In celebration of Lara Croft returning to our screens today, we thought we would have a look at the origin of our much-loved Tomb Raider heroine, and a few other female action figures and their history.
Lara Croft, Tomb Raider
There is a buzz surrounding Croft’s return to the big screen today, which is not surprising since she is one of the most famous characters of modern cinema. The somewhat controversial character originated in 1996, as the star of a video game created by Core Design. Lara Croft, the archaeologist daughter of an aristocratic adventurer, is possibly the most recognised ‘star’ of any video game since their invention. The success of the game, and the popularity of Croft’s character led to a 2001 movie starring Angelina Jolie, who continued to play Lara Croft in both sequels. Oscar-winning actress Alicia Vikander stars as the latest Lara Croft, thus continuing the Tomb Raider legacy. No doubt it will be an enjoyable ride, and here’s a fun fact: The digital version of Lara Croft appeared on the cover of The Face, a British magazine, and is the only image to grace the cover that was not of a real-life celebrity.
Charlie’s Angels, McG’s 2000 blockbuster starring Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore saw huge success when it hit our cinema screens. A lot of the young viewers would be unaware that the creation of these three crime-fighting ladies dates back to the 1970s. Created by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts, Charlie’s Angels was a successful television series , focusing on 3 female private investigators employed by their boss (Charlie) to keep the criminals off the streets. The series was originally set to be called ‘The Alley Cats’, but Kate Jackson, one of the leading ladies, disapproved of this. Inspired by a picture of three angels that was hanging in producer Aaron Spellings office, she actually coined the collective term ‘Angels’ for the 3 girls. The characters were recent graduates of the police academy, but were stuck in mundane jobs. Unhappy with this, they found work at the Charles Townsend Agency as private investigators. The TV series was very successful at the time, and remained a top ten hit for the first two of three series. The two box office hits were thus created, and there is talk of another film currently in production, due for release in 2019.
Sarah Connor, The Terminator
Whilst working on a film in Rome, director James Cameron had a dream about a metallic murderous monster that inspired him to write a script for The Terminator. When it finally made it to the cinema, the film was a huge success. Cameron found other inspiration amongst earlier science fiction films, and his concept led to a 5-film-franchise. Sarah Connor in particular became a household name, and still to this day is one of the most recognisable female action heroes of all time. In 2008, American TV series ‘The Sarah Connor Chronicles’ was released, which followed the events of the first two Terminator films. After it’s second season, the show was discontinued, but Sarah Connor returned to our screens in 2003, 2009 and 2015. Linda Hamilton is supposed to be back as Connor in the new so-far untitled Terminator, also set to be released next year. 2019 looks like a big year for our action heroines.
The Bride, Kill Bill
Whilst on the set of Pulp Fiction, Tarantino’s 1994 masterpiece, he and Uma Thurman came up with the premise for Kill Bill. It wasn’t until almost a decade later that the first volume came into fruition. Clearly drawing influence from several martial arts movies, anime films and spaghetti westerns, Thurman’s Bride is a former assassin who was attacked at her wedding whilst pregnant and left for dead. The film, consisting of two volumes, portrays a murderous Thurman and her quest for revenge. We get an insight into The Bride (real name Beatrix Kiddo)’s past, her work at the right hand of Bill, and her relationship with him leading to her pregnancy. The Bride, clad in her incredibly cool yellow and black suit and kicking some serious enemy ass, has become one of the most recognisable characters in cinema, and in fact has been ranked 66th in Empire Magazine’s 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time. Go Uma!
Ellen Ripley, Alien
Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, the heroine of the Alien franchise, is considered one of the toughest female action characters in cinema history. Directed by Ridley Scott, the original 1976 sci-fi picture was a huge success. Three sequels followed, the second being Aliens (1986), which actually earned Weaver an Academy Award nomination for her performance as Ripley. Scott subsequently directed a prequel series, starting with Prometheus in 2012, and followed by Alien: Covenant in 2017. Several books, video games and comic books have been created using ‘Alien’s plot and centring on the character of Ripley, meaning that she has definitely earned a place in our cultural psyche, cementing her spot as one of the best action heroines of all time.
Tomb Raider is in UK and Irish Cinemas from today, 15th March 2018.