Before we even begin, we know there’s no way to please everyone when ranking the finest females in DC and Marvel history.
Second, superheroes is defined as any hero within the DC and Marvel universe (plus a sneaky hero or two from elsewhere) rather than someone with super powers.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at the best – read our favourite – female superheroes as we celebrate International Women’s Day, the release of Captain Marvel (Friday, March 8) and the news Birds of Prey will have an amazing roster.
Of course, this list of 15 is not an exhaustive list, but it’s made with love and sheer admiration.
If you don’t see your favourite on the list, let us know in the comments below (play nice).
- Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch is one of the most dangerous heroes in the Marvel world. The daughter of Magneto and sister to Quicksilver, she was originally on the side of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in the comics, but she saw sense. Her powers were always a bit vague, but later they became more defined and her true power became evident.
The character didn’t get off to the flying start in her cinematic debut Avengers: Age of Ultron, but she finally got away from that annoying brother.
Civil War so a much better arc for her, and in Infinity War we finally saw her use in the Wakanda fight. There’s not too much more to her than romance in the current MCU storyline, which is why, despite her awesome power, she doesn’t rank higher.
- Felicity Smoak
Wait a second before you yell at us. Felicity Smoak isn’t a traditional entry into a female superhero list, she dons no mask, has no powers to speak of, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t earned her way on to the list through loyalty, heart and off the chart intelligence.
Originally the stepmother to Ronnie Raymond The CW gave her a make-over after Emily Bett Rickards impressed them performing alongside Stephen Amell. It’s this version that now appears in the comics.
There’s no one with Smoak’s brains, the Green Arrow would have been nothing without her behind the computer and in his ear on The CW series, and the later comics.
She’s proved divisive, but there’s no denying fleshing out her character on the small screen has created yet another strong female hero, and this time one we can aspire to be, after all nailing code is a little more likely than mastering the cosmic power of the universe for the average woman.
Gamora is one brave woman. While she has moments of becoming a side note in her own romance, her journey in Infinity War proved she’s a must on any best superhero list. From almost sacrificing herself to stop Thanos, to trying to kill him knowing how hard it would be, Gamora is willing to go to any lengths for the greater good, despite pretending she doesn’t care. We just wanted more of her. Gamora’s death was one of the saddest moments in Infinity War.
- Emma Frost
Step aside for this iconic lady, not only a complicated ice queen and staple of the X-Men comics, but she’s also just a straight up badass. Her fashion is always over the top, and makes a statement, but it’s all part of her image. She may have only been in less than half of the X-Men movies (shame on you guys), but she’s flying the flag for female superheroes everywhere.
- Black Widow
Natasha Romanoff gets a little lost in the Avengers, but look at the comics since her appearance in the 60s and you’ll no longer question her addition on the list.
Yes, she’s been on both sides of the game – bad and good – but she led the way for the female MCU soon joining the Avengers, which was full of testosterone at the time bar the Wasp. She brings a touch of class to the MCU balancing her S.H.I.E.L.D work with her bigger responsibilites. We’re also getting a standalone movie so watch this ranking.
There’s a few Batgirls to choose from here, but we have to call out Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown. The past iterations of Batgirl (they’ve gone on to don other capes) put Gotham villains in their place. Of course, there’s also Barbara Gordon, intelligent and a true ally for Batman.
If you’re wondering when we’ll get to Barbara Gordon’s other hero title read on.
When Black Panther was released all eyes were on the star that gave the film it’s name, but there was another definite star in the pack – Shuri. Her witty comebacks, off the charts intelligence and creative genius are enough to put her on the list straight away, but add to that the fact she’s keeping an eye over Wakanda and taking over as Black Panther for T’Challa and you have one top hero.
Forget Bruce, we’re all about the She-Hulk. Sheer strength in the court room and fighting as the green hero sees her smash through any problem. She’s an attorney by day, hero all the time. You could easily dismiss her as a spin-off from the more well known Hulk, but hold up, she actually loves being the green being, there’s none of that angst and drama, which is really refreshing. She owns it. Lets also not forget her series had the fourth-wall breaking trope that we now known and love in Deadpool, wayyyyy before the Ryan Reynolds sass took over the big screen.
