By shroudofsorrow 2 Comments
Who doesn't love strong, sexy, kick-butt women? I know I for one like them quite a bit. It's always a good thing to have good, well-written females out there in fiction as it is a good thing to have positive female role models in reality, and for me personally, the following are my absolute favorites. I expect to catch some serious flak for some of my choices and also for not including some other fan-favorites, to say nothing for who I rank ahead of whom. But, everyone's got their own preferences and tastes, and these are mine. I hope anyone who sees this will agree with at least some of my choices. And any disagreements people do have, try to keep it respectful, 'kay? I'm not asking that people love my list or to agree with every single choice, but I don't want a bunch of "Your list sucks!" or "You're an idiot!", or something similar to that. Basically, keep it civil (and yes, even on the internet, you can do that).
The list is in ascending order, and for fun, most of the images are gifs (which I've recently grown quite fond of).
35. Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bennet (Pride and Prejudice)
Surprising choice to start off the list with, no? I definitely could have, if I wanted to, had this spot be filled by any one of a number of awesome superheroines that I would have loved to include on this list, but despite the name of this site I do actually like things other than Comic Books, and that includes some classic literature. Lizzie's story is sufficiently well-written that it (and she) stand out. It also happens to be one of the most iconic romance stories of all time, and with good reason; it's very well-written and the 1995 adaptation that the above gif is from is the best one.
In all honesty, Lizzie's basically her world's equivalent to a feminist considering how unafraid she is to speak her mind, especially against those of higher status who always seem out to derisively dismiss her or put her down based on her "inferior" position. She is also, of course, very witty and, as her father puts it: "has something more of a quickness, then her sisters". She's pretty too, as no doubt Mr. Darcy would attest.
34. Caitlin Snow (CW's The Flash)
Who would have thought I'd end up liking so much a character depiction that is really just "in name only"? Maybe because, in Caitlin's case, that's an improvement. Instead of the sadistic, child-killing monster (and that's not hyperbole, she kills an innocent family before becoming Killer Frost) that we get in DC's New 52 continuity, the Caitlin Snow here is almost the total opposite. While outwardly cold and by her own admission "guarded", she comes to warm up considerably, and ultimately proves to be as much Cisco Ramone's comedic equal as she does his intellectual one. Honestly, I think I actually tend to prefer Caitlin's brand of humor (not that I don't also love Cisco), and her grieving the loss and then unwanted transformation of her fiancee (here much more amiable than he generally is in the comics), really helps to humanize her and make her very sympathetic. And, to top it all off, she's also straight-up gorgeous, easily rivaling Iris and Nyssa as the most attractive female character in the Arrow/Flash continuity (or at least I think so). So in all, a fine ally for CW's take on the Flash, and just good as a friend. And I will admit, that I do kind of wish "Snowbarry" as it's called happened, but oh well. She's still a good character either way, and I lament her inevitable transformation into the villainous Killer Frost. Nuts to that.
33. Black Widow (Marvel Comics)
While I do definitely find the Black Widow fanwanking I've seen very, very annoying (especially for the MCU version pictured above), this does not mean that Widow herself is a bad character. Quite the contrary, the uncompromising and deadly superheroine and secret agent who has become pretty much the poster girl for "Sexy secret agent femme fatale in black" is definitely a cool character. I suppose one could make a case for the Baroness being as much a face for the archetype I just described, but I prefer Black Widow on the account of her not being a sadistic and evil terrorist.
Featuring a sordid and dark but also interesting backstory, and also managing to win (or else steal) the hearts of quite a few men in the Marvel Universe (Daredevil and Hawkeye to name just two), Black Widow's also a skilled fighter and markswoman and between it all has more than just good looks to recommend herself. And again, while I don't like the fanwanking, I do still think that the Scarlett Johansson take on the character is a good one, portraying her as still a troubled soul, but with a bit more of a sense of humor than what her 616 counterpart is usually want to show. Oh, and Black Widow's a ballerina too. Talk about being a woman of many talents, right?
32. Batgirl III/Black Bat (DC Comics) and Gamora (Marvel Comics) (Tie)
Cassandra Cain and Gamora are here for the very simple but valid reason of both being a total badass. That's just all there is to it. As the absolute most skilled hand-to-hand fighters in DC and Marvel respectively, these two ladies pretty much forces of nature from a combat standpoint. How else do you explain such accomplishments as beating Lady Shiva twice and managing to top your own mentor (Batman!) in hand-to-hand, and for Gamora having so many hand-to-hand and physical showings she is not only Marvel's top martial artist, but also "The Most Dangerous Woman in the Galaxy". Not too shabby all in all.
Aside from their sheer badassery though, both are also kind of tragic characters, being the children (or, to be technical, foster child in Gamora's case) of merciless villains who were anything but kind and considerate parents, and as such both have some...issues, Cassandra especially.
As for Gamora, while I didn't appreciate how horrifically nerfed she was in the MCU, I do still think that Zoe Saldana did a good job with the role and helped make the MCU's Gamora a good character in spite of the awful, awful nerfing.
31. Leslie Tompkins (Gotham)
No Gif for this one. Pity.
I've got nothing against the mainstream version of Leslie (well, actually, that's not entirely true. There is one moment with her that I find appalling on her part), but I kind of like the Gotham version of the character more, and not she's because she's pretty. She helps Gordon and Bullock with some of their cases, and not only that, but she is also a lot more casual, easygoing, laid-back, and ultimately "Closer to Earth" than the two main heroes of the show, which is good because it serves as a kind of refreshing foil to Gordon and especially Bullock's more troubled characters. Basically, Leslie proves that even in Gotham City, a hero need not be dour and screwed up. She is also a WAY better love interest for Gordon then the absolutely horrible Barbara Keane (one of my least favorite female characters ever), and also gets serious extra points for, in the Season 1 finale, getting to beat up Barbara in self-defense when that kook tries to kill her, even straight up punching her. So yeah. Go Leslie.
30. Kitana and Jade (Mortal Kombat, Tie)
These two lovely ladies of Mortal Kombat fame happen to be my two favorite female characters in the series, and not just because of their hotness (though that is certainly a big reason). For Jade, I like how she was characterized in MK9, being portrayed as loyal to Kitana and also confident without (to me) coming off as too arrogant or haughty. She also just has some sweet weapons in the form of her glaive and that glowing purple staff that reminds me just a bit of a lightsaber.
For Kitana, the bladed fans are cool, and I also like her backstory as a Princess forced to serve an evil Emperor that she ultimately rebels against. I also have to give her points for being over 10,000 years old and still going strong. Come MK 10, she gets the opportunity to wield Jade's weapons in tandem with her own (win!) and also has some of the better dialogue exchanges in the game, particularly some amusing ones with Johnny Cage and a harsh but funny one with Kung Lao. And ultimately, princesses who can fight and kick butt tend to trump the ones who can't in my book, so there's also that.
