At Austin's SXSW Female Heroines Kick Ass Back: Anne Hathaway, Brie Larson, Charlize Theron

As Austin's SXSW festival comes to a close, a new kind of hero took center stage, writes Joanna Robinson for Vanity Fair. "the battle-tested and badly bruised action heroine."

In a year when throngs of women are still reeling from Clinton's presidential election loss and the ascendancy of a narcissistic, Twitter-crazy megalomaniac to the White House, our commitment to resistance is bolstered by kickass heroines who get knocked down and rise up again. They include Anne Hathaway in 'Colossal'; Brie Larson in 'Free Fire'; Charlize Theron in 'Atomic Blonde'. 

There’s been a resistance growing—even among those who clamor for more female-fronted stories in film and television—against the catch-all phrase “strong female character.” Those three little words are often thrown up in defense of characters who are two-dimensional at best. If she can punch like the guys (or, as is often the case, better than the guys), then she must be strong, right? But actual progress is not about women being superior to their male counterparts; it’s about them being treated equally. And when most action films starring women are precious about their leading ladies, seeing the real consequence of violence on a female body is both shocking and refreshing. The heroines of SXSW offerings Free Fire, Atomic Blonde, and Colossal, just like generations of male heroes before them, grit their teeth through swollen faces, split lips, and bullet wounds to keep fighting their way out.

Read on: 'The Women of SXSW Take a Licking and Keep on Kicking Vanity Fair