The rise of Marvel women: The MCU’s leading ladies of 2022 and beyond

I still remember going to opening day for Avengers: Endgame like it was yesterday. Sitting there amongst other fans in the theater, everyone cheering and celebrating together; was an experience that I will never forget. I loved seeing the superheroes I grew up watching, working together to fight and bring down the evil Thanos. Those last few scenes were some of my favorite in the franchise, however, one scene, in particular, struck a chord for me and has stuck with me ever since: the all-female scene. Having watched these fearless Marvel women on the big screen for years, this scene meant everything to me, as I am sure it meant the world to other female Marvel fans alike. Though it was thought that this scene may come off as pandering, and maybe the inclusion of more than just one scene to represent girl power would have been nice, this specific scene was monumental, as it was just the beginning of something great for Marvel and its women superheroes.

Seeing a shift in the universe

Since the very beginning of the MCU, we have witnessed amazing superheroes from Marvel Comics come to life in motion pictures. Though we have seen a line-up of bold and courageous women throughout the years, females have never really been cast with a predominant role, often being slatted in as a secondary character or the love interest instead.

Traditionally, Hollywood has claimed that the reason behind the typically male-dominated superhero movies is due to the representation of their audiences. According to The Hollywood Reporter though, their numbers report something entirely different. Out of the number of ticket buyers who went to go see Black Widow last year, roughly 40% of them were women. This proves not only that women like superhero movies (and we always have) but that there is a market for making female superhero movies. It would seem that Marvel is finally starting to recognize this.

Since the release of Avengers: End Game, we have started to see a shift in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Though fans suffered a Marvel drought in 2020, 2021 certainly did not disappoint, as it was jam-packed with Marvel content beyond our wildest dreams, both film-wise and through Disney+ shows.

What is noteworthy about this next phase in the MCU is the increased inclusion of women. Not only that, female characters overall are being given a bigger platform to display their strengths and powerful abilities. There were notably a good number of movies and television series released in 2021 that celebrated and highlighted Marvel women. We got to see the return of some familiar faces, such as Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), Agent Peggy Carter (What If…?), Wanda Maximoff (WandaVision), and Michelle “MJ” Jones (Spider-Man: No Way Home). We also welcomed some new girls on the block, like Kate Bishop (Hawkeye), Yelena Belova (Black Widow), Sylvie Laufeydottir (Loki), Monica Rambeau (WandaVision), and characters like Ajak, Thena, Sprite, Makkari, and Sersi from the Eternals film. Overall, Marvel has been giving us a lot of female superheroes (and villain) representation and we love to see it. We also want more.

The future of Marvel women

So what’s next for Marvel women in the MCU? The end of 2021 paved a clear path for a line-up of fierce women to come. Here is who we can expect to see this year and beyond:

Wanda Maximoff 

That’s right, Wanda is back! WandaVision allowed us to see what Wanda Maximoff’s life looked like post-Avengers: End Game. We will once again get to see Wanda in action with the upcoming film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which is set to hit theaters on May 6, 2022.

WandaVIsion Scarlet Witch

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in Marvel Studios’ WandaVision. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021 All Rights Reserved.

 

America Chavez 

Also to appear in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is superhero America Chavez, also known as Miss America. America Chavez is Marvel’s first Latina-American LGBTQ character and will be played by Xochitl Gomez.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 13: Xochitl Gomez attends Sony Pictures’ “Spider-Man: No Way Home” Los Angeles Premiere on December 13, 2021, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

 

Jane Foster

Another familiar face we will see in 2022 is Jane Foster’s. Jane will return to the MCU, this time though as Mighty Thor, Goddess of Thunder. Thor: Love and Thunder are slated for theaters on July 8, 2022.

Thor 4

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – JULY 20: Natalie Portman of Marvel Studios’ ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ at the San Diego Comic-Con International 2019 Marvel Studios Panel in Hall H on July 20, 2019, in San Diego, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

 

Kamala Khan 

Another new member entering the MCU is Kamala Khan, who is also known as Ms. Marvel. Iman Vellani has been cast to play Ms. Marvel and we will first see her in action in her upcoming Disney+ show that is said to be released this summer. It also looks like Kamala Khan will be making an appearance in the upcoming 2023 movie, The Marvels.

