For the past several years, buzz has been building around the female heroes of the Marvel Universe. Fans have been asking for -- demanding, actually -- that Marvel Studios develop films, television programs or otherwise spotlight in the upcoming Netflix initiative, some of the publisher's female protagonists.
There is a veritable pantheon of multi-faceted, legendary female heroes ready to step off the comic page and into the greater pop cultural consciousness. Right now, fans are looking forward to Scarlet Witch debuting in "Avengers: Age of Ultron," and even though the character's name has yet to be officially mentioned with regard to Edgar Wright's "Ant-Man," people are already speculating as to who would make the perfect big screen Wasp.
As for the other women in Marvel's heroic pantheon, here is a look at some of Marvel's top female characters, with a little speculation on where we feel they could make the biggest splash beyond their comic book and animation debuts.
Captain Marvel - Solo Film
When the subject of Marvel women in film comes up, Carol Danvers is always the first lady to fuel the conversation. A Carol Danvers movie starting out with the arrival of Captain Mar-Vell on Earth, his tragic second act death and the passing of the torch to a newly powered Carol would make mainstream fans understand why comic enthusiasts have loved Carol for generations. From her Bronze Age beginnings to her current adventures in Kelly Sue DeConnick's "Captain Marvel," Carol has a rich history that Marvel Studios could mine to fuel her own feature film. The popularity of the character has grown in recent years and the Carol has served as a bridge for a new generation of female readers to discover the Marvel Universe. Marvel Studios could certainly take advantage of the momentum to make Captain Marvel the first female mainstream superhero to power her own film franchise.
Ms. Marvel - ABC Family series
From the brief glimpses fans have gotten of the new Ms. Marvel debuting as part of All-New Marvel NOW! it seems the Muslim teen will be a very "Buffy"-like hero, combining normal suburban angst with the complications of being the bearer of the Ms. Marvel legacy -- plus a dash of social commentary on racial prejudice and marginalization. This would be the perfect story engine for a show aimed at teens over on ABC Family. If Disney and Marvel want to grab the next generation of fans, they better start planting the seeds over on some of their other, younger skewing networks. They have been doing a good job over on the animated side of things on Disney XD, but there is a whole tween crowd that Marvel can reach via ABC Family. This age group, voracious consumers of Manga and other media, could be the Marvel fans of tomorrow. The new Ms. Marvel, with her origins tied into classic Marvel continuity, can grab young fans by the hand and lead them to the world of comics or film. The Muslim teen can reach audiences looking for a young, relevant hero for the modern world. Marvel could also introduce other teen heroes into the series, building a foundation of young heroism on a channel with young eyes already watching. Connecting the new Ms. Marvel to any conceived "Captain Marvel" film would make the character seem like she "matters," and allow young people a relatable voice in the Marvel media universe.
Spider-Woman - Guest Star on "AKA Jessica Jones" on Netflix
This might be a bit complex since all things "Spider" are being handled over at Sony, but maybe if Marvel simply refers to the original Spider-Woman as Jessica Drew, perhaps the master spy turned private eye turned Avenger could become a regular on Netflix's "AKA Jessica Jones" series. Drew's past is deeply tied to S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra, making her fit seamlessly into the world of super espionage. Brian Michael Bendis used Drew to great effect in the pages of "Alias," on which the series is based, as Jessica Jones' confidant and friend. She doesn't even have to don her costume or call herself Spider-Woman; loyal fans already know who she is and her history is enough to make Jessica Drew a fascinating character ripe for media exploitation -- even without the codename. There's so much depth to Jessica Drew that fans will ask, "What's in a name?"
Mockingbird - Cast member on "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."
A few years ago, Marvel Television head Jeff Loeb announced a "Mockingbird" series was being developed for ABC Family focusing on a young Bobbi Morse attending S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy in hopes of becoming the next generation of S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. There has been no public movement on the "Mockingbird" series but with the Academy's recent addition in the "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." episode "Seeds," it seems the idea of a Hogwarts for future agents is something Marvel has embraced. Some of the concepts from ABC Family's proposed show would fit perfectly into "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." -- perhaps Morse could be a pal to Skye or a prize student of Fitz and Simmons? Playing up the idea of a future Avenger or making Morse a bit older and teasing her as a future romantic interest for Hawkeye would all be intriguing prospects for Mockingbird. Fans have certainly been demanding more comic book elements in "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," and the already developed for television Mockingbird could fit the bill perfectly.
Elektra - Cast member on Netflix's "Daredevil" leading to her own spin-off.
