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16 Films With Heroic Female Characters to Watch With Kids

Girl-power picks for an inspirational family movie night

Angelica Lai

Published on: February 19, 2020

16 Films With Heroic Female Characters to Watch With Kids

“Little Women”

Movies for older elementary-age kids 

Movie: “Akeelah and the Bee” (2006), character: Akeelah

Rated PG, recommended for ages 8 and older

Akeelah, the 11-year-old champion speller from South Los Angeles, has a knack for words. She overcomes great obstacles — objections from her mother, mockery from her peers — to excel at the national spelling bee, uniting her community in the process. Thanks to Akeelah, not only do viewers learn that they can achieve anything they set their mind to, but they also see how doing the right thing can be more important than winning.

Movie: “Wadjda” (2012), character: Wadjda

Rated PG, recommended for ages 9 and older

Wadjda dreams of buying a green bicycle to race against a boy in her neighborhood. But beyond the bike’s price tag, the independent-minded 11-year-old girl in Saudi Arabia has a lot of cultural expectations she has to navigate to finally get the bike she wants. These include taboos over women and men mingling and girls riding bicycles. Her agency and drive to live life her way is an incredible statement for girls everywhere.

Movie: “Matilda” (1996), character: Matilda Wormwood

Rated PG, recommended for ages 9 and older

Matilda may have telekinesis, but her real power is in being well-read, kind and brave. The 6-year-old educates herself and stands up to her neglectful parents and awful school principal, learning to be independent and courageous from a young age.

Movie: “Little Women” (2019), characters: the March Sisters

Rated PG, recommended for ages 10 and older

The story of the four March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, has inspired readers for 150 years, way longer than there have been superhero movies. Now as a big-screen adaptation, the love story of the sisters and their mother reveals to a whole new generation that there’s power in supporting each other and in living life on one's own terms. Girls and women can write their stories, own their choices and go beyond the expectations and limits of society in ways that don’t require super speed or battle gear.

Movie: “Captain Marvel” (2019), character: Carol Danvers

Rated PG-13, recommended for ages 10 and older

Captain Marvel is the most powerful superhero in the Marvel cinematic universe. (Fun fact: This movie was Marvel’s first film starring a woman, first with a female director and first to feature a female composer.) It’s amazing to watch the strong and intelligent former Air Force pilot Carol Danvers become an incredibly mighty and level-headed superhero when the earth is caught in a galactic war between two alien races. No big deal. And the fact that Captain Marvel doesn’t have a love interest, but fights to protect her friendship with Maria Rambeau and her daughter, is a heartwarming testament to the power of sisterhood.

Movie: “Hidden Figures” (2016), characters: Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson

Rated PG, recommended for ages 10 and older

While many know the names of famous astronauts, rarely do we hear stories of the “human computers” who work behind the scenes at NASA. Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson are inspiring black women scientists, three unsung heroes in the ’50s and ’60s who were vital to the success of the U.S. space flight program—and they did so while fighting prejudice against African Americans and women in segregationist Virginia.

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