29. Samara (Mass Effect)
As the above Gif demonstrates clearly, Samara is a pretty powerful Biotic in her own right, rivaled in this respect only by her daughter Morinth and the convict Jack (more on the former later). Aside from her incredible power, Samara is also a tireless crusader against any and all perceived injustice and immorality, but personality-wise is not an annoying or holier-than-thou zealot. Rather, she is serene, graceful, and respectful at almost all times, having a calm tone even when angry or distraught (though then at least she usually still shows anguish in her voice). So, powerful and moral. Already we're off to a good start, and we haven't even mentioned her beauty. For a being over 900 years old, Samara still looks very beautiful, no less than her fellow (and much younger) Asari Liara. She also has a much sexier outfit on the account of the form-fitting red with the heels and V-neck. So in aesthetics she also impresses.
But what really cements Samara's position as one of the best, is not just her interesting and well-written moral outlook, her incredible Biotic power, and her hotness, but also her very tragic and sympathetic past, being the mother of a sadistic monster that she tasks herself with stopping no matter what. As if that wasn't tragic enough, she can also come to have feelings for Shepard but chooses not to act on them (talk about strong-willed, no other female in the Galaxy can resist him it seems). So bound is she to her code, for better and for worse, that she is unwilling to allow herself even that measure of happiness. So yeah. A pretty sad character all in all, and then manages to get even sadder still when one of the two daughters she had that was not evil dies, and Samara intends to kill herself to keep from killing her last daughter if not stopped. So yeah. All around a very good and interesting (and very compellingly sad) character, and no question, one of the very best party members in the whole Mass Effect trilogy.
28. Kasumi Goto (Mass Effect)
And here's another of my favorite Mass Effect ladies, in the above gif mocking the ever-moronic Citadel Council, which also highlights one of my principal reasons for liking Kasumi: she's funny. Having a good sense of humor and levity even in fairly dark and seemingly bleak situations, Kasumi shows that not every one of Shepard's crew have to be grim, dour, and serious. Of course, Kasumi's being a text-book case of the "lovable rogue" archetype probably has something to do with this. That's also a character archetype that I (and many others besides) have a certain amount of fondness for, so that's another point in her favor. Her ability to temporarily make herself invisible is also a pretty nifty power and ability if I do say so myself, and I also like her overall outfit design, which does indeed harken to both cat burglars and also ninjas. Her alternate outfit (shown above), gives her the usually spiff black and red color scheme to boot.
Oh, and on top of all of the above, Kasumi also has fun shipping Shepard with various other party members. Not as much as others, unfortunately, but she usually has something nice to say about whoever Shepard chooses as their lover (in my Shepard's case, Miranda), and I like that because it feels like more often than not, Shepard's love life is totally ignored by everybody else. It's nice to have at least one character who acknowledges it (and approves!)
So yeah. Funny, optimistic, cheerful, and a lovable rogue with some neat tricks. Not sure what's to dislike about her.
27. Minerva McGonagall (Harry Potter)
While I normally prefer female characters who have that winning combination of beauty, brains, badassery, and being on the side of right, one need not necessarily have the first one to be a great character. Case in point, Head of Gryffindor House and Transfiguration professor Minerva McGonagall. Outwardly stern and no-nonsense but ultimately fair and moral when all is said and done, McGonagall was also brilliantly portrayed by Maggie Smith, who made the character her own. And also, anyone who can lay a verbal smackdown on the ever-hatable Dolores Umbridge gets my vote hands down. And for those who want an example of that, I give you this:
"He has achieved high marks in all his Defense Against the Dark Arts tests..."
"I'm terribly sorry to contradict you, Minerva, but as you will see from my note, Harry has been achieving very poor results in his classes with me..."
"I should have made my meaning plainer," said Professor McGonagall, turning at last to look Umbridge directly in the eyes. "He has achieved high marks in all Defense Against the Dark Arts tests set by a competent teacher."
-Taken from Harry Potter: And the Order of the Phoenix
Yeah. That alone gets her a spot here, and frankly, I sort of wish I could rank her even higher up.
26. Oracle (DC Comics)
Sadly, there was no Gif of Oracle to be had. For many, Barbara Gordon is surpassed only by Wonder Woman as the premiere DC Superheroine (many, I suspect, would rank her even higher). So her being #24 would likely come off as sacrilegious to some. But I personally regard this as a fair placing for her, since there were so many other characters I just couldn't put before her. But this doesn't mean that Oracle doesn't deserve a place on the Top 30. And yes, I specify Oracle and not Batgirl, because as the latter she's just one of many female members of the Batman Family to wear a cape and cowl, but as Oracle her role is more unique. It also shows a great deal of personal strength for her as a person that she could be so badly victimized and hurt by a monster only to refuse to submit, and instead find some other way to make herself vital to Batman's crusade. And of course, she founded her own superhero team that is sometimes at odds with Batman and other times among his allies. Whether acting on her own volition or helping other heroes she's close to, Oracle is possessed of a sharp mind and technical expertise that allows her to best foes in a way other than punching them. So yeah. Great character.
25. Arwen and Luthien (Tolkein's Mythos, Tie)
Two Elven beauties from Tolkein's world who are tied because of their near-identical stories. Stories that have that "Interspecies Romance" appeal, but also a kind of bittersweetness. As Luthien and Arwen are of a race that does not die of natural causes, it makes their romances with mortal men doomed to, as Elrond puts it: "Face the bitterness of mortality". But it also (to me) highlights the crux of a valuable and precious relationship and also just life itself: the fact that it doesn't last forever. Without death, life cannot be fully appreciated. And I feel that, in the end, that's the message one can take away from the stories of these two female Elves, both of whom ultimately choose to follow their hearts and marry the men they love, even though they know it will one day have a tragic end. But the happiness before that makes it all worth it.
Oh, and then there's the fact that one (in the movie) swept the Nazgul away via flood while the other stole from Morgoth, who is Tolkein's equivalent to Satan. She could also send Sauron packing. So there's more to them then just their (very) good looks.
24. Psylocke (Marvel Comics)
Okay, so Psylocke's backstory is the very definition of an inconsistent, convoluted mess. But, to offset that, she's a sexy purple clad (and purple haired) ninja with awesome telekinetic and telepathic powers, the ability to create a Psy-Blade (which to me is a lot like a lightsaber katana), and to top it all off martial arts skills sufficient to hold her own against Daredevil. So yeah. Not seeing what's not to love about all of that. There's also her romance with Angel (Warren Worthington III), which like the romances with Arwen and Luthien is ultimately a tragic one. For different reasons granted, but even so. The way it's portrayed in Rick Remender's Uncanny X-Force is particularly sad, especially the way the Archangel Saga comes to an end. Her sexual tension with Fantomex was also interesting to me. So in short, Psylocke is both a lover and a fighter, and that's usually a winning combination with me.
