When the general populace thinks of Marvel characters, who do they think of? Hulk! Spider-Man! Wolverine! Iron Man! Captain America! Thor! Deadpool! Daredevil! Punisher! Ghost Rider! Thing! Silver Surfer! Loki! Dr. Doom! Magneto! Where are the ladies?For this edition of Top 10 Tuesday, we’re going to take a look at Marvel’s most iconic female characters. Who does the general populace associate as the leading female of the Marvel community? Who has the most recognition? Who is Marvel pushing towards the front of the line? Various criteria was put into place to develop this list. From animated productions, movie appearances, comic book popularity, action figures, videos games, etc – all were taken into account! Feel free to disagree; but make sure you can back it up with your own reasoning!
Scarlet Witch, Emma Frost, Spider-Woman, Kitty Pryde, Gamora, Psylocke
These ladies were close but just didn’t quite crack the Top 10. Scarlet Witch has been an Avengers mainstay and appeared in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but has only recently popped up in the comics on a more ongoing bases. Emma has been more prominent since Grant Morrison wrote her in X-Men but has a lot of time to catch up on. Spider-Woman was popular in the 70’s but had such a lull until Brian Michael Bendis brought her back in New Avengers. Kitty Pryde has also had times of popularity followed by years of obscurity. Gamora didn’t make much headway until she was featured in Guardians of the Galaxy. Psylocke was front and center as a ‘bad chick’ in the 90’s but has played background ever since.
The only founding female of the Avengers, Janet has been appearing as a regular Avengers almost since the team’s inception. She goes hand in hand with Ant Man and will be featured in the sequel to his movie, even earning co-headlining credits. Her appearance in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes brought her a whole new audience in animated form.
9. Jean Grey
Dead or alive, Jean Grey is a mainstay of the Marvel Universe. Appearing first in 1963, she rubbed shoulders with others on this list like Invisible Woman and Wasp. Often the damsel in distress, when she took on the mantle of The Phoenix, her popularity soared; and she was killed. Off everyone’s radar until the mid 1980’s, Jean returned and had another long stint of popularity until her death again at the hands of Magneto. Not appearing for more than 10 years can do something to the mantle of being a prominent female in the Marvel Universe. Thankfully appearances in various X-Men movies and animates series’ have kept her in the minds of the public.
Before Daredevil’s first go at a movie, Elektra might not have garnered an honorable mention spot. However, once she shared the spotlight with Ben Affleck and followed that with her own solo movie (whether it was good or not), Elektra was a the main female Marvel lady for awhile. Her iconic death helped bring her back to the comics while fans couldn’t get enough of this Greek assassin. Elektra has consistently appeared prominently in most Marvel marketing campaigns well before the Avengers was released. Her upcoming appearance in Daredevil Season 2 will continue to move her up the list.
Rogue has been a fan-favorite since her first appearance taking down the Avengers – all by herself! Having stolen the powers of Ms. Marvel, Rogue went on to reform her life under the tutelage of the X-Men. Rising in popularity, Rogue became a dominant voice in the X-Men comics as well as one of the stars of the 1990’s X-Men Animated Series. However, after the show’s cancellation, many writers didn’t seem to know what to do with Rogue. For many years she continued the storyline of “I can’t touch anyone with my powers; my powers keep messing up; I wish Gambit loved me.” To many, this made the character stale. Her popularity had a chance to surge in the X-Men movies, but just as fans were warming to her, she decided to be cured of her mutant powers in X-Men: The Last Stand. Having not appeared for more than 5 seconds in the latest X-Men movie, and having conflicting personality traits in Uncanny Avengers, only time will tell if Rogue can rise up this list.
The mean green machine is known by many throughout the comic book world. She’s visually recognizable for the simple fact she looks like a female Hulk; a She-Hulk. She’s had more solo title appearances than any other female and has appeared in both the 1990’s Hulk animated series and the most recent Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. animated series.
The only villain appearing on this list, Mystique is known all of the world. Whether folks thinks she’s John Stamos’ wife or Katniss from Hunger Games, people know this blue mutant. Running the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Mystique was (and is) a mainstay villain of the X-Men and others in the Marvel Universe. She’s had her own solo series and has been a mainstay of each X-Men animated series. The movies are really what have propelled her to the forefront though.
4. Captain Marvel
The closest character Marvel has to Wonder Woman in terms of powerset, Captain Marvel has been better known as Ms. Marvel. Like other characters on this list, Captain Marvel was popular for a few years before being pushed to the background for most of her development. At one point she was even given cosmic powers and sent to space for years. In recent years, Marvel has pushed Carol to the front of their publishing and cinematic lines. Captain Marvel is scheduled to be released in 2019. No matter how low sales go on her title, Captain Marvel continues to be published. Marvel wants her as their number one, but she isn’t quite there yet.
3. Invisible Woman
At the creation of the Marvel Universe, there was one woman – The Invisible Woman. Sue has been consistently appearing in Fantastic Four and other Marvel comics for 55 years. With only Wasp, Marvel Girl, and Scarlet Witch by her side, for most of the 1960’s Sue reigned supreme. Arguably the most powerful of the Fantastic Four, Sue has outshined her teammates for years. Though her transition to the big screen on three separate occasions has not done her any favors, it’s still brought her to the forefront of the public. She’s recognized from the two Fantastic Four animated series’ as well as ‘the girl in the Fantastic Four.’
2. Black Widow
Natasha is #2! Without her appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, she wouldn’t be close to this spot. For years, Black Widow was an important female character, but never recognizable to the general public. With her showings in Iron Man 2, Captain America 2, and both Avengers movies, the Black Widow is A-list! She appears in almost all Marvel marketing which makes her extremely well known. Couple that with her various solo titles and deep history, Natasha could take the #1 spot any day.
Marvel’s leading lady – Ms. Ororo Munroe AKA Storm!
Since her very first appearance in 1975, Storm‘s been a dynamic force for Marvel in a variety of ways. Her striking look as an African-American with white hair instantly separated her from the Invisible Woman, Jean Grey, and Scarlet Witch. Her powers arguably making the most powerful X-Men member, coupled with the weakness of claustrophobia generated deep and interesting stories. Drastically changing to a mohawk and leather, as well as becoming the leader of the X-Men continued to raise Storm’s popularity. She appeared almost every version of Marvel media, often the only female in a sea full of males. From taking the lead in the X-Men Animated Series to co-starring in Wolverine & The X-Men and X-Men: Evolution, Storm has consistently appeared on Saturday mornings for years. She made her cinematic debut in 2001 played by Oscar winner Halle Berry. When using their diversity checklist, Marvel can check almost every box for Storm. Her marriage to Black Panther only catapulted her spot on fans’ radar as she started to appear in a wide variety of Marvel titles, even joining the Fantastic Four and Avengers.