It's not easy being a woman in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) surrounded by the plethora of testosterone. It isn’t hard to notice that the men outnumber the women in the Marvel films. Clearly, the MCU is a man's world. However, the women that occupy it are inspiring, extraordinary and independent.
Whether they are gifted with superpowers like Scarlet Witch or have to brave the mass destruction throughout MCU films with normal human limitations like the rest of us such as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Maria Hill, these women are an integral part of saving the day, time and time again. All while getting significantly less screen time than their male counterparts.
Below, we examine some of the incredible things that female characters in the Marvel films have had to do to make their mark.
20 Black Widow Was Orphaned & Endured Brainwashing By The U.S.S.R.
Natasha Romanoff, also known as Black Widow, has not had it easy in the past in the MCU. She was orphaned at a young age, and was brainwashed to be a trained spy for the Russian government through a program named the Red Room.
Eventually, she was recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D. who noticed her value, which, on top of her exceptional fighting skills, includes being fluent in French, Italian, Russian and Latin. Romanoff would become an important asset for S.H.I.E.L.D. and an integral part in recruiting the Avengers.
19 Black Widow’s Hallway Fight In Iron Man 2
We had already seen hints of Black Widow's fighting skills when she took down Happy Hogan earlier in Iron Man 2. However, her assassin skills go on full display in the infamous hallway fight scene of the movie, during which she is left to take down an inordinate amount of Justin Hammer's security guards while Happy struggles to overpower one. Make no mistake, Black Widow puts on a show without breaking a sweat.
As Tim Plus Alex reports, her James Bond gadgets and Matrix-style moves make this scene iconic.
18 When Black Widow Takes Down Gangsters In The Avengers
In the beginning of The Avengers, while undercover, handcuffed to a wooden chair and being interrogated by four gangsters, as soon as Romanoff, a master of manipulation, obtains the pieces of information she needs, she puts a beat-down on all of them, performing breathtaking acrobatics in a slick black skirt.
It's an interesting decision to put Romanoff in that attire while wearing heels. It makes the problematic statement that in order for women to go undercover, they must dress to please. Perhaps it's making a larger statement about gender dynamics in the world today.
17 When Virginia “Pepper” Pots Blows Up The Main Arc Reactor In Iron Man
Virginia "Pepper" Pots has been a loyal secretary of Tony Stark's for years. Although, widely regarded as the First Lady of the MCU, Pepper has always been so much more than just a secretary. It wasn't until Iron Man 3 that Pepper realized her full potential as a hero. There were hints of heroism along the way, however, particularly in Iron Man, when Pepper helps Tony Stark defeat Obadiah Stane. When Stane steals Tony's Mark 1 armour and turns it into the Iron Monger, Pepper blows up the Arc Reactor that powers Stark Industries, incinerating Stane.
Pepper is a consistent force in the MCU. She was rightfully promoted to CEO of Stark Industries in Iron Man 2.
16 When Pepper Dons The Iron Man Suit (Sort Of) To Save Tony Stark In Iron Man 3
When Aldrich Killian, with the help of the Extremis virus, fights Tony Stark in Iron Man 3, Pepper comes to his rescue. Thought to be dead from becoming infected with the Extremis virus, Pepper was more than strong enough to handle it, essentially gaining super strength to throw Killian around like a rag doll. She uses the arm of Tony's Iron Man suit to defeat Killian once and for all. Could this be an early hint of Pepper becoming Rescue?
In the comics, Rescue is the name given to Pepper when she wears the iron suit.
15 When Dr. Jane Foster Punches Loki In Thor: The Dark World
Dr. Jane Foster may be the smartest woman in the MCU, but that doesn't mean she can't use her muscles once in a while. After all, Thor may be the god of thunder, but why should he have all the fun in the field of action?
Following the events of The Avengers, during which Loki invades earth with an army of Chitauri, Foster slaps Loki. One can imagine that Loki and his half-brother, Thor, don't have the best relationship to begin with. But don't mess with Foster's man! She had multiple reasons for slapping Loki in the face in Thor: The Dark World, her main one being his invasion of New York. But also, she had every right to be mad at Loki for putting Thor's life in danger.
14 Lady Sif Had To Fight Harder Than The Men To Become An Asgardian Warrior
Lady Sif, much like Thor and other Asgardian, possesses superhuman strength, stamina, speed and lightning-fast reflexes, on top of being a well-trained fighter. Instead of a hammer, her weapon of choice is a double-edged spear. Her path to becoming a warrior on Asgard wasn't always clear, and certainly not preordained like the men on the planet.
