Female Action Heroes

A Guide to Women in Comics, Video Games, Film, and Television

by Gladys L. Knight


Catherine Gale, famously portrayed by Honor Blackman, was the first to wear a leather bodysuit on television. Foxy Brown is considered film's first black female action hero, and Chun Li in Street Fighter II the first female protagonist in a fighting video game. What do these figures have in common and what messages do they send?

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Cover image for Female Action Heroes

June 2010


Pages 341
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Popular Culture/General

This book offers 25 profiles of some of the most popular female action heroes throughout the history of film, television, comic books, and video games.

Female action heroes, like other fictional characters, not only reveal a lot about society, but greatly influence individuals in society. It is no surprise that the gradual development and increase in the number of female action heroes coincides with societal changes and social movements, such as feminism. Nor is it a surprise that characteristics of female action heroes echo the progressive toughening of women and young girls in the media.

Female Action Heroes: A Guide to Women in Comics, Video Games, Film, and Television brings to the forefront the historical representation of women and girls in film, television, comic books, and video games. The book includes profiles of 25 of the most popular female action heroes, arranged in alphabetical order for easy reference. Each chapter includes sections on the hero's origins, her power suit, weapons, abilities, and the villains with whom she grapples. Most significantly, each profile offers an analysis of the hero's story—and her impact on popular culture.


  • Comprises 25 profiles, arranged alphabetically
  • 70 sidebars provide additional information on pertinent topics, individuals, and symbols
  • Includes a chronology of major appearances of the 25 female action heroes in film, television, comic books, and video games, as well as women's fashion trends and major events in women's history
  • Offers a photograph of each featured, female action hero
  • Presents a glossary of 39 terms, including female archetypes like "femme fatale" and social movements like "third-wave feminism"
  • Provides a selected bibliography of books and Internet sites related to the topics of female action heroes, women's history, and media studies


  • Looks at female action heroes who have had the most impact on popular culture
  • Covers the development and growing popularity of female action heroes in America's most influential media forms
  • Examines changing trends and perceptions of gender roles in history and the media, offering a comprehensive look at the creators and the social forces that influenced female action heroes
  • Provides information on historic female action heroes and on important issues and figures in women's history
Author Info

Gladys L. Knight is a freelance writer. She is the author of Greenwood's Icons of African American Protest: Trailblazing Activists of the Civil Rights Movement.



"This is the first work to cover strong women characters in media since Action Chicks: New Images of Tough Women in Popular Culture (Palgrave Macmillian, 2004). Its broad appeal makes it a good fit for public, school, and academic libraries and for anyone interested in gender roles and the historical time line of female toughness."Library Journal

"The writing is engaging; the content is accurate and makes good reading. A fun addition to reference collections from high school and up."Booklist

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