I haven’t done one of these influences essays in a while, but yesterday was the anniversary of turning in the final proofed draft of No More Heroes, so my space opera trilogy is on my mind.
My introduction to Lara Croft: Tomb Raider came from the Angelina Jolie movies in 2001 and 2003. No defense of the movies, which weren’t good when they came out and haven’t gotten any better, but it was the first time I’d seen a female American action hero. The movie was all about Lara, not about her son and a terminator fending off the future, not about having to fight off aliens to protect a surrogate daughter. Lara charged into danger with guns in both hands, saving the world.
And there was this:
My affection for the character comes from the way Jolie played her. Despite her money and expensive toys, Lara is a street fighter. She fights with elbows and knees and uses whatever comes to hand as a weapon. She stalks into the auction house in a black leather jacket and dark black shades, all hips and high-heeled swagger. She’s a dead shot with a throwing knife. She’s not a good fighter “for a girl.” She holds her own.
The movie came out early in Jolie’s career, after Cyborg 2 and Hackers (of which I will have more to say later — her performance inspired Lorelei in our succubus novels), but before Salt and Wanted and Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Lara Croft was amazing because she was the start of something. Jolie did her own stunts, so what the character does is possible in the real world. She looked strong and lithe and confident, but she still got sweaty and bloody, winded and wounded and worn out. Lara wasn’t a costumed superhero. She was almost like a regular person.
Raena Zacari’s character in The Dangerous Type was inspired by Lara’s pleasure in action. When Thallian’s henchmen attack Raena and her friends in the souk on Kai, Raena laughs through the whole attack. She has been waiting for a test to come along and she’s drinking all the enjoyment from it she can.
You can see what I mean on Amazon.
My other Raena’s Foremothers essays so far are: