Inspirational Female Characters in Movies

I wanted to make this a series for the month of June because it’s my birthday month (you’re free to guess the exact date in the comments ๐Ÿ˜› ) and I feel oddly reflective at this time of the year. Basically, I like to take stock of everything that’s happened so far in my life and where I’m headed next. It is of particular significance this year because I’ve graduated and am about to enter the corporate world. I was thinking back on everything that has shaped me into the person I am now and that’s how I came up with the idea for this post. Of all the various movies I’ve seen so far (it’s still a modest number right now), these are the three female characters I’ve identified with or have been inspired by the most.

Warning: this post may contain spoilers (and fabulous GIFs) for Wonder Woman, Pirates of the Caribbean and Interstellar.

1. Wonder Woman

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This is a recent favourite and I had a blast watching this movie. As a whole, it’s a good but not great movie, and it’s a typical superhero (-ine?) origin story. However, the character of Diana was so refreshing. She’s strong, capable and fearless but at the same timeย naรฏve with a sense of child-like wonder. Her character had the most complexity in the movie (obviously) and the character development was brilliant as well. I wish I could have the sense of determination and purpose that she had. Or even an ounce of the courage and confidence she displayed when she went charging into no man’s land. Also, all the respect to Gal Gadot, who did the movie even as she was pregnant. I came away from the theatres with the fierce spirit that I could do just about anything and that feeling hasn’t gone away yet. I still obsessively listen to the soundtrack and re-imagine some of the cooler scenes. I realised that I wasn’t thinking so much about the movie as much as the character. Apparently (and this I came to know while I was writing this), I’m not the only one on this boat. Check out this tweet by the director of the movie, Patty Jenkins:

Screenshot 2017-06-12 20.35.37

2. Elizabeth Swann

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I watched the first movie in the Pirates of the Caribbean series when I was almost a teenager, I believe, and it left a big impression on me. Some credit must be given to the eccentric character of Jack Sparrow, who was my immediate favourite, but as the trilogy progressed (let’s set aside the awful clichรฉ of her appearance in the fifth movie for now), I began to appreciate Elizabeth’s character much more. She’s resourceful, caring and bold, with a sharp tongue and sharper wits to go with it. Right from the starting when Port Royal is under siege and she manages to evade capture from the pirates for as long as she could, it was established that she wasn’t the typical love interest. Thinking back to all of the plot advancements that happened because of something she did throughout the trilogy, I came to appreciate just how big a role she played in the story. To be perfectly honest, I missed her spunk in the other two movies and no other female character has come close to Elizabeth, who went from a governor’s daughter to pirate queen and earned my undying respect along the way.

3. Murphy Cooper

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I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned Interstellar is one of my favourite movies of all time and the father-daughter relationship in that makes me promptly tear up every time I watch it. I really liked how she was taught to examine facts and draw conclusions based on that when she complains to her dad about the ghost in her room. Her love for science and thirst for knowledge is something that I have in common with her. I couldn’t have been happier when she throws her papers in the air and exclaims “Eureka!”, which just goes on to show that there are so many different ways one can save the entire human race. The movie rekindled my dream of going into research and winning a Nobel prize (which seems unattainable now, but nobody told the ten-year-old me that) and I had to practically drag myself out of the theatre because I never wanted it to end. Murph is like an ideal and more focused version of myself. I hope that suffices for an explanation as to why I find her so inspirational because I’m running out of words to express that feeling.


I think I’ve rambled on quite enough for today. Do you find yourself being inspired by characters in movies as much as me? Who are these characters? Let me know all about it in the comments section below.

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48 thoughts on “Inspirational Female Characters in Movies

  1. I love these 3 characters and the actresses that play them. Iโ€™ll admit there are some additional reasons for that than the ones youโ€™ve highlighted ๐Ÿคฃ.

