Chain Reaction: Three Marvel Female Superheroes Who Need Their Own Movie, STAT

With DC’s Wonder Woman finally due to hit theaters on June 2 (after which I will formally change my bio), it’s just not possible to stop thinking of other characters that need their own silver screen treatments. Because come on already. Before I started reading Wonder Woman a few years ago, I was a die-hard Marvel girl. I grew up on New Mutants, Power Pack, ElfQuest and select X-Men storylines. I don’t know if this is true of DC’s female characters, but Marvel’s female treatments are almost always problematic in some way (or, let’s face it, many ways!) in the comics. Virtually every single woman has a long, complicated backstory, usually one that revolves around a male character (which is, coincidentally, why I’m sad that DC finally made Supes and Diana a thing. WHYYY????). But bringing these characters to the big screen might simplify storylines and introduce viewers to a whole new range of female superheroes. Fingers crossed that Wonder Woman will be the powerhouse film that Elektra was not, and we can look forward to not only more Wonder Woman films, but more films about our favorite female superheroes.  And to start things off, here are the three I’d most like to see first.


Illyana Rasputin (Magik of the New Mutants and the X-Men). First introduced in 1975, Illyana kind of takes the cake when it comes to backstory (must be a Russian thing). Here’s the short, movie-worthy version: Illyana is the little sister of Piotr Rasputin, aka Colossus. At age six, the demon Belasco kidnapped her into his world, Limbo. Belasco taught her dark magic in his attempts to corrupt her soul, because doing so equaled his ticket out of Limbo. But Illyana survived, aided by Limbo’s version of Shadowcat and Storm, who raise her and train her in both combat and white magic. Illyana even learned to channel her own life energy into a soulsword (not without great cost) to defeat Belasco and become the ruler of Limbo. What part of that isn’t intriguing? She was finally able to return to Earth, reappearing as a teenager when only seconds passed here, and joined the New Mutants at Professor Xavier’s Academy for Gifted Students, but remained haunted by her evil side.  The one flaw is how Illyana’s character is depicted — even when she was supposed to be a teenager, her demon ruler costume consisted of thigh-high boots, leather underwear and a leather bra. Pretty skimpy, Marvel people! But still. That storyline! Movie treatment, stat (just with a less creepy costume?). Here’s hoping the rumored New Mutants film will do Ilyana justice.

Jean Grey (X-Men). First introduced in 1963, next to Professor Xavier, Jean Grey is supposed to be the best telepath on earth, and not only is she a telepath, she’s telekinetic. But her character was often relegated to the backseat and she constantly sacrificed herself — to the point of death — to save others (usually her boyfriend/husband, Scott). In addition, her most famous storyline — Phoenix Saga/Dark Phoenix — showed her as able to fully realize her (ahem, admittedly very destructive) powers only when inhabited by a cosmic force. And in addition to that, there’s the love triangle where she can’t decide between two guys (which has become a popular trope, especially in YA. Sigh.) In the comics, Jean’s powers manifested when she was a teenager. Jean was linked to her best friend when she died in a car wreck, and Jean nearly died as well, barely surviving a coma brought on by the severing of the psychic link. Her parents brought her to Professor Xavier for training. Since Jean wasn’t given much chance to reach her full potential as an actual mutant, that should be the focus of her movie treatment. Bryan Singer’s X2 came the closest to fulfilling this arc — Jean’s powers are shown as increasing; and although, just as in the Dark Phoenix saga, Jean sacrifices herself to save others, she does it in a way that evolves from her character’s true motivations, in my opinion. I was hopeful that the third X film would continue this progression — and put Jean into the front seat! — without dipping into Phoenix territory, but I’ll just have to keep imagining my own X3 (let’s not talk about the horking mess that was X3, okay? Thanks.) At least we have Famke Janssen, whose interpretation of Jean was excellent.

Edit: Guess what? As I was writing this post, Hollywood has announced a Dark Phoenix movie as part of their X:Men franchise lineup for 2018. Dear Hollywood, please don’t screw up Wonder Woman, and if you’re going to go with the Dark Phoenix storyline, please don’t screw that up either. Okay? Thanks. Jean Grey — and her fans — have taken enough abuse, all right?

Black Widow/Natasha Romanova. First introduced in 1964. Yup, here’s that Russian thing again. I admit, before I saw Black Widow in Iron Man 2 and then in the Avengers and Captain America films, I didn’t know much about her other than that she was a Russian assassin. A deadly, wily, always-gets-the-job-done Russian assassin, who rains death and destruction but leaves behind no evidence of her passing. I can’t even remember in which comic issue I first read about her. But if we haven’t seen a movie about her yet, it’s because Marvel didn’t know what to do with her, until about 2010 anyway. After being introduced into and subsequently bounced out of different comics, including Daredevil, The Amazing Spider-man, SHIELD and The Avengers, Natasha finally has her own comic book. In her cinematic appearances and in the first season of the now-canceled Agent Carter (I has a sad), Marvel has pretty much laid the groundwork for a Black Widow film. They just haven’t done it yet, gods know why (and their reticence has even been parodied on SNL). The Widow’s early childhood is convoluted — perhaps even Natasha doesn’t know fact from fiction anymore — but the majority of comics, movies and television shows agree that she trained to be a spy and sniper from an early age, and has been brainwashed at least twice, then sets about redeeming herself after defecting to the U.S. What the bloody hell, people? Let’s hear more about the Red Room (and maybe get Bridget Regan to the big screen as Dottie Underwood, hello!), about Russian kids training to be martial artists and spies, about villainous assassins who recruit archers to fight Iron Man, and a woman who tries to redeem her past actions by fighting for good. All due respect to Diana Prince, we don’t just need more female superheroes on the big screen — we need complicated female superheroes, and Natasha Romanova is one of the best examples out there. 


I have more — so many more! — but I will stop for the time being and let you all chime in. Keep the chain going in the comments below.

4 Comments

  • Nancy O'Toole Meservier April 25, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    YES to all of these! I’d add in Kitty Pryde, and Ms. Marvel too. Squirrel Girl, of course, is set to head up the New Warriors TV show that they’re thinking about making for Freeform.

    Reply
  • Shara White April 25, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Amen to Ms. Marvel, though there’s a part of me that’d love to see her on television versus the big screen!

    Reply
  • Carey Ballard April 27, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Those are both on my Top 5. I started with these three because they’ve been around the longest, and aside from Ilyana, non-comic readers might be familiar with them. The Ms. Marvel I’d like to see on the screen is Kamala Khan–and I agree with Shara, I’d watch the hell out of a Ms. Marvel series. And I’d really like to see Kitty Pryde get the movie treatment.

    I have yet to read Squirrel Girl. Unfortunately! It got all kinds of rave reviews at WorldCon last year on the comics panels.

    Reply
    • Shara White April 27, 2017 at 9:52 am

      Oh, I should’ve clarified: KAMALA KHAN FTW!!!!

      Reply

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