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The Best Female Marvel Characters

The 25 Best Female Marvel Characters
The 25 Best Female Marvel Characters

Up until 2019’s “Captain Marvel,” the MCU had yet to produce a film with a solo female lead. And when “Captain Marvel” was finally in the works, it proved contentious as misogynistic fans panned the film before it was even released. Suffice to say, female superheroes have been subjected to intense scrutiny over the years — but the number of powerful women on screen has only increased with the expansion of the MCU and Hollywood’s efforts to showcase more stories from underrepresented communities.

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In 2021, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow received her own movie at long last; meanwhile, streamers have released shows like “Jessica Jones” and “WandaVision” that explore female agency and a wide range of emotions. While the MCU’s latest feature “The Marvels” wasn’t a commercial success, it features a diverse trio of female superheroes played by Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris and Iman Vellani, who is the MCU’s first Muslim hero as Ms. Marvel.

To celebrate Women’s History Month — and women’s contributions every month — Variety is highlighting the best female Marvel characters from the MCU and beyond. Some of these women wield supernatural abilities, like Captain Marvel and Black Widow; some possess exceptional strength and mental fortitude like Danai Gurira’s Okoye and Angela Bassett’s Queen Ramonda in “Black Panther”; and we can’t forget girl-next-door Mary Jane Watson, who isn’t known for magical abilities or battle skills, but showcases the significance of empathy and care in her endearing relationship with New York’s favorite superhero Peter Parker.

With Marvel’s seemingly endless multiverse of characters, there is certainly an extensive list of women to choose — but these are 25 female characters that have made a lasting impression on audiences:

Agatha Harkness

Agatha Harkness
Agatha Harkness


Who’s been messing up everything? It’s been Agatha all along! Kathryn Hahn plays Agatha Harkness in “Wandavision” and upcoming Disney+ series “Agatha.” Harkness first appeared in Fantastic Four #94 and is one of the original witches from the Salem witch trials.

In “Wandavision,” Harkness was first introduced as Agnes, Wanda and Vision’s nosy neighbor, before her true identity was revealed. At the end of the series, Wanda traps Agatha in the town of Westview by using her powers to force her to revert to the Agnes persona, leaving Agatha’s future up in the air.

Black Widow

Black Widow
Black Widow


Gifted spy Natasha Romanoff, also known as Black Widow, is one of the original Avengers. Played by Scarlett Johansson in 2021’s standalone “Black Widow,” the character was originally introduced in the Iron Man comics as an antagonist. She later became an agent of the spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D and joined the Avengers. She’s one of the most talented spies and assassins and a master of martial arts.

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel
Captain Marvel


2019’s “Captain Marvel” marked the first women-led Marvel movie, with Brie Larson starring as the film’s namesake. Carol Danvers is a former Air Force pilot who gained cosmic powers after being exposed to the energy of the Tesseract, the container for one of the six Infinity Stones.

Captain Marvel has fought alongside the Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D and, most recently, Ms. Marvel and Monica Rambeau. She has also appeared in other Marvel movies like “Avengers: Endgame” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”

Echo

Echo
Echo


Echo is a no-nonsense enforcer for crime lord Wilson “Kingpin” Fisk and commander for the Tracksuit Mafia. She eventually questions her alliances once she finds out Fisk ordered the death of her father.

Maya Lopez is the first Indigenous and second deaf character in the MCU, played by Alaqua Cox. She has Choctaw heritage and first appeared in the MCU in the Disney+ series “Hawkeye,” later receiving her own namesake spin-off series “Echo.”

Gamora

Gamora
Gamora


In “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and more, Zoe Saldana plays the “deadliest woman in the galaxy,” Gamora. A former Zehoberei assassin and member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, she was adopted by Thanos after he killed half of her species. She eventually betrayed him and joined forces with the other members of the Guardians of the Galaxy, using her superhuman abilities for good.

