Famous Female Characters Had Epic Transformations Throughout The Years

Reboots of famous films and tv shows are the way of Hollywood. And through the years, some iconic female characters have received makeovers. Have it be Wonder Woman’s wardrobe refresh or an older version of the heroine Sarah Conor; these characters have evolved throughout the years. Some of the changes are quite amazing.

Aunt May

Marisa Tomei
Sony Pictures
Sony Pictures

Several actresses have portrayed Peter Parker’s loving Aunt May throughout the years. The first person to play the iconic character on the silver screen was Rosemary Harris in Sam Raimi’s early-2000s Spider-Man trilogy.

Most recently, Aunt May got a huge makeover. Not only is she a whole lot younger but she’s hip and fashionable! But what else can an audience expect from the character when the beautiful Marisa Tomei is playing her.

April O’Neil

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
New Line Cinema; Paramount Pictures
New Line Cinema; Paramount Pictures

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles April O’Neil has gone through a drastic makeover throughout the years. The quirky computer programmer who is friends with the crime-fighting turtles began as a curly-headed computer geek with Judith Hoag in 1990.

The role has since been given to Megan Fox in the film’s 2014 and 2016 remakes, an actress who certainly doesn’t have frizzy hair but can rock that iconic yellow jacket just as well as Judith.

Lara Croft

Lara Croft
Paramount Pictures; Waner Bros.
Paramount Pictures; Waner Bros.

In 2001, Academy Award-winning actress Angelina Jolie took up the role of Lara Croft in the film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. To make her character as similar to the video game as possible, Jolie tied her hair in a single braid, wore a black shirt, and trained rigorously for the role, as Croft tends to fight.

Alicia Vikander revamped the character in 2016, ditching the braid for a ponytail and wearing a muted black shirt, a far cry from the original.

Laurie Strode

Laurie Strode
Compass International Pictures; Miramax Films
Compass International Pictures; Miramax Films

In 1978, Jamie Lee Curtis’ character Laurie Strode became the sole survivor of Michael Myers’s killing spree in the horror film Halloween. The original character was a 17-year-old teenager who, somehow, makes it through the night without getting murdered.

By the time Halloween Kills rolled around in 2021, Laurie is a mother and a grandmother who still suffers from the events that happened to her as a teenager. Amazingly, Curtis has reprised the role multiple times throughout the years.

Cruella de Vil

Cruella de Vil
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures

In 1961, Disney introduced young viewers to the creepy character of Cruella de Vil. And, like the song says, “if she doesn’t scare you, no evil thing will.” Not only was Betty Lou Gerson’s voice like that of a mean babysitter, but the animation was creepy beyond belief.

Now, fast-forward to 2021, Emma Stone took up the mantle, showing how Cruella became her puppy-hating self. Younger and with way more fashion sense, the two don’t even look like the same characters, animation vs. real life or not.

Sarah Conner

Terminator
Orion Pictures
Orion Pictures

Sarah Conner, aka the heroine in the Terminator franchise, has been played by multiple actresses throughout the years. But, all in all, most fans of the series consider the OG Conner to be Linda Hamilton.

The character’s arch is pretty amazing, going from the stereotypical damsel in distress to wielding machine guns and running from the government because she’s a fugitive. Last fans see Conner, she’s training and protecting her protégée.

Marry Poppins

Marry Poppins
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures

Disney released the first silver screen adaptation of P. L. Travers’s book Marry Poppins in 1964, with Julie Andrews taking up the role of the iconic character. Her chemistry with Dick Van Dyke was magical and hasn’t been seen in more recent tellings of the classic story.

Disney decided to remake the movie in 2018 with Emily Blunt as the title character. It didn’t hit the same way. Blunt’s character seemed too put together in comparison to Andrews’ quirky style.

Alice

American Mutoscope and Biograph Company
American Mutoscope and Biograph Company; Walt Disney Pictures
American Mutoscope and Biograph Company; Walt Disney Pictures

Lewis Carroll’s character Alice from his novel Alice from Wonderland has been reimaged multiple times. Starting in 1903 in Cecil Hepworth’s silent film, the character has transformed from a miming exercise to someone who isn’t sure what reality is.

One of the most famous adaptations of the character is arguably the Disney film where Alice is a young girl singing about being alone. However, Tim Burton has since changed the game, making Alice a warrior who needs to save Wonderland.

Carrie Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

One of the most famous film adaptations of a Stephen King novel is arguable Carrie. The first film was released in 1976, starring Sissy Spacek as the title character. Quiet, awkward, and not a conventional beauty, fans of the story had an issue when Chole Grace Moritz was cast for the 2013 reboot.

Fans of the horror story thought Mortiz was “too pretty” to play the “ugly” character of Carrie White. Even so, films are going to change famous characters throughout the years.

Irene Adler

Lara Pulver
Warner Bros. Pictures; BBC
Warner Bros. Pictures; BBC

Despite only appearing in one of the original Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler is one of the more popular characters in the stories. Portrayed by multiple people through the years, Adler is Holmes’s love interest, as she appreciates his wit and cunning personality.

