The ladies of Avengers comics

Black Widow made a strong impression in The Avengers, but Jennie argues that a sequel has plenty more female leads to draw on...

In the last four years, Marvel Studios have been turning comics’ more obscure – read as not Batman, Superman or Spider-Man – superheroes into household names.

Starting with 2008’s Iron Man and pushing through to the movie of the moment, Avengers Assemble, the Marvel Universe has drawn together some of comics’ other big names and turned them into celebrities.

However, it seems to me that the gender balance is a little off. In a team of six heroes Black Widow is the only woman. You might think that this is because most of Marvel’s biggest names in busting crime are men, and you’d be right, but there is a much larger roster of quality female characters than Avengers Assemble gives Marvel credit for.

With this in mind, here’s a top five of the Avengers ladies. Or at least, the ones I would especially like to see in a sequel… and lets face it, there will surely be one.

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She-Hulk

Created in 1980 by Stan Lee and John Buscema, Jennifer Walters is the cousin of Bruce Banner, the Incredible Hulk.

Walters was transformed into the Savage She-Hulk after accepting a blood transfusion from Banner. While She-Hulk has had moderate success in comic form she’s never made it to the big screen – despite flirting with a live-action movie in the late 80s that could have starred Red Sonja‘s Brigette Nielsen.

The decision to not use the character until now is possibly due to the lack of success shared by her green counterpart in 2003’s Hulk and 2008’s Incredible Hulk. There’s also the slim chance that her body-builder-style would have been a little extreme for feature film, although this has been toned down in more recent years.

It also seems likely that She-Hulk’s close ties with the Hulk as her origin would dampen the entertainment value of a solo film. With the set up of Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk in Avengers Assemble, She-Hulk would be a great choice to bulk up the female roster in an Avengers sequel. Interestingly, one of Joss Whedon’s former stars Eliza Dushku is set to voice She-Hulk in an all-new series for Disney XD – coincidence?

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Recommended reading: Try picking up current Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott’s run from the mid-noughties, or John Byrne’s classic run on Sensational She-Hulk that preempted the fourth-wall-breaking antics of Deadpool.

Spider-Woman

Spider-Woman, whose secret identity is Jessica Drew, first appeared in 1977.

Although she has close ties with S.H.I.E.L.D, Spider-Woman was brought to the forefront of Marvel comics when she was introduced as one of Brian Michael Bendis’ New Avengers.

Spider-Woman’s tussles with S.H.I.E.L.D, HYDRA and the Avengers would make her a good candidate for a movie sequel. Drew has not appeared in any Marvel movie so far. While you might expect to find her in a Spider-Man movie she actually has no relation to the webslinger, except for her name.

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A Skrull imposter posing as Spider-Woman played a huge part in the Secret Invasion crossover a few years back. If the Avengers sequel does go cosmic then it would be an opportune moment for her to be replaced and help open up a cinematic version of the storyline for a third movie. 

Recommended reading: Check out New Avengers volume one, the Spider-Woman limited series from 2009, Secret Invasion, and for something a bit different why not pick up Spider-Woman: Origin by Bendis, Brian Reed and the Luna Brothers.

Wasp

The Wasp, aka Janet van Dyne, has been flying around the Marvel Universe since her creation in 1963 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

Jan eventually became the wife of her partner Hank Pym, a.k.a Ant-Man and eventually Giant-Man, and both characters’ powers lie in their ability to change size. The Wasp was part of the Avengers team when it first formed and hung around until Avengers: Disassembled in 2004. Jan and Hank’s marriage didn’t last as long as her career as an Avenger.

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Partly named for her socialite nature and starting out as an aspiring fashion designer, Wasp became known for her ever-changing costumes. Jan returned during Civil War and Secret Invasion but was killed fighting the shape-shifting alien Skrulls. She later turned up again in a very different form in Dan Slott’s run on Mighty Avengers.

The Wasp’s relationship with her ex-husband is intimately tied up in the history of the Avengers so it’s difficult to have one character make an appearance in any movie without the other. Given their contribution to the Avengers team over the years it only seems right that they assume their place in movie history.

Recommended reading: Essential Ant-Man volume one for Lee and Kirby’s earliest tales featuring Wasp, or Glee co-producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s retelling in Avengers Origins: Ant-Man and the Wasp.

Mockingbird

Who better to add to an Avengers sequel that the other half of Marvel’s super-skilled couple Hawkeye and Mockingbird?

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Bobbi Morse was created in the early 1970s as a highly skilled fighter and gymnast who was trained as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. She first encountered Hawkeye in the 1983 Hawkeye mini-series, after which they move to L.A. to help form the West Coast Avengers.

Mockingbird was seemingly killed in action in the early 1990s and it took almost 20 years for her to make a return as part of Secret Invasion. From there, Mockingbird starred frequently in New Avengers volumes one and two, and a six-issue series of Hawkeye and Mockingbird that is worth taking a look at. The latter also ties in with the Widowmaker series featuring Black Widow.

The couple have frequently been compared to Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and even DC’s Green Arrow and Black Canary. While there were some vague hints at something more between Black Widow and Hawkeye in Avengers Assemble and the purple-clad archer is entangled in the webs of Spider-Woman in comics right now, Clint Barton only ever really had his sights on one lady.

Recommended reading: Grab a trade paperback of New Avengers: The Reunion and some old Avengers West Coast back issues.

Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel

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Last but not least it’s the first lady of Marvel – and not just because it has her name on it!

As Ms. Marvel, or more recently the new Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers is the lady that an Avengers sequel is crying out for! The fighter pilot is not only a heroine in her day job, but also in her extra-curricular activities.

Carol has an infusion of alien Kree in her human DNA that she acquired from the original Kree Captain Marvel decades ago. Her powers are so super that she was able to survive Rogue’s touch-of-death and live – any fans of the ‘90s X-Men cartoon will know of this. She has had a few different incarnations as Binary and Warbird, but has almost always been a prominent feature of the Avengers team as their lady Marvel.

Potential spoilers – If it is, in fact, Thanos in the first post-credits sequence of Avengers Assembleas discussed on Den of Geek this week – then it would only make sense that the Mad Titan’s nemesis Captain Marvel would get the honour of shutting him down.

Since there were lots of aliens in Avengers Assemble it wouldn’t be too much to ask for an explanation of Captain Marvel’s Kree origins, would it? With the 2012 redesign of Ms. Marvel to Captain Marvel, and Marvel’s push for the book to feature a prominent female lead, you can’t help wonder if they’re positioning her for a big appearance in the movies.

Recommended reading: Brian Reed’s Ms. Marvel run and Avengers Annual #10, which holds the first appearance of Rogue and her run-in with Ms. Marvel.

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There you go! Plenty of possibilities to give Scarlett some company in Avengers 2.

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