Slowly but surely, female superheroes are becoming just as prominent as their male counterparts. Wherever you look, whether it’s Marvel, DC, comics, television or movies, there seems to be an increasing shift towards introducing and focusing on female leads. While the demand has always been there, it’s only after a strong push for diversity in a socially conscious world that we have seen the number of strong female characters increase. Plus, thanks to the unprecedented success of the Wonder Woman film, it seems like we are entering a new age of entertainment, where female heroes have just as much importance and a drawing power as the male characters.
But while there is a much higher number of female superheroes in the entertainment industry, this trend isn’t stopping just with masked characters. In fact, this change is being reflected across the board, from different sci-fi franchises to the next crop of original action movies like Charlize Theron’s Atomic Blonde or Jennifer Lawrence’s Red Sparrow. Now more than ever, the future of movies and television belongs to women. Today, CBR lists 15 female characters, from the small to the big screen, who will own 2018 — characters who are poised to set the world aflame, if they haven’t already.
15. THE WASP
Evangeline Lilly’s Hope Van Dyne was introduced back in 2015’s Ant-Man, but she wasn’t allowed to properly suit up as the Wasp in the film. Instead, a mid-credits scene promised that time would soon be coming. Now, Ant-Man and the Wasp is almost upon us, a movie that seems set to position the Wasp as one of the MCU’s most prominent female superheroes.
A trailer for the film was recently released, and already it showed us how big of a role Hope will have in the film. In fact, the trailer barely showed us Ant-Man at all, choosing instead to focus on the latter portion of the movie’s title. The Wasp’s skills and powers were on full display, and every Marvel fan is now eagerly anticipating the full arrival of this newest Avenger.
14. CAPTAIN MARVEL
It feels like it was forever ago that Marvel officially announced that Brie Larson would be playing Captain Marvel in its cinematic universe. Now, the film is finally in the midst of production, and already set pictures have given us a look at Carol Danvers’ first Kree warrior costume. Her movie is hitting theaters in March 2019, but don’t be surprised if a trailer manifests itself way before then.
This single trailer will shoot Captain Marvel in the eye of the public, and position her as the upcoming face of the MCU as the first female superhero to get her own solo film. On top of that, there are rumors that the character could be debuting in Avengers: Infinity War, where she could either have a cameo role or a brief appearance in the movie’s after-credits scenes. Either way, this is the year for Captain Marvel.
You might remember the palpable excitement that followed the announcement that actress Zazie Beetz would be playing Domino in the Deadpool sequel. The diverse casting was inspired, and it made us all wonder how the character would be involved in the crazy antics of the next film. Domino might never have been the biggest X-Men character in the comics, but now she is set to become the center of attention.
In the Deadpool sequel, Domino just might become the female face of Fox’s X-Men universe. With her signature look and her probability powers, the character will undoubtedly be the focus of many amazing action sequences that will make her stand out. Domino is set to become a fan-favorite to an entire new audience who was wholly unfamiliar with the character prior to the film’s release.
12. THE DORA MILAJE
In the Black Panther mythos, the Dora Milaje are the King’s personal guard, an elite crew comprised of Wakanda’s fiercest female warriors. We already know that some members of the Dora, like Okoye, Nakia and Ayo will have an important role to play in the film, and it looks like they will be standouts in a film that is already very much a standout.
In fact, the Black Panther film had its world premiere in early February 2018, and early reactions hailed these characters in the movie. The trailers have already shown us that the Dora will be among the most relentless fighters in the MCU, and that they will have an important part to play not only in the solo film, but in next May’s Avengers: Infinity War as well.
11. THE 13TH DOCTOR
BBC’s Doctor Who has been on television for over half a century. Its titular character, an immortal Time Lord who can regenerate its entire body by turning into another individual entirely, has gone through 12 iterations, played by 12 different male actors. The 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi, bade the role farewell very recently, paving the way for the introduction of the series’ first ever female Doctor.
Now, it’s Jodie Whittaker’s turn to step aboard the TARDIS and travel through all of space and time, and it couldn’t come at a more perfect time. Doctor Who is a series that has always been about change and acceptance, and this is the perfect way to illustrate that very fact. Whittaker is set to hit our television screens this fall, and look for her to become an iconic Doctor, just like all of her predecessors.
While the Black Panther film is all about Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa coming into his own as the ruler and protector of his nation, he will not be embarking on such a daunting task alone. At his side, he will not only have his fearsome Dora Milaje warriors, but his younger sister, Shuri. While we have not seen much of Shuri in action yet, we already know that she is an important character.
It has been revealed that Shuri is the world’s smartest person in the MCU, edging out even Tony Stark. She is the brains behind the new Black Panther costume and, as a member of T’Challa’s royal family, she bears both heart and wisdom. Shuri is a new kind of character for a different, more diverse MCU, and she just might become even more important for the future of Marvel’s movies.
9. JEAN GREY
Jean Grey has always been a famous female member of the X-Men. Outside of Cyclops, Wolverine and Professor X, she ranks among the most recognizable. Jean is now bound to unleash her flames this summer as the central character in X-Men: Dark Phoenix. As played by Sophie Turner, we will finally see the X-Men movies go full Phoenix after a tease in the last film, Apocalypse.
