Cara Delevingne and Luc Besson on the 'Valerian' Director's History of Strong Female Action Stars

There has been a noticeable (and very welcome) uptick in female action characters in films in recent years, from Furiosa to Wonder Woman. But having strong women protagonists is nothing new to Luc Besson, who introduced a young Natalie Portman in Leon: The Professional and Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element, and who helmed other female-centric thrillers like La Femme Nikita, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, and Lucy.

His latest film, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, will feature another leading lady with serious combat skills: Cara Delevingne’s Laureline, an intergalactic special operative teamed with Dane DeHaan’s title character to protect and serve the whole universe.

Besson, however, doesn’t see what the big deal is: “I just do the best I can to create a guy and a girl. It’s always surprised me, the question, because for me, they [are] the same,” the French filmmaker told Yahoo Movies at CinemaCon in Las Vegas (watch above) when asked if he takes pride his strong track record for directing films with badass women. “I pay the same attention to one or the other, always.”

Delevingne (Suicide Squad, Paper Towns) is more willing to admit Besson’s rep precedes him. “He’s taken off these women’s careers, and he portrays these women in such a strong way,” she said. “She’s a strong heroine. I can’t wait for everyone to see her kick ass.”

Valerian opens July 21. Watch the trailer:

Read more on Yahoo Movies:

Yahoo Movies takes you live as father and son Carl Reiner and Rob Reiner are honored with a hand- and footprint ceremony at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood today. Watch it here, Friday April 7 at 1:30 p.m. EDT / 10:30 a.m. PDT.