23. Black Canary (DC Comics)
While I've never gotten on the "Black Canary can beat Batman in hand-to-hand" bandwagon, I do still freely acknowledge that her fighting skills are very much within his range, and frankly, that's more than enough to make her a badass in my book. She also has wit sufficient to match her primary love interest Green Arrow (a relationship I tend to like quite a bit), and was as much an inspiration for Barbara Gordon's superhero career as Batman himself was. It could perhaps be said that if Oracle is the main brain of the Birds of Prey, Black Canary is the primary fighting force. Strong, tough-as-nails, but also possessed of the compassionate side that is only fitting for a true superhero, Black Canary's a fan-favorite, and really, it isn't hard to see why. And about that sonic scream? When Black Canary's willing to use it, it causes some damn serious damage (I'm talking about destroying buildings, namely). Not bad.
22. Ms. Marvel I/Captain Marvel IV (Marvel Comics)
Ms. Marvel is a badass. That's really all there is to it. Being very aware of this, Marvel has over the last decade or so been going out of the way to turn Carol into almost their Wonder Woman. And overall, I'd say they've been fairly successful. Carol Danvers is a military/government superhero who's actually likable (her stint as a Pro-Registration enforcer notwithstanding), and is also fairly powerful in her own right. Her costume is also one of the better female superhero costumes in my mind, and so is her current Captain Marvel costume. Yep, Carol's currently the (I think), fourth Captain Marvel, and every bit as cool for it. And let's not forget to mention her depiction in Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, where as voiced by Jennifer Hale she easily one of the best cartoon females ever. Again, just a total badass, as among other things her fight with Ronan shows pretty clearly. I particularly love when she takes him down, in the process pointing out how she and him have one thing in common: they're not one for surrendering.
21. Quorra (Tron: Legacy)
I have to say, Tron: Legacy was pretty awesome. It proved to be a bit polarizing with critics and audiences, but it's definitely still gotten a following, one that I'm a part of. Still waiting on a sequel for it that we're supposedly getting ("supposedly" being the key word). But out of all the characters in the film, I have to say that the two I liked the best were the ever-badass Rinzler, and Quorra.
Aside from being incredibly attractive (and wearing a nice black leather outfit with glowing blue lines), Quorra is also the juxtaposition of a skilled warrior mixed with a wide-eyed innocent. Said archetype tends to be one I have mixed feelings about. When it works, (as it does with Quorra), it works well. When it doesn't, it can lead to a pretty annoying character.
But myself, I did not find Quorra to be annoying. I found her innocence and earnest desire to learn more about the world beyond the Grid endearing rather than irritating, and she also has the somewhat sad backstory of being the very last of her kind. And, for those who don't like token romances, take heart: Quorra and Sam's mutual attraction is there, but very subtle. Clearly, they are saving the majority of the romance for the sequel that is (again) supposedly coming.
Oh, and, in addition to everything else, Quorra also has a sword that looks a bit like a cross between a katana and a lightsaber. And as I've already made clear with Psylocke, that's always a cool weapon.
20. Storm (Marvel Comics)
It's a sad fact that while Black superheroes are nowhere near the scarce sight Race Police often make them out to be, female Black superheroes unfortunately remain rare. But at least we have one very, very good one with the long-time X-Woman (and long-time fan-favorite), Storm.
Storm's gone through a few different characterizations over the years, but myself, I prefer the way she was in her early years as the sort of "naive newcomer", who's incredible power (and also fighting and thieving skills) stood in direct contrast to her very gentle, graceful, and overall innocent personality. Definitely far preferable to the obnoxious, abrasive, and overly confrontational b*** on wheels that she was in the 1980s, which also saw her sporting that terrible mohawk hairstyle. But thankfully, Storm eventually transitioned back to a more graceful and likable kind of character, but no longer quite as innocent or naive. She eventually married Black Panther, which I personally was not a fan of, but I suppose it is nice to see Storm as royalty once more.
Pictured above is the Halle Barry version of Storm, who I actually do like. A lot of people think it was a poor casting choice, but I personally think that Halle Barry did a good job playing a graceful and civil yet also powerful and resolute version of Storm who believes in Xavier's dream no matter how cynical things get. I didn't like her as much in X-Men 3 granted, but that was a bad movie overall. She came back strong in Days of Future Past, even if her role was overall minimal (unfortunately).
Still, overall, Storm is a fine character with some pretty awesome superpowers, and so long as she's not in her mohawk-wearing punk phase, is definitely one of my favorites.
19. Rogue (Marvel Comics)
Rogue is my very favorite X-Woman, and that's owing mostly to the tragic tale that the character is fairly well-known for. Like a female Edward Scissorhands, she is unable to touch that which she loves and cares about without hurting it, and it's hard not to feel bad for someone in that kind of situation. Especially when Rogue herself does frequently become tragically self-loathing and ashamed of herself for who she is.
However, it's not all gloom for Rogue, since her powers do allow her to (if only temporarily), wield the powers of other superhumans she touches. Pretty sweet ability if I do say so myself, even if again, it comes at a terrible cost. While I do not like Rogue's romance with Gambit (mostly because I'm not a Gambit fan), I do very much like her romance with Iceman in the X-Men movies, and lamented it's being derailed in X-Men 3 (one of that film's many bad calls). But as that and the above gif show, I do also like the movie version of Rogue. Sure, she's not possessed of the combative power that her 616 version has, but the tragedy and sadness of the character is well-maintained, and I also (again) liked her romance with Iceman. They even found a clever way of giving her her iconic "skunk stripe", which I do admit to being a fan of. That, and I honestly think the actress who portrays Rogue looks kind of cute in the X-Men films.
Finally, Rogue has the distinction of changing costumes even more often than the average X-Woman, and honestly, I think most of them are actually pretty good, my personal favorites being her classic green and yellow with a brown coat and also her more recent green and white costumes. So yeah. One more point in her favor.
18. Esmeralda (Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1996 version)
For more reasons than one, Hunchback of Notre Dame is, along with The Lion King one of my very favorite non-Pixar Disney films, owing to among other things it's darker tone, excellent songs, and also it's leading lady, who has the distinction of being my favorite Disney heroine.
Not quite one of the Disney Princesses in the traditional sense (and indeed not as much of a poster-child for Disney either), Esmeralda's still pretty darn hot, and benefits from being drawn a bit more..."adult", then many other Disney heroines. However, it's not just her beauty that makes her a favorite (considerable as that is), it's also her compassion and kindness to the point of a kind of saintly sort of selflessness. This is best shown in the song "God Help the Outcasts" (itself a well done song), and really drives home that she's got as much beauty on the inside as she does the outside. Furthermore, the fact that she is shown to be a bit skeptical regarding religious faith but is still very much moral, stands in direct contrast to the religious fanaticism and sociopathic disregard for life that is shown by Frollo. So she is ultimately a foil for the villain who develops a non-too-healthy obsession with her (an obsession a lot of people, creepily enough, misinterpret in the worst way, sometimes deliberately so).
