Here's a fun game! Try to imagine Angelina Jolie in the "Sex and the City" movie. You know, hanging with Carrie and the girls. Shoe shopping, giggling, brunching. Kind of makes your head hurt, doesn't it?

Now picture her playing Tony Stark's dutiful assistant (played by Gwenyth Paltrow) in "Iron Man." Or Bruce Banner's long-suffering love interest in "The Incredible Hulk." Not much easier, right?

I don't know if you are aware of this fact but Jolie is in a category all her own - and she's nobody's best girlfriend. Just in the nick of time, this real-life superhero is here to rescue us from a summer movie season monopolized by testosterone and handbags. In Timur Bekmambetov's Matrixy thriller "Wanted," out this Friday, Jolie is in top form: lean, scowling, firing big guns at bad guys - and not exactly taking it easy on the good guy, either. After watching the film's sneak peek, you get the feeling that Jolie intimidated every male actor around her, and she probably did.

So why isn't she getting more lead action roles?

Sharing the spotlight has, so far, been the price Jolie's had to pay for building up her credibility as a viable action-movie player. With the notable exception of 2001's "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" and its sequel, every thriller in which Jolie's appeared - her top-grosser "Mr. And Mrs. Smith," as well as "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow," "Taking Lives," "The Bone Collector," "Gone in Sixty Seconds" - has seen her taking a back seat to, or at least co-starring with, a male heavy hitter.

Is it that directors think she can't hold her own in a lead role? Because let us be, well, far from the first to argue that yes, she can. She's one of the most famous faces in the world. She regularly tops drooling men's-magazine lists of sexiest celebs alive. Last month, a poll of bikers rated her "Tomb Raider" motorcycle-chase scene "best two-wheeled movie moment of all time." She's also proven her worth as a box-office draw. "The 'Tomb Raider' movies made her a superstar," says O'Neil. "The first one made $131 million, and the second was $65 million. It didn't make as much as the first, but it didn't disappoint."

It's a curious thing yah know, because the Cult of Angelina (OK, Brangelina, if you want, but let's be honest - Brad is kind of an afterthought) has never been stronger. The fever-pitch of speculation about when and where she'll give birth to her twin girls has spawned new levels of paparazzi insanity.

But, despite her burgeoning brood, Jolie always plays as hard as the guys when she gets on the set. "She seems to be this frail, slender, delicate creature when she's strolling down the red carpet," says O'Neil, "and then becomes the ultimate symbol of female empowerment in these films."

And cinematic female empowerment - blame it on "Thelma and Louise" - often equals firepower.

Is it so bad, though, to have one actress out there who believes she's an invincible action hero? The only other female hero character in the genre this summer, Selma Blair's character in "Hellboy 2"  reportedly spends most of her time knocked up - and if there's one thing we've had plenty of in the past year of movies, it's pregnant women.

No, I strongly prefer Jolie, who kicks butt onscreen and plays mama off-screen. As with everything else in her life, she's insisted on doing it to the extreme - six kids? really? - but so far, motherhood doesn't seem to be slowing her down. Jolie still works tirelessly as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador. Last week, she appeared for World Refugee Day, and her page on the UN's site currently lists more than 20 field missions since her appointment in 2001, including trips to Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

And, OK, it might seem like she's mixing her messages a little - stumping for the rights of refugees from war-torn countries one week, wielding enormous semiautomatic weapons on the big screen the next. But I say: Woman's got a right to be contradictory. We need her gunslinging bravado in the movies. After all, nongirly girls need role models, too.


I understand what you are saying about Angelina "mixing up her messages a little". I blame it on her age. She just turned 33 which isn't terribly young, but fairly young none the less. I believe that she will have a clearer identity in a few years - maybe when she gets close to 40

I think Angelina kicks so much ass. I can't wait for this movie. I think most women are just jealous of her for being so good looking. She always pulls off action movies with style. I'm nongirly too and she is my ass kicking role model. Great post!

Will it be boys or girls for Angelina and Brad? Or does it make a difference?
Wonder what they are wishing for.

To plantbuddy:

I'm hoping for a boy. I think its cool to have both genders. The name wold sound something unique, obviously. Like Marchelle or whatever. I mean, who names their kid Shiloh? I know I wouldn't think of naming my kid that. But its good nonetheless. =)

To date girl:

Yeah, the primary reason of my blog post was her ability to heat things up with her moves. And I do admit of being jealous.. She has great facial structure...

I've liked her ever since I seen her in the movie Hackers. Before she became so popular. She fills that gap of the so needed beautiful bad-ass babe who also tries to makes a difference to the real world. I love her.

Women need to be empowered more in general. They need to use their looks for good rather than use them for personal selfish persuits. When you get a moment check out:

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