When it comes to superheroes in today’s media, we have been flooded with amazing people who can do extraordinary things. However, times have changed somewhat in recent years. While male heroes were the main focus for several years in the world of movies and television, we have seen a huge focus on women as of late. From female solo movies to female solo television shows, fans are finally getting what they had wanted for years. We’re not just seeing a female movie for the sake of it being 2018, thought and dedication are actually being put into these roles. Instead, studios are really making sure to get it right with them. Meanwhile, other women are standing out in their roles on screen so much that they are getting more time dedicated to them. The CW has noticed such a love for their women that they are making a Batwoman solo TV show that will begin in 2019.
Overall, the success of women in entertainment would not be possible if the projects were not worth it, and if the actresses did not deliver. Jennifer Lawrence alone has become one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood, male or female. This is all due to her successful and critically acclaimed movies, some being superhero related. We based our list on a few things. Did this woman take away screen time often due to her abilities on screen? Did she outshine the male lead or step out on her own and succeed? Some we will not include, such as small runs in movies or those unable to step out of the male shadow. Think Mary Jane or Jane Foster in this situation. But without further ado, here are the best leading ladies today.
30. FELICITY SMOAK
While Felicity Smoak is not a major player in the comics, the people of Arrow felt she was great to use right away. From the first season on, she stood out and made people want to see more of her. She was a small star from the beginning of the show, but due to the great abilities of actress Emily Bett Rickards, Felicity has remained a key figure. Due to the sense of humor Felicity brings, she is a breath of fresh air. Arrow brings a lot of seriousness with John Diggle and Oliver Queen, so someone there to lighten the mood is very nice.
She also serves a useful role, being the tech genius that she is. She has been a leader of a company, helped develop key software and tech for the team, and she is there for them to help them during missions. Overall, she serves a massive role in the Arrowverse and was truly the first female to really stand out in it.
29. BLACK WIDOW
Natasha Romanoff has been seen all over the Marvel Universe for a decade now. She was first used in the second Iron Man movie and has been part of various MCU movies ever since. She’s also been popularly used in the Avengers animated television shows. Whether friend of foe, the Black Widow is always keen to get what she wants. She is called the Black Widow due to her ability to get close to men and end their lives as well as extract information
She is trained as a martial artist in several disciplines. She is also a trained spy and detective, which has made her a huge asset to S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers. She’s also brilliant at persuasion, which is a quality that allowed her to infiltrate HYDRA as a result. Natasha does want to do the right thing, regardless of the side she is on. She once notably released government documents that even implicated herself.
28. BATGIRL (BARBARA GORDON)
Batgirl’s first true movie appearance came in the ’90s and it was not beloved, to say the least. However, she appeared on screen in other television shows as well as several animated movies and tv projects ever since. This version of Batgirl was far better, but never truly gave us the comic book greatness of Barbara Gordon. What we have seen has been pretty impressive even still.
Dating back to the animated shows in the ’90s to today, she has proven to be a valuable asset for Batman. Often, she outshined him during certain shows. She brings youthful energy and a smart mind. She cares enough to do proper detective work, and can find ways to infiltrate various establishments that even Bruce Wayne could not get into. Being taught by Batman, she has shown amazing hand-to-hand combat skills that put her on par with the best.
When Elektra first came to popular media, it was through the heavily panned Daredevil movie. She somehow got a spin-off movie as a result that was okay at best. However, when Marvel Studios and Netflix managed to use her we were given a proper character. The biggest thing Elektra brings to the table is her inability to back down from a fight. She is able to take tons of punishment and keep coming, without stopping. Her real trouble is harming people past a certain extent.
She will end lives when it’s unneeded, going against the hero code. This is the reason as to why she and Daredevil tend to get into a lot of arguments since they both heavily disagree on how to go about things. That may be the reason as to why many fans prefer watching Elektra over Daredevil; they get a little more ruthless action with her.