She also, in a pinch, can handle herself when trouble comes her way, even if the soldiers that get sicced on her seem to have some serious mental impairments. And I also thought that Demi Moore (an actress who has unfortunately been saddled with more than her share of bad films), did a good job voicing the character. And of course, let's not forget the scene where she basically pole-dances (what? What do you mean it's for kids?)
17. Wyldstyle/Lucy (The Lego Movie)
I'm going to freely admit without any shame whatsoever that The Lego Movie is one of my favorite movies of all time. And, with that in mind, it's not surprise that I took to it's leading lady.
Wyldstyle is awesome, being almost a LEGO expy of Trinity from The Matrix except frankly more well-done. Elizabeth Banks does a great job voicing the character and giving her at times confidence and sass, emotional vulnerability, and exasperation with Emmet's slow-wittedness, the latter of which leads to some pretty amusing interactions and scenes. My favorite of those in particular is probably Emmet's being so infatuated with Wyldstyle that when she's trying to explain something important to him he just hears her saying "blah, blah, blah". However, Wyldstyle's skill as a Master Builder is clear, and she represents in many ways the mindset of them as a whole: fiercely independent for both better and also for worse, and going from being unimpressed with Emmet to recognizing him as a true hero. Speaking of which, Wyldstyle gets her chance to be exactly that (something she'd always wanted), when she rallies the other Minifigures to fight back against President Business. This also, by the way leads to this great line:
"Today will not be known as Taco Tuesday...it will be known, as 'Freedom Friday!' (Beat) But still on a Tuesday!"
Another personal favorite of mine is the running gag regarding her name and how it leaves other characters mystified, along with Vitruvius' amusingly pointing out that this isn't the first time Lucy's changed her name either. But aside from being funny, this also shows a clear insecurity that she has that helps humanize her and flesh her out. Not bad for a small piece of plastic.
16. Elektra (Marvel Comics) and Karai (2012 TMNT Series) (Tie)
Two very troubled Kunoichi who's tragic tales (along with beauty and badass martial arts skills), caught my fancy. And thus I had them tied for this spot.
For Elektra, she manages to easily rival her long-estranged lover Daredevil as not just a hand-to-hand fighter (indeed, Elektra has the habit of beating him soundly), but also in respects to just how dang screwed up her backstory and life are. Like a warped mirror image of Daredevil, the loss of Elektra's father inspired her to seek martial arts training and to become a warrior to ease the pain in her heart. However, where Daredevil came to supplement his training with a desire for justice that would make his father proud, Elektra embraced murder and bloodshed in the tragically and hopelessly deluded belief that it could ease the pain in her heart. Elektra's tragic tale then comes to an especially tragic end when she's murdered by Bullseye and dies in the arms of the man she hurt both emotionally and physically so, so many times.
But then Elektra came back, in one of the few comic book character resurrections I wholeheartedly support. However, because Comic Book characters can never get a happy ending, Elektra's second chance at life has proven no less fraught with tragedy and death than her first one, and she remains a cold-hearted killer that still flirts with villainy as often as she does heroism (though at least now she tries to walk that road too). And her fighting skills, man her fighting skills. Again, this is someone who made making Daredevil look like an amateur almost a hobby, and other foes she's bested include such names as Wolverine, Taskmaster, Cape Crow, and even her one-time killer Bullseye (and that was when she was drugged, among other things). So yeah. Elektra's a badass, and also one of the most tortured and troubled characters in comic books I've seen that isn't purely villainous. A woman who seems destined to be forever surrounded by death and bloodshed no matter how hard she tries to avoid it.
As for Karai, I am thinking specifically of the 2012 version, who is well voiced by Kelly Hu and has a character arc that, while more kid-friendly than the stuff Elektra's been through, has still been pretty rough all in all. The fact that she's been lied to her whole life after being taken from her real parents, set against her real father and his sons, kept prisoner after learning the truth, mutated into a snake monster and in the process reduced to a more feral and animalistic state of mind, and going by upcoming episodes (MAJOR SPOILERS) destined to become brainwashed by Shredder and let loose on the Turtles once again, it's clear this poor girl can never catch a break.
Merciless character journey aside, Karai had some good banter with Leonardo in her first appearance, regularly demonstrated sound fighting abilities that were no less than what the Turtles displayed (as evidenced by her fighting evenly with Leonardo and on one occasion Raphael at different intervals), and also just had a very good character design, even if the one half black, one half blonde hair maybe looks a little weird. She gets in some good snark here and there too, and between it all, kind of reminds me almost of Catwoman, especially in respects to her relationship with Leonardo. Whether or not Karai will get a long overdue happy ending after all the crap she's suffered remains to be seen, but here's hoping.
15. Spider-Woman (Marvel Comics)
I will not spend too much time going on about Spider-Woman's current costume except to say that I hate it with a passion. Moving on.
You know, I generally don't like characters who are what I call "opposite gender knock-offs" of pre-existing characters. But I do like a few of them, and Spider-Woman is one of those few. The main reason for this is because, despite the name, she really doesn't have that much in common with my favorite superhero. Yes, they're both Spider-Totems. Yes, they've worked together before and are on a first name basis. But, let's look at some other things...
Costumes: Different (and no, them both wearing red is not enough to say they have very similar looks).
Backstories: Completely different. Jess' original backstory had more in common with Captain America then it did with Spider-Man (Fish out of Temporal Water, namely)
Powers: I don't see Spider-Man flying via glider wings or shooting venom blasts out of his hands, nor have I ever seen Jessica display a Spider-Sense or use webbing.
Personalities: Also different. While I wouldn't go as far as to say that Jessica's totally humorless, she is still definitely more serious, reserved, and stoic then Spider-Man is usually want to be. So yet another instance in which they are different.
So yeah. Spider-Woman she may be called, but ultimately, Jessica Drew is very much her own woman and not just a lazy female knock-off of Spider-Man, and I really do prefer that. Granted, if she had been more like Spider-Man and perhaps even been related to him in the vein of Spider-Girl, I might not have necessarily minded that. But even so, I like that Jessica can convincingly stand separate from her male counterpart, and how she's really more a part of the Avengers corner of the Marvel Universe then she is Spider-Man's. That said, I would be lying if I said I wouldn't want to see at least one story where the two Spider-People are an item, or alternatively her and Ben Reilly if they ever bring the latter back (which will probably be around the time pigs take to the air on wings, but still). And, though it kind of goes without saying, Jessica Drew also benefits from being seriously hot.
