The Top Female Super Heros Of All The Time
In the very fictitious yet mirrored world of comic books, female characters are often seen as unequal. Fictional women, including the most notorious of superheroines or supervillains, are often molded to fit societal expectations of what boys and men would like to look at or read at the time. The damsel in distress and boy-crazy crime fighter trope are just a few ways that writers have missed the mark with their lady characters. However, despite this sucky way that misogyny has permeated the world of comics, there are still some extremely powerful, interesting, and inspiring female superheroes out there that are absolutely worth following.
We put together the best of the best for this list. Little girls as well as little boys have been inspired by these legendary superheroines for years, and not just because of their interesting backstories and timelines. These female superheroes are the most powerful of them all.
#1 Barbara Gordon
After recovering from a spinal injury that left her paralyzed for three years, Barbara Gordon has just graduated from college with a degree in forensic psychology and is living the typical early-twenties life in Burnside, Gotham's very own version of Brooklyn. Sorry, did I say typical? I meant that she's trying to navigate the waters of having a normal life while also attempting to bring down a psychopath with a revenge porn ring so twisted it will make you want to set up two-step verification on every account you have, immediately.
Babs rocks the most functional crime-fighting outfit ever seen in comics (Doc Martens! A leather jacket! A snap-off cape!), and she's not scared to snap a selfie post-smackdown. She's you, if you just also happened to have an eidetic memory and a black belt.
As a bonus, the book's current creative team is outspoken in their love for feminism and diversity in comics, and they responded incredibly well to some recent controversy over their representation of trans characters (which, while imperfect, shows they're trying and listening to communities traditionally under-represented in comics). Plus, Babs Tarr's art makes the Burnside crew look like they belong in the next episode of Broad City. If you're looking to pick up your first DC cape book, I recommend waiting a few months for the first Burnside trade—and then you'll be hooked for life. (Mwahaha.)
To some, She-Hulk is the ultimate expression of feminine power. She’s indestructible, super-strong, and without inhibition – all of this with the mind of a high-powered attorney wrapped inside those unparalleled green muscles.
And while she may seem like a typical spin-off character (obviously riffing on her somewhat more famous cousin Bruce Banner), She-Hulk takes the concept of a gamma-irradiated hero to a totally different level, embracing her alter ego and living life to the fullest.
In some ways, She-Hulk also broke other boundaries – her John Byrne-penned ongoing series introduced an indestructible, fourth-wall-breaking hero with a sense of humor years before Deadpool grew a similar schtick.
She-Hulk was Deadpool before there even was a Deadpool.
Janet Van Dyne was not only the first female Avenger, and a founder, but also the hero who named the team when they first formed. Though she started out as something of a sidekick to her on-again-off-again (currently off-again) paramour Hank Pym, Janet quickly became a hero in her own right, leading the Avengers several times, and often acting as the team’s moral center.
When crafting this list, it came down to putting either Wasp or Captain Marvel in this spot. And while Captain Marvel may be more prominent now, her trajectory has been spotty, taking her from being a damsel in distress to a perpetual victim, to leading the Avengers and her own intergalactic defense team, while Wasp’s arc has been far more consistent. Add to that her historical significance, and it’s easy to see why she’s one of the greatest female heroes ever to grace the printed page.
And while viewers got a glimpse of Janet Van Dyne in action in Ant-Man, she's said to be taking on a more prominent (and eponymous) role in the sequel, Ant-Man, and the Wasp with Janet’s daughter Hope Van Dyne taking on the mantle.
An All-New, All-Different Wasp - Janet Van Dyne's apparent stepdaughter - took the mantle in her own ongoing series, The Unstoppable Wasp, in which Janet Van Dyne is a supporting character.
#4 Jean Grey
The X-Men franchise’s Jean Grey is a beloved fan favorite for many reasons. In the Marvel universe, she is known as an Omega mutant, meaning she is just as powerful as Magneto and Professor X. Her telepathic abilities are similar in power to Emma Frost’s abilities (we’ll get to her soon) but her telekinetic powers put her at the top.
After combining with the Phoenix and increasing her already crazy powers, Jean Grey is able to rearrange matter at will– meaning she can literally make anything disappear and is capable of destroying anything at catastrophic levels. While combining with the Phoenix made her very unstable and a massive threat (’cause really, what person, mutant or not, can deal with that kind of power?), she quite literally emulated the mythical Phoenix and rose from the ashes to assert her place as one of the most genuine, interesting, and powerful super heroines of all time.
