Badass female superheroes you've probably never heard of

Fresh on the heels of the DC Extended Universe's Wonder Woman, and all of its well-deserved praise, many are rejoicing that finally, finally we have a badass female superhero who was given the opportunity to carry a movie all on her own. And while there have certainly been some badass female superheroes and villains on-screen before (both the big screen and the small screen), it was refreshing to see a female hero take center stage — not to mention the quip about men being pretty much unnecessary. 

While Wonder Woman has opened the door to future female superhero movies, she wasn't exactly unknown prior to her big screen debut. And while we may have Supergirl fronting her own series now on the CW, Black Widow appearing alongside the Avengers, and Gamora guarding the galaxy, there are plenty of badass female superheroes you've probably never heard of. Here's just a taste of what could come if DC and Marvel decide to let more women take the spotlight in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe, along with a few you may be seeing soon.

Wasp a.k.a. Janet van Dyne

The Wasp may sound at least somewhat familiar to you. If you saw Marvel's Ant-Man, you may know there's a highly anticipated sequel set to be released in 2018 called Ant-Man and the Wasp. So we're going to get more on this character (who if you watched the first movie, you've already met), but the Wasp (played in the first movie by Evangeline Lilly) is a pretty great heroine in her own right. After all, according to the comics, she's one of the founding members of the Avengers and was its longest leader aside from Captain America.

Her first appearance was in 1963's Tales to Astonish #44 and while she started as a ditzy character, she moved up the ranks becoming increasingly smart and crafty. Since the 1960s there have been literally dozens of members who have joined the Avengers, but Wasp is routinely ranked in the top ten Avengers of all time. In fact, according to Goliath, writers at Marvel have even said if the Avengers had to rank themselves, they'd put Wasp at number one. So yeah, see the movie. She's a badass.

Captain Marvel a.k.a. Carol Danvers

It's hard to talk about badass female Avengers without mentioning Captain Marvel, who you might not realize is a woman from her name — and to be fair, she wasn't the original Captain Marvel. This version began as regular old Carol Danvers in Marvel Heroes #13 in 1968 where she served as head of security for a military base. In a subsequent explosion she is saved by the male Captain Marvel, but not before her genetic material melds with his. 

In the 1970s the now-enhanced former NASA chief of security made her debut as Ms. Marvel and the editor of the Daily Bugle's Woman Magazine. Carol stayed active over the years under a variety of aliases until 2012 when she took the legacy of Captain Marvel to make it her own. So why should we care about the female Captain Marvel if the character hasn't always been female? 

Because when the former Ms. Marvel took up the mantle of Captain Marvel, comic fans, feminists, and Hollywood all took notice. This version of Captain Marvel is the one you'll meet in the 2019 movie starring Brie Larson. Of all the movies in the MCU, this will be the character showcased as not only Marvel's first female superhero to carry a movie on her own, but as the character to carry the Marvel name, literally. 

Domino a.k.a. Neena Thurman

If you're familiar with the Harry Potter franchise, you know just how important a bit of felix felicis can be. Lucky for Domino, real name Neena Thurman, she doesn't need any liquid luck because she's a mutant who can quite literally manipulate things in her favor, resulting in a domino effect (see what they did there?) of what is pretty much the best luck in the world. 

She was created as part of Project Armageddon in an attempt to create a doomsday weapon in the form of a mutant, but her good luck was seen as a failure for the project. Domino isn't just lucky though, she's also great with gadgets and weapons and has great agility. After spending her childhood in a cult in Chicago, she escaped and used her abilities to became a freelance mercenary, eventually helping to create the mercenary group Six Pack, where she met the time-traveling mutant Cable. 

If Cable sounds familiar, that might be because he's going to be played by Josh Brolin in the upcoming Deadpool 2 movie (he's also the son of X-Man Cyclops). If you think that because Domino is a fellow mutant and crossed paths with Cable, she must have also crossed paths with Deadpool, you'd be right. Lucky for us, that means we'll also get a chance to see Domino on the big screen in the upcoming Deadpool 2 played by Zazie Beetz.

Mockingbird a.k.a. Barbara "Bobbi" Morse

With a Ph.D. in biology, Bobbi Morse is a highly-trained S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who used to be married to Hawkeye. But a woman is not defined by who she married. While you may have seen her on two seasons of ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Mockingbird is even more badass than Adrianne Palicki's portrayal of her would have you think. 

Her first appearance was as a highly trained spy in Astonishing Tales #6 in 1971, but it wasn't until 1980 that she was first called Mockingbird. She later helped Hawkeye launch the West Coast Avengers, then embraced a darker side of herself after she allowed a man who had drugged and taken advantage of her fall to his death. When Hawkeye lectured her for it, prioritizing his moral code over her trauma, she left him and the West Coast Avengers. After later being injured, she was treated with a mixture of Captain America's Super-Soldier Serum and Nick Fury's Infinity Formula, making her stronger and tougher than ever, but never diminishing just how much of a brilliant scientist she is. 

When Palicki's Mockingbird left Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., there was hope she'd all get a show of her own. So far we haven't seen that, or any indication she'll be joining her fellow Avengers on the big screen, but we can hold out hope. Who doesn't want a super strong, super tough, super genius to look up to?

Mera

There's something so inherently badass about being queen of the sea, wouldn't you say? Mera made her first appearance in Aquaman #11 in 1963 after she was exiled from Dimension Aqua where she was queen. She ends up in Atlantis where she seeks the help of Aquaman for defeating the man, Leron, who exiled her. After they return to her home and defeat Leron, Aquaman invites her back to Atlantis where they eventually get married. 