14. Invisible Woman (Marvel Comics)
Considering she's both the heart and soul of the Fantastic Four and also it's most powerful member, this shouldn't be surprising. Sue's a great character, who's going from a pretty shallow Damsel-In-Distress with an "I broke a nail" personality to one of Marvel's premiere female superheroes. I sort of like to view Invisible Woman's positive character development and transformation as serving as an analogue to the progression of feminism (something that is still, as most feminists of any denomination will tell you, unfinished business). Invisible Woman is also, among her other credentials: a scientist like her husband, a strong-willed wife who briefly left her husband when he decided to stay on the fascist boat with Iron Jerk, a caring (and fiercely protective) mother of two, a Poor Man's Green Lantern on the account of her ability to create constructs in addition to force fields, and a capable leader or alternatively second-in-command. So yeah. Invisible Woman can do an awful lot, and, to borrow a line I heard elsewhere that I agree with wholeheartedly: "The only thing transparent about Susan Storm are her powers".
13. Eowyn (The Lord of the Rings)
Honestly, that above Gif should be all the justification you need right there, but I'll give more anyways:
The fact that before she did the above, she actually managed to contend with the Witch-King in a duel despite being obviously afraid of him (that shows true courage)
The fact that before that she both decapitated his Fell Beast and (in the movie) took down a Mumakil much more quickly and easily than Legolas did.
The fact that she says one of the most true statements in the LotR trilogy: "The woman of this land learned ago, that those without swords can still die upon them."
So yeah. Eowyn's pretty badass. And while her attraction to Aragorn was ultimately unrequited, she did manage to find happiness with Faramir, who himself could have definitely used some after losing his brother and nearly being killed by his bats*** crazy father (who then dies as well). It's just a pity that Eowyn didn't get to participate in the final battle at the Black Gates. I suspect that had she, she would have impressed just as much. Who knows? Maybe she could have killed one or two more of the Nazgul while she was at it.
12. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)
It's been a while since I've been seriously in to Harry Potter, but I do still enjoy and like the franchise all the same. Perhaps not as passionately as before, but still. And of course, Hermione Granger is the Harry Potter series' premiere female character, and extremely popular in her own right. Hailing from a non-magical family (that she is ultimately and tragically forced to sever her ties with to protect), Hermione doesn't let that hinder her, and instead embraces the Wizarding World by having book smarts sufficient to put her two male friends to shame. Not only is she the unambiguous brains of the outfit, she also tends to be the one to inject common sense into her two closest friends whenever they get too pig-headed, and also tends to be the most amusingly sarcastic and deadpan of the bunch (a quality she shares with my other favorite Harry Potter female McGonagall).
Though initially a stickler for the rules, she becomes pretty willing to break them whenever necessary, and is also pretty darn resourceful when it comes to helping her friends (such as how she dealt with Umbridge in Order of the Phoenix). Her love-hate relationship with Ron that eventually sees the former win out is also a pretty well-done love story, and the very simple fact is, without her, both Ron and Harry would be long dead several times over. But then, that's what friends are for, isn't it?
11. Batwoman (DC Comics)
Again, I'm usually not into Opposite-Gender Knock-Offs, but Batwoman is another exception to the rule, because well....she's a badass. And her costume is awesome (looks a lot like Batman Beyond's costume). And she's also an unfortunately uncommon example of a homosexual superhero that actually feels well-done (unlike, say, Northstar), and is also Jewish as it turns out, which gets extra points with me on the account of my own Jewish background and faith. So all in all a great superhero and character, one who's managed to carry her own book pretty well since the New 52 started up, where so many other books got the axe (including among others, Demon Knights, one I'm particularly sore about). Personally, I'm still waiting for the story where she and Catwoman have a romantic or at least flirtatious encounter. I can't be the only one who thinks it would be awesome.
Really do wonder why the artists these days always make her complexion so ghostly white though. It's kind of creepy to be honest.
10. Zatanna (DC Comics)
And now we're at the Top 10, starting with Zatanna.
I've said this before elsewhere, but I'll say it again here: there's just no beating a sexy magician. Or, I suppose technically there is, since there are eight other spots on the Top 30 after this one, but still. And not only is Zatanna the quintessential sexy magician and my personal favorite example of the "Hot Witch" archetype, she's also incredibly powerful on the account of (at least in mainstream continuity), being able to do almost anything and everything she wants just by saying it backwards. I suppose you could liken her to a plot device, but she's still a pretty cool one all in all. An expert in not just some seriously powerful magic but also traditional "Stage Magic" that she enhances with her powers. A performer by nature, Zatanna is also friendly, easygoing, laid-back, casual, and is generally one for having a good time. Seems like a pretty nice personality to me. Sure, she erased her childhood's friend's memories, but to her credit she did feel bad about that and the two eventually made nice in the end (as true friends do). While I'm not sure I would necessarily like seeing Zatanna and Batman as a couple (I'm far too much of a Bruce/Selina shipper for that), I'd also probably say I'd prefer her as a love interest for the Dark Knight then Talia al Ghul, Viki Vale, or worse, any of Bruce's (many) throwaway love interests. So there is that.
But Zatanna need not have a boyfriend to be interesting. Paul Dini in particular seems to share that sentiment based on the very apparent crush he has on the character that saw him write her frequently and even give her her own series (but then when your wife is a stage magician who dresses almost exactly like Zatanna, it's not hard to see why this is). And generally sweet and pleasant as she is, Zatanna's backstory does have some tragic stuff with her lost father, who she's actually had to see die more than once. So yeah. It's not all sunshine and rainbows for the Mistress of Magic, but from a writing standpoint that's probably for the best. All in all, I like Zatanna. But again, it's hard to beat a sexy magician, especially one as hot, powerful, and also as nice and compassionate as she is.
9. Toph (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
Well, as the above gif pretty clearly demonstrates, Toph can kick some serious butt. Her claim of being the greatest Earthbender in the world also has weight, and if nothing else, she does rank among the absolute best. That, and as both a little girl and an old woman in Legend of Korra, she's funny. A lot of this is owing to how comically tough-as-nails and blunt she can be, and also how she's just so not sentimental, in contrast to the way that Aang and Katara sometimes get. Her particular approach to training first Aang and later Korra is quite amusing, as are her nicknames for Katara ("Sugar-Queen" being my favorite). And not to mention, this is the girl who discovered metalbending, and in so doing overcame what had long been every Earthbender's biggest weakness. Even her being a rich person's rebellious kid has an interesting wrinkle to it, in that Toph actually does know how to be a proper lady and show etiquette...she just chooses not to because she finds it more fun that way. And considering how lovable she is with her general personality, it's hard to disagree with that assessment. Overall, Toph is my favorite female character from the original Avatar show by a significant margin, and is actually my second favorite female from the overall franchise. Who's number one you ask? Just keep reading and you'll see.
