Ever since Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel launched at the tail-end of the Infinity Saga, a certain subset of fans — who have been colorfully and accurately described by Samuel L. Jackson — have feared that women are taking over the MCU. Well, I am delighted to inform these people: it’s true.
Although this used to be a rare occurrence, the Multiverse Saga has become increasingly obsessed with taking male characters from the comics and reimagining them as female. We’ve known all along that Marvel Studios was very keen to diversify its roster of heroes, and villains, in meaningful ways in Phase For onward, especially after a couple of casting snafus in Phase Three (more on that in a moment).
So here are 10 Marvel characters who started out as male comic book characters but entered the MCU as women. And, you know what, in all but this first case that was unequivocally the right creative choice.
The Ancient One
Casting Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One in Doctor Strange is perhaps still the MCU’s most controversial gender-swapped casting, although fans probably would’ve been fine with it if the character was still portrayed as Asian. Kevin Feige, rarely one to admit a mistake, has confessed he regrets white-washing the Ancient One, calling it a “wake up call.”
Remember Ghost from Ant-Man and the Wasp? Well, the tragic villain was basically an original creation for the MCU, with little but the comic book character’s name and intangible powers remaining. Hannah John-Kamen’s Ava Starr is due to return — we think — in the long-delayed Thunderbolts movie.
On paper, you’d think Marvel recasting Mar-Vell, the original Captain Marvel in the comics and a major figure in Marvel lore, as a woman would cause a stir, but apparently Annette Bening is just that good that nobody minded. Or else those people that like to complain about things like this decided to focus all their hate on Brie Larson instead. Actually, yeah, probably that.
Say what you like about Eternals, but Chloe Zhao’s divisive DC wannabe of a Marvel movie did an excellent job diversifying a superhero team that’s basically a load of white guys on the page. For starters, we have Salma Hayek as (the, honestly, shamefully underused) team leader Ajak.
Sprite, outwardly the youngest member of the Eternals, was another of the film’s characters reimagined as female, with Lia McHugh taking on the role. McHugh was good in the part, but this means a fascinating note from Neil Gaiman’s Eternals comics — that Sprite was inspiration for Peter Pan — had to be junked.
The most notable male Eternal made female in the MCU has to be Makkari, though. Lauren Midloff’s casting made the character so much more interesting that they are on the page. We have more than enough white male speedsters on our screens, thanks. Here’s hoping Makkari gets a chance to make a comeback.
Although Hayley Atwell’s Captain Carter is never explicitly referred to as Captain Britain in either What If…? or Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, well, come on, just look at her outfit — clearly, that’s who she’s based on. It’s important to note, though, that Peggy Carter herself namedropped the original Captain Britain, Brian Braddock, in Avengers: Endgame. So watch this space.
Technically speaking, Sonya Falsworth is an original character, as the slightly batty MI6 chief doesn’t have a direct counterpart in the comics, but clearly she’s inspired by James Montgomery Falsworth aka Union Jack that it counts. Imagine if Secret Invasion hadn’t given us Colman’s eccentric Sonya. None of us would’ve made it to the finale. Actually, maybe that wouldn’t have been so bad.
Liz Carr had a supporting role in Loki season 2 as Judge Gamble, a TVA leader who became an ally to Loki and his friends. She was a very loose adaptation of a wholly different comics character — namely, Professor Gamble, who is basically Marvel’s own thinly veiled spoof of Doctor Who.
Marvel’s next most merchandise-able character is about to drop in Deadpool 3, with Ryan Reynolds confirming Dogpool is set to feature in next summer’s MCU blockbuster. In the comics, Dogpool is a male canine variant of Wade Wilson from another universe. In the MCU, though, she is a very good girl.
You’d be forgiven for missing that Dar-Benn was a gender-flipped character, on account of the fact that the comic book version is a complete non-entity, with only two appearances to his name. Zawe Ashton had free reign to do what she liked with the villain in The Marvels — it’s just a shame she was so underwritten.
Bonus round: 1 character the MCU switched from female to male
In The Marvels, of all places, the MCU actually for once reversed its usual trick and recast a female character as a male one. And it might’ve cost us a top-tier villain!
In Nia DaCosta’s sequel, Carol Danvers and her friends encounter the Skrull emperor Drogge, based on Skrull colony planet Tarnax. Apart from totally flying in the face of Secret Invasion (wasn’t the whole point of that show that they had no other planet to live on?) this was also a vague surprise as Drogge isn’t the Skrull king in the comics. He’s actually the head scientist of Skrull Queen Veranke, a villain who seriously deserves her shot in the MCU. The Veranke erasure ends now, Marvel.
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Khushi Patel is a science fiction author who lives in Austin, Texas. She has published three novels, and her work has been praised for its originality and imagination. Khushi is a graduate of Rice University, and she has worked as a software engineer. She is a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, and her books have been nominated for several awards.