This Friday, John Cena’s gonna be kickin’ ass, takin’ names, breakin’ necks and maybe cashin’ checks if 12 Rounds doesn’t gets squashed by the competish. Why is Mr. Cena so riled up? Well, in 12 Rounds, he’s gotta go all Wrestlemania twelve times over to get back his girlfriend, Molly Porter (Ashley Scott) from the clutches of vengeful douchebag Miles Jackson (Aidan Gillen). Ahhh, the old Damsel in Distress blunder. Don’t these bad guys ever learn? Nothing gets under a hero’s skin worse than his leading lady getting bogarted by some goon.
The persecuted maiden is as timeless as Rapunzel and as relatable as your best friend stealing away with your Junior year prom date and then making you return her cell phone the next morning after she left it in his bedroom, where she gave him a drunken BJ. God I’m such a pussy…
Anyway, we at Screen Junkies got to thinking, who are cinema’s sexiest Damsels in Distress?
And here’s what we came up with. All ten of ‘em. And if you’re reading this, Steve, every single one is too decent to make mouth babies with the likes of you, so don’t even try it!
#10 PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA (Stars Wars, Episodes IV-VI)
The twin sister of Luke Skywalker (sssssh!) and daughter of Anakin Skywalker, Leia (Carrie Fisher) went from conservative teen member of the Imperial Senate to a very mature commander with the Rebel Alliance. In a backward, ironic kinda way, she ended up having severe daddy issues. It was during her time with those hippie types that Darth "I’m Your Father" Vader captured her and accused her of being a Rebel spy (guilty). But Luke, Chewie and Han busted her out of jail. Then two movies later, she wound up sold into slavery to the lecherous Jabba the Hutt… and thanks to Jabba’s Huttese fashion sense, we got to see her immortalized on film in an iron-clad bikini. Then Luke and Lando saved her barely covered ass, and she put some clothes on. Nerfherders…
#9 RACHEL DAWES (The Dark Knight)
Can Bruce Wayne’s girl stand to be with a vigilante as bat-guano crazy as Gotham’s criminals, or will he have to hang up the cowl and cape to get in Rachel’s pants? Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) was fed up with her old lover’s antics and was set to marry White Knight D.A. Harvey Dent, but that didn’t keep her from getting thrown out of Wayne’s penthouse window by a rabid Joker. She survived that one, but tragically, Rachel’s on-again, off-again relationship with Batman never really got closure when the same villain used her as a pawn in his deadly game of mindf**k with the Caped Crusader. The result? One once-hot, now-exploded assistant D.A. and two pissed off boyfriends in Batman and Harvey Two-Face Dent.
#8 MARY JANE WATSON (The Spider-Man Movies)
Oh, Spider-Man. With great power comes great responsibility. It also comes with having to choose between saving your girlfriend, Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), or saving a trolley full of scared New Yorkers. The Green Goblin, Power Rangers villain-looking creep as he may be, was pretty darn clever when he sprang that trap over the Hudson. Of course, Spider-Man saved the day, and M.J. missed out on the very same fate that befell Gwen Stacy in the comic book. No, she went on to have a successful modeling career, but then got fired from a Broadway musical – her first crack at legitimate acting. If that wasn’t depressing enough, she got kidnapped by Venom at the end of the third flick. But then she was saved by… a pissed off boyfriend and an even more pissed off ex-boyfriend.
#7 CASSANDRA (Wayne’s World)
And her name was Cassandraaaaa… Oh, Tia Carrere. What a babe. What a robo babe. If she were a president she’s be Babe-raham Lincoln. And it all could have gone so goat-blowingly wrong had Wayne Campbell not been able to sweep the lead singer of Crucial Taunt off her feet and out of the clutches of the Benjamin, played with smarmy aplomb by the inimitable Rob Lowe. (If Benjamin were an ice cream flavor, he’d be Pralines n’ Dick.) Yes, Cassandra had excellent looks and the pipes that wailed – but it took an Oscar-worthy crying scene from Mike Myers (and a curious python) to get her to see through Benjamin and come back to Wayne – all in time for the legendary Scooby Doo ending to wrap things up so tidily. Zaaaaang!
#6 LOIS LANE (Superman Returns)
Buried alive in her car… kidnapped by General Zod… damsel and ace reporter Lois Lane has seen her fair share of distress – and has been rescued by Supes almost every time. But she never looked so good tied to the metaphorical railroad tracks as she did in Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns, when she was played by the angelic (and brunette) Kate Bosworth. In this film, Lois has bore Superman’s kid, name Jason, and the two are stranded on Lex Luthor’s pleasure cruise after she naturally followed the danger right to it. Thankfully, she has three very determined men in her life to help her out of the jam: son Jason, who has Daddy’s strength, crushes a henchman with a grand piano; husband Richard, crack pilot that he is, flies Jason and Lois away from Luthor’s emerging kryptonite island, and Superman, well he saves the rest of the world (after Lois saves him by yanking a kryptonite shard out of him).