    I agree about the Wonder Woman soundtrack, itโ€™s amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, definitely her too! I really want to see more of her, but she’s only appeared as side characters till date. Maybe Marvel will give her her own movie after the success of Wonder Woman? I’m a huge fan of Scarlett Johansson and would love to see that happen. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad there is someone else who thought WW wasn’t that great a film. Diana is lovely of course, but the direction and story could have been handled so much better. That being said, I AM SO GLAD that this gen has a female lead to look upto! For me it was Xena Warrior Princess!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s your birthday month?? Happy early birthday! (*throws confetti, then gives Nandini a slice of virtual birthday cake of her choice*) June is a good month for birthdays, btw. My dad’s birthday is later this month. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Yes to Elizabeth Swann. She’s incredibly clever and courageous, and she definitely holds her own. I do remember Murph from “Interstellar,” though it honestly wasn’t my favorite Christopher Nolan film (too high-concept for me, I think), but she’s a good example of an intelligent, analytical female character. As for Wonder Woman… I, uh, haven’t seen it yet. (*runs and hides*)

    I second / third / fourth (and lost count *lol*) the vote for Black Widow, because she’s great as a bad-ass as well as a complex, layered character. And I’ve always had a soft spot for Danielle in “Ever After.” I’m not sure if you’ve seen that movie; it’s a Cinderella retelling that came out maybe 20 years ago (gosh, was it really that long ago now??), and Drew Barrymore played Danielle / Cinderella. She’s educated, determined, and not afraid of speaking her mind or standing up for herself. Plus, she loves books. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Great post, Nandini!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚ And you can never go wrong with chocolate cake for me. ๐Ÿ˜‚ Happy early birthday to your dad! When is his, if I may ask? Mine is on 16th, but I’ll be doing a post on blogging basics and probably won’t mention it on that.
      I’m so glad you agree with the choices! ๐Ÿ˜Š I really hope you get to see Wonder Woman soon. It isn’t the best movie ever, but I really enjoyed her character and I think you will too. ๐Ÿ™‚
      I loved Interstellar because I’m all about astrophysics and since it was based on actual science, I was more than happy with it. However, I get that a lot of people didn’t like it because of the whole black hole part at the end or even just all of the science-y stuff. Even if you didn’t like it as much because of other reasons, that’s totally okay. It is a personal favourite of mine, but most of my friends IRL didn’t end up liking it either.
      I so wanted to put Black Widow in there, but being an obsessive person I wanted to do either 3 or 5 and I couldn’t think of a fifth. I was hoping people would mention her in the comments so I could go, “Yes, I totally love her character too!” I honestlyโ€‹ feel she needs more screen time, but always appears with a huge ensemble cast. One of the only reasons I like Iron Man 2 is that scene where she incapacitates all of the guards while Happy succeeds in subduing just one of them. ๐Ÿ˜‚
      Ever After seems like a movie I’d really enjoy. I did like the live-action Cinderella that released like 2 years ago I think, but it isn’t one of my favourites. I suspect I’ll like this one better. I did come across the character of Danielle when people were talking about the book Geekerella online, which is a modern day Cinderella retelling, but I didn’t know which movie they were referring to. Thanks for the info! I’ll put it on my to-watch list. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mmmmmm, chocolate caaaaaaaaaaaaaake… With chocolate frosting, I’m guessing? (Or not frosting at all?)

        Dad’s birthday is the 27th. So it’s a couple weeks away, but still. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll try to swing by on Friday to wish you “happy birthday” again for the big day.

        We’ll see about Wonder Woman. I haven’t been very impressed with the past couple superhero movies I’ve seen, so I haven’t been motivated enough to make time for it. But I will be home this coming weekend, so…

        I love Ever After. It’s still one of my favorite movies, even though some of the period costumes for the men are hilariously hideous. (And even though the movie takes place in Renaissance-era France, no one speaks with a French accent… but let’s not be picky.) It’s a more realistic, semi-historical interpretation, with a slight feminist angle. Definitely unique compared to other Cinderella retellings, and I can’t recommend it enough!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t mind frosting. But I do prefer eggless cakes. There are lots of places here that sell those, so that’s good. ๐Ÿ˜
        Thank you! That’s very sweet of you. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll try to remember the date, although I’m pretty bad with dates. My mom’s is on 20th, so we’ll probably celebrate together.
        I saw Batman vs Superman before Wonder Woman and it was a huge let down. But this movie restored my faith in DC. I had low expectations going in, so I’d suggest not giving into the hype and watching it for pure entertainment. ๐Ÿ™‚
        I’ll try to get it as soon as possible. I really need to watch some happy, upbeat movies to ward off the gloom the monsoon brings with it. Thanks for the recommendation! ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think I remember you saying that before about eggless cakes. That’s good that several places near you sell them, so I hope you get to enjoy one tomorrow or over the weekend! (And now you’re making me want chocolate cake, too!)

