Marvel is reportedly close to casting Captain Marvel, the first leading superhero woman in its cinematic universe (called the MCU). Recent Oscar-winner Brie Larson is said to be close to signing onto the project, a rumor Chris Evans (aka Captain America) has endorsed enthusiastically. With DC's Wonder Woman movie on the horizon and Captain Marvel shaping up, it can be easy to get caught up in all the excitement. But it's important to remember that there are still countless female superheroes that have yet to find their way onto the big screen. Of course, leading a film isn't the only way a superhero — or superheroine — can be known and respected, but it does help. Looking outside the Hollywood regulars, below are some of the many female superheroes the world should know about.
As Marvel and DC have moved into television and film, superhero women have become better known, but not to the extent of the male leads. Arrow featured the Black Canary and introduced a female Speedy, Supergirl is obviously giving Supergirl a new platform, and Marvel is bumping The Wasp from supporting player to leading lady in its planned Ant-Man sequel, Ant-Man and The Wasp. But below are nine female superheroes Marvel and DC movies are missing out on, at least for now.
1. Squirrel Girl, AKA Doreen Green
Squirrel Girl has a pretty big cult following, due in part to the absurdity of her ability to speak to squirrels, as well as her tail, but she's not exactly known the world-over. She is more than just a girl who is a friend of the squirrels, though. She has great strength and speed, and fights crime, all while going to school (she's a teenager/young adult). She defeated Doctor Doom by herself before moving to New York City and becoming a protector of Central Park. She's pretty cool.
2. Ms. Marvel, AKA Kamala Khan
Ms. Marvel made quite a splash upon her 2013 debut. As the first American Muslim teenage hero, Kamala Khan breaks barriers in every issue. But, she deserves to be known beyond her token status. Inspired by Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel embraces superhero traditions while also carving out a new place for herself. She has the power to shapeshift her body and fights crime while also going to high school. In short: she's pretty badass, and deserves all the attention she can get.
3. Polaris, AKA Lorna Dane
Polaris, aka Lorna Dane, joined the X-Men after being enslaved by the evil Starr Saxon (aka Machinesmith). Like Magneto, Polaris has the power to control metal and magnetism, though she is not as strong as him. But, her power isn't the only thing that makes her a superhero the world needs to know about. After falling in love with Havok (aka Alex Summers), Polaris left the X-Men and settled down in New Mexico with her hubby. Polaris chose to hang up the cape and live a normal life, making her one of the rare superheroes actually willing to take control of her own destiny, regardless of the powers she was born with. Of course, she was later dragged back into the superhero fold, but, still, the fact that she had the strength to leave crime-fighting behind is pretty meaningful.
There are a few versions of the Huntress, though for these purposes I'll stick to Helena Bertinelli, the daughter of a mafia boss who fought to bring down crime lords. Known for her willingness to kill, Huntress proved that female superheroes can be just as tortured and twisted as the men.
Zatanna Zatara is a magician, both by trade and by birth. As a woman with magical powers, Zatanna has abilities well beyond those of Superman, and she's put them to good use as part of the Justice League of America. Zatanna has also crossed paths with fan favorites like Constantine and Bruce Wayne.
6. Atom Eve, AKA Samantha Eve Wilkins
Atom Eve is a great, modern superhero. A genius in math and science, Atom Eve proves that superheroes can still find the time to go to school. She also has an undying love of pink — the color linked to her powers of transmutation — and isn't afraid to use her powers for good even though she's being hunted by the government. Atom Eve's status as a superhero is sometimes overshadowed by her romantic plot lines, but even then, she's always portrayed as a strong woman in control of her destiny — there's even a storyline in which she gets an abortion.
7. Ms. America, AKA America Chavez
America Chavez, a rare Latina superhero, is a one-of-a-kind.. A teenager born in the Utopian Parallel, America has super speed and super strength. She can also travel across dimensions and is fluent in both English and Spanish. Ms. America doesn't like to work alone, and has been a part of multiple superhero teams, like the Young Avengers and The Ultimates. Fun fact: fans are currently campaigning to have Ms. America join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez taking on the role.
8. Spider-Gwen, AKA Gwen Stacy
Spider-Gwen puts a spin on Spider-Man's Peter Parker story by making his high school girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, the hero instead. Like Peter Parker, Stacy got her powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider. The recent comic is a must-read for Spidey fans who might be getting a little tired of Marvel's obsession with Peter Parker.
9. The Runaways
The Runaways aren't all women, but they have more than a few, making it a rare superhero team composed of more women than men. The Runaways series is about a group of teenagers who have run away from their supervillain parents and sworn to stop their evil plans. The group includes an 11-year-old girl with superstrength who names herself Princess Powerful — if that doesn't convince you to pick up an issue of The Runaways, nothing will.
Whatever superhero woman you love, I think we can all agree that, as a whole, they deserve to have more time in the spotlight.
Images: 20th Century Fox; Marvel (6); DC (2); Skybound Entertainment