Saving the world in spandex and a cape? Well, that’s a starry-eyed dream; one that comes to reality every time we read or watch our favorite superheroes, being their badass selves. As comic strips and movie scenes come alive in our imagination, we develop a connection with our caped crusaders for justice, which not only entertains us but also empowers us to be strong-willed human beings. And if that isn’t a good influence of creative art, I don’t know what is.
Over the years, the superhero concept has evolved to basically define any hero within the Marvel or DC universe (including a sneaky hero or two from elsewhere) rather than someone with superpowers. But even in the wake of this reckoning, the number of strong female superhero protagonists who anchor fascinating plotlines is criminally low. Even with the introduction of modern-day exemplification, female superheroes have fought an uphill battle against one-dimensional character arcs, lack of back-story, infantile personae, and relegation to eye-candy status.
But some light can also be seen at the end of the tunnel, in that, many female characters of present times, have kicked their damsel-in-distress status to the curb and donned the armor of complex portrayals. The plotlines have also rendered more humane facets to these characters, showing the physical and psychological impact that taking down bad characters can bring about. With an increased level of empathy and growing equality in representation, there seems to be a renewed purpose, especially if the character is headlining her own show or movie.
With the comeback of Wonder Woman and the Supergirl series being renewed for several seasons, it is definitely evident that this is a great time for female superheroes. We all know the more popular ones, but there are so many underrated characters that deserve abundant recognition; so to forward that cause, here’s a list of the 20 MOST POWERFUL FEMALE SUPERHEROES OF ALL TIME. Hope you enjoy reading this and if you do like it, please mention your favorites in the comments below!
Considering many important factors such as expert opionion, fan’s opinion across forums, and extensive research, here are the 20 most powerful female superheroes of all time.
Attorney by day, with a power to smash? We are here for it! She-Hulk viz. Jennifer Walters is an American lawyer, who after being shot by a mobster, is saved by a blood transfusion from her cousin, the Hulk viz. Bruce Banner. Banner’s gamma-irradiated blood quickly mutated her into the same sensational super-creature as her cousin, but unlike him, she gained control over her savage form and even liked the confidence and assertiveness that came with being the She-Hulk so much so that, she felt more comfortable in her huge green form than her normal human one. It is refreshing to see her own powers, like a true hero, and let’s not forget, her series had the fourth wall breaking trope way before Deadpool made it popular on the big screen.
We all became fans of the mighty warrior, Valkyrie, also known by her Asgardian name, Brunnhilde, as she swooped in on her flying horse with her host of shield-maidens, right into the Avengers brigade. In Marvel comics, she became a mainstay member of the Defenders and a close ally and one-time love interest of Thor. She was chosen to lead the Valkyrior by Odin himself, into mortal lands, for choosing worthy fallen warriors who worshipped Asgardian gods, to be taken to the lands of Valhalla. She possesses the enchanted sword, Dragonfong, and is known for her prowess in battles. As a strong woman leading an exclusive all-women legion, powered to triumph in battles, she sets the gold standard among the most powerful female superheroes of all time.
Being the wife of such a central character as Aquaman, one would expect Mera to not be a character of substance. But this queen knows to kick ass and how. With powers like superhuman physical strength and magic that allows her to shape water into “hard objects”, not to mention the warrior training she received as a princess of Xebel, Mera is a formidable opponent to any supervillain who comes across her path. In recent years, she has also featured as a member of the Justice League. However, Queen Mera’s many storylines have portrayed one thing in common – mental breakdowns when faced with crippling loss and the subsequent coping attempts with lasting rage and destruction.
