With her trusty bow and arrow, reality-show sharpshooter Katniss Everdeen drives The Hunger Games with a fierce tomboy energy rarely seen on the big screen. The teen hunter can nail a squirrel or split an apple from 100 yards away and she’s quick to slam a guy against the wall when he announces his affections on national TV. But Katniss also comes to the gladiator bloodbath that is the Hunger Games fully loaded with compassion.
Powered by Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss portrayal, The Hunger Games is expected to generate Twilight-level box-office numbers — something that could bring a potential sea change in the way movie studios perceive the bankability of female action stars.
Dressed to kill, not to seduce, Katniss joins a long line of heroines who’ve made a mark in the guy-centric universe of action, sci-fi and horror. To celebrate these ass-kicking role models, past and present, Wired decided to revisit and update its brief history of the toughest women in movies, TV, comic books and video games.
Jennifer Lawrence became the obvious choice to play reluctant warrior Katniss Everdeen after picking up an Oscar nomination for Winter’s Bone. In that 2010 indie flick, she showed smarts and determination as a teenager who fights for the survival of her impoverished Ozark Mountain family. By channeling a more athletic brand of understated heroism into Hunger Games’ futuristic fantasy, Lawrence stays true to the literary source material. Katniss is not a people pleaser by nature. “I don’t know how to make people like me,” Katniss states early on in the film, which of course only makes her that much more likable. Her tough determination wins over couch potato nation with a combination of predatory cunning and righteous compassion, both on real-world theater screens and in her home country of Panem.