Her natural abilities as a warrior and fighter were not initially recognized simply because she was a woman. However, Thor believed in her and helped change the minds of many men.
Together, they became the most feared warriors on Asgard. Something tells me Sif didn't need Thor's help to prove she could fight alongside the men.
13 When Margaret Elizabeth “Peggy” Carter Punched An Army Recruit In Captain America: The First Avenger
Imagine being a respected, high-ranking officer in the military, working your way up to the top, overcoming boundaries and breaking glass ceilings, only to be objectified by a male recruit. Agent Margaret Elizabeth "Peggy" Carter doesn't take one bit of Gilmore Hodge's inappropriate comments in Captain America: The First Avenger. Let's walk through the scene, shall we?
"What's with the accent, Queen Victoria? I thought I was signing up for the U.S. Army."
"What's your name, soldier?"
"Gilmore Hodge, your Majesty."
"Step forward, Hodge. Put your right foot forward."
"Oo, are we gonna wrestle? 'Cuz I gotta few moves I know you'll like. *wink*"
It goes without saying that Hodge never made it into the Army, especially after that incident.
12 When Maria Hill Redirected The Helicarrier In Avengers: Age Of Ultron
Maria Hill is one of Nick Fury's finest and most loyal S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. She's helped him and the Avengers ward off numerous threats including Loki's invasion of New York. So, it was no surprise when Fury called his most trusted agent to assist him aiding the Avengers and defeating Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Fury and Hill take control of an old Helicarrier upgraded by the late (sort of) Agent Phil Coulson. When they arrive at Sokovia, which Ultron was planning to raise and use as a meteor to wipe out humanity, Hill directs rescue crafts from the carrier to save innocent civilians trapped in the midst of the battle. Hill even destroyed one of Ultron's Sentries. And all of this without causing mass destruction. Ahem. Avengers. Ahem.
11 Gamora And Nebula’s Fight In Guardians Vol. 2
Gamora and Nebula's backstory in the MCU is considerably tragic, considering Thanos trained them to be warriors. Their upbringing is not unlike Black Widow's, except that they arguably suffered more under Thanos's reign.
Unfortunately, it was Nebula who was the weaker fighter. Thanos replaced much of her organic body parts with robotic machinery, attempting to make her indestructible. Although it displayed their impressive combat skills, the fight between Gamora and Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 is particularly hard to watch, given this backstory.
10 When Scarlet Witch Contains A Bomb With Her Mind In Captain America: Civil War
Wanda Maximoff, also known as Scarlet Witch, is a native of the now-destroyed Sokovia. In the MCU, her powers include telekinesis, telepathy and energy manipulation. However, in the comics, she is the most powerful mutant, and there isn't much she can't do, including manipulating reality and existence, and bringing destruction to the entire cosmos.
Of course, the folks at Marvel Studios decided to limit Scarlet Witch's abilities to make the other, more established heroes seem more prominent, but that doesn't make her any less impressive. In Captain America: Civil War, after showing off her powers to the world, Maximoff contains a bomb that Crossbones attempted to detonate...with nothing but her mind.
9 When Scarlet Witch Tosses The Alien Tanks Aside In Avengers: Infinity War
If Scarlet Witch had the full potential of the strength she has in the comic books, she would be able to single-handedly thwart Thanos's plan to wipe out half of the life in the universe in Avengers: Infinity War. However, she still manages to do a sizable amount of damage at the battle of Wakanda. When Thanos sends thousands of Outriders, a mindless species subservient to him and the Black Order, they arrive with giant, lethal tanks, skyscrapers high and city blocks wide. When Scarlet Witch arrives, she demolishes the tanks with her mind, defeating countless Outriders in the process, prompting Okoye to proclaim, "Why was she up there all this time?"
Indeed, the battle would have been a lot shorter had Maximoff been there sooner.
8 When Scarlet Witch Has To Destroy Vision’s Infinity Stone In Avenger’s: Infinity War
Despite all of the pain Wanda Maximoff has endured throughout her life in the MCU, she still managed to find love in Vision, created with the combination of an infinity stone and Tony Stark's advanced AI system, J.A.R.V.I.S. (Just A Rather Very Intelligent System). When Thanos collects all of the infinity stones he needs except for one, in order to execute his universe altering plan, he visits Vision and Scarlet Witch at the end of Avenger’s: Infinity War, but not before Scarlet Witch is faced with the tough choice to destroy the infinity stone that sits in Vision's forehead, essentially terminating him.
Maximoff made the decision to sacrifice her love for the sake of humanity. Not bad for a villain-turned-Avenger.
