What does a great female lead film need? I'm sure we all first think of Angelina Jolie. No offense towards her, I do love her, but there needs to be more than just one woman carrying this weight. One sad day, Angelina will be too old to play Lara Croft or Evelyn Salt. Hopefully, with the (slow) incline of female lead films lately, this will all be a thing of the past. While researching for this post, I realized there are some qualities female characters need in order to be absolutely spectacular characters.
1. Skill - I'm not talking about flirting or anything of that sort. Skills of the brain and body are what I'm thinking about. Can she outwit her opponent? Can she fight as hard, if not harder, than the opponent? Someone clever and collected in their personality and emotions. Not to say big girls don't cry, but I think that's what most female characters have been portrayed as. We need less mascara streaked faces, and more bruises from that kick she just gave you.
2. Motivation Beyond the 'Guy' - Tale as old as time, girl meets guy, girl chases guy. If we could move beyond this, it would be amazing! How about fighting for family (Hunger Games), friends, country, or even her own life? I'd like to see characters save the world because it's the right thing to do, not because of their boyfriend. There are an abundance of reasons to give her a purpose. Beyond the guy, she needs to have further purpose.
3. Equal Playing Field - As I said before, she needs to give a punch as well as take one. I'm not saying she has to be a killing machine, or a punching bag. However, there needs to be at least a semi-level playing field. If she's physically weaker, maybe she's mentally stronger, or vice versa.
4. Brains, Beauty, & Flaws - I hate to say it, but I don't think we'd all sit around watching an action flick like Lara Croft if Croft was an ugly duckling. Disagree with me all you like, it's my opinion. To go even further on this example, Croft is clever, though I think she could stand to be a little more book savvy (at least in the films). All great characters, men or women, have flaws. This is what makes them relate-able to us. If they didn't, it wouldn't be interesting to watch.
5. Accountability - Repercussions for actions are what makes a storyline interesting. If a character goes around murdering a bunch of people, there should be some effect. An effect on them, the people around them, or a social effect. If you've seen Jack Ryan, you probably remember that scene after he kills the guy in the bathroom. Ryan freaks out and nearly goes into a breakdown. I really loved this scene because it shows that a) Ryan isn't used to this b) that he understands what just happened.