17. Invisible Woman
The Invisible Woman viz. Sue Storm is an iconic character in the Marvel universe and a key member of the Fantastic Four. However, her burgeoning career as a genetics researcher takes a backseat, with her character arc centralizing around her hot-headed brother, Johnny Storm and her husband, Mr. Fantastic. She receives her powers after being exposed to a cosmic storm and is originally known as the Invisible Girl; her powers include invisibility and force fields, which are often regarded as passive, considering they are attuned more towards protection than aggressive combat. Several of her storylines also involve unwanted romantic attention from villains like Dr. Doom and that really downgrades her personal value. There’s abundant scope for Marvel, to reinvent and explore her character for a modern-age audience. She is one of the most powerful female superheroes of all time.
Mystique viz. Raven Darkhölme is perhaps, one of the better-crafted superheroines in any universe. Arguably a supervillain, she is a member of a subspecies of humanity known as mutants who are born with superhuman abilities, like her being a shapeshifter, who can mimic the appearance and voice of any person with exquisite precision; her natural appearance includes blue skin, red hair and yellow eyes. She is the founder of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and is involved in the assassinations of several important members of mutant affairs, but she later joins the X-Men. She is also the mother of X-Men hero, Nightcrawler and villain, Grayson Creed, and the adoptive mother of Rogue. Having been alive for close to a century, she is part of a myriad number of superhero missions and gangs.
15. Jesse Quick
Super-speed and super-strength, combined in a female character? Well, that is Jesse Quick viz. Jesse Chambers, one of the more underrated characters of the DC universe. Being the daughter of Golden Age heroes, Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle, Jesse possesses powers from both of her parents and is a part of teams like the Titans and the Justice Society of America. She is also instrumental in furthering the legacy of The Flash, as she partners with Wally West and battles on several occasions against Professor Zoom.
14. Black Widow
Although she started out as a nebulous antagonist in the Marvel universe, particularly to Iron Man, the Black Widow viz. Natasha Romanoff soon became a prominent figure of the Avengers. Thanks to the cinematic portrayal that made her popular, we found ourselves a badass superheroine who throws those punches as efficiently as she manipulates the mind. She started as a Russian spy and teamed up with Hawkeye (of Avengers fame) to infiltrate the American defense administration and assassinate her target, which led to a face-off against Tony Stark’s superhero alter-ego, Iron Man. After a couple of misadventures, both she and Hawkeye defected to form the founding team members of the Avengers. The biotechnological advancements to her mind and body render her as an equal opponent to almost any supervillain thrown into the mix, but she is most appreciated for her gifted intellect. The audience is very eager to see the solo film that MCU finally decided to reward her with, after so long.
One of the most powerful female superheroes of all time, Monica Rambeau, was introduced as the second Captain Marvel and she gained her powers after she was bombarded with extra-dimensional energy, produced by an energy disruptor weapon. Since then, she has taken on many names viz. Photon, Pulsar and as of latest, Spectrum. She joined and eventually became a leader of the Avengers, before moving on to Nextwave and recently, joining the Ultimates team. Her abilities include energy absorption, generation and manipulation and the power to convert her body to any form of energy within the electromagnetic spectrum, allowing her to travel at speeds up to the speed of light in her energy form. Being a part of so many superhero flagship teams, she has an impressive number of achievements and adventures under her belt that one is bound to be enthralled by.
12. Emma Frost
Emma Frost, also known as the White Queen, is a Marvel superheroine, most commonly associated with the X-Men. She went from being a supervillain and foe to one of the most pivotal and centralized characters of the X-Men. Frost belongs to a subspecies of humanity called mutants, who are born with superhuman abilities; she is an urbane telepath with a well-noted dry wit. She runs the Hellfire Club, recruiting and training mutants known as Hellions including Firestar, Doug Ramsey, and Kitty Pryde. When the Hellions get killed, Frost joins the X-Men to avenge their deaths and later trains the Generation X, leading the bandwagon towards an exciting future. All this makes her one of the most powerful female superheroes of all time.