Catwoman has an impressive criminal record, yet Selina Kyle always takes others into account. Unlike other villains, she realized right from wrong and went on to become a great hero. She was first noticed on television in the 1960’s live-action Batman TV series. She would eventually be used in Tim Burton’s Batman film where she was a huge standout. The ’90s and 2000’s mostly saw her as a villain when used in animated form, but at times she was a hero, especially when it came to assisting Batman.
Eventually, she would go back to live-action and had a panned solo film, which didn’t work out too well. Thankfully, the character was redeemed in The Dark Knight Rises. Played by Anne Hathaway, she often stood out and stole the movie from Batman when she was on screen. Her gymnastic ability, high level of thievery, claws, and hand-to-hand combat skill continue to make her outshine Batman by a mile.
25. THE WASP
While we have barely seen Wasp in the MCU, she completely destroyed in the Ant-Man and The Wasp film. However, she was a tremendous hero beforehand in the Avengers animated series as well as other smaller projects. Overall, she brings a great feminine side to the hero world. Wasp proves that masculinity is not the only thing that can show toughness, as girls can sometimes (or most of the time) do what men cannot do. Like Ant-Man, her extraordinary powers come from her suit.
This includes Bio-Electric energy blasts, size-manipulation, flight, and telepathic insect control. The MCU version of her has shown an impressive hand-to-hand fighter that clearly outshines Ant-Man. Wasp is a brilliant woman who is pretty impressive as a tactician. Not to mention, she can take someone down with or without her equipment.
24. HARLEY QUINN
Sometimes crazy is a superpower, and Harley Quinn is proof of that. Influenced by The Joker, she fights men and women alike. Harley can take a hit and keep coming back for more. Her role in Suicide Squad really showed viewers that the film should have been called Harley Quinn and Friends instead of Suicide Squad. Margot Robbie seemed to steal every scene she was in as Harley, putting the men to shame.
Harley possesses a doctorate in criminal psychiatry and uses it to mess with minds, that way she is able to get close to her victim. Her genius level intellect allows her to always have a plan and to be a serious threat to her enemies. That is in addition to her gymnastic abilities and weapons skill. She’s brilliantly crazy or crazy brilliant, but either way, she is likely the biggest wildcard on this list.
Deadpool claims being lucky isn’t a superpower, but it seems that the movie world disagrees. Used for the first time in live-action movie form in Deadpool 2, Domino absolutely destroyed in the movie. Having the mutant power of luck on her side, things seem to always go her way. Whether that is a wind that she uses to land safely, or being able to battle a powerful Cable without truly having to try, she is a huge threat. Domino brings a lot to the table beyond her luck.
She affects probability as much as experiences it. This means her luck is not technically luck, it’s a controlled desire of hers. So technically, she can spread the luck and probability to help others. On top of this, she is a tremendous hand-to-hand fighter and a weapons master. If you give her a gun you should not expect her to miss.
22. WHITE CANARY
Appearing in the Arrowverse, Sara Lance experienced a terrible boat accident along with Oliver Queen. While Queen thought he was alone in his torture, Sara was still alive. She eventually ended up in the League of Assassins. Due to their ways, she’d become a massively successful fighter. She stood out among them, and then returned to Starling City under the Black Canary moniker.
After she passed away, her sister would take over the Black Canary role to honor Sara after her passing. Yet once Sara was back, Sara told her sister to keep the moniker. Later, she’d become the White Canary. Lance now leads the Legends of Tomorrow, and is one heck of a hero. Nothing, not even death, scares her. How do you combat someone like that?
21. BLACK CANARY
Black Canary has usually always had a meta-human ability involving an ultrasonic scream, but the Arrowverse switched things up. When Laurel Lance took over the role she did not possess a power, yet she eventually used the Canary cry technology in battle. Laurel stood out heavily on the show and was a tremendous hero for the team. Eventually and very sadly, Laurel passed away as the result of injuries caused by Damien Darhk.
