Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer star as estranged childhood besties who reconnect as adults and team up to fight crime after they develop super powers in the action-comedy flick "Thunder Force," which debuted on Netflix on April 9, 2021. To mark the occasion, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at more of the all-time greatest female superheroes — from Wonder Woman and Supergirl to Scarlet Witch and Captain Marvel. Keep reading to see if your fave made the list…
Elizabeth Olsen has starred as Wanda Maximoff — the powerful Avenger known as the Scarlet Witch — since a mid-credits scene in 2014's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." After years of playing a supporting role to her fellow Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, she finally stepped into the spotlight on the 2021 Disney+ series "WandaVision," which reveals her backstory: Wanda's supernatural abilities actually predate her time as a test subject at a Hydra facility in Sokovia, where she was exposed to the Mind Stone in Loki's scepter — which enhanced her natural gifts.
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More than 70 years after Wonder Woman made her DC Comics debut, Israeli actress Gal Gadot starred as the Amazon princess and her alter ego, Diana Prince, in 2017's "Wonder Woman." After first portraying the character in 2016's "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," Gal returned to the role in 2017's "Justice League" and in 2020's "Wonder Woman 1984." She's set to headline a third Wonder Woman movie sometime in the coming yeas.
Before Gal Gadot picked up the Lasso of Truth, Lynda Carter starred as Diana Prince on the "Wonder Woman" TV series, which aired from 1975 to 1979. "I'm very excited — I feel like I just passed the baton to the anchor in the relay race in the Olympics," Lynda told People magazine of seeing Gal take on the iconic role.
Scarlett Johansson has slayed as Natasha Romanoff in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2010's "Iron Man 2." The former KGB operative — who eventually landed at S.H.I.E.L.D. as the undercover agent known as the Black Widow — is consistently shown as capable of holding her own alongside her fellow Avengers in spite of the fact that she has no superpowers. She'll finally headline her own movie, "Black Widow," in the summer of 2021.
Brie Larson brought Carol Danvers to the big screen in 2019's "Captain Marvel." The former U.S. Air Force pilot's gifts include superhuman strength, flight and energy manipulation, making her one of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Margot Robbie brought our favorite anti-heroine, Harley Quinn, to the big screen in 2016's "Suicide Squad." She doesn't have super powers in the traditional sense — unless you count her ability to put up with the titular band of psychopathic misfits — but considering her role in saving the world alongside some of Gotham's most powerful reformed villains, she's a superhero in our book! Clearly, we weren't the only ones who thought so: After becoming the breakout star of the first film, Harley headlined 2020's "Birds of Prey." She'll be back in "The Suicide Squad" in 2021.
Ruby Rose made history when she starred as TV's first lesbian superhero on The CW's "Batwoman," which debuted in 2019. It wasn't meant to be, though: The Australian actress left the series after the first season, opening the door for Javicia Leslie's Ryan Wilder to pick up the Batwoman mantle from Ruby's Kate Kane. The first half of season 2 centered around Ryan, but future episodes of the series will see Wallis Day portraying Kate.
It might be called "The Boys," but Amazon's gritty superhero drama features some pretty amazing women. First up? The Female! Karen Fukuhara — who also portrayed antihero Katana in 2016's "Suicide Squad" — stars as orphan Kimiko Miyashiro, who develops superhuman strength after she's exposed to Compound V.
It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's Supergirl! Melissa Benoist plays the titular heroine, who was born Kara Zor-El, on The CW's "Supergirl," which debuted in 2015 and will enter its sixth and final season in April 2021. Like her cousin Superman, Supergirl is Kryptonian and possesses a number of superhuman abilities. (Helen Slater previously brought the character to the big screen in 1984's "Supergirl.")
Leadership runs in the family! King T'Challa's little sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) is Wakanda's leading scientist — and therefore one of the most intelligent individuals in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In addition to developing ultra-advanced technology, she's also an extremely skilled fighter in her own right. Shuri made her debut in 2018's "Black Panther."
