Since 2016, Marvel has seen an enormous surge in female characters. Not only have there been scenes, albeit controversial, completely dedicated to our female heroes (thank you Infinity War and Endgame), but there have also been two female-led movies as well as WandaVision on Disney Plus. Women are finally taking their rightful spots within the MCU, with plenty of upcoming projects to look forward to.
The Hawkeye series will follow both Hawkeye and Kate Bishop, hopefully leading to her introduction as the new best archer in town. The Captain Marvel sequel The Marvels will feature Brie Larson reprising her role as Captain Marvel along with Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau and Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan, AKA Ms. Marvel. Most fans are speculating that these projects will set up the Young Avengers, but whether they do or not, it’s great to see women in places of prominence and power in the MCU.
Here are the 10 best female characters in the MCU⏤so far.
Is it an odd choice to pick Nebula over her sister Gamora? After all, it’s the green-skinned ex-assassin who we get to know a lot better in Guardians of the Galaxy. While Gamora was well-played by Zoe Saldana, one could argue that Nebula is a lot more fun to watch⏤chiefly because she is a more dynamic character in the Marvel movies.
After the events in Infinity War and Endgame, there’s no doubt that Nebula deserves her spot on this list. Her scenes with Tony Stark in space were not only heart-wrenching, but also showed a softer side of her character. Nebula’s development through Guardians 2 and the final Avengers movies not only made for an interesting dynamic between her and her sister, but also explained more of her backstory and why she was so determined to be better than Gamora, especially in her father’s eyes.
9. Hela, Goddess of Death
Hela came into the MCU stronger than most villains. Unlike Thanos, who took most of the franchise to become a real threat, Hela destroyed Asgard within one movie, Thor: Ragnarok. She was practically the perfect mix of her two brothers, personifying Loki’s sarcasm and trickery and Thor’s ambition and drive. It was interesting to see elements of both brothers in her while also seeing her as their complete opposite.
Hela represented much of what Thor, and even Loki at this point, stood against. Not only was she a great example of shock value (since no one except Odin knew about her), but she also worked extremely well as a foil for the two brothers. Even Loki, who has been the villain more than once, understood the dangers of having her around and fought alongside The Revengers team, granting himself a rare heroic title. We also have Hela and her destructive nature to thank for the newfound bond between Thor and Loki, even if it didn’t last for long.
8. Carol Danvers AKA Captain Marvel
Of course Captain Marvel made the list, and not just because she was the first female hero to get her own movie. Fans had been waiting a long time for a female-led film, so many of us went in with high expectations, especially after the events of Infinity War that set up her entrance. Captain Marvel might be higher up on the list if her sequel movie had come out already, but all we have to go off of so far is her solo film and Endgame, which really isn’t a lot when compared to the rest of the other powerful women in the MCU.
In all honesty, Captain Marvel’s character is incredible. She’s reminiscent of Tony Stark in her arrogance and self-assured attitude, which was fun to see in a female character, even though some fans thought it wasn’t warranted. Much like Tony, though, her actions are valid. She’s powerful, independent, and one of the strongest Avengers in the MCU. Her final entrance in Endgame came after the rest of the Avengers joined the fight and was iconic in itself as she literally blasted through Thanos’ ship. While her solo movie and allotted time in Endgame certainly have their issues, Carol Danvers as a character is a dynamic one that hopefully gets explored further in The Marvels.
7. Agnes AKA Agatha Harkness
Any character that has their own musical number or theme song deserves a spot on this list. While “Agatha All Along” was an amazing and surprising bonus from WandaVision, it isn’t the only thing that has made Agatha Harkness a force to be reckoned with in the MCU. For most of the series we see her as Agnes, the typical nosy neighbor in Wanda’s sitcoms, but when she reveals her true identity, we see just how many layers this character has.
Trapping Wanda and forcing her to relive every bad memory throughout her life, while painful for Wanda fans, was a unique way for Marvel to introduce witchcraft in the MCU. Not only did we learn about runes and what that meant for a witch, but we also saw The Darkhold, otherwise known as The Book of the Damned. Agatha is the perfect mix of funny and evil in WandaVision, and a lot of that can be attributed to Kathryn Hahn, who always nails these quirky kinds of characters. She has some of the best scenes from WandaVision as well, even overshadowing both main characters. From her hit song revealing her manipulation of the hex to faking being frozen with Vision in the car, she was an integral and memorable part of the show and is likely to pop up again in the MCU very soon.
6. Princess Shuri
Anyone under the age of twenty-five can relate to Shuri on a personal level⏤not in her brains or royal status, but in her comedic timing. Many of Shuri’s scenes in Black Panther find her messing with T’Challa while calmly presenting her new vibranium inventions to him. In many other Marvel movies, we see characters actively seeking vibranium to do things like recreate super soldier serum or create weapons of their own.
Shuri’s technology and weaponry, though, is unmatched, at least from what we’ve seen so far. Not only has Kevin Feige confirmed her as the smartest Marvel character, but Shuri treats Tony and Bruce as if they’re idiots in Infinity War. While everyone else struggled to even come up with an idea to get the Mind Stone from Vision, Shuri knew what to do almost immediately. One of the best parts of the MCU is its ability to sprinkle comedy into its movies so seamlessly, even when dealing with serious subjects. Shuri’s character is a great example of this, and with the rumors of her picking up the Black Panther mantle circulating, we can’t wait to see more of her character in the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Another character from Thor: Ragnarok that earned her spot on the list is Valkyrie, who is easily one of the coolest characters that’s been introduced to date. Her introduction on Sakaar was reminiscent of Jack Sparrow as she drunkenly tried to claim Thor as her own, making our first sighting of her comedy gold. She’s good for more than just one-liners, though; when Valkyrie’s true identity is revealed, we get to see some of Asgard’s lore with the all-women warriors, not to mention her close friendship with the Hulk, who no one else except Black Widow even came close to befriending on such a personal level.
Once we arrive at Endgame, Valkyrie is seen leading New Asgard as their unofficial ruler after a depressed Thor calls it quits. We see her as less of an alcoholic comedian in this film and more of the hero she used to be. From showing up in the final battle to officially being crowned as Asgard’s Queen, Valkyrie has proven herself as a top-tier Marvel woman.
4. Yelena Belova
Wait⏤how can such a new character be so high up on the list? If you’ve seen Black Widow, then you know exactly why. As a child, Yelena is just about the cutest and most innocent human ever, especially when she’s singing “Miss American Pie.” Her cuteness stops there, though, as she and Natasha are forced into the Red Room by their fake parents. After training to become a badass assassin, we see her break free from Dreykov’s control and then begin her journey as an independent woman who still yearns for a family to call her own.
From memorable one-liners about her sister’s action poses to her innocence being taken away twice when she realizes her family isn’t actually real, Yelena was given more depth and development within one movie than Hawkeye had in any of the Avengers films. Seeing her grow from hating Natasha to giving her sister’s signature pose a try was such a sweet moment, only to be matched by her mourning at Natasha’s gravestone. It’s no secret that we’ll be seeing more of Yelena in the MCU, especially since after only one movie she’s already become a fan favorite.
3. Monica Rambeau
WandaVision gave us so many powerful women and insight into their backstories, but one of the best is undoubtedly Monica Rambeau. The first time we meet her is as a child in Captain Marvel, but in the present we see her mourning the loss of her mother after Thanos’ blip. Throughout WandaVision, Monica is shown to be a knowledgeable and headstrong agent of S.W.O.R.D. as proven by her breaking into the Hex multiple times. While her character seemed to act as a nice segue into The Marvels, she also gained her powers in a completely unique way and we got to witness every moment of it. Had she not forced her way through Wanda’s hex so many times, she might still be a powerless agent.
Not only is she gearing up to do some powerful things in the Captain Marvel sequel, but she seemed to hold her own relatively well against Wanda in WandaVision, given the circumstances. Monica continued to fight for Wanda both in and outside of the Hex with Director Hayward, even when Wanda refused her help by throwing her out of Westview. Monica has the potential to be one of the strongest heroes in the MCU we’ve seen, and with her undeniable chemistry with the other actors, there’s no doubt that she’ll continue to grow into the Spectrum fans of the comics know and love.
2. Natasha Romanoff AKA Black Widow
Everyone’s favorite since the beginning, Black Widow was our first taste of a full-fledged female hero in the MCU and she definitely did her job well. Her only downfall was that it took so long to get her solo movie. Besides that, both her backstory and relationship with each Avenger consistently added a unique piece to each movie’s puzzle. Many fans were hoping for a closer look at the relationship between her and Clint, and even when she had her short-lived “relationship” with Bruce, she’s always done her best work alone. If nothing else, Marvel has done a solid job of proving that its female characters don’t need men to dub them worthy or interesting, even since the beginning of their rollout.
We’ve seen Natasha’s loyalty and strength in every Avengers movie, whether from the breadcrumbs of her backstory or her interactions with her teammates. Perhaps most refreshing is that it’s no secret how important her S.H.I.E.L.D family becomes to her over time. In Black Widow, this character trait is pushed even further when we meet the family she grew up with. As a child they were everything to her, but afterwards she felt betrayed when they forced her into training at the Red Room. Knowing what we know about her now, we see how much she has grown to value the concept of “family,” and watching it play out with her “real” family solidified it as one of Natasha’s core values. Black Widow was the original female GOAT in the MCU, and can’t be topped by many.
1. Wanda Maximoff AKA Scarlet Witch
Wanda has always been a fan favorite since she entered the MCU as an emo teen in Age of Ultron, but after her star turn in WandaVision, there’s no denying that she’s risen to become the best. We’ve seen Wanda go through loss after loss and try to remain strong for those she holds dear, but in WandaVision we finally witness her crumble. Some argue that she was a villain in the show, but one could argue that she was grieving the loss of her true love while grappling with powers she didn’t understand in a world she felt completely alone in. In the Infinity Saga, we only saw her with other people, whether it was her brother or Vision. She was always tied to someone else, and that informed much of her story.
In WandaVision, though, she held her own and proved herself as not only the strongest Avenger, but also a character who never had the chance to be happy or grow as an individual. This show was the first time that things were focused exclusively on Wanda, and also the first time that she was referred to as the Scarlet Witch. For many fans this was a huge deal, as we’d been waiting for years to hear the iconic namesake, and after Agnes’ explanation of chaos magic and her reveal of Wanda being born a witch, Wanda finally earned the name we’d been waiting for. We finally saw her plans pan out, and despite the chaos that ensued, she got her own form of happiness and will hopefully continue to fight for it as her story continues.