Dinah Drake then stepped in as Black Canary, and possessed the Canary Cry meta-human ability with extreme combat skills. Previously working as a detective, she was a huge asset in the police station and on the Arrow team.
Showing an ability to control the weather, people often assume this is all she brings to the table. However, from the ’90s X-Men animated show to the live-action films, she has proven to be far more than that. She has the ability to control lightning to the exact area she wants it. This is something Thor does to some extent, yet Storm actually controls not only the bolt, but also its severity. She can conjure high winds out of nowhere and even bring rain to those who need it.
We’ve seen Storm also change the pressure of air, and this is on top of her ability to control the temperature. The Halle Berry version that we have seen holds the character back, but Alexandra Shipp brought her back as a scene stealer and will hopefully continue to do so.
Mystique joined the world of heroes when Jennifer Lawrence began playing her for the X-Men: First Class franchise. She was often featured as a villain in her other uses throughout TV shows and movies. Mystique is a skilled assassin, so every hero and villain should be afraid of her. Her biggest claim to fame is the mutant power that allows her to shape-shift into anyone she chooses, and even take on their voice.
This skill has been vastly useful for her to infiltrate multiple areas of government and business. She has superhuman reflexes and agility as well. This allows her to avoid danger as best as possible and hold her own in fights with other higher powered mutants.
18. KITTY PRYDE
Kitty Pryde or Shadowcat is far cooler than people assume. In the original movies, we see her ability to walk or “phase” through objects. Those who touch her can phase with her. This ability was enhanced in a secondary mutation for Kitty in the films. In the X-Men: Days of Future Past film, we see Kitty help Wolverine go back to the past.
She literally is able to phase him through the past that way he could go ahead and change it. She can take anyone to any recent past event. However, only Logan could go years back as the longer the time-distance is, the harder it is on the body. She ranks so high because without her, technically the movie would not come to pass at all, which makes her crucial.
17. KILLER FROST
Killer Frost is mostly a hero in the Arrowverse, but she’s been a problematic villain from time to time, both on that show and in various other animated media. Her meta-human ability is quite unique, in that she can manipulate the cold, including ice. This allows her to bring the temperature down in any room and turn any water sources close to her into ice.
Her power interestingly comes from heat energy or sources, as she transitions this into something she wants to use. The Arrowverse has not truly explored what all she can do just yet, but Killer Frost is certainly proving powerful already. Killer Frost is the alter-ego of sorts of Caitlyn Snow as well. Snow is genius who ranks among the brightest young scientists in DC.
Vixen has been played by numerous people in the Arrowverse, but they come from different time periods. Mari is the present-day version who we see partially in the Arrowverse as well as The CW animated television show. However, the most popular live-action version is Mari’s grandmother. This version is Amaya Jiwe, and she serves the Justice Society of America.
They all have the same power of animal imitation/manipulation. We’ve seen Vixen use the power of any animal needed that will help her fit a certain situation. For example, her powers grant her the speed of a cheetah or strength of a gorilla. Even without her Totem that gives her these powers, she is a skilled fighter who can go up against anyone she chooses.
15. JESSICA JONES
Jessica Jones was not in the limelight until Netflix decided to give her a show, which fans are still thanking them for. It allowed this brilliant and relatable hero to come to life. While she is a skilled detective, her true greatness comes from her list of powers that are pretty useful. She has enhanced durability, allowing her to take a beating without it really stopping her.
She has shown superhuman agility and strength as well. While her detective skills and powers are of use, if both were taken away she’d be okay. She is a tremendous fighter in hand-t0-hand combat situations. This, combined with her overall skill make her a threat to any villain.
Gamora is a skilled assassin who happens to be the adopted daughter of Thanos. She is forced to be a villain due to him but escapes that life to have a better one as a hero. Due to her ability as an assassin, she can fight against anyone she chooses.
Very few hold up against her, which makes her one heck of a problem. Gamora possesses super-strength, agility, speed, and durability. That makes her a tough person for anyone to deal with. We see her first in the live-action Guardians of the Galaxy films, but she has made her way to the animated television market and continued to show greatness.
