“Captain America: Civil War” is a great superhero movie—hell, a great movie full stop—by just about any standard. Heroes are in conflict for legitimate philosophical and personal reasons. The action is creative and at times sublime. Spider-Man and Black Panther are introduced effortlessly as fully formed, charismatic characters. Even the need to set up umpteen sequels is done gracefully.
But Marvel is still missing one piece of the puzzle when it comes to their ever-expanding superhero universe: there's not nearly enough women. Given the premise of “Civil War”—with Cap and Iron Man both looking for reinforcements—Marvel blew a perfect opportunity to introduce some badass female characters.
Sure, there were two female heroes: the Black Widow and the Scarlet Witch. There’s also a brief appearance by Agent 13, a female spy. But there are eleventy-zillion super-bros, and there didn’t need to be. The following are just a few of the heroines Marvel could have chosen to include from others movies and TV shows or introduce from scratch. They’re all 1) awesome and 2) available to Marvel Studios, unlike X-Men such as Rogue and Storm, who are controlled by Fox. Let’s hope we see more of these heroes in the next Marvel super-brawl.
1. Captain Marvel
The lack of Captain Marvel is a bit baffling, since she’s in the same boat as the Black Panther and Spider-Man: due for a solo Marvel movie soon. In the comics, Carol Danvers is an Air Force pilot and former Ms. Marvel who gained powers thanks to the explosion of an alien device called a Psyche-Magnetron, because of course. As Ms. Marvel in the seventies, Danvers was one of the most overtly feminist superheroes. It’s a colossal bummer that she got left out of “Civil War” when two fellas got such stellar introductions.
Thor, Loki, and Odin get all the attention, but there’s a certain warrior goddess who could have filled absent Thor’s shoes capably in “Civil War.” Sif’s already pulled off a rare crossover, moving from Marvel movies to Marvel TV in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” With her Asgardian badassery, Sif could have added a completely different energy to a testosterone-soaked movie.
3. Ms. Marvel
This Muslim teen is Marvel’s most significant new character in decades. I’m sure she’s going to make it to the movies eventually, but why wait? In comics, it took over 40 years for Bucky Barnes to get resurrected. In the movies, it took just three years, between “Captain America: The First Avenger” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Marvel Studios is hitting home runs with characters that you’d think would be silly (cough, Ant-Man, cough) or overexposed (Spider-Man), so they have no excuse for ignoring a character this appealing and important.
Jennifer Walters, the cousin of the Hulk, is a far more interesting character despite her derivative name. Unlike her brutish namesake, Walters retains her brain when she goes green, making her a more effective superhero and less of a risk to everybody. Also, she’s a lawyer: imagine her take on the Sokovia Accords, the document (binding the Avengers to the U.N.) that caused all the fussin’ and fightin’ between Cap and Iron Man. With a super-lawyer around, maybe all that brawling wouldn’t even be necessary, or at least there’d be a better argument before the mega-brawl.
The comic-book grapevine is continually buzzing that Marvel is determined to push the Inhumans as a substitute for the mutants whose movie rights are owned by rival studio Fox. So why not bring in the queen of the Inhumans to build interest? Bonus: Medusa has the most visually exciting hair in comics: her red locks, which can be used as tentacle-like weapons, have enlivened more classic comic-book covers than any other character’s coiffure.
Since Marvel is now sharing Spider-Man with Sony, presumably Spider-Woman is available too. She’s a character who’s been an Avenger more often than Spider-Man in the comics, and she’s extremely powerful, thanks to her venom blasts. She’s also recently been pregnant—a rare status for a superhero. I doubt that condition would make it to the big screen, but Jessica Drew should.
7. Jessica Jones
Speaking of Jessicas, though not exactly a superhero, this superpowered detective showed in her Netflix series that she can handle a supervillain/evil bastard: no Marvel villain has been as scary as Kilgrave, the mind-controlling psycho-stalker known in the comics as the Purple Man. Krysten Ritter’s deadpan wit could have added a lot to “Civil War.” Just imagine her interactions with Iron Man or the Vision.
8. The Wasp
I wish there were a better actress playing the Wasp, so I’m actually fine with the Marvel powers-that-be leaving the Wasp out of “Civil War.” Evangeline Lilly was the worst part of “Lost” and seems unable to emote beyond the passion required by a shampoo commercial. The Wasp was introduced in “Ant-Man,” which was a fun movie but by far Marvel’s worst offender as far as neglecting women. Lilly’s shortcomings aside, the part was horribly written, and no woman in the movie had anything to do of substance. Preposterously, Marvel gave greater attention and depth to Ant-Man’s ants.
9. Squirrel Girl
On paper, Squirrel Girl—who has the dubious power of communicating with, yep, squirrels—seems even more ridiculous than Aquaman, but her recent series has reminded everyone that there’s room for goofy fun on the comics shelf. If Marvel Studios can make Ant-Man work—Ant-Man, for the love of Odin—there’s no reason other than sexism that Squirrel Girl should be dismissed.
10. Kate Bishop
Of all the Avengers in Civil War, the one who has the least to do is Hawkeye: Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton is once again superfluous and kinda boring. Marvel could instantly make Hawkeye more interesting by replacing him with his female counterpart from the comics, Kate Bishop, who is just as skilled but 10 times as interesting. As a younger hero, she’s also very capable of filling the Peter Parker-type role.
11. Monica Rambeau
Marvel deserves credit for increasing the diversity of their heroes in terms of race: “Civil War” featured three black superheroes: the Black Panther, the Falcon, and War Machine. But they’re all men. Why not reach a little deeper into the comic bin for the story of Monica Rambeau? She possesses cosmic-level energy-manipulation powers and has held the title of Captain Marvel, Pulsar, and Spectrum. She’s also been an Avenger and is currently part of one of Marvel’s best (and most diverse) current series, “The Ultimates.”
Granted, Elektra isn’t particularly a hero: she’s a morally questionable ninja assassin on a good day. But given that both Cap and Iron Man were treading on morally questionable ground, wouldn’t it make sense to seek some sketchy allies? Hell, in the comic book version of “Civil War,” Iron Man collaborates with supervillains, creates an evil clone of Thor, and sends heroes to a cosmic Guantanamo in the Negative Zone. I reckon Elektra—and maybe her new ninja buddies in the Hand—could’ve come in, well, handy.