The Terminator (1984), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

While his comments about Wonder Woman might be rather misguided, Terminator director James Cameron is correct in his assertions that Sarah Connor was a smart, strong, complicated lead when few else were giving women lead roles in action movies at all. Linda Hamilton’s performance as John Connor’s mother sees her go from unwitting slasher victim to a badass woman who breaks herself out of a mental institution, kills a nigh-invulnerable liquid-metal android, and saves the world from Judgment Day. That is, until the next sequel rolls around.