Nebula is Gamora’s adopted sister, and the two have sparred since they have met, with Nebula often coming out on the losing side. Due to the losses, Thanos replaced parts of her body with machinery to make her better, which may very well lead to her soon being able to defeat Gamora. Nebula is only able to survive all of this because she has a healing factor. This means that no matter what damage she takes, she can keep coming back for more.
She possesses super strength, speed, and agility just like her adopted sister. Also, like her, Nebula is a tremendous assassin. She stole the show in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1&2 and Infinity War. There is no doubt that she will continue to shine.
Zatanna like her father Zatara happens to be a skilled user in the art of magic. With her, there are no illusions or games. In her world, magic is real, and it is a very dangerous thing in her hands. She is a powerful sorceress, definitely towards the top of the food chain in the DC Universe. She is most known for calling out her spells in backward forms.
We’ve seen Zatanna all over animated television for years, as well as some movies. She appeared on the Smallville TV show in live-action. She’d eventually be used in the animated shows, making a huge mark in Young Justice. She most recently had a good stint in the Justice League Dark animated film. She seems to always steal the show when featured.
Rogue’s power is pretty simple. She can touch anyone via kiss or simple hand contact and absorb their life energy. For mutants, she can take their superpower for a period of time. If she holds on longer than she should, she has the ability to absorb some of her victim’s appearance or end their life. That was the case with Magneto; when she held on too long to Magneto, it gave her a silver hairstreak.
Rogue’s power only gives her temporary versions of the powers she takes. She has been used tremendously in the ’90s X-Men movies as well as the 2000’s films. Overall, if they play their cards right this character could become iconic.
While Hawkgirl has the ability of reincarnation, this is only given due to the fact that she and her partner Hawkman have a history with Vandal Savage. The idea is that if he is stopped, then he will stop looking for her, and she could finally live in peace. We’ve seen Hawkgirl show superhuman strength, speed, agility, durability, and she can fly.
In the comics, she owes her overall power to Thanagarian Nth Metal. The shows often use a meteor hitting Earth to establish them. Regardless, her powers and at least some version of muddy reincarnation make her a significant threat to people.
Are we really going to avoid talking about the obvious for this list? Sure, Hit-Girl is not technically a massive superhero in the comic book world, but the comics of Kick-Ass definitely have her outshining the men. Kick-Ass himself has to learn fighting techniques from Hit-Girl continuously and she somehow has to keep saving everyone. She has been standing out for years due to her great abilities as a fighter.
Thus far, we have seen how great she is as a fighter as well as how tough she is. She has had taken several beatings, yet somehow came out of it and cut people down…literally. However, she doesn’t need a weapon to be dangerous.
The Incredibles came before their time, as the superhero market was just beginning when they debuted to the world. By the time Incredibles 2 came about, they realized that Mr. Incredible was not the true star. In fact, the first film shows him being in trouble on an assignment, and Elastigirl and his family have to save him.
We see Elastigirl step into the limelight as both a mother and a hero. Her first priority is her children, and in the Incredibles 2, this is still a huge part of her character. She is the “big hero” of the movie this time. Although the whole family chips in to save the day, her growth and storyline are what makes the movie worth watching.
Starfire has become a very fun hero for fans. While she will be making her live-action debut later this year, she has been featured in animated form for nearly a decade. Whether it is under the Teen Titans or Teen Titans Go! television shows, or the animated films, it seems she steals the show. She is often used as the romantic interest for Robin aka Nightwing, but she tends to save the day a lot of the time. She is incredibly powerful, and some of her less impressive powers are super strength, speed, agility, and durability.
She can learn any language through a kiss, she can fly, survive in outer space, and she even has an immunity to radiation, cold, and heat. Her power to manipulate ultraviolet energy is also quite useful on top of her serious and intense level of fighting prowess. No matter where you put her, she outshines the guys. Both figuratively and literally.