In 2009, Rachel McAdams portrayed her as her typical femme fatal in the film Sherlock Holmes. And Lara Pulver BBC Sherlock version of the character is virtually the opposite of the original; not only is she unable to best Holmes, but she isn’t attracted to him at all!

The Grand High Witch Eva Earnst

Lara Pulver
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

Roal Dahl has a knack for creating iconic characters, such as The Grand High Witch Eva Earnst. The character is first portrayed by the wonderous Anjelica Huston in the 1990 film The Witches. Wearing simple black attire, Huston’s wardrobe for the character is much different than that of Anne Hathaway’s.

In the 2020 remake of the film, Hathaway’s Grand High Witch is something of a fashionista, always wearing what seem to be designer gowns.

Clarice Starling

Clarice Starling
Orion Pictures; MGM Distribution Co.
Orion Pictures; MGM Distribution Co.

In the film Silence of the Lambs, FBI Academy student Clarice Starling is portrayed by Jodi Foster. Her role interviewing Dr. Hannibal Lecter is considered one of the greatest on-screen performances of all time. It’s probably why she was honored with an Academy Award for Best Actress.

But she didn’t stick with the role for the sequel film Hannibal. Instead, Julianne Moore took up the mantle of the FBL agent. Her performance, while good, still doesn’t compare.

Jean D’Arc

pjimage (13)
Société Générale des Films; Gaumont Buena Vista International
Société Générale des Films; Gaumont Buena Vista International

Joan D’Arc, also known as Joan of Arc, aka the heroine of France, has been portrayed by many actresses over the years because, hey, who wouldn’t want to play Joan? The first time the character appeared on screen was in the black and white 1928 film The Passion of Joan of Arc.

A more modern adaptation came years later, in the 1999 film The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc. Milla Jovovich played the title character.

Esther Hoffman Howard

Janet Gaynor
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

The Character of Esther Hoffman Howard in A Star Is Born has been played by some big names throughout the years. First starting with Janet Gaynor in the original 1937 film, the role then went to Judy Garland in the movie’s first-ever remake in 1954.

Next, the powerhouse vocal of Barbra Streisand played the character. Finally, in 2018, Lady Gaga. Only, in this reimagining, the singer’s name was changed to Ally, making it a bit more modern.

Catwoman

Julie Newmar
ABC; Warner Bros.
ABC; Warner Bros.

Even though Catwoman has been played by different actresses, there is always one thing they have in common — she’s sneaky, loves black, and has a crush on Batman.

Julie Newmar was the first to introduce Catwoman, having played her in the Batman television series. Then there was Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns, Anne Hathaway in Dark Knight Rises, Camren Bicondova as a young Selina in Gotham, and, most recently, Zoe Kravitz in The Batman. Each portrayal of the character has a different catsuit, which is awesome!

Cleopatra

Jeanne d'Alcy
Georges Méliès Film; Twentieth Century Fox
Georges Méliès Film; Twentieth Century Fox

One of the most iconic characters to ever grace the silver screen is arguably that of the Egyptian Empress Cleopatra. Many notable actresses have taken up the role throughout the years, with the first being Jeanne d’Alcy in the 1899 short film Robbing Cleopatra’s Tomb.

But one of the most famous adaptations has to be that of Elizabeth Taylor in the 1963 film Cleopatra. During the 36th Academy Award ceremony, the film won Best Picture.

Wicked Witch Of The West

Rebecca Mader
Warner Bros.; ABC
Warner Bros.; ABC

One of the iconic characters in L. Frank Baum’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the infamous Wicked Witch of the West. The character has had her fair share of screen time, with her first appearance being as “Momba the Witch” in the 1910 silent film.

Arguably the most famous portrayal of the character was done by Margaret Hamilton in 1939’s Wizard of Oz. Most recently, though, Rebecca Mader played the character in the third season of the television show Once Upon a Time.

Selene

Rebecca Mader
Sony Pictures
Sony Pictures

Kate Beckinsale has reprised her role as the Death Dealer Selene in five installments of the Underworld franchise. Mean, violent, and out for werewolf blood, Selene goes from a no non-sense warrior to something else by the time Underworld: Blood Wars rolls around.

By the end, Selene is being hunted by both her own kind and that of the enemy (spoiler) and, in the end, becomes an Elder. Beckinsale’s otherworldly face seemingly doesn’t age in the film, which is good for a vampire character.

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman
ABC; Warner Bros.
ABC; Warner Bros.

Fans of the 1970s television series Wonder Woman, later changed to The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, probably never thought they’d see the heroic Amazonian princess on the big screen, let alone in a major blockbuster.

Alas, Lynda Carter’s leotard wearing Diana Prince vastly changed when Gal Gadot came into the picture in 2016. Not only did her wardrobe become more modern, changing to include a skirt and more muted colors, but she was no longer the girl next door. Gadot brought an accent to the Wonder Woman character.

Elizabeth Bennet

Pride & Prejudice
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; Universal Studios
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; Universal Studios

Through the years, there have been many adaptations of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. The character of Elizabeth Bennet is iconic, as she is unlike anyone else in her time.

