International Women’s Day 2020: Celebrating Disney’s badass females

Given that we here at Cape & Castle are an all-woman staff, it seems prudent that we celebrate International Women’s Day by recognizing the inspiring, empowering, badass women of Disney, Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars.

As an impressionable girl of the 1990s, I grew up with the films that featured three-fourths of Disney’s Princess Line. There was a solid one and one-half year stretch of my toddlerhood in which I had watched The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin, in that order, once per day. By putting 365 hours into idolizing — nay, worshiping — an Arabian princess who believed that she wasn’t a prize to be won, I soaked up a myriad of lessons about what it means to be a woman.

In the current day, Walt Disney Studios strives to imbibe a progressive culture where their portrayals of women are valued, understood and encouraged to undertake equal responsibilities as their male counterparts, where their achievements are appreciated and their perspectives respected and implemented.

Long gone are the Auroras and the Cinderellas, who have infantile mindsets, are devoid of agency, and depend on men for just about everything. Instead, we have the Tianas and the Elsas who fight their own battles and create their own happy endings without the help of a man.

Furthermore, with the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel Studios, and Lucasfilm, Disney’s roster of badass babes keeps getting longer (Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova most recently joins the already hefty list of kick-ass women in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a la Black Widow) — and we’re proud of it.

While there are too many to mention all of them here, we must give an account of the more notable examples of fearless, female dreamers who have made history and magic for themselves. Here’s a minuscule roundup of some of the women whom I (personally) consider to be badass, superpowers or none (as aforementioned, there’s too many to mention, but these eight stick out):


Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

A self-proclaimed feminist, Emma Watson made it her mission to make Belle as feminist as possible. In the animated film, Belle is an assistant to her inventor father, but in the live action remake, she’s a creator in her own right, developing a “modern washing machine that allows her to sit and read.” Also, 2017 Belle dons bloomers and riding boots  — and pockets, as a sort of tool belt!


Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

While the animated Jasmine was already strong and independent to begin with, Naomi Scott’s portrayal in the 2019 live action was a step further forward in the character’s feminist armor. See:

Natasha Romanoff

Photo: Marvel Studios

So long as you choose to ignore the canonical scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron where Natasha is used to service the storyline of a male hero (Bruce Banner), then you’re looking at the Avengers’ resident female who can definitely hang with the boys.

Wanda Maximoff

Photo: Marvel Studios

Kevin Feige himself once confirmed that Wanda Maximoff is the MCU’s most powerful character, ranking Scarlet Witch’s abilities above her fellow Avengers, including the Hulk and Thor.

Jane Foster / Padmé Amidala

Photo: Marvel Studios

Photo: Lucasfilm

As Natalie Portman portrays both characters, it’s only fair that they share in the credit. While Jane Foster is yet to portray The Mighty (female) Thor (who is badass in her own right), being an astrophysicist in the meantime is just as renowned and, in ways, even more revered. Padmé, on the other hand, is elected as Monarch of Naboo, on top of founding the First Rebellion. If that’s not badass …


Photo: Lucasfilm

No distressing damsel, Rey’s instead a fighter and a survivor, and a fully realized character — Rey is a girl who refuses to be defined. What’s more inspiring than that? Not to mention, she’s a badass Jedi with a yellow-bladed lightsaber that activates with a cool, rotating ring mechanism … thingy … that she built herself!


Photo: Lucasfilm

Whether Qi’ra’s a Jedi or a Sith, isn’t the point — the point is that she is a galactic femme fatale, and she’s sexy AF. Emilia Clarke noted that her Solo character “is different from [Daenerys], but the similarity is her strength, and her survival instincts.” Clarke further weighed in: “We’re going to hit you with a character that could very easily well be a dude, because you question her motives. That’s really … exciting in the Star Wars universe, because that has never happened.” Indeed. Disney+ series, anyone?

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