If you from time to time check out our Twitter account, you may have noticed the #EveryJurassicMovieNeeds hashtag. Marking our attempt to carefully dissect the Jurassic movie formula, we dig like Alan Grant for elements that all four movies have in common, pitting them against each other for the fun of it. Our first thesis? “#EveryJurassicMovieNeeds a strong female lead who is the best in her field.”
It turns out that Laura Dern’s Ellie Sattler (Jurassic Park) is head and shoulders above Julianne Moore’s Sarah Harding (The Lost World) and Bryce Dallas-Howard's Claire Dearing (Jurassic World), with no love at all for Téa Leoni’s Amanda Kirby (Jurassic Park III).
A closer look at our leading ladies
There is nog getting around Ellie Sattler when it comes to Jurassic Park. Besides being a badass paleobotanist, she’s also one of the more physically capable characters of that first cast and she sure isn’t taking any sexist conceptions - not from Hammond, not from anyone. Sattler volunteers for rescuing the survivors at the Tyrannosaurs Paddock and for getting the park’s power systems back online, steering her narrative away from any low-key romantic involvement going on between her and Alan Grant.
Then there’s Sarah Harding. Ever the curious scientist, she on her own spends several days on Isla Sorna before Hammond’s expedition (and her love interest Ian Malcolm) show up. Not at all a damsel in distress, Harding more than stands her ground in the all-men’s ensemble, and her suspenseful cliffhanger scene is one of the more memorable ones from the franchise. She did, however, carry around a jacket covered in baby T-Rex blood, leading the baby’s angry parents straight to the camp.
Jurassic Park III. The unloved stepchild. From the talking Velociraptor to the almost complete lack of buildup and the utter lack of vision from director Joe Johnston, JP3 had its fair share of flaws. Amanda Kirby, however, trumps them all. Existing only to scream, bicker and run away, she contributes nothing at all to the comically hollow storyline. The screechy, over-the-top Amanda brings the movie to a screeching halt every time she’s on screen.
A lot has been said and written about Claire Dearing. A career-oriented and ambitious woman, she’s under constant scrutiny from other characters, who dig at her feminity or her disinterest in having children of her own. Even though Claire is just as capable as her male counterparts and coworkers, and in actuality a lot more professoinal and foresighful, she catches a lot of flak for wearing those ridiculous shoes. While constantly having to prove herself in a man’s world, Claire with no second guessing puts her own life on the line to protect her nephews and destroy the Indominus Rex.
What do the fans think?
When asked for their opinion on the matter, Jurassic Park fans overwhelmingly picked ‘original dino lady’ Ellie Sattler as their favorite female lead, specifically citing her intelligence, bravery and badassery.
After Ellie it was a two-woman race between Sarah Harding and Claire Dearing. Some fans particularly enjoyed Sarah’s adventurous nature and strong spirit, while others very much liked Claire’s stereotype-defying act and character arc. Let’s peg them at 2a. and 2b. for good measure :-)
Judging by the votes (0) and comments (‘I wish the Spino had killed her’), Amanda Kirby doesn’t even belong on a list with Ellie, Sarah and Claire. Amanda was by a large margin the flattest character and her dumb antics didn’t win her any points.
Ellie all the way
So there you have it. When it comes to female leads, Laura Dern’s Ellie Sattler is head and shoulders above the competition, with Julianne Moore’s Sarah Harding and Bryce Dallas-Howard’s Claire Dearing neck-at-neck for second place. Téa Leoni’s Amanda Kirby gets no love, not unlike the instalment she was in.