In 1940, Greer Garson became the first actress to be featured as Elizabeth. Then came Jennifer Ehle in the 1995 TV film. Finally, Kiera Knightly took up the role in the 2005 film, winning a Best Actress Oscar for her performance. As seen in the above photo, the two character’s outfits couldn’t be more opposite.

Poison Ivy

Peyton List's Poison Ivy
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

One of Batman’s enemies made it to the silver screen in 1997, with Uma Thurman portraying “nature’s daughter” Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin. Thurman is known to be a theatrical actress, and Poison Ivy was no different. Between the crazy cone hair and lime green costume, there was no mistaking her for a good guy.

Then there is Peyton List’s Poison Ivy in Gotham. She ditched the strange hair for long waves and the lime green for a forest color. It’s more modern and less campy.

Margarett March

Little Women
RKO Radio Pictures; Sony Pictures
RKO Radio Pictures; Sony Pictures

Louisa May Alcott’s Little Woman has been adapted into a film a solid seven times. That means there have been multiple portrayals of Margarett “Meg” March, the oldest and most beautiful March sister.

The first time Meg was on screen was in the 1917 silent film; she was played by Mary Lincoln. The most recent portrayal of Meg was done by Emma Watson in 2019. It was a more modern interpretation with a less frilly wardrobe.

Princess Diana

Princess Diana
Joe DiPietro; Netflix
Joe DiPietro; Netflix

Since her tragic death, many television series have showcased Princess Diana’s life as a royal. While each medium has brought the late Princess’s struggles and mysterious death to the screen, there have been different interpretations.

While some look at Diana’s life as a royal, others dive into her alleged affairs. There is even a Broadway musical called Diana! And, most recently, Emma Corwin has portrayed the Princess in the critically acclaimed series The Crown.

Dorothy Gale

Dorothy
Warner Bros. ABC
Warner Bros. ABC

Dorothy Gale is the main protagonist in author L. Frank Baum’s Oz series and has been portrayed on the screen and stage many times since. In 1902, Anna Laughlin played the iconic character in a stage musical, while Judy Garland’s 1939 film character is arguably the most recognizable.

The character has recently been revived in the third and fifth seasons of once Upon a Time and is played by actress Teri Reeves. In this version, Dorothy is more of a fighter.

Miss Moneypenny

James Bond
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer,
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer,

Like the character of James Bond, that of Miss MoneyPenny has changed through the years, not only with style but also with the actress portraying her. The first-ever Miss MoneyPenny didn’t even have a first name and is only a secretary! She was played by Lois Maxwell.

Fast Forward to the 2012 film Skyfall and not only is Naomie Harris’ character has the first name of Eve, but she’s out in the field as an M16 agent.

Ariel

James Bond
Walt Disney Pictures; ABC
Walt Disney Pictures; ABC

Based on the creepy Hans Christian Andersen’s 1837 fairy tale “The Little Mermaid,” the character Ariel has come a long way. The first nonhuman Disney princess, Ariel, was, at first, an animated mermaid with pale white skin and vibrant red hair, voiced by Jodi Benson.

Fast-forward to 2019, and fans of the fourth Disney princess finally get to see her in a live-action adaptation in The Little Mermaid Live! Ariel was portrayed by Auli’i Cravalho of Moana fame.

Josephine March

Katharine Hepburn
RKO Radio Pictures; Sony Pictures
RKO Radio Pictures; Sony Pictures

A tomboy with a passion for writing, Louisa May Alcott’s character Josephine “Jo” March has been adapted on the silver screen more than once. Unfortunately, her first appearance in a 1918 silent film has since been lost.

But Katharine Hepburn revamped the character in 1933, and Winona Ryder followed suit in 1994. Finally, in 2019, Saoirse Ronan portrayed Jo in a more modern light, with her wardrobe being a bit more complex compared to that of the previous actresses.

Belle

Katharine Hepburn
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures

The 1991 Disney film Beauty and the Beast introduced the character of Belle, a French girl who loves to read and wants nothing more than to go on adventures outside of her small town. The animated character played a huge role in the film’s 2017 reimagining.

That year, Emma Watson put on the iconic blue and white dress and the yellow ball gown. While her character was much the same, her snarky personality and wardrobe definitely had a modern flare.

Lisbeth Salander

pjimage (30)
Columbia Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Columbia Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Stieg Larsson’s character Lisbeth Slander came to life in the 2009 Swedish adaptation Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, played by Noomi Rapace. She went on to reprise her character in the final two novels of Larsson’s series.

While Rapace did a great job with the character, it’s nothing compared to Rooney Mara’s 2011 portrayal. She’s edgier, darker, and not to mention those epic bleached eyebrows. Mara even got an Oscar nomination for Best Actress!

Elizabeth March

Lillian Hall
Paramount Pictures; Sony Pictures
Paramount Pictures; Sony Pictures

Musically talented and pleasant to be around, the character of Elizabeth “Beth” March from Little Women has been adapted on the silver screen more than once. The first time fans of the Louisa May Alcott novel saw her come to life was when Lillian Hall played her in 1918 film.

More recently, Australian actress Eliza Scanlen played the character in the 2019 film Little Woman, opposite Emma Watson, Florance Pugh, and Saoirse Ronan.