11. Death of the Endless
Death is a character that appears in the DC universe continuity and is both the end of life and a psychopomp. She, not only, meets with the recently deceased and guides them to their new existence, but also, visits people when they are born, according to Destruction in Sandman. Contrary to the popular western culture Grim Reaper, Death is described as a beautiful, pale, young, goth girl, wearing a silver ankh on a chain around her neck and has a marking similar to the Eye of Horus around her right eye; she is pleasant, humble and has a nurturing figure, which made her one of the most popular characters from Sandman. She is an immortal being of virtual omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. In the DC Rebirth, Death is portrayed as the Grim Reaper in the Harley Quinn comic books.
10. Molly Hayes
Molly Hayes, also known as Bruiser or Princess Powerful, is a Marvel superheroine, belonging to the mutant members known as the Runaways. Similar to all of the original Runaways, Molly is the daughter of evil villains with special abilities, however, she is the sole mutant whose extraordinary abilities manifested before she joined the superhero cult; her powers include superhuman strength and invulnerability. The youngest member of the group, Molly’s innocence often serves as humour in the series, but she demonstrated great insight at many crucial moments. She later becomes a part of the X-Men, when Emma Frost calls on her to join their ranks. Her trademark is an expansive line-up of hats displayed throughout the television series created on the Runaways.
As the first major Black superheroine, Ororo Munroe is a queen with unmatched badass nonchalance running in her veins and lightning at her fingertips. Being a weather goddess and a mutant leader, her contributions to the superhero scene are significant. She leads many an adventure alongside prominent X-Men cohorts like Wolverine, Nightcrawler and Colossus and rises through the ranks not only, as a seasoned hero, but also as a mentor to other fellow mutants, ultimately, assuming the role of headmistress at the Xavier’s School and leader of the X-Men. As if her punk rock 80’s look isn’t badass enough, she is also the romantic interest of the Black Panther, superhero king of Wakanda.
8. Hope Summers
Among the slew of Marvel superheroines, it is difficult to stand out but Hope Summers manages to do just fine. She is the first mutant to be born after the Decimation, an event in which the Scarlet Witch uses her reality-altering powers to turn all but a few mutants to regular humans. She is an Omega level mutant with an ability of unspecified limits to psychically mimic and manipulate the powers of other mutants; her additional powers include telekinesis, telepathy and generating huge blasts of energy. Over her tenure as a prolific superheroine, she is part of the X-Men, the Lights and the X-Force and is assumed to be a messianic figure for most of her childhood and teenage years, with the power to salvage or doom the entirety of mutant and humankind. Needless to say, her adventures are unmissable and she is regarded as one of the most powerful female superheroes of all time.
7. Jane Foster
Most commonly depicted as the supporting character and love interest of Thor, Jane Foster is a Marvel superheroine who becomes much more than that. Foster starts as a nurse, becomes Thor’s first mortal host and later a doctor herself. She is deemed worthy later to wield Mjolnir when Thor is no longer able to; during this period, she assumes the mantle of Thor and joins the Avengers, but her stint is short-lived owing to her suicide, and the mantle is passed on to the original Thor. After Brunnhilde and the rest of the Valkyrior are killed during the War of the Realms, Foster takes up the mantle of Valkyrie. In the cinematic portrayals of Thor and Thor: The Dark World, Jane Foster comes off as a damsel-in-distress, but hopefully, Marvel will revamp her character for the upcoming movies and portray her with the girl power we deserve.
Rogue is a superheroine, primarily related to the X-Men in the Marvel universe. She is part of a subspecies of humans called mutants, who are born with superhuman abilities, like her involuntary ability to absorb and sometimes also remove the memories, physical strength and superpowers of anyone she touches; she considers her powers to be a curse. Her all-powerful comic book persona is majorly relegated to being a damsel-in-distress, having to be frequently rescued by Wolverine’s kindness. The majority of her screen time in the movies, shows her, struggling to accept her powers or wanting to eliminate them altogether, so much so that, by the time she actually learns to control how she absorbs the life force of anyone she touches, Rogue has barely spent any time taking part in the X-Men’s exploits, before she gives up her leather suit for a mutant cure.
5. Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch viz. Wanda Maximoff started out as a supervillain, alongside her brother, Quicksilver, as part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, under the watchful eye of their father, Magneto. But she defects after her brother’s death to become a part of the Avengers brigade. Wanda has the ability to harness magic, which generally translates into telekinesis, telepathy, and energy manipulation and projection. Although a side character in comic books, the MCU movie franchise explored her character nicely, and she assumed prominent roles in Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. She is also the love interest of Vision, the guardian of the Mind Stone.
4. Captain Marvel
The strongest superheroines any universe has ever produced, Carol Danvers is the real deal. She played a background role in the comics since the 1970s, but over the years, she became one of the most popular characters for cosplay and has secured one of the A-list positions in the current Marvel cinematic universe. Also known as Vers, Carol was an Air Force test pilot who acquired cosmic energy force powers from the Tesseract after an explosion that wiped out her memory. The Kree kept her as a weapon against the Skrulls, but she traced her Earthly origins during the 1990s when she crash-landed on Earth again and met Nick Fury. Her actual powers are pretty conservative – super-strength, flight, indestructibility, and energy projection, but she has a captivating aura of a beacon of light against a sea of darkness. She rightfully earned a solo film to her name that propelled her into Avengers fame.
Being a cousin to the “last son of Krypton” has to be intimidating, but Kara Zor-El does not let that overshadow her. Supergirl represents a kind of cheerful optimistic heroism that is rare in current superheroic media. Her solo spin-off TV series celebrates that legacy. She is not only given storylines that require her to portray her physical strength but ones where she also intelligently figures herself out of moral quandaries. Supergirl represents both, the feminine and the strong, which really proves that women can be everything they want to be. Without any doubt, she is one of the most powerful female superheroes of all time.
2. Wonder Woman
The pièce de résistance of female superheroines is this Amazonian princess from the DC universe who represents the best of mankind and of womanhood. Wonder Woman, also known as Diana of Themiscyra, is super strong, compassionate, bold, and independent and one of the greatest heroes and warriors even conscripted into existence. She is the daughter of Zeus ad Hippolyta, jointly raised by her mother and her aunts, Antiope and Menalippe, in the secret Amazon forests. Her alias, Diana Prince, came into existence when she began serving as a military secretary during World War II while fighting an assortment of colorful supervillains. She possesses an arsenal of magical items, including the Lasso of Truth, a pair of indestructible bracelets, and a tiara that serves as a projectile. She is also a founding member of the Justice League; her tremendously long life-span, accumulation of the immense amount of knowledge and exceptional perceptiveness makes Diana Prince the wisest and most emotionally intelligent member of the Justice League. Wonder Woman makes for not just an idealistic feminist icon but also the character that anyone in the world might first think of when “female superheroes” are mentioned.
1. Jean Grey
Jean Grey was the first X-Woman and in a universe mostly dominated by male superheroes, her character does justice to the female portrayal of experiencing unfathomable powers and their consequences. The character’s primary alias is Marvel Girl but after dying on an emergency space mission trying to save her other X-Men teammates, she is reborn as the Phoenix. However, when she does get her first taste of evil, her mind corrupts and she assumes the form of the Dark Phoenix, transforming into a force of total destruction and inadvertently, killing the inhabitants of a planetary system by swallowing their star and jeopardizing the entire universe; all of which is stopped when she commits suicide. With the Phoenix Force destroyed, Jean has revived again. Jean is a member of a subspecies of humans known as mutants, who are born with superhuman abilities, like her telepathic and telekinetic powers. Between her ever-developing relationship with Scott Summers, her vast and terrifying power levels, her descent into madness as the Dark Phoenix, and her penchant for self-sacrifice and redemption, Jean experienced more in her tenure as a hero than almost anyone and is rightly termed as a pivotal character in the X-Men universe.
Honorable mentions of the most powerful female superheroes of all time include- Nemesis, Infinity, Kismet, The Wasp, Gamora, etc