For a long time Hollywood typically wrote action movies where the Male Protagonist was the Leader, Hero, etc and wrote the Female protagonists as a damsel in distress. Over the years Hollywood has been getting progressively better about the place and role of Female Protagonists in Action films. The progression reached a very strong turning point within 2015.
2015 became a year in Hollywood where many leading ladies in action films not only became really popular but also out shined some of their male counterparts in their respective movies. I would like to point out a few Female Leads that appeared this year that out shined their male counterparts.
Imperator Furiosa portrayed by Charlize Theron. Furiosa is a woman who has a tragic backstory within the world of Mad Max. She is kidnapped and taken away from her home and becomes a slave to Immortan Joe. She eventually is granted the role of Imperator and is allowed to command unit of her own and even drive The War Rig. She defies Immortan Joe's Orders and takes his wives before they become slaves. She eventually encounters Max Rockatansky and both of them along with the wives try to escape to the Green Place. Along the way they face Immortan Joe's War Boys. It is through these trials and tribulations that we learn about Furiosa and her past, but also how badass she is. In the film Furiosa speaks more than Max and has a far greater presence to the point where the movie becomes hers and not Max's. This movie is a shining example of how even ladies can become action stars and they can be just as cool as guys.
Rey portrayed by Daisy Ridley is one of the lead characters from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Her origins are shrouded a bit in mystery as we only that she was left on Jakku by someone, possibly her parents. There are many theories and speculation about her origins but that is for another time. As a scavenger Rey has learned to take care of herself. She knows how to fight, and to survive. She eventually encounters BB-8 and then Finn when they have to escape from the First Order. She and Finn man the Millennium Falcon and escape from the First Order TIE Fighters. At this points she proves that not only is she capable of surviving and fighting but she is also an excellent pilot and engineer. Later it is revealed (and this is spoilers whoever has seen star wars force awakens) is chosen to wield Anakin's/Luke's Light Saber and is able to defeat Kylo Ren. This movie showed us that once again we can have a big budget action movie like Star Wars but we can have a female lead instead of a male.
Jessica Jones portrayed by Krysten Ritter is Netflix MCU's latest member of The Defenders. Jones is a Private Investigator who has been gifted with super strength and has a drinking problem. Jessica Jones back story is that she was a normal teen until an accident where eventually she would be given the ability of super strength. Eventually into adulthood she would encounter a man who has the ability to control other peoples will. This man would make her do unspeakable acts. She eventually gains control from him and it is there where we meet her. She finds out that the man who controlled her is back and trying to get her attention. She along with her friends help she is able to take down this man. Jessica Jones is a prime example that you don't need to be a man to be a action hero, but that doesn't mean she doesn't appreciate her friends assistance.
Ilsa Faust portrayed by Rebecca Ferguson is the latest female member to join Ethan Hunt and his adventures in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. Similar to Paula Patton's Jane Carter from Ghost Protocol, Ilsa Faust kicks a lot of butt, but there are differences that make her superior to Jane Carter. For one Ilsa doesn't work for the IMF where as Jane did. Ilsa is also an undercover agent working for the British Government while worming her way into the main villain's organization, The Syndicate. She is eventually betrayed by her own government forced to work on her own and with the help of Ethan Hunt and his team. In the film Rebecca Ferguson does an outstanding job, outperforming Tom Cruise, in a movie that is usually considered his. She proved, at least to me, that she could that character and do her own solo film, not needing Tom Cruise or the rest of Mission Impossible crew.
There are more examples that prove 2015 was a good year for leading ladies as action stars. Emily Blunt in Sicario, Jessica Chastain in The Martian, Scarlett Johansson in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Elizabeth Olsen in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight, Jennifer Lawrence in Hunger Games Series.
I believe this is a good sign as Hollywood is showing that Women can be just as badass as men and can even outshine their male counterparts. I just wish the Academy would view the same thing as the rest of Hollywood.