More than a decade after Rebecca Romijn portrayed a villainous version of the shapeshifting mutant Mystique in the original "X-Men" trilogy, Jennifer Lawrence took on a younger — and more complicated — version of the character in 2011's "X-Men: First Class." In subsequent installments in the "X-Men" franchise, Raven Darkhölme is portrayed as either a villain or a hero, though her goal of protecting mutantkind remains unwavering.
Alicia Silverstone starred as Alfred Pennyworth's niece, Barbara Wilson, in 1997's "Batman and Robin." In the Joel Schumacher-directed action flick, Barbara is portrayed as a skilled drag racer who fights crime alongside Bruce Wayne in spite of the fact that neither has superpowers. (As Batman says in "Justice League," his superpower is being rich!)
Chloe Bennet starred as the Inhuman S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Daisy Johnson on ABC's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," which aired for seven seasons between 2013 and 2020. After the skilled activist becomes an agent, she's exposed to Terrigen Mist that unlocks her Inhuman abilities: the power to generate earthquakes. That's how she earns the superhero moniker Quake!
Halle Berry starred as Ororo Munroe — the mutant Storm, who possesses the ability to control the weather — in early installments in the "X-Men" franchise. She appeared in the original trilogy, which kicked off in 2000, and returned to the role in 2014's "X-Men: Days of Future Past." (Alexandra Shipp portrayed a younger version of the character in 2016's "X-Men: Apocalypse" and in 2019's "Dark Phoenix.")
After she starred as Storm in "X-Men," Halle Berry took on the role of one of DC Comics' most infamous antiheroes: Catwoman. The Oscar winner portrayed Patience Phillips — who becomes the titular vigilante after developing cat-like abilities following an encounter with a magical Egyptian Mau — in 2004's "Catwoman." (Michelle Pfeiffer and Anne Hathaway have also portrayed versions of the character — who's occasionally more villain than hero — while Zoe Kravitz is set to wield Catwoman's whip in the upcoming noir take on the Caped Crusader, "The Batman.")
Zoe Saldana made her debut as Gamora — the only female member of the Guardians of the Galaxy — in 2014's "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1." There's no one braver than the former assassin, who betrays her adoptive father, Thanos, and later becomes a true hero on her quest to redeem herself for her past crimes.
Though she be but little, she is fierce! Dafne Keen made her feature film debut in 2017's "Logan." She was just 11 when she started shooting her role as Laura — test subject X-23 — who's genetically engineered using Wolverine's DNA to become a weapon. Her powers include superhuman strength, advanced healing and the ability to steal the spotlight from co-star Hugh Jackman! Like her father figure, she also has retractable Adamantium-coated claws.
Teyonah Parris starred as S.W.O.R.D. agent Monica Rambeau on "WandaVision" in 2021. (Akira Akbar portrayed a younger version of the character — the daughter of Carol Danvers' best friend Maria Rambeau — in 2019's "Captain Marvel.") When Monica passes through Wanda's Hex for the second time, her cells are rewritten, giving her the ability to manipulate energy. In the Marvel comics, she's adopted several superhero names including Pulsar, Photon and Spectrum. We can't wait to see what the Marvel Cinematic Universe does with Monica next!
Arguably the most powerful mutant? That would be Jean Grey. Famke Janssen made her debut as the telepath — who later succumbs to her dark side and becomes the Phoenix — in 2000's "X-Men." After starring in the original "X-Men" trilogy, the Dutch model-actress briefly appeared in 2014's "X-Men: Days of Future Past." Sophie Turner then portrayed a younger version of the character in 2016's "X-Men: Apocalypse" and in 2019's "X-Men: Dark Phoenix," which saw Jean finally stepping into the spotlight … but under the worst circumstances. (She's corrupted after her powers are suddenly amplified during a mission in space.)
One of the most underrated Marvel heroes? Danai Gurira's Okoye, who made her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in 2018's "Black Panther." Although the fierce warrior woman — the general of the Dora Milaje, Wakanda's all-female armed forces — lacks superpowers in the literal sense, she's both a skilled martial artist and critical thinker who's perfectly capable of holding her own alongside T'Challa and the rest of the Avengers.
