In the pantheon of modern comic book movies (kickstarted by Iron Man in 2008), female superheroes have more or less been relegated to supporting roles. This hasn’t stopped them from owing these roles, however there are too many out there who can and should be holding the fort down in their respective solos. We’ve seen Elektra and Catwoman (Halle Berry) flop in the past, which may have led to studios being apprehensive, but the likes of Hit-Girl and X-23 reinforce how badass they can be once done with the right creative team.
With Patty Jenkins bringing Wonder Woman to the big screen in June, the Wasp sharing top-billing in the Ant-Man sequel next year and Captain Marvel hitting theaters in 2019, fans are now living in very optimistic times. Joss Whedon helming Batgirl adds to that sense of hope as studios finally seem to be realizing that male-dominated films need to be a thing of the past. The plethora of female comic characters, the diversity just waiting to be tapped into and the passion of those who buy their books are more than enough to convince studios. With that said, CBR decided to look at 15 female comic characters who deserve their own film.
15. MARIA HILL
In the books, Maria Hill was crucial as a pseudo-antagonist representing S.H.I.E.L.D. in events like Civil War and Avengers: Standoff at Pleasant Hill with Kobik (the sentient cosmic cube). She always sticks to her convictions and does what she believes is right in the name of justice. However, when it comes to the movies, she’s not as much an authority figure and is more of Nick Fury’s lackey in the MCU.
Hill is yet to really play a big part in things, popping up in The Avengers to shoot the Chitauri up and then to help Fury escape the wrath of the Winter Soldier, but other than that, she’s been severely underused. This is the right time to have her rounding up a team similar to Secret Avengers, Secret Warriors or Thunderbolts so that she can truly avenge instead of just spectate on the bench.
Zatanna showed how charming, seductive and powerful she could be in shows like Smallville, Young Justice, Justice League: Unlimited and of course, the Justice League Dark animated movie. The latter surely foreshadowed an appearance in the Dark Universe film that Doug Liman is now attached to direct.
If the DCEU wants something less abrasive than Constantine, she fits the bill, but her experiences in the mystical universe can also open future doors not just for the Hellblazer, but also for the likes of Dr. Fate, Swamp Thing and Deadman. This could be a prequel or spinoff from Liman’s movie, because fans are still tentative as to if it will happen given how Guillermo del Toro was attached to it for so long. Zatanna in a solo movie would be an unconventional pick, but it has potential to be a gorgeously dark dive into the realm of magic and the occult.
13. KAMALA KHAN
The story of Kamala Khan marks one of the brand new chapters in modern Marvel Comics, putting diversity front and center for a new generation of comic fans. Khan is a teenage Pakistani-American from New Jersey, boasting shapeshifting abilities due to her Inhuman genes, which was discovered in Inhumanity. This could link to the Inhumans series or even those on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but what makes this youngster even more special is that she took over the role of Ms. Marvel from Carol Danvers after Danvers accepted the Captain Marvel role.
Khan’s stories became critically acclaimed as the character was viewed as a political statement and stand against religious oppression, given that she’s Muslim. What elevated her as well was her amazing stories, sense of altruism and also, her leadership qualities that continue to stand out in the new Champions series, truly highlighting her as the future.
Ed Brubaker was on the writing staff for HBO’s Westworld, so hopefully he can get the ball rolling on Velvet, an espionage thriller he created with Steve Epting — the man who drew some of Brubaker’s best Captain America and Winter Soldier stories ever. Velvet Templeton is the world’s most dangerous woman and suddenly finds herself being tracked after a renowned secret agent is killed. It’s filled with twists and turns and could resonate with audiences the same way that the Jason Bourne franchise or Angelina Jolie’s Salt did.
Brubaker wanted to do something with spy and noir fiction, embedding a female hero akin to Modesty Blaise or Black Widow, and guided by Epting, he created one of his best femme fatales to date. Image Comics’ properties usually head to television, but this can definitely follow in the mold of Kick-Ass and Kingsman as underrated gems that could take Hollywood by storm.