Ms. Marvel. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2020. All Rights Reserved.

 

Shuri

Wakanda Forever has been announced to release on November 11, 2022, but not much has been shared plot-wise about this upcoming film. With the absence of Chadwick Boseman (Rest in Power), there have been rumors that Shuri, T’Challa’s sister, will rise in the absence of the Black Panther, but nothing has been confirmed yet. Could Shuri be the next Black Panther? We will have to wait and see what role she will have in this next film.

Marvel Studios BLACK PANTHER.Shuri (Letitia Wright).Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2018

 

Jennifer Walters

Said to be coming to Disney+ sometime in 2022 is the new series, She-Hulk. Again, not many details are known about this project, however, we do know that Jennifer Walters aka She-Hulk will be played by Tatiana Maslany.

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Gamora, Nebula & Mantis

As of November 2021, filming for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3 is underway. Zoe Saldaña will be returning as Gamora, Karen Gillan as Nebula, and Pom Klementieff as Mantis. No release date has been shared on the Marvel website yet for this film, but it has been said that we will see these ladies, along with our other favorite Guardians, during holidays 2022 in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.

HOLLYWOOD, CA – APRIL 19: (L-R) Actors Pom Klementieff, Karen Gillan and Zoe Saldana at The World Premiere of Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” at Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, CA April 19th, 2017 (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

Carol Danvers

We got our first female-led superhero movie in 2019 with the release of Captain Marvel. We will see the return of our beloved Carol Danvers in the upcoming 2023 film, The Marvels. 

 

 

 

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL.Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson).Photo: Chuck Zlotnick..©Marvel Studios 2019

Monica Rambeau

We were first introduced to Monica Rambeau in the 2019 Captain Marvel movie when Monica was just a little girl, as the daughter of Carol Danver’s BFF, Maria Rambeau. We got to see Monica again in WandaVision, this time as a fully-grown adult, an agent of S.W.O.R.D., and with some superpowers of her own. Not much has been shared by Marvel Studios about the upcoming sequel to the Captain Marvel movie, The Marvels, but what we do know is that Teyonah Parris, who plays Monica Rambeau, will be in it. The film is said to release in theaters on February 17, 2023.

(L-R) Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau and Randall Park as Jimmy Woo in Marvel Studios’ WANDAVISION. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

 

Hope Van Dyne

Once again, Marvel Studios has yet to share the plot summary with us, but what we do know about Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania movie is that it is currently said to be hitting theaters on July 28, 2023. We also know that we will get to see Evangeline Lilly return as the infamous Wasp.

Marvel Studios ANT-MAN AND THE WASP.Wasp/Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly).Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2018

Agatha Harkness

WandaVision introduced us to a few new characters in the MCU, but one in particular instantly stole the show and that’s Agatha Harkness. A powerful witch, Agatha went to great lengths to hide her true identity from Wanda and pretended to be just her neighbor. Fans of the show seemed to love Agatha’s character, so much so that Marvel Studios has announced that the television series, Agatha: House of Harkness, will be coming soon. Though no dates have been announced for this one, we do know that Kathryn Hahn herself will return to her role as Agatha Harkness.

Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness in Marvel Studios’ WandaVision. Photo by Suzanne Tenner. ©Marvel Studios 2021 All Rights Reserved.

Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine

At the end of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Julia Louis-Dreyfus quickly made an appearance in the end credits, introducing herself as Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. Though not much was shared about this new character, comic fans will know that Valentina was once an agent of SHIELD, involved with HYDRA, and a Russian agent. It’s not clear what direction Marvel will take with Valentina, but it will be interesting to see what future her character has within the MCU, as she did pop up again in the end credits of the Black Widow film.

(L-R) John Walker/U.S. Agent (Wyatt Russell) and Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) in Marvel Studios’ THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Sylvie Laufeydottir

Sylvie Laufeydottir is a variant and another version of Loki who we first met in the Disney+ show Loki. With how the season finale went down, we are left uncertain of the full ramifications of Sylvie’s actions. Season two was confirmed for fans in the end credits, so we can only hope to see more of this dynamic character in the future.

