Thank you, drift partner.
Marvel Studios is only just beginning to understand the importance of representation, and as such are not doing the best job of it. They seem to have problems understanding the concept of having more than two women onscreen at any time, to say nothing of allowing them to actually interact (shoutout to the Thor movies for consistently defying this). They have an issue with actually allowing women of color to exist, let alone be important, central to the plot, or, well, alive for more than a few scenes. (And I’m sorry to say that this post mostly features female characters who are coded white in the comics – which is not to say that they couldn’t be racebent in their hypothetical MCU appearances.) The main solution I’ve seen suggested for most of these problems is merely: more women. More female characters means more variety of female characters, means the narrative choices of one character will not stand for all characters. So here are my suggestions for five female characters that should appear in the MCU sooner than later.
5. Tandy Bowen/Dagger
Tandy, of course, is one-half of the anti-drug team Cloak and Dagger, who get their powers from a new strain of cocaine (no, really) and have corresponding light-and-darkness powers (no, really). They are both teenage runaways who meet up and are coerced into taking the drugs and, once their powers are activated, find that they need each other to survive. Cloak has access to the darkness dimension and must feed on a light source or he will grow weak and die, and Dagger has the ability to create “daggers” of light and energy – together they decide to help runaway teens like themselves avoid drugs. It was a cheesy premise, but their relationship is touching and their stories (even today) are generally the kind of cheese that I like, so I admit this is mostly personal bias.
However, with the most recent development on Agents of SHIELD, the fish oil tablets with terrigen crystals inside them…I mean, c’mon. That’s begging for a Cloak & Dagger episode! They don’t even have to do anything with them afterwards, I just want them to show up and then I can pretend they’re off fighting crime on the mean streets of wherever.
4. Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman
Here is where I sound like a total noob, because I actually have only read a few comics where Jess is tangentially involved. A basic summary from the wikis: as a child, Jess got sick from the uranium in her environment, and her father cured her by injecting her with a serum made from the blood of several spider species and then sealing her in a genetic accelerator. But it worked too well, and she stayed there for decades, aging gradually and finally waking up as a teenager with no idea what had happened. The serum had given her, among other things, super strength, wall-crawling ability, and the ability to create what she calls “venom blasts” of bio-electric energy that her body secretes at all times. She got accused of being a witch and ran – straight into the arms of a Hydra leader, who offered her sanctuary.
But since it was Hydra, they had an ulterior motive, of course. They trained her to be the perfect assassin, but she rebelled against them repeatedly, culminating in her refusal to assassinate Nick Fury and her attack on the Hydra leader who took her in. Eventually she ended up at SHIELD, but honestly, with that much backstory, we have enough for a goddamn Netflix series right there. Hydra already has a precedent for brainwashing and kidnapping superpowered people – why not Jess? If they wanted to simplify it, she could even be an Inhuman who got affected by the fish oil or a rogue Black Widow agent or what the fuck ever, I don’t care. They need her because she and Carol Danvers are best friends and I don’t want to imagine a world where they’re not.
Also because, you know, more lady assassins.
3. Kate Bishop/Hawkeye
I’ve gone over how this is possible in a previous post (it’s not hard, it’s really not), but the reason I think we should bring Kate in is that Kate is very different from the normal plucky teen sidekick. Technically, she’s a twenty-something, and she’s got a neglectful father, but she’s also been raised in the lap of luxury and never really had to confront her own privilege before she gets dragged into the Young Avengers. A lot of the Hawkeye series (by Matt Fraction, really excellent stuff) involves her learning, making mistakes and fucking up in ways that parallel to how Clint Barton fucks up, except that Clint Barton is a grown-ass adult. But one thing Kate does not have is a lack of empathy. Kate doesn’t always want to care, but she really cares about doing what’s right. And she’s determined to do it or die trying – which she comes very close to doing, multiple times. She plays cool and disaffected, but she cares deeply about her friends and about the people she can protect. And I think that MCU Clint could use someone to smack him upside the head when Natasha’s not around to do it.
2. Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk
Realistically, Jen Walters’ origin story from the comics might be a bit hard to pull off in MCU – she’s Bruce Banner’s cousin and he gives her a life-saving blood transfusion, accidentally giving her Hulk powers as well. Jen’s transformations are more easily controlled, though, and they transform her from a mousy, shy lawyer into a six-foot badass who takes no shit from anybody. As of late, Jen prefers to stay Hulked out at all times. She finds it empowering, not to mention intimidating to her opponents.
The reason I bring her up is not only because she is great and I love her, but because introducing her could only make sense at this point. You see, in her recently canceled series, Jen Walters owned her own law firm. She took on clients such as Victor Von Doom’s son and Captain America himself. And in the latter case, she went up against Matt Murdock. Hm, and who has just gotten his own highly successful show which focused partially on the cases he and his partner took on? Yeah. I think it’s time for one of those for Jen too.
1. Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel.
I mean, if you thought this list was going anywhere else, I just don’t know what to say to you. Kamala is one of the most important characters created in the last decade, as a Pakistani-American Muslim teenage girl growing up in New Jersey with superpowers. She could have been just a cash grab for Marvel, as they have been prone to do in the past (hi Miles Morales, poor boy), but through sensitive and clever writing, writer G. Willow Wilson and editors Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker have created a character that is instantly loveable. Kamala’s story is one of growing up, of being different, but it is so unique from anything else we have seen in mainstream superhero comics because it takes the time to acknowledge and celebrate her culture and religion while also acknowledging the weirdness of being an American kid at the same time as being a cultural minority. And what’s more, Kamala isn’t perfect, she does make mistakes, and there have been real consequences to that. She has had to learn some very hard lessons in a very short time, and has had to sort out some truths about herself, and she has emerged stronger.
Like it or not, the MCU cannot remain the way it is forever. The current actors will age, lose interest, leave. The audiences might lose interest too – after all, how many stories can you really tell with the same batch of characters while under extreme pressure from all sides? They’ll need new blood, more diversity and a wider potential for new and different stories. I can think of no better character to usher in a new generation of MCU characters than Kamala Khan.