The Great Ladies of Marvel

With the recent news about the upcoming "Justice League" movie, the rivalry between Marvel and DC should intensify dramatically. If Marvel is to stay one step ahead of their competition, they'll need the help of some of the great ladies of Marvel.

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By Colebrax - 4/29/2014

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Recently, I stumbled upon this panel from "Avengers" #83 (1970), drawn by the legendary John Buscema, where Valkyrie, Wasp, Medusa, Scarlet Witch and Black Widow form a temporary alliance known as the Liberators. The team turns out to be part of an elaborate duplicitous scheme by the Enchantress against the Avengers, but that is beside the point. Seeing these characters at one table hit my eyeballs like a freight train and made me realize that the Marvel Cinematic Universe needs some more dynamic leading ladies. Granted there are signs already that Marvel is rectifying this situation. Black Widow became a much more nuanced character in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier", Gamora looks absolutely fierce in "Guardians of the Galaxy", and I expect that Elizabeth Olsen and Joss Whedon will come up with something compelling for Scarlet Witch in "Avengers: Age of Ultron". That said, Marvel Studios has a problem where many of their great female characters like the Invisible Woman, Storm, Black Cat, Rogue and Jean Grey are trapped at other studios for the foreseeable future. My suggestion is that Marvel need look no further than the above image in order to bolster the ranks of female superheroes in the MCU. 

Medusa

One of my personal favorite creations of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, Medusa (Medusalith Amaquelin) first appeared back in "Fantastic Four" #36 (1965) and she has the potential to be the standout of any movie that deals with the Inhumans. The Queen of Attilan is a striking character visually and she boasts a set of powers that has never before been seen on screen except for in giant octopus and squid movies from the 1950s. Her relationship with her husband Black Bolt and his mad brother Maximus has the potential for some of the best royal intrigue we've seen since "Game of Thrones". For anyone interested in reading up on the character, Matt Fraction and Mike Allred recently breathed new life into Medusa in their brilliant run on "FF". Just give me a movie where the secret city of Attilan is discovered by a hostile outside world forcing the Inhumans to relocate their city to the moon and I'll be very happy. 

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Wasp

We know for sure that Edgar Wright's "Ant-Man" is coming our way in the summer of 2015, but it remains to be seen if Evangeline Lilly will be whipping out the spandex to play Janet van Dyne, a woman comic book fans know and love as the Wasp. I'd love to see the Wasp brought to life on the screen. In the comics, she debuted waaaay back in "Tales to Astonish" #44 (1963). She was also a founding member of the Avengers and has evolved from a superficial wealthy socialite to a seasoned veteran who has occasionally taken on the mantle of leadership for the world's mightiest heroes, in particular during the famous "Under Siege" arc (one of my favorites) from "Avengers" #270-277 (1986-1987). More recently the character was used to great effect by Brian Michael Bendis and Frank Cho (see illustration below) in "Mighty Avengers". With Edgar Wright choosing a very different direction for his movie from the comics, it remains to be seen if Wasp will play an essential role in the story, but she is without question one of the most established female superheroes in Marvel comics and would be a worthy addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

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Valkyrie

I get a little sentimental about Brunnhilde aka Valkyrie. Some of the first comics I ever owned as a little kid showcased Valkyrie as a member of the Defenders and I've always loved this one-woman wrecking machine who is capable of waging war side by side with the likes of Thor. Technically she's one of the many Valkyrior from Asgard, the chooser of the slain that guide the souls of valiant warriors to Valhalla. Her look and style of fighting might too closely resemble that of Jaimie Alexander's character of Sif to appear anytime soon but if Marvel Studios were to expand the world of Asgard dramatically in the movies, Valkyrie would be an excellent addition to the cast. Perhaps if Surtur or Ymir and their giants ever lay waste to Asgard we could see Valkyrie make an appearance in the aftermath guiding the souls of dead Asgardians into the afterlife. At any rate, one look at the drawing below by Milo Manara should make her appeal obvious to anyone with a pulse. 

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Closing Thoughts

With the recent announcement that we can expect a movie featuring the "Justice League" in the next few years, the rivalry between Marvel and DC on the silver screen should quickly reach a fever pitch. I sincerely hope that this competition will work to the advantage of the fans as the two entertainment giants slug it out in the multiplex much as they have for decades in the comics. If I had to choose sides in a fight to the death, I'd be in Marvel's camp all the way, but I hope these two companies continue their rivalry in comics, movies and games for many decades to come. DC has the potential to whip out a variety of amazing female superhero icons with their Justice League franchise, characters that I love like Black Canary, Zatanna, or Hawk Girl. But if suddenly actresses like Natalie Dormer were to show up as Medusa or MMA stars like Ronda Rousey made an appearance as Valkyrie, the Marvel Cinematic Universe would have some powerful weapons in their arsenal for the media war to come.

