Judging by the internet, I’m not alone in saying that Wonder Woman has restored my faith in DC. As a fan of their animated features, especially the earlier version of the film made in 2009, I was pleasantly surprised by Gal Gadot’s portrayal of the Princess of the Amazons.
But with the film doing as well as it is, I couldn’t help but mull over how many other superheroines deserve more screentime. Too often are such characters left less fleshed out, pushed to the side, or tokenized in lieu of their male counterparts. While full-length movies and spinoffs aren’t for everyone, the following five characters definitely deserve more love. I did my best to pick a variety of girls and women who are beloved in their own right – if only a bit underused.
Gwen Tennyson may be the obvious pick for this list, but I’ve always found the ambitious and ever stylish Charmcaster far more interesting. Perhaps, it has to do with the fact that we share the same name. The anti-heroine known as “Charmcaster” was once Hope of Ledgerdomain, the daughter of the powerful sorcerer Spellbinder. In the hopes of avenging her father whom had been killed during an invasion, Hope decides to pursue higher magic with the help of her uncle Hex. It is during this time that she comes to blows with Team Ben. While the Charmcaster in Ben 10 is framed as a villainess, she is given a proper backstory in Alien Force and Ultimate Alien. Not only is she just as diabolical as she is in the original series, but she is vulnerable. She admits to her anger and insecurities, even demonstrating a potential to do good. And yet, she receives little to no closure in Ultimate Alien – which leaves me hoping to see more of her in a Gwen-centered spin-off.
I can’t pinpoint exactly why I love this trope so much, but one of my favorites is that of a female disguising herself as male in order to accomplish a goal. The team behind Voltron: Legendary Defender decided to make use use of this trope in their reimagining of Pidge, a character often depicted as the “brains” of the group. While Legendary Defender’s “Pidge” appears male, she is, in fact, revealed to be a girl named Katie Holt. Prior to Shiro’s return to earth, Katie had looked into the whereabouts of the former’s fellow pilots, her father and brother. Rather than accept their alleged deaths, she takes on the persona of “Pidge” and joins Hunk and Lance in becoming one of Voltron’s pilots. Using her newfound powers, Katie vows to not only find her missing family, but protect the universe from the Galra Empire. There’s something highly appealing about a female character being able to pull her own weight in a cartoon long considered to be a “boys’ show.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Raven is my all-time favorite among the cast of Teen Titans. Though there was talk of a Raven-centered television series to follow the end of Smallville in 2011, it has yet to be realized. While she had a significant arc in Teen Titans, her depiction in Teen Titans Go! and the more recent Justice League vs. Teen Titans and Teen Titans: Judas Contract were disappointing. As a fan of antiheroes and demonic characters, I have always felt drawn to Raven’s inner conflict. Despite her past, the girl once known as Rachel Roth demonstrates great strength in the face of evil – including that of her father, the intergalactic warlord Trigon. For me, a strong female character is one who grows as a person rather than starting out “strong.” A superheroine like Raven has more than enough appeal to carry her own series with courage, wit, and a wide array of mystical powers.
In a stroke of luck, Avatar’s beloved earthbender was changed from a boy meant to serve as a formulaic foil to Sokka to a blind girl with a love for bending. Toph is the perfect example of a character who is so much more than meets the eye. Her determination to turn her disability into strength is what made her one of my favorites alongside Azula and Mai. She added a rough sense of humor, tough love, and wisdom long missing from the group that would carry into her older self in The Legend of Korra. While it was fun to see Toph take on the role of mentor once more, the spin-off still leaves viewers with questions concerning the Bei Fong family and Toph’s decision to seclude herself from the world. As satisfying of an ending as The Legend of Korra was to Avatar as a whole, I would love to see Toph reveal more of the past in the current comics.
5) Tornado and Blizzard
Tatsumaki the “Tornado” is, without a doubt, the leading lady of One Punch Man. However, I think it’s only fair to add her younger sister, Fubuki the “Blizzard” to the list as well. While the anime devotes most of its time to Saitama, whenever Tornado enters the scene, things go down. She is known as the second best hero among the cast and the single most powerful psychic in the world. These traits aside, she’s known for boasting a temper that breaks her otherwise cute demeanor. Blizzard, on the other hand, lacks self-confidence due to having to live in the shadow of her sister. But as I mentioned earlier, such conflict makes for an interesting character – and to see the two women interact more regularly would be a refreshing change of pace to the show.