        Your mom’s birthday is around the corner, too? Then I hope she has a lovely birthday as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

        I actually haven’t seen Batman vs Superman, but the last two superhero movies I saw were Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Doctor Strange… and… I don’t know. Neither one lived up to my expectations. GotG Vol. 2 in particular wasn’t as much fun as Volume 1.

        I just looked up movie times for Wonder Woman. Maybe I’ll go see tomorrow after work (and treat myself out to dinner while I’m at it).

        You’re welcome re: “Ever After.” It’s definitely an uplifting movie for a poor-weather day, so I hope you enjoy it if/when you get to see it. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haha. Maybe you can treat yourself to some cake while you’re out as well. ๐Ÿ™‚
        Thanks for all the wishes, for my mom as well. That’s so sweet of you! ๐Ÿ˜Š I would definitely share the cake if you were here!
        Oh, that’s sad to hear. I haven’t watched both of the GotG movies, but I plan to. I’ve heard a lot of people say the second one wasn’t as good as the first one though. I still want to see it because I’ve watched all the Marvel movies till date and don’t want to miss out on those, but for free.
        I didn’t like Doctor Strange as much either. I felt like it needed to be longer and there should’ve been more development in the characters and the plot. I really enjoyed Benedict’s performance though and the humour was pretty good too, especially the scene with the librarian. ๐Ÿ˜‚ The magic system has an excellent basis, but even that needed more explanation I feel. Basically, I wanted a lot more from the movie and if there’s an extended version including all of that, I’d definitely watch that because the concept is very cool.

        Liked by 1 person

      • How did you know I was looking at the dessert menus for the restaurants I’m considering eating at before the movies? ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Definitely see GotG Volume 2 if you want. I’ve generally heard the same (it’s not as good as the first film), but not everyone agrees. My brother thinks Vol. 2 is actually the better of the two. (*helpless shrug*)

        I don’t remember what my critiques of Doctor Strange were, tbh… though my overall opinion of it was similar to yours: I wanted more from the characters, explanation of how the magic worked, etc. I wonder if the moviemakers lost sight of that a little in favor of the visual / special effects…?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m secretly a mind reader. ๐Ÿ˜‚ (Shh, don’t tell anyone!)
        Guardians is not very high on my list because I don’t have both of them, so I’m not sure when I’ll watch them. I’m a very moody watcher and much more consistent reader, to be honest. ๐Ÿ˜‚ I’ll let you know when I see it. At least I’ll tweet about it so we can have a conversation there. ๐Ÿ™‚
        That’s what I think as well. I did enjoy the effects and I watched it in 3D, so it was good. But I wouldn’t buy the DVD because the story was lacking and for a movie to be good, I need everything to be balanced. Even Wonder Woman doesn’t have the most original storyline, but the character and the direction was so good that I would give it 4/5 stars whereas Doctor Strange would get 2.5 or 3. But I don’t think I would’ve rated it that much if Benedict wasn’t playing Strange. That’s the only reason I went to the theatres to watch it. ๐Ÿ˜‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • First of all: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NANDINI! ๐Ÿ˜€

        You’re a mind reader? ๐Ÿ˜ฎ (*looks for something to use as a brain-shield / brain-mask*)

        Guardians Vol. 1 is actually a boatload of fun. I laughed so hard at some scenes! So if it helps you decide, I’d rate it as one of the best Marvel intro films because of all its humor.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks a million, Sara! ๐Ÿ˜Š Here is some cake. ๐Ÿฐ ๐Ÿ˜‚
        I’m not sure yet, but I have been demonstrating remarkable abilities, I’m expecting at least one magical school to accept me. ๐Ÿ˜‚
        Oh, I’m glad you liked it that much! I’ll definitely watch it when I get my hands on it. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • Definitely Ravenclaw! I got sorted into it in the official quiz as well and I totally agree with the motto “Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure”. ๐Ÿ˜Š
        What about you? I think I remember you saying Ravenclaw as well.

        Like

  4. Happy almost birthday!

    I’m going to admit I skipped over the WW section since I haven’t seen the movie yet (soon though…soon). But I already love the dialogue it’s creating in the media world. Hopefully those kinds of movies will become so standard they won’t be as wave-making as they are. That’s the dream.

    I find I identify more with characters in books than in movies, simply because books give us so much more depth. But I agree with an earlier commenter about Black Widow. She started off as a fairly cliched character in the Iron Man movies, story wise at least. I feel like it wasn’t until Avengers that we really go to see her, and the bits we’ve seen of her past thus far make me love her even more. I love that she has flaws, but is still tough.