11. CASSANDRA CAIN
Whedon will be using Barbara Gordon in his Batgirl film and the story of how she became the paralyzed Oracle. However, another Batgirl exists which has a more gritty and violent story. Cassandra Cain was molded as a warrior her entire life, with tough parentage coming from the likes of David Cain, Lady Shiva and the League of Assassins. Batman eventually found her and shaped the assassin for his covert Outsiders unit.
What really makes their relationship tick though is how Batman acted as a father figure to her, transcending his initial role of mentor. This would be a great opportunity to see her humanized (which we don’t get much of in her comics), garner a deeper insight into the dark past that haunts her, and relive Cassandra’s constant battle to remain in the light while not following the murderous path she was intended for.
Riri Williams was recently introduced in Marvel Comics as Tony Stark’s genius successor. She’s a 15-year-old engineering student from MIT on scholarship who was troubled and restless because of the state of the world. Riri designed a suit of armor similar to the Iron Man suit Stark used to escape his abductors in his retconned origins, but because she was using material stolen from campus, security pursued her. After fleeing with the armor, she actually ended up stopping escapees from the New Mexico State Penitentiary, proving she was hero material.
Stark visited after hearing of her feats and he endorsed the youngster, realizing she was something special. After Stark was put on ice in Civil War II, she officially donned the Ironheart moniker and set about showing her worth. A young black woman taking over as the Iron Avenger would surely bring diversity and female empowerment to the MCU!
9. EMMA FROST
With Fox regularly altering continuity, why not focus on another key villain like they did with Magneto and Mystique? Emma Frost is ideal for this and they can even go the redemptive route which saw her become a headmistress at Xavier’s school in the comics. In the meantime, her inescapable villainous roots can be touched upon after a disappointing portrayal in X-Men: First Class. In X-Men: Days of Future Past, she was listed as dead, but its soft reboot could have her alive somewhere.
She could be dealing with the likes of the Stepford Cuckoos (triplet telepaths who are clones of her) or manipulating mutant-kind as the White Queen of the Hellfire Club. It would offer Fox the character development they need if they ever want to use Emma later on to explore the Cyclops and Jean Grey dynamic, whether as teammates or lovers, as per the comics.
8. JESSICA CRUZ
Jessica Cruz would be a big move in the Green Lantern mythos as she’s a relative newcomer and also, a Latina. This would definitely be left-field for mainstream fans but if you’ve been reading the books, you’ll be familiar with how much ass she can kick. She was corrupted by the power ring of Volthoom, a.k.a. The First Lantern, but was eventually purged fighting Grail and Darkseid off in the Darkseid War event.
Here, she showed how formidable a soldier she was in the field of battle and Hal Jordan recognized her potential as an elite space cop. He eventually linked her battery to another newbie through the troubled Muslim, Simon Baz, and had them hone their skills together. This movie offers a door for Baz to slip in, but most importantly, it allows Cruz to represent her community (which is severely underrepresented in terms of leading blockbuster movies) through her characteristic strength and resolve while protecting Sector 2814.
She-Hulk has mostly been on the periphery for Marvel Comics since a blood transfusion from Bruce Banner granted his cousin, Jennifer, her gamma powers. That said, her character has always been built on brains over brawn, even though we did see her brute strength as a past member of the Avengers and Fantastic Four. Most recently, she shot into the limelight after a battle with Thanos that killed War Machine and almost ended her own life.
She spurred Carol Danvers on in Civil War II as well, so we can clearly see she is all about codes and philosophies, which could make a film about her as a hero and a lawyer all the more intriguing. It can parallel what Netflix does with Matt Murdock in Daredevil, only on a larger MCU scale. She has the hitting power of Luke Cage, too, so that’s the best of both worlds.
We were only teased as to what Katana could truly offer the DCEU with David Ayer’s Suicide Squad. Sure, we saw her slicing and dicing, but there’s a lot more heritage regarding her story and the Soultaker sword she wields. It contains the souls of her family, guiding her as she seeks to avenge them, so this movie could dive into the origins that killed them, riffing off the Yakuza and other mystical elements of her past.
