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Since debuting in All Star Comics #8 in 1941, Wonder Woman has become one of the most recognizable superheroes in general, let alone being the most well-known female superhero. She stands alongside Batman and Superman as a part of DC’s Holy Trinity and one of the company’s A-list heroes.
Wonder Woman has appeared in a popular live-action TV show in the 1970s, a dreadful pilot in 2011, various cartoon shows and many of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies. But her journey to making it onto the big screen has been long and arduous with Ivan Reitman and Joss Whedon being linked to the project before she appeared in the DCEU. After 20 years of development, Wonder Woman is finally getting a solo film.
They have been many female superheroes who have appeared in feature films before Wonder Woman did in 2016’s Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, so let us look at some of the best female superheroes in movies before Wonder Woman’s first solo cinematic outing.
5.GoGo and Honey Lemon (Big Hero 6)
Kicking off this list is a duo of heroes from Disney’s 2014 adaptation of Big Hero 6: GoGo and Honey Lemon. Played by Jamie Chung and Génesis Rodríguez, GoGo and Honey are two of the six members of the superhero team and scientific geniuses – yet have contrasting personalities.
GoGo specializes in electromagnets and is an out-and-out tomboy: her catchphrase is ‘woman up’. GoGo is the first to jump into action: even before she takes on her superhero mantle she drove a car through the streets of San Fransokyo to escape microbots controlled by the villain Yokai. GoGo’s electromagnets roller blades makes her the speedster of the group.
Honey is a chemistry expert, has a happy-go-lucky, cheery personality and is the ultimate geeky girl. Honey is armed with a handbag which she uses to make instant chemical compounds: from glues to harden shields to explosives. Honey was a jolly beam of sunshine and she acts as the caring big sister of the group.
Both are great characters for very different reasons.
4. Catwoman (Batman Returns)
Putting Batman Returns‘ version of Catwoman as a female superhero is a bit of astretch: she was marketed as a villain and teamed up with the Penguin. However, Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance was iconic and her role as Catwoman was more of an anti-hero.
Before becoming Catwoman, Selina Kyle was the secretary to the corrupt industrialist Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) and gets killed by him when she finds out about his scheme to steal Gotham’s power. Selina is revived by cats because of ehh… comic book logic, dons the black skin-tight latex and becomes a costumed cat burglar. Her resurrection also leads to her sexual awakening and gave her nine lives.
Catwoman gets her revenge against Shreck at the end of Batman Returns after being shot four times and killing him with an electrified kiss. Although it seemed like Catwoman died at the end of the film the final shot showed she lived and Warner Brothers planned to make a spin-off: unfortunately the spin-off morphed into the 2003 abomination starring Halle Berry.
Catwoman also appeared in 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises and Anne Hathaway’s version showed she could kick ass in high heels. She played her part in stopping Bane (Tom Hardy) from blowing up Gotham and fled to have a normal life with Bruce Wayne afterwards.
3. Black Widow (Marvel Cinematic Universe)
Born Natasha Romanoff Black Widow is a Russian-born American spy for S.H.I.E.L.D. and so far has appeared in five MCU movies. Played by Scarlett Johannson, Black Widow was the victim of a secret Russian indoctrination program to train children to become assassins and was turned by S.H.I.E.L.D. when she was caught.
Despite having no superpowers of her own, Black Widow has fought with the Avengers against aliens invading New York and robots in a European city floating into the sky. She was also willing to face a man she knew would turn into an indestructible green rage monster, leading to a moment where Bruce Banner fakes anger and even though she was scared Black Widow stood her ground with a gun. All this makes her first fight in Iron Man 2 against a group of security guards look like a piece of cake.
Black Widow has become a key member of the Avengers, working alongside Captain America and Hawkeye. She had a spark with both of them and in Avengers: Age of Ultron was in a relationship with Bruce Banner.
Johannson made the character into an unquestionable badass – while also having moments of character depth and emotional weight. This is even more amazing because Johannson wasn’t the first choice for the role. Fans of the MCU are clamoring for a Black Widow solo film.
2. Hit-Girl (Kick-Ass series)
Small and foul-mouthed, Chloë Grace Moretz’s Hit-Girl was a scene stealer in both Kick-Ass movies. Hit-Girl, born Mindy McCready was trained from the age of four by her father to be the ultimate assassin – becoming skilled in hand-to-hand combat, guns, knives and her weapon of choice – a double-bladed staff. She made a lasting impression with her first scenes where she was shot by her father to test a bullet proof vest (whilst showing off her knowledge about bullet velocity) and took on a gang of drug dealers with ease, uttering the ‘C’ word as she does it when she in her costume.
Her actions in the first film including saving Dave Lizewski single-handedly – although was unable to save her father, prepare a plan of action to raid Frank D’Amico’s high security New York apartment and fight one-on-one a muscular mob boss who was skilled in karate. In the sequel she was the one who trained Dave to be a half-way competent superhero and the only costumed vigilante able to fight the tank of a woman known as Mother Russia.
1. Elastigirl (The Incredibles)
Topping this is list is Helen Parr, AKA Elastigirl, the wife of Bob, the famous Mr. Incredible, and mother to three children. Elastigirl has the power to stretch and alter her body and was a confident and capable hero back in her costume vigilantly days – even flirting with her future husband on top of a building.
After the Superhero Registration Act – which banned super powered people from public life – Mrs. Parr wanted to settle down into suburbia, believing it would be the best course of action for her family. However, she had to combat a husband who longed to relive the glory days.
In The Incredibles, Elastigirl showed her detective skills and abilities as a pilot, and when Mr. Incredible gets captured by Syndrome (admittedly an action she was inadvertently responsible for) she is the one who has to go and rescue him. Even years out of practice Elastigirl was able to single-handedly infiltrate a heavily guarded secret base.
By the end of the film Elastigirl accepts her status as a superhero and, along with her family, becomes The Incredibles. Audiences are set to see more of Elastigirl, with her family in The Incredibles 2 in 2018.