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19 Comments
Pasto - 4/29/2014, 1:23 PM
Pfft, I thought there were going to be babes.
Ramiel - 4/29/2014, 1:25 PM
Katheryn Winnick as Valkyrie would be great, but I hope Marvel can get her to play Carol Danvers.
grif - 4/29/2014, 1:26 PM
IF Marvel is to stay one step ahead of their competition? lol what competition?

nobody wants to see Valkyrie. she can suck it.
0megaDaGod - 4/29/2014, 1:29 PM
Grif hit the nail on the head

At this point the last thing Marvel should do is try and stay ahead of the curve, because they're ALREADY ahead of the curve. They should just keep doing them and let everybody else do what they're doing. All any of these studios should be worried about is besting their last film and delivering a quality product
tvor03 - 4/29/2014, 1:31 PM
medusa has one of the lamest powers in comics. there is absolutely no way to show her using her super hair and making it look anything less than laughable.
kinghulk - 4/29/2014, 1:35 PM
valkyrie almost made it into TTDW there was some cool looking concept artwork. wasp had better be in avengers 3 or ill be pissed. i wonder what origin wright will use for her will it be like the 616 or the ultimat version where she is a mutant.
CherryBomb - 4/29/2014, 2:33 PM
Great article. As a female fan, it's important for me to see women portrayed well and I want them to be portrayed to the standard of the male characters.

Medusa is one of my all time favourites. When she finally gets to be on screen (which best be soon marvel!) she'll be an amazing character to see in live action.

DC/WB could completely revolutionise the CBM universe if they do put out a good WW movie. They need too. I think studios are finally realising that women watch movies just as much as men (which is statistically true) a large percentage of them even watch CBM's.
Colebrax - 4/29/2014, 3:46 PM
@CherryBomb Glad you enjoyed it. I might have to throw down with a Great Ladies of Marvel II or go to the dark side and talk about some of my favorite female Marvel villains.
marvel72 - 4/29/2014, 6:39 PM
we've seen

-black widow
-lady sif
-gamora
-scarlet witch

villains

-nebula

coming soon(maybe)

-ms.marvel aka captain marvel
-medusa
-mockingbird
-valkyrie
-wasp
-dagger(from cloak &)
-elektra
-crystal
-she-hulk
-namorita
-quasar (phyla-vell)
-jessica jones
-spectrum
-tigra
-songbird
-white tiger

villains

-the enchantress
-hela
-moonstone
-lady bullseye
-typhoid mary
-black swan
-thundra
-warrior woman
-viper(madame hydra)
MsDarkPhoenix - 4/29/2014, 9:32 PM
These are some very good choices! I'd love to see all of them plus Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk and Spider-Woman. I doubt about Spider-Woman though because the GA would be confused and they'd think that she is related to Spider-Man. But I'd definitely love to see her and Ms. Marvel on screen!
Vortigar - 4/30/2014, 12:18 AM
Valkyrie should've been in both Thor movies, if only in the background or as a name drop.

Wasp will be here soon I think.

Medusa is not on my list of those I want to see but if they're going to do Inhumans she'll definately need to be there.

She-Hulk is the one I really want to see, she's the only female clone of a male character who's in any way viable and enough of a distinct character to stand on her own. (Sorry Spider-Woman.)

Captain (Ms) Marvel is a must have. I don't really think about it any more.

@Marvel72:
Dr Strange's ladies are missing from your list Marvel72:
Clea and Umar being the two having the most chance of showing up at some point.

And Agent Carter.

aside:
I really don't like Milo Manara's art for superheroes, super lady costumes are already fetishized, putting his particular art style on top of that is just pervy to the max. That one X-Men poster with four or five X ladies in the jungle pulling the same porn face is an abomination. He should stick to his whimsically sexy 'common' girl pictures, those are awesome.

Can't fault him for taking the money though.
BoomTubeB - 4/30/2014, 5:01 AM
who is marvel's top woman character?
DC it's clearly Wonder Woman !
in marvel the lines are blurred ! I'm not sayin marvel doesn't have any I'm just asking who in your opinion is the H.B.I.C.??
BoomTubeB - 4/30/2014, 5:11 AM
PSYLOCKE always been my fav!

dethpillow - 4/30/2014, 1:19 PM
Yes!!!! I love these articles of yours! always great stuff, great questions raised that dig into the history and make it relevant to cbms.
and i'd never seen that first panel, and that's a doozy, for sure. how can you not say to yourself, "[frick] yeah" after seeing that? hahaha. good stuff indeed.
Medusa is one of my all-time faves, and just since last years Fearless Defenders, I've gotten more into Valkyrie.