Gwen Stacy

Gwen Stacy
Gwen Stacy


Witty Gwen Stacy, aka Spider-Woman, is a dominating force in and of herself in the Spider-Verse film franchise. Voiced by Hailee Steinfeld, Stacy gets her superhuman spider-powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider. She becomes closed off to connections after losing her best friend until she meets Miles Morales, who is Spider-Man of Earth-1610.

Stacy, played by Emma Stone in “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” is Peter Parker’s friend and primary love interest before Mary Jane Watson.

Hela

Wrathful Hela is the first female villain in the MCU, as the antagonist of “Thor: Ragnarok.” She is the Asgardian Goddess of Death, former Executioner of Asgard and older sister of Thor and Loki. In the film, she is played by Cate Blanchett, who also voices Hela in the Marvel television series “What If…?”

Jean Grey

Jean Grey is a mutant on the X-Men and one of the most powerful telepaths. Famke Janssen played the character, who has telekinetic and telepathic abilities, in the original “X-Men” trilogy. Sophie Turner plays the character in the prequels “X-Men: Apocalypse” and “Dark Phoenix.” In the animated series, “X-Men ’97,” Grey and Cyclops are expecting a baby together and beginning to start a family.

Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones
Jessica Jones


Jessica Jones is an ex-superhero turned private investigator from New York City, played by Krysten Ritter in the Netflix series “Marvel’s Jessica Jones.” She runs her own detective agency, Alias Investigations, and discovered she had superhuman abilities after a car crash that killed her family. She was Marvel’s first female lead character in a television series.

Kahhori

Kahhori
Kahhori


Introduced onscreen in Marvel’s animated series “What If…?,” Kahhori (voiced by Devery Jacobs) is a young Mohawk woman who develops supernatural abilities and fights to protect her community from the Spanish Empire. In the Season 2 episode “What If…Kahhori Reshaped the World?,” the Tesseract lands in the Haudenosaunee Confederacy in the pre-colonial United States; Kahhori subsequently develops power from the space stone which helps her save her native community from conquistadors.

Kate Bishop

Kate Bishop
Kate Bishop


Bishop is the first woman to take up the bow and arrow as Hawkeye. Played by Hailee Steinfeld in the live action Disney+ series named for the character, Bishop teams up with Hawkeye elder Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) to hone her natural skills and fend off enemies. She’s an energetic young superhero, showing off her bold and witty personality alongside her sharpshooting abilities.

Mary Jane Watson

Who is Peter Parker without Mary Jane? In Sam Raimi’s trilogy starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst plays the literal girl-next-door love interest, who pursues dreams of her own on stage while wondering about Peter’s mysterious behavior. Meanwhile, in the MCU, Zendaya plays an iteration of Mary Jane opposite Tom Holland’s Spidey. Named Michelle Jones-Watson — or “MJ” —  her intelligence plays a crucial role in his heroic ventures. In every adaptation, Mary Jane is a grounding force in Peter’s life that keeps the superhero in check.

Monica Rambeau

Monica Rambeau
Monica Rambeau


Teyonah Parris first appeared as Monica Rambeau in “WandaVision” alongside Elizabeth Olsen. The daughter of Air Force pilot Maria Rambeau, who was best friends with Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel, Monica grows up to be a powerful superhero able to transform into any type of energy.

Ms. Marvel

Ms. Marvel
Ms. Marvel


Iman Vellani brings to life Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel, who is the first Muslim hero in the MCU. First shown on screen in the Disney+ series “Ms. Marvel,” Kamala is a superhero-obsessed teen growing up in a Pakistani household in Jersey City. With a magic bangle, she soon develops her own powers and eventually teams up with fellow female powerhouses Captain Marvel and Monica Rambeau in “The Marvels.”

Mystique

While Rebecca Romijn originated Mystique’s role in the first “X-Men” movies, Jennifer Lawrence fleshed out the character in the later prequels as a young version of mutant shapeshifter, who has the ability to transform into the exact form of anyone she meets. The prequel “X-Men: First Class” offers an origin story explaining her relationships with the mutant crew.