#5 VICKY SLOAN (Kickboxer 4: The Aggressor)
In this, the fourth installment of the Kickboxer franchise, recurring hero David Sloan must fight for his super hot wife, Vicky (Deborah Mansy), who has been kidnapped and turned into a sex slave by the evil World Champ kickboxer, Tong Po (who only chooses super hot women to be his sex slaves, because he can). Framed for a crime he didn’t commit, Sloan agrees to lead the Feds into Tong Po’s fortress in Mexico, in return for his release from prison, and assumes a new identity so he can enter the villain’s martial arts tournament of champions. I once did this for my first girlfriend, only it was a greco roman wrestling tournament in high school and the whole sex slave thing was in my head. But I knew that I never would have been able to kill that kid I was pretending was Tung Po unless I thought that he was doing bad things to my girlfriend. And now he’s dead. And I have an all-district Missouri State High School Athletic Association medal.
#4 HELENA (Boxing Helena)
Sherilyn Fenn starred in this 1993
David Jennifer Lynch flick about beautiful Helena who gets walloped by a car, then kidnapped by an Atlanta surgeon and turned into his own sick experiment. The mad doctor "treats" her by amputating her appendages, but the whole time, Helena has the upper hand, even if she doesn’t have any actual hands: she repeatedly ridicules Dr. Love for all of his shortcomings. In the end, they kinda sorta fall in love. But it’s mostly that Helena can’t really go anywhere. Fun fact: the role of Helena almost went to Madonna, and then Kim Basinger, who sued the filmmakers and got $8 million in the settlement backed out of the role and had to pay $8 million to the filmmakers.* The film won a "Worst Director" Razzie for Lynch, and bombed at the box office. (*Thank you for the correction, Anonymous sarcastic poster.)
#3 ANN DARROW (King Kong)
‘Twas beauty that tamed the beast. At least, until reality smacked Kong in the face like a well-thrown clump of poop and he decided to go full-apeshit on New York City. It’s understandable, though. Darrow (Naomi Watts), a struggling actress doing cheap vaudeville acts to make ends meet, was quite the looker once she got glammed up. So it’s no wonder that once he thought his love was requited, the big, smitten ape felt like he could rip the jaws off a T-Rex, or toss around Model-T’s like they were Micro Machines. In the end, though, this Darrow turned out to be a fatal attraction for Kong, and he was mowed down most mercilessly by our armed forces. Darrow probably got over it as soon as she was offered a three-picture deal at Paramount.
#2 PRINCESS BUTTERCUP (The Princess Bride)
In the immortal words of a mustachioed Columbo, "Nothing gave Buttercup as much pleasure as ordering Westley around." Yes, pretty, pretty Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright Penn) and the stable boy’s relationship was one based on domination – gentle as it was. So it’s not a total surprise that when the evil Prince Humperdinck stole her away to be his bride, Westley returned in black leather and a mask (and as The Dread Pirate Roberts). "Hear this now, I will always come for you," said Westley. And he made good on his promising, coming for her again and again – and probably a lot more times after he rescued her. Nay, even Humperdinck’s pit of despair and its life-sucking powers couldn’t stop this drop-dead damsel from being rescued.
#1 THE McCLANE WOMEN (Die Hard, Live Free or Die Hard)
They say lightning can’t strike a man more than once. But if the Weather Channel covered John McClane, we’d see black clouds hovering above his head every damned day. And why is it that it’s always the beautiful women in his life that get caught up the mess? There was way back in ’88 when Hans Gruber and company decided to crash the Nakatomi corporation’s Xmas party, and Mrs. Holly McClane (or Gennero, depending upon who’s side your on), played by Bonnie Bedelia, became bait for the Die Hard cop. But a bunch of dead terrorists and one Yippee-kay-yay Motherf**ker later, he and Holly were reunited. Flash forward to 2007 and McClane’s all-grow’d-up daughter, Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), turns out to have her mother’s same beauty and proclivity to ge taken hostage – this time by cyber criminals. But, as was written by the film gods, a few dead terrorists and a Yippee-kay-yay catch phrase heinously censored by gunfire later, McClane saved another of his kin.
Editor’s Note: If you’re really miffed we didn’t include Jodie Foster as Iris in Taxi Driver, be prepared for a visit from Chris Hansen sooner than later.
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