Just like Gwen Stacy, the character of Elektra is forever linked to the shocking moment of her death. Unlike Gwen, Elektra returned from the grave to become one of Marvel's darkest and most violent characters. Any "Daredevil" series would be incomplete without the Elektra/Murdock arc and the moment of brutality that took Elektra from Matt forever. Non-comic fans who will be experiencing the story of Daredevil for the first time on Netflix deserve to experience the moment when Bullseye stabs Elektra with her own sai. Tthe moment that is vital to Murdock's heroic journey, not to mention being arguably the most iconic moment in the character's history. Involving Elektra (and likely her death) in the first season of Netflix's "Daredevil" is a gimme, but Elektra's resurrection by The Hand and her subsequent adventures would make for a harrowing series in their own right. Marvel can even tie the events of Elektra's rebirth to "Daredevil's" sister show, "Iron Fist." Assuming there will be a Season 2 of Marvel's Netflix titles, Elektra and her dark world of demonic martial arts mayhem would be a perfect direction for something completely different from the pairing. As fans know, for Elektra, death was only a beginning, and her story would be a perfect focus for an edgy, streaming series.
Black Widow - Solo film
Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow has already been the most visible female hero in their film efforts, and soon she'll appear in three more of Marvel Studios' Phase 2 films. The character's background has ben hinted at, and Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada promised fans that at the end of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," fans would get an idea for the next phase of Natasha Romanoff's story. The Black Widow has become Marvel's first lady, a capable and multi-tiered character that proved she could hang with the big boys in "The Avengers." Heck, she out espionaged the God of Lies, if that doesn't solidly Natasha as comics' biggest lady badass, I don't know what does. Natasha deserves her own film; just because Black Widow has never enjoyed her own long running solo title speaks more to the myopic nature of comic fans than it does the strength of the character. An exploration into Natasha's past can reveal the black ops history of the Marvel Universe. With "Bucky" Barnes along for the ride, "Black Widow" could easily become Marvel's own James Bond-like franchise, a super spy saga capable of shattering genre expectations.
Dakota North - Bridge character in Marvel's Netflix series
Like Nick Fury in the early Marvel movies, Marvel will need some sort of narrative glue holding "Daredevil," "Iron Fist," "Luke Cage" and "AKA Jessica Jones" together when all four series hit Netflix. Private detective Dakota North can be exactly that. Though not strictly a "superhero," Dakota is a tough as nails, old school noir detective in a world of costumed vigilantes and super powers. She could act as a bridge between the four series, allowing elements from one series to grab a foothold in another. She is also a fascinating woman of action in her own right, a capable detective and street fighter who can hold her own beside Cage or Murdock. Wouldn't it be cool if North is the first character to utter the word "Defenders," or serve as the impetus for Marvel Studios; second gathering of heroes?
She-Hulk - Solo TV series
The "Hulk" is certainly one of Marvel's most well know IPs, and building on that recognition would be a profitable and obvious direction for Marvel to go. Casting She-Hulk may be an issue, but if the right woman were found her story would be perfect for an episodic TV show. The lawyer and super hero would fit nicely on television, something akin to a super-powered "Ally McBeal," with Jennifer Walters trying to build a successful practice, find love and save the world. The character's humor and left-of-center nature would make for a unique TV experience for comic fans and casual viewers alike, all while continuing to trade on the "Hulk" name. The tone could also allow "She-Hulk" to serve as a lighter counterpoint to Marvel's darker Netflix properties.
Miss America - Supporting character in the proposed "Agent Carter" TV series and "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."
Madeline Joyce Frank was one of the first female costumed heroes in comics, and was certainly Marvel's leading lady in the Golden Age. The proposed "Agent Carter" television series will certainly detail the post-Captain America days of World War II and the inclusion of Miss America as an attempt to create a costumed adventurer to replace Cap would be a great story point for the new series. Who better to understand the trials of being a symbol of American heroism than Peggy? The story of a female Golden Age hero navigating her way through the sexism of the '40s would be an interesting take on the usual superhero story and could be a central focus of "Agent Carter" as Peggy goes it alone while trying to build the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization and keep Cap's legacy alive. It would be pretty cool to see the central architects of Marvel's cinematic universe be two classic female characters. Current Miss America, America Chavez could even appear in the modern day "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." as the contemporary bearer of the Miss America legacy. Miss America binding two eras of S.H.I.E.L.D. together would be a fitting tribute to Marvel's first lady.
Lady Sif - Starring role in a "Tales of Asgard" TV series
One of the few repeated critiques of "Thor: The Dark World" was that Sif needed more screen time. Jamie Alexander is certainly a hot commodity and is more than ready for a starring role of her own. Before DC announced Gal Gadot would be playing Wonder Woman, Ms. Alexander's name spread across the Internet like wildfire in connection to DC's Amazon princess. But Alexander is already a great comic book heroine and fans want more. Between Sif, Heimdall and the Warriors Three there is enough story potential to fuel a "Thor" spinoff franchise. In the world of comics, the Sif-starring "Journey Into Mystery" series recently ended, but Alexander is just ripe for major league film success. She looks like she jumped off the comic page and would make a perfect central character to spotlight the world of Asgard beyond the adventures of Loki and Thor.
Stay tuned to CBR News for more on Marvel Studios' future plans.