I gotta agree with some of the comments here tho that it shouldn't have anything to do with keeping up with anyone, like they shouldn't force any Captain Marvel movie just for the sake of having a female contender to Wonder Woman. just like we don't need a Black Panther movie simply becuz of demographic research and stuff. We need both movies for the point of making good movies, tho. and in that sense, the point of the article still stands. cuz there's a wealth of subject matter to start digging around in.

I'm almost sure we're gonna see some Misty Knight and Daughters of the Dragon in the upcoming Netflix series. There's too many common points shared, and that's almost for sure gonna be included. That could easily go bad, so many ways to do that bad, but if they do it right, wow...

I actually wish we could see Daughters of the Dragon on the big screen, do it kinda Tarantino... ultraviolence and great dialogue and plenty of long scenes of slow tension and kicking back and stuff. and plenty of chances to get into the whole underworld of Marvel, the villain's community and the evildoer's set and how they work and get along. I love recent titles like the Heist mini and Superior Foes, where it's all told from that point of view. When you do that, u get into a lot of really great underworld females and how they relate to things, what place they hold, competing with all these big thugs around them and how they manage to keep their credibility in a culture like that. that's really interesting to me. cuz on hero groups, we kinda impose some kind of feeling of mutual respect or equal rights by default, even if it's unsaid in the books themselves.

but with villains, that's just jungle law and it's interesting to think about.

I think, unfortunately, the very best female characters are concentrated for some reason with the X-Men property. but there's plenty left, and in a lot of ways, some of them have been left blank or left half done for so long, that it gives writers the freedom in the movies, or even in comics now to really make them their own. which is actually a thing that these movies should be looking more towards. cuz someone like Valkyrie, she's got her whole thing and her setting and basically what she's about, but whenever she's introduced to the Thor movies, there's room for the writer to flesh her out their own way.

Captain Marvel is a great example of that, so is Black Panther I think. where they aren't so defined like say Hulk or Iron Man is, there's different takes and lots of room to actually create something that still feels true to the character. cuz they've been kind of left blank in a lot of areas. maybe actualy less so with those, but more with smaller characters.

and yeah, villains you should totally do a part 2 on. Madam Masque is so rad. right off the bat. next Iron Man, I hope it's Madam Masque and Ghost, either that or Morgana Le Fay but that one probably will never happen.

right on, great article.

oh and Vortigar's right, the female roles in Dr Strange are really great and lots of new ground for writers to turn into something their own while still keeping them the characters we are familiar with.

I think that's actually the big thing with a lot of female characters, cuz in the comics they really do feel half done, and I think partly this is out of fear of doing something that crosses lines with people. there's a lot more room for outrage and nerd fear when dealing with female characters, and also the fear of giving them qualities that could be deemed offensive. comic book culture is pretty afraid of sex and women in that culture are seen as guiltier of carrying the most fearsome aspects of sex. and movies could be a great way to get over that block that limits a lot of female characters.
dethpillow - 4/30/2014, 1:26 PM
oh, and when they make an Inhumans movie, i think then... Medusa's gonna emerge from that with a huge boost to popular consciousness.


she's just so great, even just her visual aspect is totally domineering, but underneath, she's a real deal great character and she benefits from Black Bolt being so passive and unspoken. if they do that right, she's gonna come out of it like a monster. Crystal is really great too, but more in her relation to Medusa... but they gotta get a good Inhumans on screen. and they gotta make it weird. that's always one that I think a young David Lynch could've done really well.
Colebrax - 4/30/2014, 4:30 PM
@dethpillow Glad you share my enthusiasm for Medusa. I fell in love with her reading John Byrne's run on "Fantastic Four" back in the early 1980s and think her dynamic with Black Bolt has tons of dramatic potential. The Inhumans aren't exactly a household name but if "Guardians of the Galaxy" finds an audience, then I think it is fair to assume that every strange and unusual Marvel property has a chance at hitting the screen.

As far as Misty Knight and the Daughters of the Dragon are concerned, I think that the street level vigilante stories of Marvel's NYC have the potential to be a real game changer on Netlfix. So far we've only seen huuuuge, epic marvel stories (which I love) but I've always loved the gritty authenticity of Marvel's street-level heroes like Luke Cage. I'll be stalking the sets of those Marvel shows when they shoot here in NYC this summer.
dethpillow - 4/30/2014, 5:22 PM
rad, u do that, keep on it man, your articles have become one of my highpoints when checking the editorials list, and i'd love to see some reports from set when it comes time for that.

keep it up man, good stuff.
DrDoom - 4/30/2014, 8:57 PM
The lack of Ms. Marvel on this list saddens me.
Colebrax - 4/30/2014, 11:33 PM
@DrDoom Couldn't be a bigger fan of Carol Danvers. I think she's a total badass. Rumor has it she's already in "Avengers: Age of Ultron".

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