The Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t getting its first female-led entry until Captain Marvel arrives in theaters next year. Yet, throughout its first decade, the MCU has had no shortage of badass ladies. In fact, Avengers: Infinity War — despite its epic scope — takes the time to spotlight several of them.
So now seems like as strong a time as any to celebrate the women of the MCU. For the record, we’re ranking these badass ladies not only on their power but also their strength, attitude, intelligence and impact on the greater MCU. Without further delay, let’s get to the 10 most badass women Marvel Studios has to offer.
10. Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly)
Putting Hope van Dyne on this list does feel a bit premature, considering that we have yet to meet her superhero alter-ego in this summer’s Ant-Man and the Wasp. Still, Evangeline Lilly’s performance demonstrates that Hope is far more than the loyal daughter of Hank Pym. She is a force to be reckoned with and one we can’t wait to see suit up as the Wasp. “It’s about damn time” indeed.
9. Hela (Cate Blanchett)
Honestly, the only reason two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett’s Goddess of Death isn’t higher on our list is because her appearance looks like it will begin and end with Thor: Ragnarok. When it comes to pure power, she’s easily the tops, and hopefully, the MCU will find an excuse for her to reappear at some point. Just don’t take her down a Loki-esque redemption arc. Hela’s just too good at being bad.
8. Nebula (Karen Gillan)
Nebula has spent her whole life in sister Gamora’s shadow, but having reconciled with her in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Karen Gillan’s character earns some much-needed dimension. Intent on taking down Thanos, she is among the most dangerous and unpredictable women in the MCU. And we cannot get enough of her.
7. Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson)
From the first time we meet Tessa Thompson’s “Scrapper 142,” she’s already like no other woman we’ve seen in the MCU. A boozy, devil-may-care figure, Valkyrie emerges as essentially the female version of Han Solo. No wonder she came out of Thor: Ragnarok as a standout. While she doesn’t factor into Infinity War, Valkyrie’s days are far from over.
6. Okoye (Danai Gurira)
Never mind that T’Challa is the title character, the ladies of Black Panther undoubtedly stole the entire film. Okoye is one of the main reasons why. Brought to life by The Walking Dead‘s Danai Gurira, the leader of the Dora Milaje is T’Challa’s right-hand woman and by far one of Wakanda’s noblest, most loyal servants. She also steals every moment she has in Infinity War, which is saying a lot among that ensemble.
5. Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell)
A lot of the central male heroes in the MCU have strong women standing behind them, but Peggy Carter is so much more than just Captain America’s love interest. Unlike Pepper Potts, Betty Ross and Jane Foster, the character’s contributions to the MCU run deep, especially as a founder of S.H.I.E.L.D. Hayley Atwell also reprised the role for the gone-too-soon ABC series Agent Carter, one of the only female-led Marvel Studios projects to date.
4. Shuri (Letitia Wright)
Remember how we said Black Panther is overrun with amazing, powerful women? As princess of Wakanda, its lead scientist and a cunning warrior in her own right, there’s no way we would dare leave Shuri off this list. Whether she’s ribbing her brother, remotely aiding in a car chase or using her genius-level intellect to help the Avengers, we need much, much more Letitia Wright in future MCU films.
3. Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen)
To be honest, we weren’t blown away by Scarlet Witch when she debuted in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Sure, her abilities are impressive and all, but her role felt muted in that film. But she has really come into her own as a critical element of both Captain America: Civil War and now Avengers: Infinity War. Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff feels like a character who’s very much still evolving. We look forward to seeing what she’ll be capable of next time.
2. Gamora (Zoe Saldana)
When you’re just one among an entire crew of intergalactic badasses, standing out could be tricky business. Then again, Thanos is on to something in Infinity War when he refers to his favorite daughter as “the fiercest woman in the galaxy.” Gamora isn’t only unbeatable in battle; she is also the heart and moral compass of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Zoe Saldana serves a very similar function in Infinity War and, as such, nearly topped our list.
1. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson)
Characters like Shuri, Scarlet Witch and Gamora present compelling arguments, but in the end, the most obvious selection for the top spot is also the best one. Scarlett Johansson first popped up in Iron Man 2 in a supporting capacity. Yet, through her roles in the Captain America and Avengers films, she has developed into more than just S.H.I.E.L.D.’s top agent. One of the original Avengers, Natasha Romanoff remains the most popular woman in the MCU. Thank goodness her long-awaited solo film appears to be finally on its way.
Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander)
Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders)
Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp)
Mantis (Pom Klementieff)
Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o)
Which badass woman in the MCU is your favorite? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!