20 best sci-fi movies featuring women

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5. Ex Machina

What is it about female robots? Sadly, in the world of science fiction, they are all too often the subject of some pretty serious sexism. Metropolis, a seminal 1927 silent film, features the evil Maschinenmensch wreaking havoc with her overt sex appeal. Cherry 2000 shows a postapocalyptic world where gynoids (another term for female robots) are little more than subservient pleasure toys.

Indeed, a few movies are able to tackle this trope with at least some degree of self-awareness. Believe it or not, the Fembots in the Austin Powers films are actually a good example. They’re so completely over the top that their robotic seduction techniques and strategically placed gun turrets act as an interesting and very silly critique.

But, say you want a take on the “sexy female robot” cliche that’s a more serious and thoughtful. If so, you’ll be interested in Ex Machina, a 2015 sci-fi thriller that centers on a single robotic woman. Alicia Vikander plays Ava, an artificial being created by tech CEO Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac). Nathan invites low-ranking programmer Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) to his remote compound, ostensibly to conduct Turing tests on Ava. Caleb is supposed to determine whether or not Ava can successfully pass as a human being, and therefore whether or not she is truly a conscious being.

However, it soon becomes clear that Ava has quite a few robotic predecessors. Ava herself may or may not have her own motives. She certainly isn’t interested in playing Nathan and Caleb’s game. Whether or not you admire Ava and her actions, she proves to be a fascinating character.