The movie is said to embrace the cosmic nature of the classic comic book storyline “The Dark Phoenix Saga,” giving fans hope that the story will be done well. On top of that, the character has just risen to prominence once more in the comic books, after returning to life. Now Jean is about the headline her own team of X-Men, meaning that this is truly a banner year of sorts for the character.
8. MICHAEL BURNHAM
Star Trek has been going on for more than 50 years. It has gone through many different iterations, from one series to the next, and one medium to the other. But never in its television history did it feature an African-American woman in its leading role. For that reason alone, Star Trek: Discovery instantly set itself apart from the rest of the Star Trek series.
On Discovery, Sonequa Martin-Green’s character has redefined what it means to be a Starfleet officer. She is tough and she is resourceful, but she can also be vulnerable and emotional, despite her Vulcan upbringing. The first season of the series is almost over, but we are certain that Season 2 will be coming next fall, with Burnham at the helm. Week in and week out, she truly goes where no man has gone before.
7. JESSICA JONES
With the first season of her series, Jessica Jones managed to become the foremost female superhero of the MCU – somehow even outshining Black Widow. Next, Jessica took her very own special brand of effective ineffectiveness and downtrodden attitude to the ranks of the Defenders, where she was reminded what it’s like to be a full-blown superhero. Now, Jessica Jones is set to return.
Season 2 of Jessica Jones is hitting Netflix in March, and while the series will be in keeping with the tone established by the first, we look forward to see how Jessica has evolved ever since the events of The Defenders. With a second season, Jessica will once again get the chance to shine by her lonesome, and her newest case might leave her even more popular than the last.
The general audience was recently introduced to Aquaman’s future Queen Mera in 2017’s Justice League movie. However, her role was relegated to a cameo, and it barely scratched the surface of the character’s potential. Now, with a Jason Momoa-led Aquaman solo film slated for release in December, it seems like Mera will also get her due.
Set reports and leaked pictures have shown us that Mera will have a substantial role in the film, meaning that Amber Heard will get a fair if not equal amount of the spotlight opposite the King of the Seven Seas. On top of that, Mera is even set to receive her first ever solo comic book title later this year, meaning that now is the perfect time to get acquainted with the Queen of Atlantis.
On The CW, Supergirl is currently in the middle of her third season, and going up against her most dangerous foe yet. Not only that, she also has to deal with the arrival of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and show everyone what it means to wear the crest of the House of El. Supergirl’s popularity has been on a steady incline ever since her introduction on television, and she is showing no signs of slowing down.
Considering there won’t be another DCEU movie until December, many fans will be looking to television to see their favorite DC heroines save the planet. Melissa Benoist perfectly embodies the nature and wholeheartedness of the character, and she has truly become an inspiration for people everywhere. As season 3 heads towards its conclusion, look for Supergirl to rank among DC’s best and most popular heroes.
The Force Awakens shook the entire world by introducing Rey, and positioning her as the Jedi hero for its new trilogy of movies. Instantly, the character became a beacon for female fans of all ages, who now had an inspiring hero in the Star Wars universe to latch onto. The Last Jedi may have been divisive, but it was an important aspect of Rey’s character development.
The burgeoning Jedi went through many hardships in Episode VIII, but she managed to emerge from the film even stronger, and ready to take on the challenges of an entire galaxy. Rey is now set to become the new leader of a new crop of young Jedi, making her character even more important than before. While Episode IX is not coming in 2018, Rey is already dominating the Star Wars chatter, and it will only get louder the closer the movie gets.
3. LIGHTNING AND THUNDER
It seems like The CW’s Black Lightning is set on breaking down barriers with each of its episodes. Not only is Jefferson Pierce the star of the series as an African-American superhero fighting against the local gangs of his city, he also has a family to take care. But his family isn’t the most ordinary. In fact, one of his daughters is developing superpowers, and it won’t be long before she puts on a super-suit of her own as Thunder.
But that’s not all. Jefferson’s wife Jennifer, while already a strong presence on the show, has a super-powered alter-ego in the comic books who goes by the codename Lightning. Now, it’s unclear when Jennifer will develop superpowers on the series, but her character is already just as important as Black Lightning. The entire Jefferson family is already getting a lot of attention — and this is only the beginning.
2. WONDER WOMAN
Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman took the entire world by storm in 2017. Her performance became instantly iconic, and the movie shattered the metaphorical glass ceiling like never before. The movie was a tonal shift for society as a whole, and that simple fact is not lost on the actress who brought Diana Prince to life. The movie may be out, but it’s not out of the spotlight yet.
In fact, Gal Gadot has shown many times over how important the role is to her, as she recognizes what it means to people everywhere. The actress seems intent on being Wonder Woman both in the DCEU as well as in the real world, and she will surely continue to do so throughout the year. Wonder Woman 2 is coming in 2019, and don’t be surprised to hear even more about the film as the year progresses.
1. BLACK WIDOW
Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow has been a part of the MCU for a very long time. After debuting in Iron Man 2, her presence and importance only increased, to the point that she has become the female lead of the cinematic universe. Now, with Avengers: Infinity War, Black Widow will take on a new role (as well as a new hair color) and it looks like she will be crucial in the fight against Thanos.
Beyond that, we already know that a solo Black Widow film is currently in development, meaning that we might get more details about the project very soon. This effectively means that Natasha’s importance can’t be understated, since such a movie has long been in demand. Infinity War may begin to set the stage for this solo movie, meaning that, after almost ten years, Black Widow is finally getting the proper spotlight she has always deserved.
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