I’ve been a Marvel fan since I was 8 years old and my dad put an issue of The Incredible Hulk in my hands for the first time. He always liked the Hulk and after he shared it with me, so did I. It was something we bonded over, and to this day, we still share a love of the Jade Giant.
Forty years ago, there were not a lot of female role models in comic books. Most of the time, women in those stories were often easy targets of super villains, sidekicks at best, and mostly around for window-dressing and getting captured. But 40 years is a long time, and today female superheroes are easily as capable as their male counterparts.
This is excellent news, as now there are great female role models for girls and boys. If you have a daughter like I do and want to share your passion for comics with her, I rounded up my favorite superhero role models she can look up to …
Thor is by far one of the most worthy superheroes out there today — and I’m not talking just female superheroes, but all superheroes. I love that when Dr. Jane Foster became Thor, they didn’t change her name to Thoress or Lady Thor or something that would highlight her being a female version of Thor.
Instead she is Thor.
The hammer chose her because she was worthy. Plus, Marvel has introduced a really interesting twist — she is battling breast cancer. The difficulties of life with this terrible disease aren’t hidden or made light of; instead, the book highlights the difficulty of life with the disease and her struggle with it.
She is heroic both in costume and out of it.
2. Ms. Marvel
Marvel has made Kamala Khan (a.k.a. Ms. Marvel) even more amazing than she was when her character was first created back in the ’70s. Today, she is a 16-year old who, while having superpowers, also struggles with being a student in high school and dealing with the expectations of family.
As much as the book is about her dealing with her powers, it’s more about her coming to terms with her self-identity. Who she is in costume is as central to the character as who she is out of costume. And another cool part of her story? She’s a Muslim-American. All of these facets of her life are dealt with in such a believable and inspirational way.
A long time ago, Jessica Drew (a.k.a Spider-Woman) was basically just a female version of Spider-Man. She is anything BUT that today. Her character has grown and evolved into not only a substantially gifted superhero, but she has an admirable strength of character.
While the book is a little too mature for my daughter right now, I found it fascinating how Marvel did not shy away from having readers follow her through pregnancy and into being a working single parent. It was empowering to see her struggle with things like retiring her motorcycle because it just wasn’t responsible. And I loved how they showed her breastfeeding her child without having a discussion about it, like it’s the most normal thing in the world (because it is).
Jessica is a strong, smart, savvy mom who faces life head on and is trying to make a difference in the world.
4. Princess Leia
You might think Princess Leia doesn’t fit in this category, but Black Widow and Hawkeye don’t have powers either, and come on — if Darth Vader isn’t absolutely a super villain, I don’t know who would qualify. What makes her a hero is her willingness to put herself on the line for others, and Marvel has elevated her character from being a leader in the Rebellion to fleshing out the “princess” side of her heritage.
In the most recent mini-series, she gathered the survivors of Alderaan and not only rescued them from being hunted by the Empire, but rallied and united them together as a people!
5. Kitty Pryde
Since the day Kitty Pryde showed up in the pages of X-Men, she has been one of the few characters that doesn’t have a dark and sordid past. She doesn’t have a loose moral code, and she’s always looking out for others.
She joined the pages of X-Men at age 13 and was not only a mutant, but a genius-level intellect as well (something they haven’t played up lately). Pryde was also a teenager who had teen angst and self-identity issues, which they often dealt with. But overtime, she went from being the “kid” to becoming a full member of The X-Men who’s a professor and caretaker of other students.
Kitty Pryde is one of the most honorable superheroes and is always willing to look out for those less fortunate.
Captain America: Civil War will be available on Disney Movies Anywhere, Digital HD and Blu-Ray September 13.More On