She’s a very tortured warrior, which led to Batman trying to refine her as a member of the Outsiders, but everyone knows that no matter what, revenge will always be on her mind. Apart from this team, the New 52 saw her join the Justice League of America and the Birds of Prey, so you’re guaranteed to see an action-packed movie with Katana, and more so, one built on family, honor, legacy and most of all, loyalty.
Genetic experimentation and HYDRA played a part in how Jessica Drew would craft her career as Spider-Woman. Granted, a movie won’t be able to touch on all the Secret Invasion double-agent issues with the Skrulls, there’s still a great opportunity here to look into her training with Taskmaster, or even an angle with the cosmic police force called S.W.O.R.D. (which monitors space threats to Earth). She’s also an Avenger, so that sums up how extensive her resume is and how many stories we can pull from.
Apart from all the enemies she’s faced with Earth’s mightiest heroes, she also ran up against a bunch of Spider-Man villains, as seen in the Spider-Verse storyline, so a movie with her could also bridge the gap between the MCU and Sony’s hold on Peter Parker and now, Venom. Drew would be another curveball pick, but her backstory has a lot of mouth-watering drama.
4. BLACK CANARY
Black Canary fans have been graced with her presence in the Justice League cartoons, Smallville and of course, the CW’s Arrow. However, they are hoping that she’s done justice on the big-screen, which may not be the case if she’s placed as a support or love interest for Oliver Queen as Green Arrow. Canary has her own history as a brawler and this is why she’s a staple when it comes to the Birds of Prey.
In addition to the latter, Gotham City Sirens has been thrown around as one of the upcoming female-fronted films that the DCEU will be pushing, but a story here with Dinah Lance could break the mold, which everyone’s expecting to revolve around Harley Quinn. Don’t be mistaken by her fishnet stockings and leather outfit, because Canary’s sonic scream and battle to the top of the metahuman hill has all the makings of a powerful female-driven action flick.
Scarlet came out from Marvel’s Icon imprint and was written by Brian Bendis and drawn by Alex Maleev. The duo continued to show why they’re dream collaborators via this politically-charged affair about a young woman and rebel named Scarlet Rue from Portland. She incites anarchy against a corrupt society and before she realizes it, she sparks a major American revolution.
It’s an adult-themed story that really comes off as thought-provoking in how it dissects the world’s sociopolitical and socioeconomic climates, with the hero sometimes breaking the fourth wall to talk to the reader. It has small bits of Fight Club in its narrative but is much more action and protest-oriented. Bendis was supposed to be developing a TV series for Cinemax, but with no word on that front and the chaos the world is engulfed in at present, this could be a timely film to stir up debates.
Dafne Keen’s performance as Laura a.k.a X-23 was a major part of Logan’s success. She had an amazing chemistry on screen with Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, proving she was indeed ready to become the next Wolverine. It’s ironic given that she’s his genetic offspring. Not only is she young and badass, but her solo film would also provide Fox with several dynamic and flexible routes in their filmverse.
With Cable and time-travel now set to enter Fox’s movies, she can join up with him, Deadpool or even team-up with the likes of the New Mutants and X-Force. Following Logan, she ended up seeking refuge with a new batch of mutants like Rictor, so there’s the option there for stories a la Young X-Men, New X-Men or X-Factor. Her most cerebral potential, however, lies in her NYX stories, based on mental torment in a dark coming-of-age story.
1. BLACK WIDOW
Fans have long been calling for a Black Widow movie since The Avengers in 2012. Whedon was very vocal about making the movie and, after he left Marvel Studios citing burn-out, we’re still waiting to see what will materialize. He’s taking his vision to the DCEU and that leaves the MCU lacking their most standout female hero in a film that could have so much depth to it.
Her past, teased in Avengers: Age of Ultron, is filled with tragedy amid her spy training, but even if we don’t want to revisit those painful days of her youth, we can always look into Widow’s past missions for S.H.I.E.L.D. Her redemption story, wiping off the red from her ledger, could offer immense potential, maybe even sneaking Hawkeye in, or we could address her situation in the wake of the Captain America: Civil War movie which tore the Avengers apart.
Thoughts on our picks? Let us know in the comments which comic book women you feel belong on the big screen!