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Lucy Beats Her Male Counterpart at the Box Office

Lucy came out on top at the box office this weekend, making $44 million in North American theatres. The action thriller, starring a drug-enhanced, superhuman Scarlett Johansson, made 10 million more than the number two movie, Hercules (starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). The Hollywood Reporter called it “an impressive start for an action film featuring a female heroine.” Maybe it’s a sign that times are changing.

Johansson plays a woman who is kidnapped and turned into a drug mule for a new synthetic drug. When the bag of drugs inside her leaks, the substance gives her complete access to her brain’s abilities. She becomes mentally superhuman, and seeks vengeance against her captors.

Lucy’s director Luc Besson has a history of films featuring female action heroes. He directed La Femme Nikita, in which the protagonist is trained as an assassin. The Fifth Element set Bruce Willis and Mila Jovovich on equal footing, while Bandidas (written by Besson) starred Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek as bank-robbing, town-defending outlaws. Granted, Besson has also directed mainstream men-centric hits like the Taken and Transporter franchises. He doesn’t identify as any kind of female character-specialist.  “I was maybe not very happy in the ’80s and ’90s, when all the big parts were big guys with muscles and simple minds. And the girl was always in the back, crying, waiting for the hero to return. That’s not the energy I have from women. I always try to write the best I can for women, and the best I can for men,” he told Vulture.

It’s clear he managed to convey complexity with Lucy, but that doesn’t always translate to box office success. "It's a great result in every depressed marketplace," Universal distribution chief Nikki Rocco told The Hollywood Reporter. "And I think it says that more female action stars are called for."

We, predictably, agree. Click through the gallery to meet more other-worldly women warriors you should watch (or rewatch).

Tags: Movies, Actress