For decades, both Marvel and DC Comics have supplied fans with non-stop tales of superheroics and countless characters to root for. However, in order to keep the stories coming, it’s often necessary to reinvent established superheroes or expand out the world of some of the most popular ones with new figures to fight alongside them. While this tactic can sometimes yield forgettable characters that wind up lost in time, it can also create figures who are able to eclipse the very heroes that inspired them in some way.
One of the most common ways that both Marvel and DC have opted to create new superheroes based on existing ones is a simple gender swap. Sometimes, this involves a female character taking on a mantle previously held by a man, and in other cases, new female superheroes are created to flesh out the world of popular heroes, such as the creation of Batgirl to serve as another sidekick to the Caped Crusader himself. We’re specifically honing in on some of the most famous female superheroes to be inspired by their male counterparts and investigating whether the newer version is actually more effective than its predecessor.
Moviegoers know Clint Barton as the Hawkeye of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the Young Avengers have a Hawkeye of their own, in the form of Kate Bishop. A combat expert and archer, her character backstory varies based on Kate’s various interpretations in the comics. Yet, she is often depicted as a survivor of a less than ideal background who rises up to become a headstrong hero. Don’t be surprised if this Hawkeye makes her way into the films at some point.
2. Captain Marvel
Captain Marvel is one of the most high-profile Marvel heroes in recent years, but the title wasn’t always carried by Carol Danvers. In fact, the character was initially introduced as an alien warrior known as Mar-Vell and was reinvented a few times over the years. However, the version that has struck the strongest chord with fans appears to be that of Carol Danvers — formerly known as Ms. Marvel — who finally earned the title in 2012. It is this take on Captain Marvel which will be played by Oscar winner, Brie Larson in the upcoming film adaptation of the comic, set for release in 2019.
One of the first female superheroes, Hawkgirl was introduced in the same comic as her male counterpart, but in recent years, she has come to surpass the popularity of Hawkman. Hawkgirl appeared as a major character in both the Justice League animated series in the early 2000s and is currently featured in both The CW series Legends of Tomorrow and the web series, DC Super Hero Girls. At this point, it seems like only a matter of time before she factors into the DC Extended Universe on the big-screen.
Bruce Banner’s Incredible Hulk is one of the most popular Marvel heroes, but even after two solo films, the character seems better suited as a team player among the Avengers. Perhaps part of this is due to his lack of complexity. However, his cousin — who receives a milder version of his Hulk condition after a blood transfusion — traditionally retains more control and is more thoughtful than her male counterpart. As a result, She-Hulk has become increasingly popular over the years, serving as a key part of numerous Marvel teams, including the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and S.H.I.E.L.D.
We know, we know. Superman is probably the most recognized superhero of all time. How could his cousin, Kara Zor-El hold a candle next to the Man of Steel himself? While Superman is a iconic character, he is also morally experienced, virtually invulnerable, and — as a result — often among the least relatable comic book heroes.
Supergirl shares the same powers and weaknesses, but her status as more of an underdog remains intact in nearly every version of the character, including the character’s current run as played by Melissa Benoist on The CW series. That makes her a more compelling figure than her less flawed and more famous cousin, and Supergirl has accordingly become one of the most famous female superheroes in history because of it.
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