Even though Mera will make her debut as Aquaman's wife in DC Extended Universe's Justice League movie, played by Amber Heard, Mera is so much more than just the wife of Aquaman. Despite the fact that Aquaman might sound like the more water-controlling hero, all he can really do is talk to fish. Mera, on the other hand, has full power over the sea — it obeys her every command. Not only is she amphibian and able to breathe both in water and on land, she can manipulate water to create missiles or other geometric objects and has limited range telepathy. We can only hope her role in Justice League and in the subsequent movie Aquaman allow her to show just how much of a badass she really is.

Big Barda a.k.a. Barda Free

One of DC's New Gods, Big Barda is in many ways a reversal of typical gender roles. For example, she's more powerful and physically imposing than her husband Mr. Miracle. Born on Apokolips, a dark planet essentially in the underworld of the New Gods, she was taken from her mother to be trained in an orphanage by Granny Goodness (spoiler, the name is ironic — Granny Goodness isn't good at all) as a warrior to die for the fascist cause of Darkseid (DC's big baddie). 

She meets Scott Free a.k.a. Mr. Miracle, who was raised under similar conditions, and falls in love with him basically at first sight — ultimately marrying him. After witnessing the death of one of her own people (who was killed for the crime of dancing), Big Barda begins secretly working against the bad people who raised her (New Genesis). She helps a group escape from Apokolips (including Mr. Miracle), but stays behind to continue the fight, once again reversing typical gender roles. 

Ultimately she joins the Justice League specifically to use her combat training to prepare Earth's heroes to stave off the destruction of the universe. You read that right, in the comics Big Barda is the one who trained and mobilized the Justice League to prevent the end of everything as we know it. No big deal, right?

Silver Sable a.k.a. Silver Sablinova

Maybe the best thing about the Symkarian-born Silver Sable, whose real name is Silver Sablinova, is that not only is she the leader of a mercenary team her father initially formed to hunt down war criminals (called Wild Pack), she turned it into a viable business called Silver Sable International and serves as the CEO. 

She made her first appearance as part of Wild Pack in Amazing Spider Man #265 as her team is tracking down Black Fox. Because she works for hire, she's occasionally on the other side of what we might call hero vs. villain, but she lets her moral compass guide her, occasionally leading to her being called an anti-hero. While Silver Sable doesn't have any superhuman abilities, she's super athletic, skilled in martial arts and hand-to-hand combat, and an expert marksman and swordsman. She's also known to be able to resist psychic manipulation and can speak seven languages. 

Take that all in: she's super smart, she runs a business, and can kill you with a gun, a sword, or her bare hands. It's no wonder she's collaborated with Spider-Man, the Punisher, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Captain America, and Deadpool. Who knows, we may even see Silver Sable on the big screen sooner rather than later.

Renée Montoya

As a Gotham City Police Officer, who graduated at the top of her class, Renée Montoya debuted in the comic books in Batman #475 right before appearing in Batman: The Animated Series. In the No Man's Land run, Gotham City was federally declared no longer part of the U.S. after a major earthquake and all citizens were told to evacuate. Batman vanished for months, leaving the city's criminals to run rampant. Montoya, on the other hand, stuck around. 

Not only was she tough enough to take on the most crime-ridden city in pretty much the entire world, she did it as a closeted lesbian. This made her not only one of the most prominent Latina DC characters, but also one of the most prominent gay DC characters. 

In the "Half a Life" story arc that began with Gotham Central #6, Two-Face publicly outed Montoya as a lesbian and framed her for murder. While she was eventually cleared of the murder charges, she was rejected by her religious parents after learning she's a lesbian. Although her life at first fell apart, she was still the clearest choice to take up the mantle of The Question, capitalizing on her skills in hand to hand combat. Though she no longer wears the fedora of The Question, Renée Montoya is just badass enough that she could make the leap to the silver screen simply as herself.

Squirrel Girl a.k.a. Doreen Green

With a solo series called The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, you can get a pretty good idea why we saved Doreen Green as Squirrel Girl (arguably the best) for last. As a child, Doreen discovered that, in addition to her weird, squirrel-like tail, she could also communicate with squirrels. From that point on she fantasized about being a hero. In "The Coming of… Squirrel Girl" — as part of Marvel Super-Heroes— she introduced herself to Iron Man in hopes of becoming his sidekick. After they're ambushed and she saves Iron Man from Doctor Doom, he basically tells her she's too young to fight crime, but that he'll put in a good word for her when she's older. 

That was way back in 1992. While she appeared in comics as a supporting character for years, it wasn't until 2015 that she finally got her own series, the aforementioned The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Ask pretty much anyone and you'll find out it was worth the wait. Not only is she seemingly literally unbeatable, she's normal shaped. As Slate noted, she "looks rounder, shorter and more realistic than many female superheroes, especially when the tail, tucked in, pads her rear end." 

Oh, and you know how everyone is set to (spoiler alert) go up against Thanos in the upcoming Infinity War movies? Squirrel Girl already beat him. She's also taken on Wolverine, Deadpool, Galactus, and pretty much the entire Marvel universe. Oh, did I mention she's a computer science major? Badass.

The more, the better

All of these amazing women are just a taste of the fantastic female characters DC and Marvel have in their arsenal. Let's just hope that as Wonder Woman continues to ride its wave of success, and as the heroines in the early part of this list make their silver screen debuts, directors, producers, and screenwriters realize just how much we want—and deserve—more badass female superheroes

And if anyone tells you there just aren't enough of them to carry a franchise, or that they just aren't cool enough, we're happy to call in reinforcements. Badass Ladies, assemble!