Not only is Storm (also known as Ororo Munroe) a fan favorite from the X-Men franchise, but her ability to control the elements and climate makes her one of the most powerful female superheroes (and mutants in the X-Men universe) ever. Her ancestry also supports the use of magic, specifically witchcraft– most of her ancestors were sorceresses and priestesses. She is able to breathe while moving at any speed and she is protected from dangerous air friction. She’s also an incredibly skilled and cunning expert thief who is proficient in hand to hand combat. She’s a great marksman, too, and is fluent in many languages.
On top of her awesome powers, Storm was awesome due to the representation her presence meant in the world of comics, as a black woman. Her pristine leadership abilities and strength also make her a memorable, tough, and inspiring character. She also leads her own team of female X-Men in the current comic series. Who doesn’t love Storm?
#6 Kitty Pryde
While the first characters have seemed to be almost infinitely powerful, Kitty Pryde aka Shadowcat aka Ariel aka Sprite has one core ability that is just extremely useful. She can “phase” making herself completely intangible. This allows her to avoid almost any physical attack, only being susceptible to energy or magic based attacks. This same ability allows her to pass through solid objects as long as she can hold her breath. Passing a “phased” part of her body through a machine causes it to malfunction. Phasing through a human can render them immediately unconscious.
What really makes Kitty powerful is the dark side of her ability. She can cause other things to go intangible through contact. She can conceivably leave someone stuck into a wall forever, or phase an object through someone’s head and revert it back to its solid state in the middle of their brain.
Kitty is the youngest mutant to ever join the roster of the core X-Men team.
#7 Super Girl
Clark Kent (Ka-El) wasn’t the only Kryptonian from the House of El to be sent to planet Earth just moments before the destruction of Krypton – Kara Zor-El (aka Kara Danvers) made it to the planet too and is equal in ability to Superman, though Superman seems to have made it to Earth first, is older, and has had some time to grow accustomed to his role as “the big blue boy scout.” Of course, anyone with the seemingly limitless power of a Kryptonian under Earth’s yellow sun is going to make the list.
Melissa Benoist is playing the character in a new series from CBS and it looks nothing short of fantastic. It’s a shame, however, that she won’t be joining the growing CW universe of DC comic’s characters.
If you’re a “Gleek”, you’ll probably remember Melissa from the popular FOX series Glee. This is the second time DC has used a Glee regular to play one of their major characters. Grant Gustin currently plays The Flash on the CW series of the same name.
#8 Black Widow
Black Widow is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.
She is much stronger than you think- just because she doesn't have super powers, it doesn't make her weak. Her skills are far better, far more realistic than others. Heroes like superwoman and invisible woman were born with their skills. The Black Widow had to train hard to be able to get her awesome skills! She works harder than other female superheroes and deserves to be on my top 5 superheroes list!
She has been through the most than any other of these female characters. Wonder Woman was born a goddess, with all the riches and powers, whilst Natasha was raised with a hard-core Russian agency where it's kill or be killed at the age of seven. Wonder Woman has a whip/lasso thing that she can wave around, but Natasha fights with anything she can get her hands on. Black Widow has experienced all the people around her die, and her sadness and anger is so much that she cannot even cry anymore. But Wonder Woman? No, it's all sunshine and daisies around her friends and family.
Natasha has been through the most and has suffered the most, trained the most and probably will last the longest in a battle, Natalia deserves to be number 1, 100%.
#9 Wonder Woman
By far the best. The only truly top tier female lead in comics. Along with Batman and Superman, she completes the trinity of DC comics. She's also willing to go that next step and kill when she feels it's for the greater good which sets her apart from the other mainstream good guys.
No offense to all the others, but wonder women is in a class by herself. It's not just her powers, she's got staying power as the base other female super heroes were built on. She even survived the period when men freaked out over the women's lib movement and took away her powers. Growing up in the 80's I didn't read comic books but, I and every other kid knew who she was. Now I know of lots of other female super heroes, but they still don't compare to Wonder Woman.
#10 Sue Storm
Unfortunately, Sue is probably one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe. The comics have done some justice for her powers and persona. She’s no longer relegated to the arm candy of Namor or husband Reed Richards. Heck, during the Civil War story-arch she left Reed and literally blew the roof off of their skyscraper home, the Four Freedom Plaza. This is not something the character would have done in her first appearance in 1961.
