters in Film

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FIU chapter.

March is Women’s History Month and what better way to celebrate the commemorative month by looking at some of the most iconic female characters in tv shows and movies to celebrate all things women?

Hermione Granger
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Smart, loyal to her friends, and ready to swish and flick her wand (it’s Wingardium Levi-O-sa, not Wingardium Levio-SA), there’s no doubt that Hermione Granger is one of the true heroes of the Harry Potter film and book series. I know for a fact that Harry and Ron would definitely not have made it as far as they did in the movies and books without Hermione. Depicted as being book-smart and witty in the movies by Emma Watson’s portrayal of the character, Hermione is a character that a lot of young women can relate to because she goes to show that even the bookish females can be important.

Natasha Romanoff (Black widow)
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As her “superhero” nickname implies, Black Widow is basically a strong one-woman force that has not been diminished. Initially making an appearance in Iron Man 2 (2010) and last being seen in her standalone film Black Widow (2021), Natasha Romanoff has definitely had a great character arc, from being seen as just a tool to complete missions to becoming a fellow Avenger and defending the planet among other Avengers that she calls her family. Females can see themselves in Natasha because of her dark past and the way she was able to completely change her life for the better, protecting all humankind (her sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame [2019] didn’t go unnoticed).

wanda maximoff (scarlet witch)
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Just like Natasha Romanoff, Wanda Maximoff is another strong female character within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). First introduced in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Wanda has been featured in several Marvel movies and is now rumored to be getting her first standalone movie after getting a Disney+ show (WandaVision) with her love interest Vision. Wanda’s most notable moments in the MCU came about in Avengers: Infinity War (2018) when she was able to destroy (but later failed as Thanos reversed time) an infinity stone with one hand while holding off Thanos who had 5 infinity stones and in Avengers: Endgame (2019) when she destroys Thanos’ double-edged sword and disarms him. Although Wanda does have powers, she’s still a prominent female character because women feel sympathy for her after she lost Vision, a symbolization of love preserving, and can see a powerful figure in Wanda.

Diana Prince (Wonder Woman)
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Diana Prince, a.k.a Wonder Woman, is one of the most iconic female powerhouse characters in film. Wonder Woman has inspired generations of women starting in the 1970s by proving that even females can be superheroes. Her influence on women hasn’t faded in recent years, in fact it’s only gotten stronger. Wonder Woman’s legacy continues to play out in newer iterations of the character through Gal Gadot, having been featured in two standalone movies: Wonder Woman (2017) and Wonder Woman 1984 (2020).

emma swan
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Although she’s been named as the “Savior” in the Once Upon A Time tv series, Emma hasn’t always embraced the role. She has guts and isn’t the kind of person to back away from a fight, qualities that women can relate to. Emma definitely hasn’t always had it easy when it came to stop running from her fears, but eventually she overcame that obstacle in her life and really started to become her own person. One of her most famous quotes from the show is, “No one saves me but me”, and if that doesn’t make her a strong female force, then what does? Emma Swan, as a character, just goes to show that you can wear anything (Swan’s staple red leather jacket throughout the show is a great example) and still be a hero, and that your past doesn’t define what your present is – only you can define your life.

katniss everdeen
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Although the Hunger Games series does imply that Katniss softens through her two love interests, that’s not what makes her such a powerhouse female. Katniss is resilient, dedicated, and softens up when she witnesses injustice. The series revolves around her risking everything to bring down the manipulating system, and she does it brilliantly. I think what makes Katniss Everdeen so relatable to women as a strong female figure is that she advocates for change by actually doing things and speaking from her heart, which is a quality that shows a fierce persona that women praise.

Harley Quinn
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Bold, assertive, and tough as nails, Harley Quinn is a notable female character in film. Although, she relied heavily on her ex-boyfriend Joker in Suicide Squad (2016), her standalone film, Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020) paints her to be a fearless leader. After her break-up with Joker, Harley set out to make something of herself and gain confidence in being independent. Quinn’s dedication to break barriers and change her life is something that the female audience can resonate with.

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It’s no secret that Mulan is one of Disney’s strongest female warriors and she’s a force to be reckoned with. Mulan takes matters into her own hands when she takes her father’s place in the war, blossoming from a fragile girl to a strong soldier. She’s smart, brave, resilient, and Mulan has no doubt brought honor to her family and all women that idolize her. Mulan is a prominent female character because she embodies the fighting spirit of a warrior and doesn’t back down from any obstacles she faces, and these are traits that women admire.

leia organa
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Like all the previous notable female characters in this list, Leia Organa is another symbol of what a strong female is. What made her such a strong female character in the original Star Wars trilogy wasn’t because she was a princess, it was because she was a fierce and determined rebel who was willing to make any sacrifices necessary to save the galaxy. Just when we couldn’t find any more reasons to love her, Leia’s strong character was solidified as she rose through ranks to become a General. Women can easily relate to Leia because she’s a prime example of a female character becoming her own person and breaking all barriers.

elle woods
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Elle Woods is perhaps one of the most iconic feminist characters of the early 2000s, especially with her pink wardrobe and adorable chihuahua Bruiser. In Legally Blonde (2001), Elle applied to Harvard Law School just to win back her ex-boyfriend Warner, which doesn’t sound very feminist. Warner questioned her ability to get into Harvard and Elle came back with an iconic quote of hers, “What? Like it’s hard?” As time went on, she stayed true to herself and managed to build herself up as a credible lawyer, and this is what makes her so iconic. Also, just because a woman is obsessed with the color pink doesn’t mean she’s a bad lawyer, and Elle definitely proved that. Women look up to Elle Woods because she inspired them to take control of their lives and become the best person they can be.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my top 10 iconic female characters in film and that these characters inspire you just as much as they inspired me. Happy Women’s History Month!

Nicolle Hernandez is the Treasurer and Social Media Assistant at the Her Campus at Florida International University (FIU) chapter. As Treasurer, she oversees the chapter's finances and funding. In her role as the Social Media Assistant, Nicolle works with the social media team to publish a variety of content, including graphic design posts, video content, member-specific content, and more. Nicolle was also a writer for Her Campus FIU during the Spring 2022 term, in which she focused mainly on entertainment topics. At Florida International University, Nicolle is a Digital Communication and Media major with a concentration in Digital Journalism. She is also pursuing a minor in Social Media and E-Marketing Analytics. As a result of her dedication to her studies, Nicolle has been awarded several Dean’s List recognitions. Being a part of Her Campus has given Nicolle a great sense of pride and individuality. She considers herself grateful to have gotten the opportunity to explore her passion for writing. In her free time, Nicolle enjoys listening to music, watching rom-com movies, and traveling the world.