8. Agent Carter (Marvel Cinematic Universe)
I know Peggy Carter is also a character in 616, but for me personally, I am specifically drawn to her MCU incarnation, where she is played brilliantly by Hayley Atwell. Now, I liked Peggy enough in Captain America: The First Avenger, but that wasn't what caused her to rank so high up. No, that would be the Agent Carter mini-series, which tragically did not get the ratings it deserved (but thankfully got renewed for a second season anyway).
Peggy is awesome. She's a pretty brunette with a sexy British accent and a tough-as-nails and sarcastic but also still compassionate and noble personality that is so well fleshed out in her mini-series. Peggy is so well humanized in it as a person who actually does have a bit of a life beyond her being, well, an Agent, and she's also an empowered female in a misogynistic world without it coming off as too heavy-handed. She can be bitter at times, but never unsympathetically so, and her sarcasm does get pretty funny too. I also like how she is depicted as being in mourning for her love without being weak, and concerning her non-romantic relationships with men who respect her (tragically in short supply), she has excellent, excellent chemistry with Edwin Jarvis.
Not only is she beautiful, empowered, and amusingly sarcastic, but Peggy's also pretty darn badass. For someone living in a Superhero world who's not one herself, this is someone who could among other things fight evenly with a trained killer on top of a moving vehicle with a shot leg, and then fall off the vehicle and go tumbling along a concrete road...and get up afterwards and run away. With a shot leg. Seriously. Talk about your endurance. For another example of that, Peggy later takes multiple swings from a baseball bat without much in the way of injury (something people in real life just don't do), and what makes it even more astonishing was that these were swings from a baseball bat coming from someone strong enough to effortlessly break a grown man's neck, meaning the swings are coming even harder. And still Peggy fights. Talk about being a tough customer.
I think I've summed it up quite nicely. MCU Peggy Carter kicks some serious, serious butt, and I anxiously await the second season of Agent Carter.
7. Wonder Woman (DC Comics)
This one's a no-brainer. So much so that her being just shy of the Top 5 would likely come off as complete sacrilege to most. But being just shy of the Top 5 is still pretty impressive in my book, and really, there's a lot to love about Wonder Woman that goes beyond the (pun intended) godly sex appeal and also costume that is simultaneously memetic, revered, and reviled depending on who you ask (myself, I lean towards the former two).
Incredibly powerful (as in, often played up as being in Superman's ballpark kind of powerful), deeply immersed in the ever-interesting (and marketable) Greek Myths, and also being when necessary a highly skilled fighter, tireless and fearless warrior, and in a pinch, a good leader, Wonder Woman's got a lot going for her. That, and she's also just so iconic as the first major female superhero and for a lot of people, the first. She also happens to be my favorite female superhero ever (or at least, favorite comic book character that is consistently a superhero), and so between it all it's not hard to see why I and many others adore her so much.
One aspect where Diana has been a lot less lucky in is love, but this actually does add a tragic element to the character, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I don't love her relationship with Superman to be honest, but her attraction to Batman in the DCAU was interesting (and amusing at times). Finally, while I kind of wish they'd gone with a God other than Zeus for her father in the New 52 (Ares perhaps?), making Diana a literal child of the Gods is a good move in my book, since she's already as I said deeply immersed in Greek Mythology. Why not go all the way?
And finally, to top off all the reasons why I love Wonder Woman, she's an Amazon who is (at least when written by someone other than Frank Miller) not a bloodthirsty, man-hating psychopath who views the male sex as the spawn of the devil, but instead believes that the males of Earth can be made better than they are and shown a better way. What's not to love about that?
6. Meetra Surik, the Jedi Exile (Star Wars, Legends Continuity)
As a huge Star Wars fan and in particular a fan of the Old Republic Era, I have good reason to love the Jedi Exile of KotoR II fame. That game also happens to be one of my very favorite video games (Star Wars or otherwise), of all time and Meetra is it's protagonist. One who you can choose to make either good, evil, or perhaps somewhere in-between the two (though canonically, she's Light Side and I do prefer that anyways).
Ultimately, Meetra has some traits in common with the protagonist of KotoR 1, Revan (who is also my favorite Star Wars character and second favorite fictional character behind Spider-Man), but is also different enough to stand on her own. This means she has the best of both worlds: enough in common with a major favorite of mine to make things I love about him apply to her, but also enough that is exclusive to her to make her stand out. More specifically, Meetra's story is one of redemption, but of a different sort than Revan. Where Revan forgot who he was and thus became a different person than the Sith Lord he'd been before, Meetra never forgets the blood she shed at Malachor V, and for the longest time, is unable to forgive herself. But with help from a mysterious old woman who starts as a friend and ends as a foe, Meetra not only regains her lost connection to the Force, she expands on it like never before and becomes a powerful Force user to rival Revan (or at least, Revan before his peak). And she does also come to at least partly forgive herself for what she did and turn into an almost saintly character who is determined to do as much good as she can, even in the face of her mentor's cynicism/nihilism. She also gathers to her other lost and tortured souls and turns many of them into full-fledged Jedi with whom the task of rebuilding the Jedi Order lies with. And, she ultimately takes down every last member of the Sith Triumvirate, and a hell of lot besides. So between all of those reasons, and also how she is one of the very, very few canonically female protagonists of any given Star Wars game, Meetra Surik gets my vote.
5. Yennefer of Vengerberg (The Witcher)
I've only recently developed a serious interest in the very dark, very violent, and very morally gray world of the Witcher, with those above things often keeping me away from the series up until the more accessible Witcher 3 caught my attention. And along with the third entry, Yennefer caught my attention as well.
Where to begin? The magical power complete with a cool raven motif? The interesting backstory and well done romance story she is part of? Her sexy accent? Her wit? Her incredible beauty? All of these are certainly valid reasons, so let's start with the premise of the character: a quarter-Elf who is actually in her late nineties and later around 100 as the Witcher series progresses (though in the Video Game continuity she is absent until Part III). Implied in the books to have been born ugly and giving herself incredible beauty with magic, there is an air of tragedy to the character, which is highlighted by how she and her lover Geralt have been kept separate for so long, and how they've been getting together and splitting up and then getting together again. Normally, I hate love stories like that, but what I like about this one is the great sense of loyalty Geralt feels towards Yennefer, and his determination to be with her no matter what. However, what makes the story even better (and elevates it to one of my favorite romances ever), is in how Yennefer feels that Geralt's wish that they always be together actually does more harm than good, in that it makes her doubt the sincerity of their love. She wants them to be together, but only if it is their choice, not the magic of a Djinn. Thus, Yennefer seeks to undo the wish, leading to (assuming the player makes this choice) an incredibly sweet moment where Geralt and Yennefer both realize that their love remains every bit as strong and real as it was before.
