Actress and funny lady Tina Fey portrays a woman who’s just been jilted by her deadbeat boyfriend in the new film Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, premiering today (March 4). And what does one do in a situation like that? She impulsively uproots her life and moves to a war zone in Kabul, Afghanistan to accept an on-air reporter position. Fey isn’t alone in the Middle East: She befriends Anglo fan favorite Martin Freeman, who portrays a war photographer.
With the military being made up of mostly men, it’s difficult to find female characters in action. But, even so, we were able to pull a strong list of 10 films featuring women soldiers:
1. Courage Under Fire
In 1996’s Courage Under Fire Meg Ryan portrays Captain Karen Emma Walden. She’s a helicopter pilot under consideration for a Medal of Honor based on her service. Ryan stars opposite Denzel Washington, who takes on the role of Lieutenant Colonel Nathan Serling.
2. G.I. Jane
The 1997 film G.I. Jane is probably the first film to come to mind when thinking about women in the military. (And maybe Private Benjamin.) Demi Moore shaved her head and reported to boot camp in Ridley Scott‘s fish-out-of-water story. Moore’s character Lieutenant Jordan O’Neill was hand-picked by female Senator Lillian DeHaven (Anne Bancroft) to train for a spot in the U.S. Navy Combined Reconnaissance Team. Her peers and the senior officers expect her to fail.
3. Starship Troopers
The 1997 film Starship Troopers takes place in the 23rd century. This time around, it’s not a fight between men. The people of earth are now traveling through space and colonizing other planets. The fight is between human and … “bug.” A group of new recruits, straight out of high school, are on deck to fight the alien insectoid species. Denise Richards takes on the role of Lieutenant Carmen Ibanez. The cast is rounded out with Casper Van Dien, Neil Patrick Harris, and Jake Busey.
4. The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc
Milla Jovovich took on the title role in the 1999 retelling of the French saint’s saga. Teenage Jeanne d’Arc claimed to have visions telling her to fight for Charles VII in the Hundred Years War against England. Dressed in men’s clothes, she accompanied the French army into battle.
2003’s Underworld revolves around a war between vampires and werewolves. Kate Beckinsale takes on the role of Selene, a vampire warrior. To make things even more complicated, she’s fallen in love with a human.
6. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
In 2004’s Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, NYC is being attacked by flying robots that have come out of nowhere. Reporter Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) works with Sky Captain (Jude Law) to figure out their origin and hopefully how to defeat them. Angelina Jolie takes on the role of air pilot Commander Franky Cook.
7. Battle Los Angeles
Michelle Rodriguez stars as Technical Sergeant Elena Santos in the 2011 film Battle Los Angeles. Earth is under attack, with aliens wiping out city after city. Los Angeles is one of the last cities standing. In the sci-fi film Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) leads a search and rescue mission, with only three hours to complete the recovery.
Singer Rihanna made her film debut in 2012’s Battleship as Petty Officer Cora Raikes. The story revolves around a fleet of ships fighting off an unknown force. Rihanna teamed up with actors Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson and Alexander Skarsgård.
9. Zero Dark Thirty
2011’s Zero Dark Thirty is a retelling of the hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden following the September 11 attacks in 2001. Jessica Chastain portrays CIA Agent Maya, who is based on a real-life operative. Maya is ultimately the one to reveal bin Laden’s location.
10. Edge of Tomorrow
Emily Blunt stars opposite Tom Cruise in 2014’s futuristic Edge of Tomorrow. Major William Cage (Cruise) is sent into battle against his better judgment. He’s killed within minutes, but covered in alien blood, only to wake up as if it has never happened, reliving the same day over and over. Blunt’s character is an expert in Special Forces. She teaches Cage how to handle this newfound ability and trains him in combat.
Do you want to see more women in combat roles in films?