6. LARA CROFT
In the ’90s, video games were made only thinking about the boys. Yet there was a nice female fanbase growing in this territory that would eventually become too large to ignore. The attempt to cater to both brought about the birth of Tomb Raider, which would end up succeeding heavily as a video game franchise. Angelina Jolie became the character in movie form and completely destroyed all men in the movies she was in.
Most recently, the character went through an overhaul in the video games and in movie form. She was played by Alicia Vikander in the 2018 movie. Yet again, every male in the movie was overshadowed by Lara Croft. The character is a brilliant young woman who has a vast knowledge of history and archeology. She seems to lack all fear as she always tends to go into the scary unknown without hesitation. Not to mention, she is not so bad at throwing a punch.
5. MISS MARTIAN
While a version of her has been seen in the Arrowverse, the ultimate version of Miss Martian people should keep an eye on is the one featured in Young Justice. In this show, despite all the brilliant heroes around her like Superboy, Kid-Flash, Beast Boy, Aqualad, and even Nightwing, she stands out the most. Like her uncle the Martian Manhunter, Miss Martian is a telepath who can phase through various objects. Yet she can also get inside minds and find memories, affecting people so much that she can fry the brain.
Due to communication links often being caught, Miss Martian uses her telepathic skill to give the team a mental com-link. She can also do something amazing, where she can switch up languages so everyone can understand each other, while they are still speaking their native tongue. She is truly a magnificent addition to the team.
4. SCARLET WITCH
Thought to be among the most powerful superheroes in Marvel Comics, the MCU has not shown her true level. In fact, even Marvel Comics hasn’t. It is uncertain how powerful Scarlet Witch is. The only thing people know is that her power is incredibly high, but without a ceiling to this power, she could likely do anything. Wanda possesses the ability to bend reality and can warp it in her own way. She has shown some high levels of power in the MCU and has managed to stand out heavily.
She is the only person who has been able to break an Infinity Stone and she even held Thanos back for a short time, as well as his underlings, one of which she ended. She even messed with the mind of Tony Stark to warp his thoughts. Overall, we have an incredible hero here that is hard to overlook.
In the ’80s, Supergirl had her own movie that did not do very well. Yet she was beloved in the animated TV shows in the ’90s and 2000’s. We wanted more, which led CBS and eventually The CW to bring her in for her own show. Supergirl has managed to stand out from day one, with each season getting better and showing her power.
The show is all about her, so if she did not stand out among her male counterparts it would be problematic. Yet even during the crossover specials with other shows, she somehow continues to steal most scenes she is in. Supergirl is pretty much a female Superman, but since she does not hold back her power and matured more on Krypton before landing on Earth, she might be more powerful than the Man of Steel.
2. JEAN GREY
In the ’90s animated shows she took part in, Jean Grey was a huge standout. When the X-Men live-action movies came to be, she truly became a top hero. Though she was involved with a number of female heroes in the X-Men, above all it seems that Jean Grey was the main focus. Her relationship issues with Cyclops and Wolverine added to her interest level too. When the First Class movies came about, although she was younger, she still stole the show.
With the X-Men: Apocalypse movie she held the entire movie together. By the start of the movie she was uncertain about her powers, and by the end of the movie, she was saving the world. She unleashed her power and ended Apocalypse. Jean is a telepath with great telekinesis ability, but the power within her and her great heart is the reason why fans love her.
1. WONDER WOMAN
The original television show involving Wonder Woman was perfect, and she had been used very well in the animated television shows and movies too. Warner Bros then cast Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman for the live-action universe. When she appeared in the Dawn of Justice film, she stole the movie from Batman and Superman. She even had her own theme music!
Seriously, the big DC hitters were crushed by her performance. Wonder Woman did it yet again in the Justice League movie, and of course, did it in her own solo project. It might be Gal Gadot’s presence that makes the character so great, but it is also what Wonder Woman stands for. She represents truth and justice, and as someone who is able to hold her own against Superman, it’s impossible not to pay attention to this lady.
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