Lara Croft is the epitome of the female action hero. More than just a gender-swapped Indiana Jones, Lara has made a name for herself by uncovering ancient artifacts, exposing centuries old civilizations, and—of course—raiding the absolute shit out of tombs. Ms. Croft has had a tough time as of late, through her video game expeditions she has taken quite a physical beating, and in the real world Hollywood has been struggling to cast the British archaeologist. With Lara’s next film on the horizon, the folks developing the Tomb Raider movie—in lieu of Angelina Jolie’s bland and stereotypical performance—are searching for the next Croft to carry the proverbial and literal torch through the damp caves wherein she makes her archaeological—and sometimes supernatural—discoveries. Star Wars: The Force Awakens star Daisy Ridley’s name has been thrown around quite a bit recently with regards to Lara’s actress counterpart. For some this has stirred controversy, for others this has brought joy.
Let’s take a short look at Lara’s history. Lara is a video game character, which all but guarantees her film’s critical failure. Her notoriety stems from her affinity for dual-wielding firearms, her uncanny ability to navigate the most unfriendly topographical landscapes and sadly but most notably, her extremely exaggerated hour-glass physique. Lara’s sex appeal was probably her most identifiable characteristic, which to the average consumer marginalized her extensive historical and scientific knowledge, spelunking proficiency and ability to kick multiple nameless grunts’ asses. This was the standard for years and years, until game developer Crystal Dynamics decided to reboot the character to a contemporary look. Alas, Lara’s cup size dwindled, and her hips shrunk. By minimizing her bust, Crystal Dynamics won over a lot of people previously turned off by her embellished physique, breaking the tradition of adhering to decades of female body objectification. This is not to say that Lara isn’t still a sex symbol, but now she is also an empowered woman with a realistic look, who can outwit and outmaneuver every adversary who gets in her way. The actress who does the voice work and motion capture for Lara in the video games—Camilla Luddington—is an absolute dream and an objectively attractive woman, even though her clothes don’t struggle to contain her breasts and she can easily fit her bottom into her cargo pants. (Lara wears cargo pants right? I don’t know very much about clothing. Probably even less than I do about women.)
Ridley’s performance as Rey in the new Star Wars flick exhibited every characteristic of Ms. Croft and then some. Her independence, her crafty, tech-savvy behaviour, her agility and stealth, to name a few. In short, if you throw Rey onto the planet Earth, give her a degree in archaeology with a minor in butt-kicking and swap that lightsaber for a compound bow you’ll get a pretty mean, good-looking, intelligent Lara Croft. Not only does Daisy Ridley fit the bill for the aesthetic in keeping with the new games, but we as a society can start to eradicate the notion that women have to have large breasts and wide hips to be sexually attractive. For the vast majority of Lara’s career she has been limited to stereotypes. It’s time Hollywood recognized this outdated archetype and cast Ridley so she can deliver a performance in which she transcends the character, ultimately opening the floodgates for female action heroes everywhere. (I’m looking at you Samus Aran, Metroid would make for a visceral space-fantasy film if handled correctly.)
Daisy Ridley would make a gorgeous and strong Lara Croft, and I know I’m not the only one who thinks so. Sound off in the comments if you agree or disagree, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.