Krysten Ritter starred as the titular heroine — a PTSD-afflicted private detective with superhuman strength — on Netflix's "Jessica Jones," which ran for three seasons between 2015 and 2019. Ultimately, she became the only female member of the Defenders — a group of crimefighters including Daredevil, Luke Cage and Iron Fist — on the 2017 Netflix miniseries "The Defenders."
Evangeline Lilly made her debut as Pym Technologies exec Hope Van Dyne in 2015's "Ant-Man." In a mid-credits scene, her father, physicist Hank Pym, gives her a Wasp prototype suit, granting her the opportunity to take over the mantle from her (purportedly dead) mother, Janet van Dyne. Hope officially becomes the Wasp — a skilled fighter with the ability to shrink and grown in size — in 2018's "Ant-Man and the Wasp."
Another girl on "The Boys" who kicks serious butt? Starlight! Erin Moriarty stars as Annie January, a member of the Seven with superhuman strength and the ability to absorb electricity and blast energy.
It all started with Anna Paquin's Rogue! She might not be the sassy superhero we know and love from the comic books, but that doesn't mean we don't adore the big screen adaptation of the mutant with the ability to absorb the life force or abilities of anyone she touches. Along with Wolverine, the character is at the center of 2000's "X-Men" — she basically opened the door to the whole "X-Men" film franchise.
Jennifer Garner made her debut as skilled martial artist Elektra Natchios in 2003's "Daredevil." The character was such a huge hit with fans, she scored a movie of her own: 2005's "Elektra," which fleshed out the contract killer's backstory — and imbued her with some superhuman abilities including astral projection and the gift of resurrection.
Kate Mara portrayed scientist Susan Storm in 2015's "Fantastic Four." She becomes the Invisible Woman — the only female member of the Fantastic Four — after she's exposed to energy from Planet Zero and develops the gift of invisibility, as well as the ability to generate forcefields.
Jessica Alba first portrayed Susan Storm in 2005's "Fantastic Four." In the action flick, which infamously bombed at the box office and with critics, Sue is a genetics researcher who develops superhuman abilities after she comes into contact with a cosmic storm during a mission in space. (The movie may have been a flop, but the gorgeous actress was at her all-time best!)
Brianna Hildebrand starred as apathetic X-Men trainee Negasonic Teenage Warhead — a mutant with the ability to generate explosions and become a literal warhead — in 2016's "Deadpool." She also happens to be the first openly gay character depicted in a Marvel movie. When her girlfriend — fellow X-Men member Yukio — appeared alongside her in 2018's "Deadpool 2," it was the first openly queer relationship depicted in a mainstream superhero film. Pretty cool, right?!
Save the cheerleader, save the world! Hayden Panettiere starred as Claire Bennet, a high school cheerleader with healing powers, on the NBC series "Heroes," which aired from 2006 to 2010. (Sadly, she did not return to the role in the 2015 reboot, "Heroes Reborn.")
Zazie Beetz brought the mutant mercenary Domino — who has the ability to manipulate luck and probability — to the big screen in 2018's "Deadpool 2," which sees her teaming up with the titular Merc with a Mouth as a member of the X-Force.
Several women have taken on the Canary mantle in The CW's Arrowverse, but our favorite is Katie Cassidy's Laurel Lance, who's served as both the villainous Black Siren and as the heroic Black Canary. Her name comes from her ability to emit screams at dangerously high frequencies. (Jurnee Smollett portrayed a different Canary — Dinah Lance — in 2020's "Birds of Prey.")
Sarah Michelle Gellar starred as the titular slayer — a seemingly average high school girl who inherits supernatural abilities including superhuman strength, agility and healing — on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," which aired from 1997 to 2003. (Kristy Swanson first took on the role in a 1992 movie of the same name.)
Holly Hunter voiced Helen Parr — a mother of three by day and the superhero Elastigirl by night — in the 2004 Disney/Pixar cartoon "The Incredibles." Her powers include flexibility (obviously!), superhuman strength and the ability to juggle three kiddos with burgeoning superhuman gifts of their own! She and her family returned to the big screen in 2018's "Incredibles 2."