Characters that have yet to reach their full potential on the screen.
It’s no secret that male superheroes outnumber female superheroes. Women in the limelight are few and far between in the past 23 years of Marvel and DC flicks. Because of the scope of the MCU and other Marvel properties, filmmakers and screenwriters have had several opportunities to add female heroines who are more than simply eye candy.
It took until Captain Marvel for a female hero to lead an MCU film, and its concepts and message were met with varied reactions. These are the eight non-superpowered love interests who have been neglected by Marvel in the films before and after Captain Marvel. Some have now recovered, while others have yet to be redeemed.
MCU – Black Widow
Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow has been a supporting character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since her introduction in Iron Man 2, and it wasn’t until her character died that she received her long-overdue standalone picture. In contrast to her male contemporaries, like as Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, Black Widow grew slowly, always the fierce super spy with red in her heart and a reluctance to open up to anybody.
She lacks superpowers as well, thus although she can hold her own in a shootout or a fistfight, her talents are overshadowed by the abilities of her comrades, who can take on more nameless thugs and have flashier confrontations. While Downey Jr. and Chris Evans’ characters were given heroic send-offs, Johansson’s character was murdered off to solve a mystery and encourage the guys.
X-Men Original Trilogy – Mystique
Mystique’s design in the X-Men films is much different from her appearance in the books — in the comics, she can wear clothing (egregiously form-fitting, but clothes nonetheless). Rebecca Romijn’s role is more of a subordinate to Sir Ian McKellen’s Magneto, although her varied shape-shifting ability moves the story along. Jennifer Lawrence’s depiction in the reboots has seen a significant increase in terms of depth and importance in the storyline.
Romijin’s Mystique, on the other hand, is much more of a tool than a dynamic character, with just a few phrases. It doesn’t help that in The Last Stand, she is stripped of her mutation and summarily abandoned by Magneto the moment she becomes ineffective. It doesn’t help that she’s a very sexualized femme fatale, condemned to duping and misleading multiple men in order to attain her objectives.
MCU – Gamora
In the Guardians of the Galaxy movie and briefly in Infinity War and Endgame, Zoe Saldana’s Gamora is another badass of few words, playing second fiddle to Chris Pratt’s Starlord. She is yet another lone female on a squad of lads, and she is also Starlord’s love interest. She’s not the protagonist or the leader, and she doesn’t have to be, but Gamora’s tale finally takes center stage in Infinity War after two films as a subplot.
Only to be sacrificed to drive Thanos (Josh Brolin), in the same way that Black Widow was sacrificed one film later. Unlike Black Widow, she is slain and then resurrected as a version of herself from an alternative timeline before to all of her growth in Infinity War.
MCU – Mantis
Mantis, played by Pom Klementieff, makes his film debut in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. She’s a socially awkward servant to the film’s villain, and the butt of countless jokes that go over her head in both that film and Infinity War. She, like practically every other figure who was not a member of Phase 1, is a victim of “The Snap.”
Mantis’ deviation from her comic book counterpart transforms her from a self-actualized hero with agency and a consciousness of her own into the villain’s naive and weak-willed possession. She has her moments, such as in the struggle against Thanos in Infinity War, but as a female character who was initially a human POC, the films did not treat her with respect. She’ll play a larger role in Vol. 3, which should better resemble her powerful comic-book counterpart.
MCU — Hope Pym/The Wasp
Evangeline Lilly’s role in Ant-Man and The Wasp faces the same fate as many female support characters to a male lead, notwithstanding the movie poster controversy. Like Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) in The Lego Movie or Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) in The Matrix movie, these extremely skilled women are left to instruct the chosen one, who is meant to rescue the day rather than their professors.
There’s nothing wrong with Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man, but the narrative of Ant-Man and The Wasp leaves the issue of why he’s the hero when she might have carried the movie unanswered. Pym’s role is similar to other women in the MCU, such as Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), in that she cleans up after the male heroes.
MCU – Lady Sif
Sif (Jaimie Alexander) debuted in Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Agents of Shield, and most recently in the Disney + series Loki, where she kicked ass and lost her memory. She can compete with Thor, and her personality attributes include strength, silence, and badassery. Sif and Thor’s connection develops significantly in the comics, with she and the rest of the Warriors Three receiving little affection in the Thor films.
To her fault, Sif is neither the protagonist nor the love interest. Her character’s development is behind schedule due to her absence from Thor: Ragnarok and her anticipated reintroduction in Thor: Love and Thunder.
Storm – X-Men Series
Storm has always been a supporting character in both the original trilogy and the reboots, appearing when it was required and expedient to employ her tremendous weather skills to progress the story. She’s there to appear cool, spew some exposition, fry bad dudes with lightning, and sometimes pilot, as played by Halle Berry and subsequently Alexandra Shipp.
For a prominent X-Men character who has been in so many films, writers have missed several opportunities to offer Storm more to do, say, and be. Her short appearance as one of Apocalypse’s (Oscar Isaac) horsemen offers nothing to further her character.
MCU Captain Marvel
What is the issue with Captain Marvel? She received her own film, is a pillar of female superheroes, and gets to land the last blow on Thanos’ ship in Endgame. Brie Larson’s leading performance as the pilot-turned-space-police officer sparked considerable criticism, some of it fair, some of it not. Larson’s character in Captain Marvel suffers from amnesia, causing her to find herself with the viewer.
Amnesiac characters have been used previously, such as in Memento, but this narrative decision harms Marvel’s personality and agency. Instead of a first act in which she uses her powers to escape incarceration, like Tony Stark did in Iron Man, establishing who he is, what he’s good at, and making him rethink what he stands for, Marvel is dragged around the story in all her stoic grandeur, picking up jigsaw pieces of knowledge. Marvel still has a lot going for her with her forthcoming sequel.