Top Ten Female Superheroes 

Although a small number of female superheroes have been around almost as long as their male counterparts, for example Wonder Woman, their number has been growing steadily. In the 1940s, before the start of World War II, saving the day was traditionally seen as a man’s job. That changed when women played a pivotal role during the war, taking on physically challenging jobs, working in munitions, fighter planes and other factories among many other roles. ‘Rosie the Riveter’ became the icon of the women’s war effort. 

And the fantasy world of Marvel Comics began to reflect that. By the 60s, with the women’s liberation movement in full swing, there was no stopping women taking their rightful place in the real world and in the world of comic book heroes. 

South Africa celebrates Mothers Day on 14 May this year and Women’s Month during August, but we believe celebrating all women ­– and women with superpowers – should happen all the time.  Here are our top picks for our mostly ‘Marvel-lous’ female superheroes. 


Shuri (played by Letitia Wright) is a Wakandan princess and the sister of T'Challa (Black Panther). She is super-intelligent and the inventor who harnesses the power of Vibranium to protect and enhance their African kingdom of Wakanda. She creates Black Panther's energy-absorbing suit, her own energy blast gauntlets as well as Wakanda's high-speed magnetic levitation train. Following the death of actor Chadwick Boseman who plays Black Panther in the first movie, the sequel reflects his role’s death in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and pivots Shuri into the leading role where she has to fight for her own life and the that of the entire existence of the kingdom of Wakanda.

Jessica Jones 

In the film noir feel of the Netflix series, Jessica Jones (played by Krysten Ritter) was a bona fide superhero, who has turned her back on that life after being under the mind-control of villain Kilgrave who had her kill someone. She now owns Alias Private Investigations and fights crime that way. Although she still has some amazing superpowers, including superhuman strength and flight, she also suffers from very human issues like PTSD and a drinking problem. Over three seasons of the series, Jessica Jones has to deal with the re-appearance of Kilgrave, finding out her mother is still alive due to Karl Malus experimenting on her, as well as trying to defeat an enemy trying to prove she’s a fraud, and dealing with her adoptive sister who has turned into a murderous vigilante. Jessica Jones has had a long and eventful life in the Marvel world, with various aliases including Jewel, Knightress, Mrs Cage, and Power Woman.

Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers

Captain Marvel is the Marvel Cinematic Universe's first female-led film. This superhero has a complicated history. Captain Marvel is an extraterrestrial Kree warrior who is finds herself in the middle of an intergalactic battle between her people and the Skrulls – but puzzling flashbacks in her memory suggest there may be more to her life story. She subsequently learns that she had been a US Air Force fighter pilot, Carol Danvers, who gained superpowers after absorbing the energy from an exploding engine, and a blood transfusion turned her into a human-Kree hybrid.

As one film critic states: “That moment where we see Captain Marvel in her full glory punching holes through the sky letting the audience know every girl can fly? That moment Captain Marvel absolutely delivers.” 

Supergirl/Kara Zor-El/Kara Danvers

Supergirl aka Kara is, unsurprisingly, the cousin of Superman, who travels from  Krypton to Earth to recover the Omegahedron, an energy source that can power an entire city. Kara, like her famous cousin, works as a reporter and has an impressive array of superpowers, including flight, heat vision, accelerated healing and superhuman senses. Supergirl has been immortalised in ten seasons of ‘Smallville, five seasons of ‘Supergirl’, in the film ‘Supergirl’ and the upcoming film ‘The Flash: General Zod vs Supergirl’. She’s obviously ‘superpopular’!

Wonder Woman/Diana Prince

Remembered originally for some silly elements, such as Wonder Woman's spinning transformation move, golden lasso of truth and invisible aeroplane, these didn't stop this Amazon princess from fighting the Nazis as a navy recruit and later joining the Inter-Agency Defense Command. In the 2017 film, Wonder Woman is recast as a demigoddess, the daughter of Zeus no less! In present-day Paris, Diana Prince receives a photograph from Wayne Enterprises of herself and four men taken during World War I, prompting her to recall her past, where they rescue US pilot Captain Steve Trevor when his plane crashes off their island. The island is invaded by German soldiers in pursuit, but the Amazons wipe out the German landing force but suffer heavy losses.  Steve has stolen a German chemist’s notebook which outline plans to release deadly gas on the Western front. Steve dies by hijacking and crashing the plane carrying the gas. Although heartbroken as Diana had fallen in love with Steve, she continues to fight on the world's behalf as Wonder Woman. 

Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff

Wanda and her twin brother, Pietro (aka Quicksilver), refugees from Sokovia join the villainous HYDRA organization to defeat Iron Man after a missile kills their parents, but they eventually switch sides and become Avengers. Being on the side of good is a good thing, as Wanda has some amazing superpowers – telekinesis, energy manipulation, telepathy to name a few. Recently Wanda stepped away from the Avengers to star in her own show, ‘WandVision’, in which she and her advanced android husband, Vision, move through decades of sitcom history in a parody of the ‘American Dream’. The series is a bold move for the Marvel franchise as it’s a pointedly philosohical critique of love and life as we know it.

Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff

Trained in hand-to-hand combat as a KGB spy and assassin, Natasha later joins the counterterrorism agency S.H.I.E.L.D. and then goes on to become an Avenger. Her superpower is her Widow's Bite ­– a pair of bracelets that can deliver a powerful electric shock and disable her opponents – but what makes Natasha truly stand out are her human skills. She's a master of disguise, an acrobat, an assassin, a polyglot and, frankly, one of the smartest Avengers. Scarlet Johansson portrays this superhero in the film Black Widow (2021)


Not only is she a female superhero with her own series, she is the highest-profile LGBTQI+ superhero in the DC library. In the stand-alone comics series, Batwoman, aka Kate Kane, has a girlfriend who she proposes to in issue seventeen. She is strong-willed, stands up for what she believes in, has the courage of her convictions, and places the protection of others above all. Every day she shows the world that it’s okay to be who you are, no matter what. Because of her efforts, Batwoman has opened doors for inclusiveness. 

Jean Grey

Jean Grey is the ‘First Lady’ of the X-Men. Although her history is long and convoluted (like so many other superheroines!), she is arguably one of the best woman to ever join the X-Men. Her superpowers are many and varied – she is one of the foremost telepaths in superhero comics. She’s capable of making you change your mind whether you want to or not (what a great gift, you don’t even have to argue your point) as well as being able to lift and move objects without even blinking, and so much more.


‘The Incredibles’ is a Disney Pixar animated movie that also has a sequel. Bob and Helen Parr are a married couple with children Violet, Dash and baby Jack-Jack; both are superheroes ­– Bob is Mr Incredible and Helen is Elastigirl, with the ability to stretch herself to great lengths. This is entirely appropriate as someone has to be a true superhero to be both a wife and a mother with three young children! However, the government has banned superheroes, forcing them into hiding. Bob is bored stiff with his day job as a claims adjuster, moonlighting with his friend as a vigilante. He finds a tear in his special suit and orders a new one; mistakenly the costume maker makes suits for the entire family, who all join in the ensuing adventures.