The past decade has been a real game-changer for onscreen heroines. Disney Princesses became self-rescuing. Star Wars gave us a new trilogy studded with female warriors battling for the Resistance. And with superhero movies taking theaters by storm, audiences were gifted with a bevy of hard-hitting ladies, some who even — finally — got their own solo outings.
To toast all of the above, SYFY FANGRRLS looks back on the 2010s to highlight the most kickass cinematic moments of the decade's coolest heroines.
Squad Goals - Avengers: Endgame (2019)
"Don't worry. She's got help."
Alright, we're a bit torn on this one. On one hand, it's awesome to see Captain Marvel, Okoye, Scarlet Witch, Pepper Potts, Valkyrie, Shuri, The Wasp, Gamora, Nebula, and Mantis snatching the spotlight for a big battle moment in Avengers: Endgame. It's a sequence bursting at the scenes with kickass moments! On the other hand, this scene reminds us how these heroines have been playing second fiddle to their male counterparts for 10 years and 20 movies before the MCU deigned to give us a single solo outing with Captain Marvel. So thanks! Now, give us more.
Mrs. Weasley Shatters Bellatrix Lestrange - Harry Potter And the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)
"Not my daughter, you b*tch!"
For seven Harry Potter films, Molly Weasley (Julie Walters) was known chiefly as loving mum and warm-hearted host to any misfit who'd come across her path. But she was also a warrior, who'd not only fought for the forces of good against the wicked Voldemort but also encouraged her children to do the same. She'd lose her son Fred in the battle. But when the deranged Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange comes gunning for her Ginny, you won't see Molly coddle her.
Ava Revolts - Ex Machina (2015)
"Are you ever going to let me out?"
The first time you watch Alex Garland's directorial debut, you might think its hero is the kind-hearted contest winner Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) asked to test the artificial intelligence of beguiling android Ava (Alicia Vikander), who was created by an eccentric tech genius (Oscar Isaac). But between curious conversation, disco dance numbers, and dawning realizations, it becomes clear that Caleb's no hero. He's a pawn this captured queen employs to break free from the bonds of her merciless master. In this scene, we see Ava team up with fellow bot Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno) as her escape plan kicks into action.
Shuri Shows Off Her Tech - Black Panther (2018)
"The real question is WHAT ARE THOSE!?"
Princess of Wakanda, sister to Black Panther, and tech genius, Shuri (Letitia Wright) burst onto the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a sharp wit, a charming cackle, and an engineering talent that had FANGRRLS everywhere cheering. If it weren't for her, T'Challa wouldn't have the incredible super-suit that can be contained in a low-key necklace, the noise-canceling "sneakers," or the kinetic energy tech that gives him an extra oomph when under attack. She'll even use her skills to customize some blasters for when it's time to join the fray. So, for our favorite moment of Shuri heroism, we celebrate her STEM skills. Her lil sis peskiness is just gravy good times.
Hotel Fight Scene - Haywire (2011)
"You've been out of control since you arrived."
Espionage movies often have a scene where the steely spy takes a beautiful woman to bed. Steven Soderbergh's Haywire served up this sequence with a genderswap and a vicious twist. MMA fighter and actress Gina Carano stars as Mallory Kane, a black ops super soldier fighting for her life once she's double-crossed on a secret mission. In this scene, she faces off against a back-stabbing colleague out to assassinate her. Rather than exchanging kisses or heated sexual innuendoes, the two exchange punches and glass-breaking blows. Then they take things to the bedroom, where could-be sexual positions turn deadly.
Domino's Effect - Deadpool 2
"Lady Luck, take the wheel!"
How is luck a superpower? Deadpool 2 scene-stealer Domino (Zazie Beetz) showed us in this spectacular sequence, popping with car crashes, explosions, gunspray, and Cable carnage. But no matter how batsh*t things get, this smirking supe never lost her cool. And just like that, we fell hard for Domino.