7 When Hope Van Dyne Kicks Scott Lang’s Butt in Ant-Man
Hope van Dyne has a lot to be frustrated about.
She's thoroughly more capable at wearing the Ant-Man suit than Scott Lang, her father's choice as his superhero alter-ego successor in Ant-Man. She's in better shape, trained in martial arts and smarter.
However, her father is overprotective of her, given the fact that his wife and her mother disappeared on the job as The Wasp when Hope was only a child. He only throws salt in the wound when he asks Hope to train Scott. However, she sees this as a much-needed opportunity to take out some pent-up anger on the cat burglar. Ouch. Sorry, Scott. Can you blame her, though?
6 When Hela Destroys Thor's Hammer In Thor: Ragnarok
Hela is Odin's firstborn, Thor's sister and the Asgardian goddess of death. It is during this point in Thor: Ragnarok that she confronts her brother, the almighty Thor, god of thunder, for the first time. You may remember during a scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron, during a party Tony Stark threw for the Avengers, several Avengers attempted to lift Thor's hammer off of the ground to no avail. Not even Steve Rogers, nor Tony in his Iron Man suit and War Machine together could lift it.
Enter Hela, who stops Thor's hammer in its tracks, proceeding to shatter it...all with one hand. Step aside, Thor.
5 When Valkyrie Captures Thor With Ease In Thor: Ragnarok
Valkyrie, the sole survivor of Hela's final destructive rampage before she was imprisoned, plays by her own rules. When Thor, lost without his hammer, finds himself on the strange planet Sakaar in Thor: Ragnarok, he encounters Valkyrie, a fellow Asgardian. Instead of bonding over their common heritage, Valkyrie captures Thor with the intention of sending him to the Grandmaster, who has plans to send him into a gladiatorial battle for his own amusement. Valkyrie does all of this with ease, all while extremely intoxicated.
With a sad life behind her, she spends most of her days drinking and collecting people for the Grandmaster. Thor's royal blood is of no interest to her and she shows it.
4 The Entire Dora Milaje Fighting For Wakanda In Black Panther
The idea of an army comprised solely of women is a revolutionary concept in the MCU. The Dora Milaje are fierce female warriors that fight for King T'Challa and Wakanda in Black Panther. They also team up with the Avengers when Thanos invades earth in Avengers: Infinity War. In the comics, the Black Panther would choose one woman among the members of the Dora Milaje to be his wife. However, in an attempt to modernize the story, the folks at Marvel Studios decided to leave that plot point out.
The statement is simple: these women don't need a man to complete them, nor would the notion of letting somebody choose one of them without their proper consent fit in with their values. It's breathtaking seeing the Dora Milaje in action.
3 Shuri’s Brilliant Mind Saving The Day In Black Panther
Shuri may be only 16 years old, but she is one of the smartest people in the MCU. With advanced resources only Wakanda can provide, Shuri has developed groundbreaking technology in medicine and warfare. Child prodigy is an understatement. She may not join the fight, physically, in the Black Panther climax, but she provides King T'Challa with his upgraded suit, heals Agent Everett Ross's spinal injury and provides him with a plane, which he uses to stop the last plane filled with Wakanda's weapons from leaving the hidden country.
She makes Bruce Banner, with his seven PhDs, look like an amateur.
2 Okoye & Nakia’s Car Chase Sequence In Black Panther
Nakia's car chase sequence in Black Panther is one of the most thrilling chain of events in the film. Nakia, who loses her shoes in the Casino shootout, drives the Lexus with Okoye barefoot. During the chase, she expertly maneuvers through traffic, avoiding gunfire and overseeing King T'Challa's safety.
"Guns. So primitive," proclaims Okoye. When Klaue blasts the Lexus with his vibranium arm and disintegrates it, Okoye soars through the air, takes her staff, lands one of the detached doors and surfs it until safely slowing down. Now that's how a car chase is done.
1 When Okoye Stands Down W’Kabi In Black Panther
Okoye and W'Kabi grow ideologically different over the course of Black Panther. When Killmonger arrives in Wakanda, defeats King T'Challa in battle and announces his plans to expand Wakanda's military influence, W'Kabi sides with him. However, Okoye, a loyal warrior to King T'Challa, obviously doesn't agree with his decision, causing a strain in the husband and wife's relationship.
During the final battle, during which W'Kabi and his army fight King T'Challa, Okoye makes the bold decision to stand down W'Kabi, realizing that preserving the values of Wakanda is more important that saving his life. "Would you kill me, my love?" asks W'Kabi. "For Wakanda? Without question." Replies Okoye.
Sources: Tim Plus Alex