In addition to her ability to render herself invisible, she can create invisible force fields that seem to gain strength equal to her level of concentration. She can create invisible blasts that, as mentioned, can blow the roof off of a skyscraper. She can also create invisible floating disks that she can fly or move heavy objects around on.
Like Kitty Pryde, Sue has a dark side to her power. She can conceivably create a small invisible force field in an enemy’s body, potentially cutting her foe off from air or even stopping the flow of blood to their brain.
#11 Doreen Green
Squirrel Girl is ridiculous. She's just ridiculous! There's no getting around it. She's a girl with the equivalent physical powers of a squirrel, (yes, you read that correctly) and she can also talk to squirrels. The great thing about the current run of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is that writer Ryan North knows all this, and embraces Doreen's ridiculousness with all the love she deserves.
Easily the funniest comic superhero comic out there right now (so many puns, it's nuts!), Squirrel Girl follows Doreen's adventures as she starts college with her pet squirrel Tippy Toe, like meeting her new knitting-obsessed roomie, signing up for clubs, crushing on cute boys, defeating Galactus—you know, the usual. Also, Doreen hides her conspicuous squirrel tail in the back of her pants, which Erica Henderson uses to her advantage by drawing Squirrel Girl in the most body-positive, bootylicious way possible. "I like to draw heartier super ladies, if their powers are mostly physical, because I feel like I shouldn't be able to take down a super hero by sitting on her," Henderson said. Preach.
Comic history bonus time: Back in 2005, Squirrel Girl single-handedly defeated Thanos—you know, big scary purple Josh Brolin from Guardians of the Galaxy—with squirrels. Never underestimate Squirrel Girl, friends.
Mera, like Aquaman, gets a lot of flack for being a “useless underwater character.” The thing is, Aquaman and Mera are far from useless and are quite possibly two of the most powerful characters in the DC universe. The flack Aquaman and Mera receive is largely due to old and tired jokes on shows like Family Guy and Big Bang Theory that create the false idea Aquaman’s only ability is that he can talk to fish and that he is useless unless in water.
Like Aquaman, Mera is actually stronger and more invulnerable on land due to being used to a life in the oceans depths. She’s also a trained warrior and infiltrator. While Mera lacks Aquaman’s ability of a psychic push with ocean life (and to some extent land life), she is able to control water to do her every whim. She can turn it into fierce creatures, make it hard to protect herself, and she has even sent every source of water around her erupting out from its source and destroying everything around her.
Mera, too, has a dark side to her powers. She could conceivably pull all the water out from the body of her foes, instantly and completely dehydrating them.
Marvel's Silk character has got clout, literally. She's a master at hand-to-hand combat, and she also has Spider-Man-like abilities. No wonder she still has her own title via Marvel Unlimited.
#14 Kristy Swanson as Buffy Summers
Kristy Swanson will always be credited for bringing Buffy Summers into our lives, but we wouldn't witness the Slayer as she was truly meant to be until five years after the movie debuted. Swanson's wooden (pun intended) take on the role, which was due to Joss Whedon's original script being turned into a vampire satire, had Buffy as a whiny Valley Girl who ended up playing comedic second fiddle to supporting co-stars. Who could forget future two-time Academy Award–winner Hilary Swank sneering, "Get out of my facial!" It's one thing to laugh at SoCal stereotypes like Swank's character, but Swanson's Buffy was just as shallow, making it impossible to connect to someone who was supposed to be a hero and a role model.
#15 Halle Berry as Patience Phillips/Catwoman
There are many, many things wrong with both this movie and Halle Berry's performance. However, much as it may pain comic-book purists to hear this, credit must be paid to Catwoman and its creation of the brand-new character Patience Phillips for a number of reasons. First off, it is the only onscreen incarnation of the villainous Catwoman that makes her an actual superhero (or super-antihero). She has real powers for once (speed, agility, heightened senses, an Eartha Kitt–inspired purr), and after a short-lived stint as a cat burglar, this is the first time we've seen Catwoman seeking justice for those who have been wronged. She may do so in a mischievous manner, but ultimately, you really wanted someone like Patience's Catwoman for a best friend (Alex Borstein's Beau's-lines-affected Sally hit the jackpot there). Also, while Berry's Patience was way more flat than multidimensional, it was still inspiring to watch her go from meek wallflower to a self-possessed, leather-suited badass.