    My biggest character love though would be Shizuku from Whisper of the Heart, Studio Ghibli. I love all the Ghibli movies dearly, but Shizuku is very special to me. She’s a headstrong, curious girl who reads constantly and longs to be a writer. Hello, mirror. I cried watching that movie, at the point where she hands off her book to be read the first time, and she’s so nervous and goes out and crouches down into a tight little ball. All time favorite movie.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚ I agree with you on the buzz surrounding Wonder Woman. We definitely need more movies like that! Hopefully, you can catch the movie soon and we can discuss about her character as well. ๐Ÿ™‚
      I identify with book characters more as well. I’m going to have a post up on it soon. That’s next in the series. ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Also, good point about Black Widow. I definitely liked her more in Avengers and in the second one, we sort of get a peek into her past and I just want so much more from her! What is all that red on her ledger that Loki mentions? I want to know everything! ๐Ÿ˜›
      I have not heard of Whisper of the Heart (sorry!). I’m going to check it out as soon as I can. One thing I love about posts like this is that I get more movie recommendations in the comments and I get to add good movies on my to-watch list. Thanks a lot for mentioning this one! ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Any role Jessica Chastain plays is a winner in my eyes. She’s one of those actresses that really goes for the strong, smart female roles, which is great to see. She’s really vocal about the representation of women in Hollywood and film in general. I think she spoke about it at Cannes Festival too. I’m also VERY excited to see Wonder Woman this Sunday. I’ve heard so much about it, about how it’s empowering, and emotional, and badass, and I just can’t wait to find out for myself. Gal Gadot is perfect as Diana! Fantastic post! Let’s hope we’ll see many more inspirational female characters in the future.
    Would you be interested in sharing your work on Movie Pilot? Iโ€™d like to invite you to join the platform, and Iโ€™d love to hear from you so I can to expand on that. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail, my contact details are on my โ€œAboutโ€ page. Hopefully talk soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I should get on chasing down the movies on her filmography then. I feel like the conversation about representation is extremely important. Books have been doing really well on that front and the comics have picked up as well, but I don’t feel like it’s translated a lot on screen. From what I know though, Hollywood seems to be doing a better job of it than Bollywood, which is closer home for me. The trend of “women-centric” movies is slowly catching up here and it’s been a steady rise since last year. I hope this continues on with future movies.
      Yay! I’m so excited you’re going to watch it. It was all of those things. I wasn’t a huge fan of the plot itself and thought it was only okay, but it’s the characters, the actors and the direction that really shone, according to me. Do let me know what you feel after you watch the movie. We can always discuss here. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Oh, thank you for the opportunity! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll let you know in a few days. My birthday is tomorrow and I’m a tiny bit swamped, so hopefully I’ll contact you by Sunday.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I totally agree with you. There is much progress to be made when it comes to the big screen (and the small screen for that matter – though I feel that TV gets it a little bit better). I definitely hope improvements continue to be made, and that in 10 years movies with strong female characters are the norm. A girl can dream, right? Looking forward to receiving your e-mail and Happy Birthday! Hope you have a lovely day tomorrow! ๐Ÿ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much! ๐Ÿ™‚ Yup, we can definitely dream. I’m going to continue this series on Mondays with inspirational women in TV shows and books. I’d love if you could read that and comment as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I stumbled upon your blog because MyBookJacket recommended it! And I had to comment here, because June is my birthday month too! Was your birthday on the 15th ? We could be bday buddies if it is! Haha

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “Because my dad promised me!!” had me instantly tearing up. Masterpiece!!

    I agree with you with the 1st and 3rd choice. I hate Elizabeth Swann because she burn down the rum and we are still wondering “Why is rum gone?”. Check this out.

    Although not so famous choices, I would put in:
    1. Julia Roberts from Erin Brockovich: Single mom taking on corrupt California power company.
    2. Sandra Bullok from Blind Side: A true story and real life inspiration.
    3. Hillary Swank from Million Dollar Baby: Strong determination and cause I am sucker for sports movies.

    Great Post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t watched one and two to comment. I agree with you on the third though. Great choices! ๐Ÿ™‚
      I shall check out the video soon. And that rum scene is hilarious! They use the joke recurringly throughout the series to wonderful effect. ๐Ÿ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

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