So, aside from that excellent and complicated romance story she's a part of, what else does Yennefer have to her name? Well, her magic power for one, which gives her a few different nifty tricks and abilities to make use of, also allowing her to be the spells to Geralt's swords, so to speak. She also has a good capacity for wit as well, not being afraid to trade banter (and the occasional light mockery) with Geralt and poke fun at him, but never too maliciously. On top of those reasons, Yennefer also has a pretty sexy voice, a dignified English accent that the voice actress manages very well.
And of course, how can I sing Yennefer's praises, without mentioning the beauty she is renowned for in-universe? Generally, the black haired beauties (especially in Fantasy) are utter monsters; sadistic and evil femme fatales who's only beauty is on the outside. Yennefer's no saint (no one in the Witcher is), but she's hardly a monster, and especially when compared to other characters in the series. More to the point, Yennefer is truly beautiful, and her reputation for it is very well earned. She also plays it up nicely with her stylish black and white clothing that includes some nice fur, as well as black leather gloves, pants, and heeled boots. So obviously yes, Yennefer rocks on that front too.
Really, I'm not sure what else there needs to be said. I've developed a greater appreciation for the Witcher series of late (at least the third entry anyways), and Yennefer's a large part of the reason for that. So between that and everything else I've said, Yennefer gets my vote for the first lady in the Top 5.
4. Princess Leia (Star Wars)
Anyone who knows me well enough should know that I am very much a Star Wars fan (several of my Avatars alone demonstrate this, to say nothing for everything else). So with that in mind, is it any wonder that I'm also a huge fan of the premiere Star Wars female?
The thing about Leia is that not only is she a fantastic heroine in her own right, but she also set the precedent for numerous other strong women in Star Wars to follow. Even so though, the first remains the best.
Possessed of an amount of Force potential equal to that of her brother and father, and coming to realize a good portion of it in the Legends continuity, Leia grew into an incredibly powerful Jedi, but before that she was still awesome as one of the champions of the Rebel Alliance, a crack shot with a blaster who per canon sources (and feats) almost never misses, a princess who took charge of her own rescue mission, and the woman who could both trade one-liners and snark with the sarcastic and outwardly cynical Han Solo, and also kill Jabba the Hutt. And she did the latter in a golden bikini too. Not bad.
In the end, Leia remains my favorite female Star Wars character, my favorite princess, and really just an overall favorite in general.
3. Asami Sato (The Legend of Korra)
Talk about your characters who don't get their dues.
Stuck in a really, really, awful love triangle that for me ranks among the absolute worst of it's kind, emotionally mistreated by the man she gave her heart to free of charge and also betrayed her own father to stand alongside, and then oftentimes reduced to little more than a bit role in her show (barring a few brief turns in the spotlight here and there), Asami really did end up needing a heck of a lot more love than she got. Really, she was basically the show's whipping girl.
Now of course, this begs the obvious question: if she was so often relegated to a minor role and before that a love triangle that feels like it wandered out of a Soap Opera (or Twilight), why does she rank so high?
For starters, there's the fact that she's my type. She's incredibly beautiful on both the outside (for my money the most attractive female character in the entire mythos by a significant margin), and also the inside (being by far the most consistently nice, friendly, pleasant, and amiable member of the cast). Not only does she have an excellent combination of outer beauty and inner beauty, she is also intelligent and competent, being a skilled hand-to-hand fighter who actually did consistently better against Equalist Chi-Blockers then most Benders did (to be fair, she did have that sweet electrified gauntlet, but that's just one more plus for her), and also having mechanical expertise inherited from her father, allowing her to both drive just about any and all vehicles in the Avatar world, and also repair and maintain them. And, her black satomobile that she used as Team Avatar's personal car in Season 1 was definitely one very stylish ride.
Her fashion sense too is also noteworthy, my personal favorite being her awesome biker/combat outfit that she wore when either driving vehicles, fighting, or both. I also like her preference for black and red, as those are my two favorite colors. Not only that, but between her black and red color scheme, being a black-haired beauty, and also being really rich, you'd think she'd be a typical archetypal femme fatale of the heartless and evil sociopath variety who's only beauty is on the outside (kind of like Baroness and Xenia Onatopp, among others).
But this then is the other main reason why Asami is not just my third favorite female character ever, but also my favorite female from her franchise: because she appears to adhere to an archetype that I hate (the sexy but evil dark haired beauty, namely), and goes in the completely opposite direction as (again), one of the absolute nicest characters in the franchise and certainly in her particular show, especially when compared to the way Korra was for the first one and a half seasons, and the way Mako was for most of Book 1. That Mako ended his relationship with Asami in a poorly (and hastily) written fashion to be with someone who proved to be a rather unpleasant and verbally abusive partner and nowhere near as kind as Asami was, makes him in no uncertain terms a complete idiot. Again, nigh incomparable beauty on both the outside and the inside, brains, combat skill, a talent for vehicles and machinery, a good fashion sense, rich and being a character who gives the finger to one of my least favorite archetypes ever. Doesn't get much better than that.
2. Female Paragon Shepard and Miranda Lawson (Mass Effect, Tie)
The two best women of the Mass Effect trilogy manage to tie for the number 2 spot. But why are these two ladies the best out of a series that has a lot of good female characters?
For Female Shepard (at least the Paragon version), the reasons for her high ranking are very simple and as follows: as a female version of Commander Shepard, she has all of the awesomeness and pure badassery of the Male Shepard, only female. So really, all that is great about Male Shepard applies to her. She also benefits from good voice acting from Jennifer Hale, so really, Paragon FemShep's placement is a no-brainer. That you can influence how she looks is just one more plus, especially when she frankly has better customization options than Male Shepard. And, for all her being so thin physique-wise, instead of getting crushed by others, she crushes them. Awesome.
For Miranda, I honestly find that she and Yennefer from the Witcher actually have a few things in common, and that it is many of these common traits and characteristics that make me love both characters. Unfortunately, Miranda's probably one of the most unfairly and widely reviled and bashed characters in the franchise, with most other members of the ME fandom being content to treat her like the Anti-Christ. Myself, I love her for the following, simple reasons: Beauty, Brains, Badassery, and a hidden heart of gold.
The Beauty part is obvious. Her sexiness and hotness are such that she actually gets flak for it (which makes no sense). Me though, I appreciate both her lovely low-cut catsuit and also her very pretty face that comes from her voice actor, the very attractive Yvonne Strahovski. I also like how they made her a brunette, since I do tend to have that preference.
As for brains and badassery, she was the head of the Lazarus Project that brought back Commander Shepard back from the dead and in so doing gave the trilogy's hero(ine) a second chance at life and the opportunity to stop the Reapers for good. Shepard owes their very life to her. She's also a woman of tastes and culture, liking classical music and clearly favoring the sophisticated over the, well...unsophisticated. Some use this to claim she's arrogant, a rather ludicrous claim that can be easily demolished by the following lines:
"Everyone of your accomplishments is due to your skills...."
"The difference between you and me is, you were great before we brought you back...."