Sophia Di Martino in Marvel Studios’ LOKI, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Maya Lopez

Fans got their first look at Maya Lopez in the Disney+ series Hawkeye. Maya Lopez is a Latina-Cheyenne deaf martial artist, who comic nerds will recognize as the superhero Echo.  During Marvel Studios’ 2021 Disney+ Day Special, it was announced that Disney+ will be launching a new series titled Echo, however, no official release date has been shared.

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez in Marvel Studios’ HAWKEYE. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Riri Williams

It was also announced at Marvel Studios’ 2021 Disney+ Day Special that the show Ironheart will be coming in the future. The only details we know as of right now is the show will focus on Riri Williams, who will be played by Dominique Thorne.

Ironheart. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Yelena Belova

Last year’s Black Widow movie welcomed a new female superhero into the MCU: Yelena Belova. We see in the end credits that Valentina makes yet another appearance, this time coming to meet with Yelena to share her next mission, which seems to set Yelena up to appear in the Disney+ series Hawkeye. With Valentina appearing to be going around to recruit people, it seems quite likely that this isn’t the last time that we will see our macaroni-and-cheese-loving Yelena in the MCU.

Yelena (Florence Pugh) in Marvel Studios’ BLACK WIDOW, in theaters, and on Disney+ with Premier Access. Photo by Kevin Baker. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Kate Bishop

Marvel ended the year with the Disney+ show Hawkeye, where we met Kate Bishop for the first time. We see Kate Bishop team up with Clint Barton, as she tries to find her place in the superhero world and gains a partner while she’s at it. With Bishop now a part of the MCU, there are several possibilities on where her future will lead, however, nothing official has come yet from Marvel, and so we patiently wait.

Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) in Marvel Studios’ HAWKEYE, exclusively on Disney+. Film Frame. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Michelle “MJ” Jones

We ended 2021 with the final Marvel film of the year being Spider-Man: No Way Home and, quite clearly, it was an undeniable hit. Zendaya reprised her role as Michelle “MJ” Jones, once again nailing her portrayal as the girl next door. Nothing official has come from Marvel or Sony about a fourth Spider-Man film, but from what we can gather from some interviews with producers Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal, they are certainly hinting at a fourth film possibly in the works. Will we see Zendaya take up the role as MJ once more? With how things were left off at the end of Spider-Man: No Way Home, we can only assume (and hope) that this isn’t the last time that we will be seeing our dear MJ.

MJ (Zendaya) prepares to freefall with Spider-man in Columbia Pictures' SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME. Courtesy of Sony Pictures. ©2021 CTMG. All Rights Reserved. MARVEL and all related character names: © & ™ 2021 MARVEL

MJ (Zendaya) prepares to freefall with Spider-man in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME. Courtesy of Sony Pictures. ©2021 CTMG. All Rights Reserved. MARVEL and all related character names: © & ™ 2021 MARVEL

Katy & Xialing

With a Shang-Chi sequel now confirmed, we can only hope that we will see the return of both characters, Katy and Xialing. Though these two were not the main characters in the first Shang-Chi film, both women were super important people in Shang-Chi’s life; Katy as his best friend and Xialing his sister. Both women also clearly showcased in the first film exactly what they are capable of, both physically and mentally. I would be very surprised if we did not see these two fierce warriors again.

(L-R): Katy (Awkwafina) and Xialing (Meng’er Zhang) in Marvel Studios’ SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS. Photo by Jasin Boland. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Susan Storm

The Fantastic Four reboot has been announced by Marvel Studios, and you guessed it, no casting or plot details have been shared as of yet. We know nothing about this film, except for fan rumors/dreams that have been surfacing around the internet. Don’t hold your breath for this one, but fans are calling for the roles of both Reed Richards and Susan Storm to be fulfilled by none other than the husband-wife duo, John Krasinski and Emily Blunt. Krasinksi seems game for such a role, but as for Emily Blunt, not so much. Will we see Emily Blunt suit up as Susan Storm? Here’s hoping John Krasinski can convince both his wife and Marvel Studios that they both belong in these roles.

Fantastic Four. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2020. All Rights Reserved.


Marvel women are finally starting to get the leading roles that they deserve. There are some very exciting projects currently in the works and I think Marvel fangirls everywhere are eager and ready, to see some more female representation in the MCU. Now, will we finally get that all-female Marvel film that keeps being rumored? We will just have to wait and see, but judging by all these new female superheroes coming into the limelight, we may just get it.