(Warning! This article contains potential plot spoilers for Ant-Man.)
There’s no getting away from it, nor should there be.
We’re lucky enough to live in a society that celebrates diversity of race, religion, lifestyle, sexuality and gender.
In today’s society, to see diversity in our popular culture is no longer a novelty but a necessity! As the explosion of awareness of superhero culture affects an increasingly diverse range of people, is it any wonder that people want to see the variety of the society they inhabit in their media, rather than the normativity of yesteryear?
Sadly the truth of the matter is that whatever strides have been taken in mainstream comics, (especially Marvel- who have always been more progressive than the Distinguished Competitors, for my money), when it comes to the big screen we’re just not there yet for whatever reason.
Take the recent controversy over the casting of Michael B. Jordan The Human Torch. The fan backlash became so bad it became an embarrassing joke, but anyone who saw Chronicle could tell that the actor had the affable persona to convincingly play Johnny Storm.
An even bigger uproar was heard when Paul Feig announced that the protagonists in his new Ghostbusters reboot would all be female.
Many made the argument that their point of contention wasn’t that they were women but because of who they cast, claiming that the film would essentially be Bridesmaids with a bit of paranormal window dressing. However, all these ladies were Saturday Night Live alumni as were the original male cast, and if rumours are to be believed that Bill Murray himself is currently shooting a cameo in the film then the veteran actor clearly believes in the project… And that should be good enough for anyone.
When it comes to superhero cinema, it still seems to be very much a man’s world. With studios possibly gun shy due to such spectacular flops as Catwoman and Elektra, there’s ample evidence from the success of properties like The Hunger Games et al. that audiences on both sides of the gender divide are clamouring for films based on strong female leads.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has already made its mark in presenting some gorgeous, compelling and badass ladies to its roster with Black Widow, Gamora, Lady Sif, Mockingbird, Agent Carter & Quake making noteworthy appearances on Marvel film & TV.
That said, Marvel have barely begun to scratch the surface when it comes to awesome female characters on the comic book page.
So here’s my list of Women you wouldn’t want to mess with in the Marvel Universe who are ripe for a cinematic interpretation…
(This list contains characters whom I believe at the time of writing Marvel Studios now have the copyrights to use, including the Spider-Man property but excluding Fantastic 4 & X-Men franchises. I have also excluded characters whom I know to have been officially announced to appear later in the MCU i.e. Inhumans, Captain Marvel, Elektra will not be included.)
As a child, Heather Douglas was innocently enjoying a road trip with her family until out of nowhereThe Mad Titan Thanos appeared and murdered her parents, not wanting to have any witnesses to his arrival.
She was subsequently found and raised by Thanos’ father Mentor. Moondragon is a self-made woman who’s powers of telepathy & telekinesis are results of intense physical training rather than experimentation, accident or technology. First appearing with the horrific name of Madame McEvil (facepalm), she made trouble for Iron Man but quickly changed her ways.
One of the most interesting parts of her character is her superiority complex that often gets her into trouble with friend and foe alike, though when you’ve mastered pretty much everything wouldn’t you think a lot of yourself?
Speaking of diversity Moondragon is a bisexual and has been romantically linked to several superheroes of both sexes.
As for introducing her into the MCU, in comics her father is transformed into Drax The Destroyer. In the cinematic Guardians franchise Drax is clearly presented as non-human with a dead wife and daughter… but could his daughter somehow have survived?
Or could he have a daughter from another family?
With a green paint job and keeping the signature bald head, Moondragon would be a visually interesting character and clearly different from Gamorra.
Monica Rambeau’s life escalated quickly after being exposed to extra-dimensional energies and discovering she could transform into any form of energy at will, as well as dispersing & absorbing it. Within a few months she joined Earth’s mightiest heroes and not long after that, was leading them.
Her character was originally based on Pam Grier (not a bad start) and has grown in to a true leader among her peers including NextWave: Agents of HATE (highly recommended reading). She is constantly plagued with self doubts despite an incredible power-set that could be a challenge for even the most powerful of adversaries. A perfect marriage of power & personality, I think her story is fairly easy to adapt maybe with a Hydra/Shield spin.
8. Misty Knight.
Heroes For Hire’s premier private detective with a bad-ass attitude and a bionic arm. What more could any red blooded comic enthusiast possibly want?
Starting as a supporting character in Iron Fist, she quickly came into her own along with BFF expert martial Coleen Wing they both became a force to be reckoned with.
After Luke Cage dropped his Hero for Hire business Misty quickly picked it up and revolutionised it, by keeping tabs on heroes & villains alike, organising them into her own private army ready to take on any mission of any size (for a nominal fee, of course).
Whether she’s pulling the strings or in the field she’s someone who you don’t want to arm wrestle with. If there’s any justice in the world she will most likely appear in the upcoming Iron Fist Netflix show, although nothing has yet been announced.
Greer Nelson started out as the super-heroine The Cat. But before long, while on the run from Hydra; a race of Cat People (comics everybody!) transformed her into their champion, Tigra, a part-tiger part- human hybrid with superhuman agility, strength and razor sharp claws.
Tigra has struggled with her cat side becoming more ferocious at times and also suffers from a very feline need for attention which includes flirting with several teammates. (Not pictured in the comics were her need to spray her territory with urine and inexplicably run in front of oncoming traffic).
One of her shining moments came when she came face-to-face with a villain with God-like abilities, determined to destroy the Earth after having defeated the Avengers.
Tigra, in an ingenious move, simply talks him into seeing a therapist instead.
