With Marvel's announcement (finally!) of Captain Marvel as their first female-led super-hero film, the MCU has made an important step towards the diversification of their slate of superheroes. Still, that doesn't mean the MCU has lacked interesting female characters so let's take a look at how these ladies have fared in these films even if they are not the protagonists.
Full spoilers for all the MCU films and Agents of SHIELD follow:
14. Betty Ross (The Incredible Hulk)
The Incredible Hulk is the film Marvel wishes didn't existed. After all, even if it's kind of connected to the MCU, Edward Norton is no longer Bruce Banner and the movie just feels odd among their more famous siblings (even if it's a very enjoyable film). This leaves Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) as a character we haven't seen since 2008 and we really don't know when are we going to see her again because another solo Hulk film is not in the cards right now. Despite this, Betty was a likable character even if she didn't have much to do in the film.
13. Jane Foster (Thor, Thor: The Dark World)
Similar to Betty, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is likable, smart and feisty but she remains Thor's love interest and nothing else. Whereas Pepper Potts has a more interesting storyline in the Iron Man films, Jane remains kind of a damsel in distress. Sure, she has a bigger storyline in Dark World but in the end, she's not as memorable as other characters in this list.
12. Sharon Carter AKA Agent 13 (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
The reason Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) is near the bottom of the list it's not because she lacks something but because she wasn't featured prominently in the film and she didn't have much to do in the plot. Nonetheless, her scenes with Cap were good and it sets-up exciting things to come. Hopefully, we'll see more of her in Civil War.
11. Barbara "Bobbi" Morse AKA Mockingbird (Agents of SHIELD)
Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) has only appeared in two episodes of Shield so far but her character is already a joy to watch. Tough, smart and funny, she is a great addition to the series and the fact that she may become part of The Avengers makes everything more exciting.
10. Nebula (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Nebula (Karen Gillan) is one of the few female characters that is actually an antagonist and her conflicted relationship with sister Gamora and "father" Thanos makes her storyline interesting. She wasn't featured prominently in the film but the fact that she wasn't killed in the end hints at a bigger storyline in the sequel and in the Infinity War films.
9. Raina (Agents of SHIELD)
Another antagonist, Raina (Ruth Negga) remains a mysterious woman with obscure motives. Her allegiances are not always clear nor the thing she is looking for which makes her a fascinating character and a lot of trouble for Coulson & Co. Lately, she was linked to Skye's father but, with their recent fallout, we don't know what Raina might do next.
8. Jemma Simmons (Agents of SHIELD)
What Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) lacks in physical strength and combat skills, she makes up for it with wit and charm. Simmons is a brilliant scientist and, even if she usually is a comic relief character, her evolution in the team has been remarkable as well as her relationship with Fitz which is now the heart of the series.
7. Skye (Agents of SHIELD)
Skye (Chloe Bennet) started out as a very obnoxious character but has grown into a more assertive and skilled agent. Her storyline is an integral part of the series and because of the character's growth, we can now be fully invested in her arc.
6. Maria Hill (The Avengers, Agents of SHIELD, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) is Nick' Fury's trusted assistant and she is one of the best agents out there. She may not be as important as Black Widow, but her loyalty and skills makes her a very important asset. While she wasn't a big player in The Avengers, her roles in Winter Soldier and SHIELD has made her more appealing to watch.
5. Melinda May (Agents of SHIELD)
Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) is SHIELD's best character. She is reserved and calm but that cool demeanor just hides a loyal friend and ally. She is Coulson's right hand and will do anything for him. And of course, she is a badass agent with the ability to kick ass to anyone who is a threat for her or the team.
4. Gamora (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is the cool head of the group and that's saying something considering the fact that the group is formed by a giant tree, a drunken raccoon, a thief and a vengeful warrior. Gamora is a powerful character who can go head to head with any foe and it's not even afraid of going against Thanos to defend the universe.
3. Margaret "Peggy" Carter (Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Agent Carter)
Peggy had to live in a world where men were in charge but she never let that get in the way of her duty. She not only had to fight Hydra but also chauvinism to be taken seriously and she proved how good she can be even without Captain America at her side. Her new series will further demonstrate how awesome she is.
2. Pepper Potts (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3)
Tony's love interest, Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) is not a badass agent but she is the moral center of Tony's persona. Unlike Jane Foster, Pepper is a big influence in Tony's life and many of the choices he makes is because of her. The fact that she saved his life in Iron Man 3 makes their relationship much more engrossing and her character much more complex.
1. Natasha Romanoff AKA Black Widow (Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Obviously, the best female character of the MCU is Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson). Not only she is a badass agent, she is also charming, smart and has a complex history and past. With each movie, her character has become an integral part of the MCU and that's why many have been asking for a solo movie for her. Maybe that's not in the cards right now but there's no question that she is one of Marvel's best and most important characters.