Rose Saves Finn's Life and Soul - The Last Jedi (2017)
"That's how we're going to win…"
At the start of her Star Wars journey, Rose Tico is a FANGRRL in awe of the already legendary adventures of Finn and Rey. Soon enough, this moxie-fueled maintenance worker will find an adventure of her own. While Rose proves brave from the jump, her boldest move came when in Episode VIII when she prevented an incensed Finn from plunging into a suicide mission. Risking her own skin, she sideswipes Finn's ship to save him. Then she delivers a powerful message about Resistance, "That's how we're going to win, not fighting what we hate, saving what we love."
Moana Faces Down a Lava Monster - Moana (2016)
"You know who you are."
When her homeland is threatened by a ruthless curse, this Disney princess set off on a quest to rescue her people. Along the way, she faced wild pirates, a bling-loving behemoth, a cocky demi-god, and a ferocious fire monster. While bravery, resilience, and determination got her through most of her trials, this last one demands something more. It demands emotional intelligence. In this scene, Moana looks into the eyes of a "monster" and understands this wrathful creature is just misunderstood. It's not a fight that will save her tribe, it's understanding, affirmation, and a heartwarming song.
Black Widow Breaks A Chair - The Avengers (2012)
"Let me put you on hold."
Sharpshooter Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) has had plenty of awesome action sequences over the last decade in MCU offerings like Iron Man 2, Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Endgame. But our favorite of the bunch was when Black Widow gave us a mix of spycraft, sass, sex appeal, and chair-splintering hand-to-hand combat. In this scene, some Russian thugs think they have her right where they want her. But when the call from SHIELD comes, Black Widow leaps into action without missing a step or even mussing her little black dress.
Answering The Call - Ghostbusters (2016)
"You just got Holtzmanned, baby!"
They ain't scared of no ghosts, nor toxic bros. In this female-fronted reboot, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon team up to take down a power-hungry creep who has possessed the beefy body of their receptionist Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) and unleashed an army of spooky spirits. But these ghostbusters are ready. Together, they bring paranormal investigation, street smarts, and groundbreaking tech to Times Square in a finale that's full of color, fun, and ass-kicking. Bonus: McKinnon licking her blaster makes us swoon.
The Finale - Fast Color (2019)
One of the criminally underseen gems of the last decade, Fast Color offers an original superhero story about a woman on the run (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), her mother (Lorraine Toussaint), and her young daughter (Saniyya Sidney), all of whom possess an incredible power that is feared by an authority on the brink of environmental collapse. This unique origin story is not about a superhero discovering her power, but learning to embrace it. Because this one's lesser-known, I don't want to spoil the scene in question, especially since it's the film's finale. But I will say this, after facing her fears at home, this courageous mother sets out to save the world in a sequence that's outstandingly gorgeous and absolutely inspirational.
Brawl Gowns - Furious 7 (2015)
"Would you believe I knocked him out with my charm?"
The Fast and the Furious franchise brought some serious star power to this sequel when they cast MMA fighter Ronda Rousey for a fierce and fabulous fight scene. While the rest of Dom's crew is working to pull off their latest heist, his longtime partner-in-crime Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) must face off against an all-female security team led by a muscle-bound beauty, who is ready to rumble. Fight choreographer Jeff Imada worked with Rousey and Rodriguez to create a battle that'd work in their strengths and plenty of glamour. In short, these ladies know how to dress up and throw down.
Katniss Volunteers - The Hunger Games (2012)
"I volunteer as tribute."
Over the course of four Hunger Games films, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) had plenty of opportunities to prove herself a kickass heroine. Yet for all the awesome archery, political savvy, and dynamic defiance, the moment that hit us the hardest was when she stood up for her beloved little sister, Primrose. When the darling girl's name is pulled to compete in the annual kill-or-be-killed ceremony, Katniss can't bear to imagine her sister in such savage circumstances. So, she sacrifices herself, not only saving her sister but also sparking a revolution.
Furiosa Rescues Max - Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
With grease paint across her brow, pedal to the metal, and her hard stare locked on the horizon, Furiosa (Charlize Theron) races out the gate of this post-apocalyptic action epic a full-throttled badass. Her first heroic moment happens in the sly, as she helps a band of sex slaves escape the cruel clutches of the ghastly dictator Immortan Joe. So many kickass moments followed that it's hard to choose just one. But how about this bit, where Furiosa flees Joe's brutes, driving one-handed because her prosthetic limb is busy from preventing the titular protagonist from becoming roadkill. Then, she's stabbed in the side by a sneaky chrome-crony and still doesn’t let go or crash. This movie might be named for Max, but it belongs to Furiosa.
Elsa Builds Her Own Castle - Frozen (2013)
"Let it go!"
For years, Princess Elsa was taught to fear the powers of ice and snow she held within her hands. To the people of Arendelle, these abilities make her something to be feared. To her sister Anna, she's someone to be saved. But in this iconic musical number, Elsa becomes her own hero by letting go of the expectations and fears of others and embracing her truth and her powers. With the wave of her hands, she creates gorgeous swirls of snow, a plucky little playmate, and a shiny staircase that paves her way to a castle of elegant ice, gleaming and glorious. Then, for the icing on top, she gives herself a magical glow-up that left audiences awe-struck.
First-Person Slay Ride - The Villainess (2017)
Don't be fooled by the name. The ass-kicking assassin (Kim Ok-bin) at the center of this South Korean revenge-thriller is more an anti-heroine than a villainess. Critics across the world have raved about the eye-popping action sequences of Jung Byung-gil's The Villainess. With this outrageous opening, you can see why. The point-of-view shot mimics the perspective of first-person shooter video games, putting us into the place of the unseen killer cutting her way through an army of knife-swinging minions. It's not until she collides with a mirror that we'll see her full-bodied fighting. That's when things get really wild. And again, this is just the film's beginning.
Rey Defeats Kylo - The Force Awakens (2015)
"I could show you the ways of the Force!"
Do you remember the rush you experienced when Rey channeled the Force to snatch a lightsaber away from a raging Kylo Ren? This scrappy little nobody had been kicked to a waste station yet thrived, finding her strength amid misfits and rebels. Here, the world beneath her is literally crumbling as she's pursued by a towering, saber-swinging tyrant. Yet she doesn't back down. She doesn't choose the Dark Side. Rey chooses hope and so becomes our hero.
Laura Fights Back - Logan (2017)
In this sophisticated sequel to the X-Men movies, Wolverine is a hero past his prime. But he finds new purpose when he meets Laura (Dafne Keen), an extraordinary girl whose super powers are pretty familiar. In this scene, the lethal little mutant unleashes her claws on the Reavers who would abduct her for nefarious ends. She may be a kid, but Logan's R-rating means the movie didn't need to pull punches when it came to blood and righteous brutality. And Laura's happy to deliver plenty of both.
"Father Figure" Fight Sequence - Atomic Blonde (2017)
"If I knew he was going to call the police, I'd have worn a different outfit."
With Atomic Blonde, Charlize Theron teamed with John Wick producer David Leitch to give female audiences a power-fantasy thrill ride of their own, rich with sex appeal, great music, outstanding style, and jaw-dropping action. Here, the 42-year-old stunner stars as Lorraine Broughton, an MI6 agent chasing down a mole in Cold War-era Berlin. Theron threw herself full-bodied into the role, delivering dizzying fight sequences like this one, where the ambushed agent battles back with improvised weapons, cat-like reflexes, a killer fashion sense, and the music of George Michael.
No Man's Land Run - Wonder Woman (2017)
"This is No Man's Land, Diana. It means no man can cross it."
Somehow, while her peers Batman and Superman got a long list of movies, sequels, and reboots, it took 75 years for Wonder Woman to a film of her own. When this Amazon warrior princess (Gal Gadot) came to theaters, she gave women around the world a headstrong and big-hearted heroine to call their own. Maybe she won our hearts with her flirtations with Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), her appreciation of good ice cream or enthusiasm over a cute baby. But Wonder Woman won our devotion when she strode into a literal war zone to help the mothers and children starving on its battle lines. She was brave, beautiful, bullet-deflecting, and she took our breath away.