There’s been a few Wasps over the Marvel history, but Janet Van Dyne is who we’re here for. The first female Avenger and founding member, she’s the hero that needs more recognition. She was mostly a side-kick for Ant-Man, but Janet is far more than that. She’s the moral voice among them, the one who gets stuff done, leading the way. If you’re looking for a strong backbone for your hero team you want the Wasp. It was great to see Janet have a larger role in the sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp, even giving her a nod in the title. She ain’t nobodies side-kick.
Ok, so she started out as a mere afterthought, a spin-off from her cousin Superman, but Supergirl has come into her own. While we’re all here for the strong powerful badass women, Supergirl actually brings another type of female to the table. Softer in her approach, she’s often given more emotional and stories where she’s in a moral quandry. That’s not to say she couldn’t take you in a fight of course. Supergirl represents both, the feminine, the strong, btu as one. The latest screen offering with Melissa Benoist as Kara manages to bring this to the fore.
- Barbara Gordon aka Oracle
We could have mentioned Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, but another one of her roles deserves a mention. While her time as part of the bat family was legendary, it was a defining moment in her arc – and the whole of the Batman story – that saw her become Oracle. Joker’s violent attack left her paralysed in a divisive comic book move. But Barbara wasn’t to be kept down, she didn’t let her disability stop her, getting back into the game and using her smarts to take down the villains. She not only became Batman’s eyes and ears, his whole information hub, but she went on to lead the Birds of Prey like the true Queen she is.
There’s so many X-Men offerings, that we had to narrow this down, but Storm was always going to make the list. Ororo Munroe is one amazing mutant, a queen, goddess and top fighter, she has it all. She also rocks any X-suit they put her in. She’s one of the core X-Men, never far from the franchise roster. Importantly, Storm was also a mentor to a lot of the newer X-Men entrants. She’s now headmistress at the school and leader of the new team.
We can’t mention Storm without mentioning her importance in diversity either, she was the first big female hero of colour, which was key given her huge role. Whoever plays her on screen has imbued her with the same spirit we know and love.
- Captain Marvel
Before Captain Marvel got her own movie care of Brie Larson the wider cinema going public may not have heard of her, which was a crying shame. Not only is she one of the most powerful – if not themost powerful heroes on any list, regardless of gender – she’s also one inspiring woman. She’s been around long before the MCU in the comics.
Higher, further, faster and more.
- Jean Grey
The first X-Woman – formerly called Marvel Girl before the whole Phoenix re-brand – Jean pretty much represents the whole X-Men franchise. Where do we even start? From her insane power to her relationships with Cyclops and Wolverine (which she was always more than) she’s one complex lady. She may have been the pretty addition to the X-Men lineup, but she soon took over, and with her Dark Phoenix storyline, there’s no question this hero is far more than a set of fists in a fight.
Jean’s real draw is her self-sacrifice, she has given us some of the best – read heartbreaking – moments, and for that she truly earned the hero title. Of course, like all Phoenix she always rises from the ashes, you can never keep Jean down.
- Wonder Woman
It’s hard at the top, but Wonder Woman can handle it. Comic book hero, on screen goddess and all round saviour of the DCEU Wonder Woman has travelled leaps and bounds for female superheroes.
A founding member of the Justice League, the first lady to lead her own film following Marvel’s dominating of the box office, she’s winning on every count. Diana of Themiscyra is truly the pinnacle of the hero game. The best of us all, she’s strong, empathetic, compassionate, the voice of reason while also brave and independent. She never becomes a footnote to Superman and Batman’s story, she’s there in the thick of it with them.
Even if you were unaware of her from her comic book complex origins, you’d know her thanks Lynda Carter or Gal Gadot’s movie bursting onto screens in the biggest female-led superhero ever. Thank goodness we’re getting a Wonder Woman sequel.