The Marvel Cinematic Universe is filled with hundreds of characters, all with little to memorable screentime to defend Earth from invaders and supervillains. With the debut of Captain Marvel finally having her own installment, and as the first Marvel film starring a woman, I was reminded of female characters who have flown under the radar. Here are five underrated women from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Am I missing someone on the list? Let me know in the comments below!
Nebula and Gamora are underrated characters in their own right, but Mantis's sweet persona among the mix of roudy loudmouths makes her a refreshing superhero in Guardians of the Galaxy
clan. Even though James Gunn's alternative take on Mantis is undeniably questionable (by regularly making her the butt of jokes), her empathetic powers and sensitivity doesn't make her less powerful. In Avengers: Infinity War
, she was able to put her empathetic manipulation to work by essentially putting Thanos to sleep long and strong enough so Iron Man, Star Lord, Dr. Strange, Nebula, Peter Parker, and Drax attempted to remove the gauntlet from his hand. While Peter might get all the rightful blame for ruining their chances of defeating Thanos once and for all, Mantis did a pretty good job subduing the giant which none of the other Avengers and co. could manage.
Similar to Disney's aversion to young adult characters having mothers, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is not a big fan of superheros having romantic partners especially girlfriends. They usually end up dead or written out of a franchise, and sadly that's what happens with Jane Foster (also due to Natalie Portman stepping away from the series). The slack that Foster gets is not entirely understandable - she's an astrophysicist and astronomer who comes across Thor in the middle of new Mexico and she does her best to try to help him return to Asgard. She's smart, nerdy, excited about science (woop woop!), and doesn't mind standing up to or being swooned by the pirate angel Thor. On top of which, she possesses the Reality Stone and lives to tell the tale in Thor: The Dark World.
After she broke up with Thor following the Sokovia disaster, it was disappointing how easily she was written away with one line in Thor: Ragnarok
- surely, not a fitting farewell for such a fun character.
Honey van Dyne
, Hope van Dyne is waiting impatiently for her turn to carry her dad Hank's legacy and use his micro-technology to become the Wasp. When the patent for his tech is being prepared for a dangerous military operation, she helps Hank train Scott Lang to get it back. All the while, she is a thousand percent done with sitting on the sidelines. The first film develops a lovely relationship between herself and Hank with the loss of her mother that becomes a heartwarming arc in the second film Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Before Captain Marvel,
Hope broke the MCU's barriers of having half of her own film alongside Lang. Together, they suit up and track down Jane van Dyne who's been trapped in the quantum realm for decades. Hope is a good example of a female character who can have a romantic interest but also her own goals and fierce personality.
Cobie Smulders is popularly known from How I Met Your Mother
, but her longstanding performance as Maria Hill in The Avengers
movies is equally worthy of recognition. Standing side-by-side with S.H.I.E.L.D.'s director Nick Fury, Maria has appeared throughout the MCU as Fury's right-hand woman. She's called on to effectively run his missions from managing the carrier when the Avengers head to NYC as well as keeping Fury's death a secret in Captain America: Winter Soldier
. Even when Thanos snapped half the universe away in Avengers: Infinity War
, Maria was right alongside Fury as they turned to dust. She orchestrates half of what S.H.I.E.L.D. needs when the villains pop up.
The female forces behind Black Panther
is one of the reasons why the film became monumentally successful. While Shuri and Okoye are powerful characters on their own, Nakia has disappointingly fallen out of the conversation of characters who didn't survive Thanos's snap. Her entry into the MCU is more than impressive: she travels undercover around the world as a spy rescuing fellow Africans and Wakandans who aren't aware of their country's existence. She debates T'Challa about changing their traditions by opening its borders. Following T'Challa's fight against Killmonger, his mother suggests she take the special herb that would make her a female black panther when everyone assumes he's dead. She ends up fighting against Killmonger and is by T'Challa's side to help him address the United Nations about Wakanda. Nakia fights for that she believes in, telling T'Challa that her stubbornness would make her a great queen (if she would want to be one). While Shuri is technically a Disney Princess, Nakia is a queen and she slays.
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