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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

“Little Women”

Movies for older elementary-age kids 

Movie: “Turning Red” (2022), character: Mei 

Rated PG, recommended for ages 10 and older

Mei is a typical 13-year-old trying to navigate the pressures of middle school and family life. She does have one unique challenge — when she becomes too emotional, she turns into a giant red panda. This unique coming-of-age story tackles friendship, crushes and family.   

Movie: “A Wrinkle in Time” (2018), character: Meg

Rated PG, recommended for ages 10 and older

Meg and her brother travel through the universe to rescue their father from a great evil. Based on the young adult science fantasy novel by Madeleine L'Engle, this movie is filled with magical creatures and mind-bending adventures across time and space. This movie has many strong female characters, including Mrs. Which, played by the one-and-only Oprah!

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

Rated PG, recommended for ages 8 and older

Akeelah, an 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 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. The 2019 big-screen adaptation shares the love story of the sisters and their mother with a whole new generation, showing 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 superspeed 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, its first with a female director and its 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 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 worked behind the scenes at NASA. Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson are inspiring black women scientists, three unsung heroes of the 1950s and 1960s who were vital to the success of the U.S. space flight program. On top of their achievements, they did it all while fighting prejudice against African Americans and women in segregationist Virginia.

Up next: Movies for older tweens and teens

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