Heroism is now taking a new form as heroines start fighting side by side with—or even replacing—men in the quest to save the world. Let's face it: true damsels in distress are a dying breed; modern movies and books see women stepping up to save themselves and save the day from the evils they encounter on the battlefield or in their daily lives. As iconic models of the new generation, heroines provide inspiration that not even an exceptional superpower can equal, proving that when one is equipped with bravery and genuine passion, nothing too hard to handle can get in the way.

Here are 20 movie women who have swashbuckled, butt-kicked, or simply strong-armed their way into our memories and shown us that you don't have to be buff to be tough and that "sexy" is about style, strength, and confidence. One and all, they've a history of bringing men to their knees. Who are your favorites?

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