(In response to Shepard's noting that Miranda sounds like she was designed to be perfect): "Maybe, , Shepard. . And when I do, the consequences are severe."
So, in addition to being smart and sexy, she's also modest to a fault. Yet another good quality (if not also unfortunately taken too far due to her self-loathing, but this can be rectified by Shepard showing her care).
As for badassery, she lists her combat qualifications early on, and while a bit more fragile than some of Shepard's other crew-mates, she is still capable of holding her own in a fight, and in fact all of her special abilities are geared towards offense (including Overload for synthetic foes, and Biotic Warp for organics).
Lastly, we have that hidden heart of gold I mentioned earlier. Despite most members of the fandom's claims to the contrary, Miranda is not only not as arrogant or mean as she appears early in her debut game, but she is also not a monster simply for working for Cerberus. Not only does she never do a single evil thing (and no, executing a traitor who tried to kill her and wanting to interrogate someone without ever once suggesting she was planning to use torture are not evil acts), quite the contrary, she repeatedly expresses clear moral standards with her...
- Condoning Tali's voiced desire to punish the racist Volus Kor Tun for his treatment of the Quarian Lia'vael ("Juvenile, but certainly deserved")
- Her agreeing (at least to Shepard) that what was done to Jack and the other children tortured by Cerberus was without question a mistake.
- Her objecting to the pointless abuse and torture of an inmate that a Purgatory prison guard indulges in.
- If allowed to interrogate Veetor expresses the belief that she saved his life (thus showing she cared about him to some extent)
- Warns the cocky young punk on Omega who's life Shepard can save via Paragon Interrupt that he'll need more than knowing how to use a gun if he wants to survive.
- Along with other party members, warns against letting the delusional Volus Niftu Cal participate in a fight due to how he would be unable to do so.
- Admits that she "always regretted" considering putting a control chip in Shepard's head when "rebuilding" him/her and her guilt over it only gets worse as time goes by, to the point that she pretty much begs for forgiveness.
- Warning innocents across the Galaxy to stay away from her father's false sanctuary that already made husks out of at least hundreds and as many as millions of innocent people, including children. She even said "once I saw what this place really was, I couldn't just walk away".
These do not sound like the thoughts and actions of a cold and calculating, mass murdering monster, and instead reinforce my belief that Miranda is NOT evil, especially since some of these happen earlier in the game, thus jettisoning the "she's bad pre-Character Development" argument.
Miranda is also very warm, polite, and pleasant when speaking to Shepard on the Normandy, and so long as she is shown civility in turn she continues to give it. She doesn't fail to praise Shepard's successes and accomplishments (even when she is colder to him/her, she admits that she has respect for their abilities), and she also has a genuine and earnest desire to see humanity succeed that is not twisted and perverted by xenophobia the way it is with most Cerberus members (and in fact Miranda laments this). Ultimately, like Jacob Taylor and Kelly Chambers, she is one of the few members of Cerberus with moral principles and standards, and that to me is an interesting character premise. Of course, I do also love how Miranda finally gets her eyes opened to the evil of Cerberus and resigns, further proof that she is nowhere near the heartless monster most members of the fandom believe her to be.
So to sum it up again: Beauty, brains, badassery, and a hidden heart of gold, plus a good character premise, good character development, and a very tragic past with a pure evil father that (to me) makes her easy to sympathize with. What more can you ask for? If I had to pick two women to save me from a bunch of giant robot squids shooting lasers, I'd definitely choose Paragon FemShep and Miranda.
1. Catwoman (DC Comics) and Black Cat (Marvel Comics) (Tie)
Tied on the account of their many similarities and they're being basically cross-company equivalents to one another. Considering that Spider-Man and Batman are my two very favorite superheroes, it is perhaps no surprise that I took to the very best of the two's (many) lovers. Where the various "civilian love interests" as I call them often come off as little more than a near interchangeable and repetitive lot of bland throwaway characters who tend to come and go without leaving much of an impression, and after a while all start to feel more or less the same, Catwoman and Black Cat tend to come off as much more exciting and interesting.
For one, superhero love interests nearly always trump the more mundane and bland civilian ones that seem to be so much in vogue, and they also have the added benefit of feeling like they're a lot closer to their respective partner in status than a civilian lover would be. And aside from their incredible hotness and sexiness (well enhanced by their choice of dress), they are also confident, talented, playful, and as their often very good banter and flirting with Spidey and Bats clearly shows, witty and funny in an often sarcastic, sassy, and/or deadpan sort of way.
Now, the exact nature of these women's relationships with Spider-Man and Batman and how close or not close they are does change depending on the writer and also specific versions, but whenever the two pairs of characters are shown to be romantic and intimate rather than merely enemies with a bit of superficial flirting here and there, I tend to find said romantic relationships very interesting. The fact that these two are criminals, but of a more mild and tame sort than psychopaths like Joker and Green Goblin, ensures that the heroes are morally conflicted about whether or not they should give into their attraction to these more gray characters. And of course, that statement also implies it's the more gray iterations of the two, as opposed to the more unambiguously villainous depictions of the characters that I tend to not like as much.
No, I prefer Selina and Felicia when they're either Anti-Heroes and Spider-Man and Batman's partners in every sense of the word, or alternatively gray characters who sometimes help, sometimes hinder. But I don't like among other things the psychotic, bloodthirsty, and horribly mischaracterized and mis-written version of Black Cat running around in current comics that now comes off as just another revenge-obsessed Spider-Man villain (because he never has enough of those) and is indulging in behavior that even Black Cat at her previous worst never came close to so much as attempting. And no, the explanation for why doesn't work. She's forgiven Spider-Man for misunderstandings that got her arrested before (and during the same writer's run, no less), so the fact that she's not doing it here and is also going as far as she is, is mischaracterization of the worst sort.
But, while poor Black Cat has now been derailed horribly as a character (to the point that I fear it may very well be irreversible at this point), I can at least fondly remember the way she used to be, and also how she (thankfully) is in some alternate depictions.
Special mention should also be given to some of the better other-media depictions of the two. For Catwoman, all respect to Michelle Pfiffer and especially Anne Hathaway's takes on the character, but for me, Catwoman's Arkhamverse depiction is by far her best, perfectly capturing all that I adore about the character, and giving her a voice actress that did a stellar job capturing a sultry and confident Catwoman. For Black Cat, her portrayal in the Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon was my favorite, where Tricia Heifer really made her (often amusingly and sometimes hilariously) flirty and sultry in her interactions with Spider-Man. And you have to admit, she'd probably do well with the role in live action as well.
Ultimately, Catwoman and Black Cat are super-sexy, super-witty, funny in an often sarcastic sort of way, confident without being haughty or insufferable (at least when written well), can hold their own in a fight (which is often more than can be said for the likes of Mary Jane and Viki Vale), and are the very best women to capture my favorite superheroes' hearts. What more can you ask for?