*This story contains NO plot spoilers for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight! Enjoy!*
Having strong female characters is very buzz-worthy these days. It makes sense: men and women are equals, so it stands to reason that well-written female characters should be just as popular as well-written male characters. Unfortunately, in the grand scheme of film history, they haven’t always gotten their day in court. That’s why it’s so great when filmmakers put out characters like Furiosa and Rey, showing that a woman can take center stage and hold a story without her gender even playing a role. Yes, 2015 has been a year to make Alison Bechdel proud.
But one filmmaker has been utilizing strong female characters for over two decades: Quentin Tarantino. Long ago, in the wild west that was 90’s film, Tarantino proved that women make for interesting, badass characters, sometimes even more so than their male counterparts. He has consistently written women that captivate viewers’ attention with much more than just their looks. He’s done it yet again with The Hateful Eight and Daisy Domergue. With that in mind, it seems like a great time to look back and remember the very best women of the Tarantino-verse:
Mallory Wilson Knox, Natural Born Killers, Alabama Whitman, True Romance, & Kate Fuller, From Dusk till Dawn
These three were ultimately passed on to other directors who brought them to life. But Tarantino created them with his writing, so they get honorable mention, at the very least!
All of these women can be defined in two words: Bad. Ass. They’re survivors, and they do/kill whoever they need to ensure the continuance of their story. Their intentions may not always be pure (looking at you, Mallory), but their will is strong and their drive is endless. Most importantly: they’re interesting and fun to watch. If these names/films don’t sound familiar (shame on you), head to your local Blockbuster today (or Netflix/Amazon)!
6. Mia Wallace, Pulp Fiction
Mia Wallace is the reason this list went from a Top 5 to a Top 6. Honestly, she doesn’t do much, other than dance, accidentally snort heroine, and almost get John Travolta killed by Ving Rhames. But she has some of the best dialogue of the characters on this list, and “Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace’s Wife” is one of the most re-watchable sequences Tarantino has ever done. Her character comes down to one word: mesmerizing. She may not play as large of a role in the grand story as Marsellus or Butch, but she just may be the most memorable character in the film, earning her place on this list.
5. Abernathy Ross, Kim Mathis, & Zoë Bell, Death Proof
Death Proof is easily Tarantino’s weakest film (it’s still awesome though; how many filmmakers would make a purposefully bad movie this beautifully?). However, that doesn’t negate the strength and bravery of these three. They do insanely awesome stunts even before their showdown with Stuntman Mike, like riding on the hood of a 1970 Dodge Challenger going at top speed. That move alone should get Zoë consideration on this list. Then they throw the cherry on top by being the three who finally put an end to Mike’s homicidal run. Doubt their ferocity? Just watch the flick’s NSFW, spoiler-filled ending.
4. Jackie Brown, Jackie Brown
“Aw, the milk went bad while I was in jail.” How could we have a “Women of the Tarantino-verse” list and not include the filmmaker’s first solo female lead? Jackie Brown may not be Tarantino’s biggest film, but it is a fascinating character study of what a person will do to get across 110th Street. Jackie is at rock bottom when the movie starts. Tired of being kept there by people and circumstance, she decides to seize an opportunity that falls in her lap, and pulls some pretty bold moves to make off with half a million dollars in cash. Brown may be Tarantino’s first strong, independent female character, who doesn’t even acknowledge the story’s romantic element until the final minutes.
3. Daisy Domergue, The Hateful Eight
Keeping it spoiler-free. The Hateful Eight has only been in theaters a short time, but Daisy Domergue has already established herself as one of Quentin’s more fun female characters. Her name alone is fun to say. Rumor is that Jennifer Lawrence was the director’s first choice for the role, but now it’s hard to imagine anyone but Jennifer Jason Leigh as The Prisoner (especially in light of her Oscar nomination). Daisy is dark yet hysterical, twisted yet lovable, and she steals whatever scene she’s in (which is most of them). She is the glue that holds the story together, and, out of the eight hateful performances, hers has the most staying power.
2. Shosanna Dreyfus, Inglourious Basterds
This woman played a role in killing Hitler! Shosanna, like many women on this list, just lives her day-to-day life the best she can. She bides her time, and when opportunity comes knocking, she spares no expense to get revenge on the Nazis who killed her family. Jews who survived the Holocaust are strong to begin with, but the patience and perseverance that Shosanna showed is jaw-dropping. She had some (unneeded) help from Aldo Raine’s Basterds, but there’s no doubt that Shosanna was the film’s real hero.
Plus, the final message that she splices into the film reel is chilling. Burn it down? Oui, Shosanna.
1. The Bride, Kill Bill
Any of the female characters from the Kill Bill duology could have made this list. Unfortunately, all but one of them were killed; the women on this list are survivors (mostly). The one who eliminated them stands supreme at #1: Beatrix Kiddo, Black Mamba, The Bride.
An essay could be written on why The Bride is not only Tarantino’s top female character, but one of the greatest female characters of all time. She’s strong; she’s lethal; she’s loving. She’s damn complex, is what she is. Her dichotomy is perfectly expressed between the two films, and yet she leaves fans wanting more. She’s sympathetic enough to justify the bloodshed, and scary enough to make men act extra nice to their girlfriends. A simple blurb can’t do her character justice, and that complexity is what makes her the best.
Do you agree with this list? Who do you think is missing? Who would you rank differently? Sound off in the comments!