Nebula

Nebula
Nebula


The blue alien Nebula, played by Karen Gillan, is the adoptive daughter of Thanos and adoptive sister of Gamora (Zoe Saldana). Initially portrayed as an antagonist in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” Nebula’s character arc shapes her into an antihero as she joins the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Okoye

Okoye
Okoye


In “Black Panther” and other MCU films, Danai Gurira plays Okoye, one of many badass female warriors from the technologically advanced nation of Wakanda. She is the head of the armed forces and fiercely loyal to her country, playing a critical role in defending Wakanda. She also assisted the Avengers in the fight against Thanos.

Peggy Carter

Peggy Carter
Peggy Carter


Margaret “Peggy” Carter is a butt-kicking no-nonsense secret agent and one of founding members of S.H.I.E.L.D. Debuting as Steve Rogers’ love interest, Peggy got her own time in the spotlight with her 2015 ABC show “Agent Carter.” Most recently, Hayley Atwell reprised the character on Marvel’s “What If…?,” where she donned the Union Jack and took up the moniker Captain Carter, her own British version of Captain America.

Queen Ramonda

Queen Ramonda
Queen Ramonda


Queen Ramonda was the commanding ruler of Wakanda and the mother of T’Challa, aka the Black Panther. She was an exemplary leader who has lost everything in the pursuit of peace for her people, including both her superhero son and her husband T’Chaka. Tragically, she died in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” in the battle against Namor. Angela Bassett was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress for playing the role, the first Marvel character to receive the honor.

Scarlet Witch

Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch


Wanda Maximoff is the former-villain-turned-Avenger-turned-villain-again and the wife of the sentient robot Vision. After losing her husband to Thanos’ snap, she turned to the dark side and adopted the name “Scarlet Witch.” The aftermath of Vision’s death is chronicled in her Disney+ series “WandaVision” where Maximoff creates her own isolated reality comprised of decades worth of television tropes. In “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” she’s overcome by grief and goes mad, seemingly dying in the finale fight.

She-Hulk

She-Hulk
She-Hulk


She-Hulk, aka Jennifer Walters, shattered the fourth wall and the glass ceiling in her Disney+ show “She-Hulk Attorney at Law.” After getting cross contaminated with the blood of her cousin and fellow hulk-person Bruce Banner, Walters had to balance the life of a single 30-year-old lawyer defending Earth’s mightiest heroes with being a six-foot seven-inch green superhuman.

Storm

Storm
Storm


Storm, aka Ororo Munroe, is an all-powerful weather-controlling mutant and a powerful member of the X-Men. Halle Berry ushered in Storm’s big screen debut with the 2000 film “X-Men,” but the role has been played by Alexandra Shipp in the prequels most recently reprised by Alison Sealy-Smith in “X-Men ’97.”

Yelena Belova

Yelena Belova
Yelena Belova


Yelena Belova is the adopted sister of Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff and a fellow member of the Black Widows. In “Hawkeye,” Belova was revealed to be snapped out of existence by Thanos, only to be brought back five years later and tasked with hunting down the bow-wielding Avenger who she blamed for the death of Romanoff. Florence Pugh will be reprising the role in the upcoming Marvel movie “Thunderbolts.”

Xu Xialing

Xu Xialing
Xu Xialing


Xu Xialing is a martial arts master, the sister of Shang-Chi and the daughter of Ten Rings founder Xu Wenwu. Xialing initially defected from her father’s organization because he would not let her train with the men and went on to form the underground fighting ring known as the Golden Daggers Club. However, in a post credit scene in “Shang-Chi,” she returns to become the fearsome leader of the Ten Rings after her father’s death.

Valkyrie

Valkyrie
Valkyrie


Valkyrie is the high-flying leader of the all-women warrior army known as the Valkyries and a close ally of the mighty god of thunder Thor. Upon the release of “Thor: Love and Thunder,” she was revealed to be bisexual and one of the few openly queer characters in the MCU.

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