12 Memorable Leading Ladies of Fantasy Films4
By Steven Novak
12 Memorable Leading Ladies of Fantasy Films
The women of fantasy-in-film take many forms. You’ve got the tough as nails fighters, the motherly saviors, and even the doting princesses. As is the case in KoldCast TV’s fantasy series Spellfury, the best of them are the characters that aren’t quite so easily defined. Spellfury’s leading lady, the half-elf Druina, like the women listed below, bring a bit of everything to the table and handle their problems in a style and panache all her own. These are the most memorable female characters fantasy films have to offer.
1. Red Sonja – Red Sonja
As played by Brigitte Nielson in the 1985 film, Red Sonja is memorable mostly for being a badass. After the evil Queen Gedren slaughtered her family, and Sonja survived being violently raped by the troops, she was visited by a spirit that granted her the strength to seek revenge. Over the course of the film she stabbed a bunch of guys, dug out the eyes of a pond monster, and fought Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Prince Kalidor (not Conan the Barbarian) to a draw – all while barely dressed. Pretty impressive.
2. Veruca Salt– Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Without a doubt, Veruca Salt is the nastiest edition to our little list. Not nasty in a “gross” sort of way, but nasty in a “go sit in the corner you brat” sort of way. Though her father’s staff had been constantly searching for the golden ticket that would get her into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, their efforts had proven unsuccessful. What was Veruca’s response to their plight? “Make ‘em work nights!” Though she eventually got what she wanted, she also ended up tumbling into Wonka’s “bad egg” room after annoying the Oompa Loompa’s with a rather snotty solo performance. It’s just a shame the boilers weren’t on.
3. Dorothy Gale – The Wizard of Oz
As portrayed by Judy Garland in the 1939 adaptation of the book, Dorothy is arguably the most “damsel in distress” character to make the list. She still had to make the list though – she just had too – she’s Dorothy. After accidently dropping her house on a stripe-socked witch, she set forth on a journey down the yellow brick road in hopes of finding a wizard that could send her home. It’s here that she made pals with a Scarecrow, a Tin Man, and a Cowardly Lion, all while avoiding flying monkey’s, a green-skinned witch that really seemed to hate her guts, and occasionally breaking into a choreographed song and dance routine. That takes talent.
4. Miss Eglentine Price – Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a trippy piece of early seventies goodness, as is Miss Eglentine Price for that matter. Her story is so wonderfully bizarre. In 1940, while the “men were away at war,” Eglentine Price decided the best course of action was to take a witch craft correspondence course hoping she could somehow help the war effort. It makes perfect sense, right? Of course not. To her annoyance, the government forces her to temporarily look after three children and in no time at all the group was flying around on a bed, meeting up with talking fish in a “cartoon realm,” and battling with a regiment of Nazis. That’s right, I said Nazis. That wasn’t a typo.
5. Sarah Williams – Labyrinth
Annoyed with the antics of her baby brother Toby, Sarah (played by a teenage Jennifer Connelly) absent-mindedly wished that “goblins would come and take him away.” Well, in what is undoubtedly the oddest case of getting what you wished for in history – they did exactly that. The King of the Goblins however – played by a crotch-bulging David Bowie – offers her a chance to get Toby back. All she has to do is make it through his Labyrinth in a mere thirteen hours. In order to get her brother back, she had to solve a bunch of puzzles, make her way through something called the “bog of eternal stench,” navigate an M.C. Escher inspired castle, and do it all while listening to some truly nightmarish looking muppets sing songs with a rock star in freakishly revealing tights. That takes some courage.
6. Arwen Undomiel – The Lord of the Rings
In Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels, the half-elf, daughter of Elrond, Arwen, refused to leave Middle-Earth because of her love for Aragon. Not only that, but she also convinced him to reforge the sword of Narsil and toss it Aragon’s way so he could reclaim the throne of king. In the end, she opted to give up her elfin nature just to be with him, all while playing an integral part in the saving of Middle-Earth, and never having even a single hair look the slightest out of place in the process.
7. Mary Poppins – Marry Poppins
She taught us lessons, she danced with cartoons, she shoved spoonfuls of sugar down the gullets of children despite the objections of dentists everywhere, and she flew around town with the aid of a magic umbrella. And she did all while dressing to the nines and belting out more than a few memorable show tunes. For reuniting a group of kids with their frustrated father, making a chimney sweeper seem like the most interesting guy in town, and doing it with a style and panache all her own, Mary Poppins was an obvious addition to the list.
8. Princess Leia Organa – Star Wars
Make no mistake, Star Wars fits into the category of fantasy far better than it does science fiction – mostly because there isn’t really any “science” involved. Though she was adopted into royalty, Leia was actually the twin sister of Luke, and the daughter of Padme and the awkward “NOOOO” screaming Vader. Over the course of three films, she briefly made out with her own brother, then made out with Han Solo, and was tied to a slug gangster while wearing one of the most famous bikinis in the history of bikinis. She also shot more than a few dudes in the process, and drove a mean speeder – both of which are extremely cool – just not as cool as the bikini.
9. Charlotte The Spider – Charlotte’s Web the Animated Film
Everyone loves Charlotte. You have to love Charlotte. If you don’t love Charlotte, you either don’t have a heart, or you do have a heart and it’s just not working properly. I would suggest making a doctors appointment. In her attempt to keep a pig named Wilber from being killed, Charlotte opted to make him famous. She worked herself to the point of exhaustion weaving memorable words into her webs in hopes the local media and farmer Zuckerman might take notice and Wilbur wouldn’t end up as a strip of bacon on a breakfast table. Eventually, she works so hard and gives so much that she very literally dies. Not before saving Wilbur’s life and releasing a thousand children into the wind.
10. Princess Fiona – Shrek
Despite being a princess turned ogre in a series of animated films aimed mostly at kids, Princess Fiona is a remarkably complicated character. Cursed to spend her days as an auburn-haired princess during the day and a red-haired ogre with skin the color of pea soup at night, it took the love of another ogre to convince her that beauty was truly in the eye of the beholder. Over the course of three films, she’s defied her parents, got married, and became a mother – all while smacking around the baddies, keeping Shrek in check, and occasionally saving the day. You can’t box in the character of Fiona – mostly because she could smash the box to pieces if you tried.
11. Hermione Granger – Harry Potter
As the daughter of two dentists, the Muggle-born Gryffindor student Hermoine Granger is arguably the most fully realized character on the list. She went from the awkward, brainy tomboy to the slightly less awkward, equally brainy teen, to the mother of two, working hard to ensure the eradication of the oppressive pro-pureblood laws. Along the way she battled death-eaters, mastered time travel (even though she only used it handle her heavy class schedule), and joined Dumbledore’s Army in the Battle of Hogwarts. To put it plainly, the kid was really, really busy.
12. Ofelia/Princess Moanna – Pan’s Labyrinth
A great lover of books and fairy tales, Ofelia found her life uprooted when her pregnant mother moved them in with the exceedingly cruel Captain Vidal – a soldier rooting out Spanish Maquis guerrillas in the mountains. Over the course of the film, Ofelia would retrieve an ornate dagger from the incredibly freaky – not to mention child eating “pale man,” come face-to-face with a toad the size of a VW bug, and in the end sacrifice herself to prove she was in fact the long-lost Princess Moanna. For her willingness to pay the absolute highest of prices despite being just barely ten years old, she was an obvious addition to the list. In fact, she’s getting the top spot.
Spellfury – Episode 4
Steven Novak is a writer, illustrator, graphic designer and admitted lifelong nerd with an embarrassingly large DVD collection. He is currently working and living in the Southern California desert. His most recent fantasy/action adventure novel, “Forts: Fathers and Sons,” is available everywhere books are sold.