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20+ Films With Heroic Female Characters to Watch With Kids

Girl-power picks for an inspirational family movie night

Angelica Lai

Published on: March 20, 2023

20+ Films With Heroic Female Characters to Watch With Kids

“Moana” (2016)

Movies for younger kids

Movie: “My Neighbor Totoro” (1988), characters: Satsuki and Mei 

Rated G, recommended for ages 5 and older

When two sisters move to a new home in the country, they quickly encounter a variety of sprites and spirits. But are they afraid? Never! With their new friend Totoro, the sisters have incredible adventures, brought to life by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, one of Japan's greatest animation directors.  

Movie: “Mulan” (1998), character: Mulan

Rated G, recommended for ages 5 and older

Mulan is a go-getting underdog and an all-around awesome human. She defies systems to save her father and protect China, successfully doing so with her wit, all while challenging gender norms and sporting a rocking bun.

Movie: “Kiki’s Delivery Service” (1989), character: Kiki

Rated G, recommended for ages 5 and older

Decades later, the whimsical 13-year-old witch Kiki still resonates with the young people of today. Her journey teaches us that it’s not always easy to find our place in the world and express ourselves, but there’s value in sisterhood, in allowing yourself to fail and in believing in your inner hero.

Movie: “Inside Out” (2015), character: Riley

Rated PG, recommended for ages 6 and older

While there’s no clear villain in the film, Riley’s story shows us that accepting our feelings takes a whole lot of bravery. When her family moves to San Francisco, the 11-year-old hockey-loving kid feels the full pressure of being the “happy little girl” in front of everyone and tries to keep her emotion Joy at the helm. Alongside Riley, we discover that it’s okay not to be happy all of the time and that there’s real value in experiencing all of the big feelings that make us human. Sometimes the most heroic journeys are the internal ones.

Movie: “Moana” (2016), character: Moana

Rated PG, recommended for ages 6 and older

It’s hard not to watch Moana’s journey of self-discovery and empowerment and not get teary-eyed. The Polynesian island chief’s daughter is an inspirational female lead character who takes destiny into her own hands to save her people, learns to navigate her way across the ocean and somehow gets a shape-shifting demigod to be her sidekick. If that’s not superheroic, we don’t know what is.

Movie: “Encanto” (2021), character: Mirabel

Rated G, recommended for ages 5 and older

Mirabel Madrigal is the only member of the family who doesn't have magical powers. Despite not having any magic, she is a positive force and uses her intuition and heart to protect her family and her town.

Movie: Harry Potter movies (2001–2011), character: Hermione Granger

Rated PG, recommended for ages 7 and older

Let’s be real, Harry and Ron wouldn't last a day without Hermione. Thanks to her intelligence, bravery and compassion, she solves mysteries that confound much older wizards and witches, and she is instrumental in defeating Voldemort. And despite being mocked for her muggle blood, she continually stands up for herself, never letting the bullies win.

Up next: Movies for older elementary-age kids

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