In recent years Tigra has been more interested in passing on her experience by teaching the next generation of heroes. As for her translation into the MCU, if they drop the ‘Cat People’ angle and focus instead on her mystical amulet she originally used to control her transformations after Doctor Strange introduces the idea of magic that might work. Or why not simply make her an Inhuman? It’s worked so far for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Maya Lopez is a deaf prodigy with the ability to copy any physical skill after seeing it just once. Show her Game of Death and she’ll become a master of martial arts, show her Swan Lake, she’ll become a prima ballerina. These ‘photographic reflexes’ serve her well initially against Daredevil, whom she almost defeats in a fit of vengeful rage when The Kingpin frames him for her father’s death, and later as a member of the Avengers under the guise of Ronin.
Beautifully crafter by writer/artist David Mack, I would highly recommend seeking out all her appearances (there aren’t many but that’s what makes them so special).
The character presents a unique power set, origin and an intriguing challenge for the actress who would eventually portray her. The best way to introduce her would be in a later season of the Daredevil Netflix show as his female counterpart… As long as it doesn’t turn into See No Evil/Hear No Evil.
While still in her mother’s womb, Jessica Drew was accidentally exposed to a genetic accelerator that had been encoded with the DNA of a rare and unusual spider.
Born with the ability to stick to any surface, pheromone manipulation and bio-electricity generation among others, Hydra took an interest in the young Jessica and trained her in espionage.
She would soon be set by Nick Fury and become a key agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. One of her more interesting traits is her duplicity. Often cast as a double agent (or even triple agent) you are never really sure who’s side she’s on. Her inherently duplicitous nature makes for some very interesting confrontations with her fellow Avengers.
The character has no connection to the male wall-crawler other than in name only as well as being on the Avengers roster (Brian Michael Bendis famously made light of the coincidence at the start of his now legendary run on New Avengers).
We saw in Avengers Age Of Ultron that Hydra have been conducting clandestine experiments on human subjects, so it is safe to assume that Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver weren’t the only ones….
Brunhilde was handpicked by Odin to choose which valiant warriors’ souls were fit to go to Valhalla, after their death on the battlefield.
But she is no slouch in the combat department either.
Being an immortal warrior-born she has experienced thousands of battles and eventually, much like Thor, became a protector of Earth and even shared bodies with several mortals, including a divorcee whose husband wanted nothing more than his wife back. Quite a pickle for poor Brunhilde who had none of the memories of the mind and body that she now inhabited.
She is probably the longest serving Defender of all time and even an integral member of The Avengers Stealth Ops team (Not sure how stealthy spears, swords and axes are though). Having already introduced Asgard if she debuted in Thor: Ragnarok she would not at all be out of place.
3. Black Cat
Felicia Hardy was created initially as a villain for Spider-Woman but made the jump over to Spider-Man after that title’s cancellation, and was based on a Tex Avery cartoon character.
Hardy is an expert cat burglar, inspired by her nefarious father before she ran into the Wall-Crawler and began gradually leaving her life of crime behind…occasionally.
Before the parallels between Catwoman begin, Catwoman was not originally a cat burglar, but rather a straight up super-villain. Only after Black Cat’s introduction did DC Comics make that change to their character.
Felicia Hardy’s relationship with Spider-Man is still one of the most complex and fascinating in all of comic book history and their chemistry together remains electric. She is his ultimate temptation (especially when he was married). Whether in a team or solo, whether she has superpowers or not, this black cat is bad luck for friend or foe alike.
Now that Marvel is sharing Spidey’s rights with Sony, it’s time to let the cat out of the bag.
Originally a founding member of the Avengers, Janet Van Dyne became crime fighting partners with Hank Pym, the size changing Ant-Man but this initial partnership gave her license to fly on her own steam.
Having gone through an abusive relationship, followed by a messy divorce, she could have thrown in the superhero towel right there and then. Instead, she convinced the rest of the team that she should be in charge and she has proven herself a more than capable leader ever since. Of course she has often been questioned and criticised by other male detractors, and she has proven them wrong regularly.
Her meteoric rise from fashionista party girl to hardened field commander is nothing less than extraordinary. Her greatest moment occurred during Secret Invasion when she was turned into a living weapon and, having no control over herself, begged Thor to kill her in order to save the planet.
Self-sacrificing to the end. The true definition of a hero.
Recently in the film version of Ant-Man we saw a glimpse of Janet as the original Wasp (albeit a faceless CG model) and it looks as though her daughter Hope (played to perfection by Evangeline Lilly) will become the modern version.
Let’s keep our stingers crossed that whichever Wasp(s) we get, we see her much needed influence on the Avengers team and the MCU as a whole.
Who doesn’t love The Hulk?
Despite his thunderous and often hilarious turn in The Avengers movies his solo cinematic outings have been less than stellar in their reception. He is a very difficult character to get right, hovering somewhere between monster & hero.
She-Hulk, however, has never had that issue.
Starting off as pretty much a carbon copy of her cousin, she soon started to develop her own fun-loving and comedic style. Move over Deadpool because She-Hulk was the first character to ever break the fourth wall within the Marvel Universe, often tearing through pages/panels to argue with the writers making for more off-beat adventures.
As well being a valued member of not only The Avengers and The Fantastic Four, in her day job she is high class lawyer who often finds herself in the defence of other superheroes.
I think her job as a lawyer would work well in TV series format a new case every week. A courtroom drama with added bone crunching action scenes (hey-there’s room for more than one) would showcase this very unique character with the perfect mix of brains brawn.
Hopefully we will all be seeing what these ladies can do soon as we prepare for a more diverse phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe…