Okay, so Marvel hasn’t exactly been the best to women throughout their franchise. Most of the MCU women I discuss below play the girlfriend figure to other heroes. In fact, they even stay alongside their significant others at times when maybe they shouldn’t. But all of these non-hero women have something about them to admire. Here are 5 that inspire us daily!

1. Pepper Potts

A common misconception people have about Pepper is that she receives her promotion by way of dating Tony Stark. And while they do attract one another’s attention early on in the franchise, it’s not until midway through IRON MAN 2 that they actually date – after she gets her promotion at the beginning of the film. The character arc still isn’t great regarding women in film, but it’s not horrible. After all, Pepper works extremely hard in IRON MAN to earn her promotion.

Pepper Potts MCU Women
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

However, let’s discuss Pepper’s persona. When it comes down to it, she’s one of the most compassionate and understanding MCU women – almost the epitome of a humanitarian. This is Pepper’s most commendable quality. It’s no wonder they choose Gwenyth Paltrow for the role. In IRON MAN, Pepper is downright appalled by all of Tony Stark’s antics. She questions the bullet holes in Tony’s suit with extreme concern, and she even quits her job at one point, saying:

“You’re gonna kill yourself, Tony. I’m not gonna be a part of it.”

Pepper cares so much about Tony that she’s willing to lose the “only thing [she] has,” referring to her job, in attempt to save Tony’s life. In IRON MAN 2 and IRON MAN 3, we see roles reverse as Tony starts to show Pepper that same kindness. But Pepper still manages to show her sympathetic side in IRON MAN 3, when she comforts Maya Henson over aiding Aldrich Killian with his work. Pepper reminds her that Stark Industries used to help, ‘the bad guys’ too, and Maya genuinely thanks Pepper for soothing her. Pepper’s unconditional kindness is something to look up to, even if she’s devoid of any superpowers.

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2. Jane Foster 

What makes (ahem) Doctor Jane Foster one of the best non-hero MCU women is the fact that she is impeccably smart. She doesn’t have any special abilities – besides the fact that she is one of the world’s leading astrophysicists. Thus why she’s able to predict Thor’s arrival based on research. She didn’t just happen to be in the right place at the right time. She’s a calculated woman of science, who knew exactly where to be. Not to mention, she’s charming towards Thor (besides, you know, when she “grazes,” him with her car).

Jane Foster MCU Women
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

It’s a little disappointing that Thor leaves Jane out to dry at the end of THOR, considering she’s such a catch. And it’s even more disappointing that he doesn’t even care to say hello to Jane in AVENGERS when the rescuing of New York City is nationally broadcast for everyone to see.

I don’t blame Jane for eventually leaving Thor (as we learn in AGE OF ULTRON) because he’s not a very attentive boyfriend. It makes sense that Jane chooses mind over matter when it comes to her relationship, which is just another reason for her to be respected. Jane’s too smart of a woman to let her emotions be toyed with again and again.

3. Cassie Lang

Yes, I realize Cassie Lang is just a child in ANT-MAN. But regardless, she’s maybe the most optimistic of the MCU women in the entire franchise. She’s aware that her father is technically a criminal, but she doesn’t love him any less. As soon as Scott Lang walks through the door to her birthday party, the first thing Cassie does is run happily into the kitchen to tell her mother. Then, she considers it a positive reaction when her mom, “chokes on her drink,” saying it must mean she’s excited to see Scott. And finally, Cassie opens her evil bunny stuffed animal from Scott and goes,

“He’s so ugly. I love him!”

Cassie Lang MCU Women
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Even when her mother asks if Cassie wants to sleep with a different toy, Cassie refuses. She wants so badly to see the good in her father, maybe more than anyone else in the entire film. It’s this relentless hope for her father to do good in the world that affects Scott so much, he’s able to focus in the Quantum Realm and escape using an enlarging disc in the suit’s regulator. Had it not been for Cassie’s encouraging voice running through Scott’s head, who knows if he would’ve made it out? Cassie is one of the inspirational MCU women due to her blind support. It doesn’t take superpowers to believe in the people you love.

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4. Christine Palmer

Another doctor! DOCTOR STRANGE opens with Christine saving a patients life. Needless to say, she’s worthy to be amongst other strong MCU women. When this patient is pronounced dead, Christine goes to Stephen Strange for a second opinion. She claims something in the patient’s x-ray suggests he might still be living. Sure enough, Palmer and Strange are able to bring the man back to consciousness.

Christine Palmer is very keen to detail, but she also sticks up for herself more than any of the MCU women mentioned above. It’s interesting that the film opens with Christine and Dr. Strange already split up, which Stephen implies when he asks her to attend another one of his speaking lectures. Christine declines, and Stephen wonders why, considering they used to, “have fun.”

“No, you had fun. They weren’t about us, they were about you.”

Christine Palmer MCU Women
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

All throughout DR. STRANGE, Stephen returns to the hospital seeking Christine’s help. Once when he gets hurt, and again when The Ancient One is dying. These are two scenes that illustrate just how strongly Christine stands her ground. While Christine stitches Stephen up, Stephen reveals that she’s never responded to his emails. “Why would I?” she asks.

It’s evident that Christine cares about Stephen, but even up until the end of the film, she doesn’t give in to Stephen’s charm. They don’t end up together, either, which is unusual in terms of Marvel relationships. I guess it must be because Christine knows what she’s worth. Too much so to settle for Stephen, even if he does make some significant changes away from his formerly arrogant self.

5. Honorable Mention: Moira MacTaggart

Moira is badass right off the bat for being a CIA agent. While she’s not *technically* one of the MCU women (because Fox owned the X-Men at the time), she deserves mention for meddling with mutants, since she has no powers herself. In other words, Moira tackles dangerous tasks and issues that only people with special abilities should. This makes her more ballsy than the other MCU women on this list.

For example, in X-MEN FIRST CLASS, Moira accompanies all of the mutants to the beach to stop the Cuban missiles. When Magneto redirects the missiles at the two fleets of ships, Moira distracts him by shooting her gun at him. It’s only because of this that Erik loses grip of the missiles, rushing to Charles’ aid once a bullet accidentally hits him in the spine. If not for Moira, many more lives would’ve suffered.

Moira MacTaggart MCU Women
Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

We see Moira biting off more than others can chew in X-MEN APOCALYPSE, too. In Egypt, Moira knocks someone out in order to break into Apocalypse’s tomb, where she then proceeds to record his resurrection. Charles seeks out Moira’s information, after which Moira follows the mutants into their final battle with Apocalypse.

Jean Grey is more of the knight in shining armor in APOCALYPSE, filling the role Moira has in LAST STAND. But it’s at least respectable of Moira to go on the mission at all, helping out wherever needed. And as we know, Charles rewards her for all her troubles by giving her back the memories of hers from Cuba.

MCU Women: Future Hopes

So while we have some notably strong MCU women, those of which do not need superpowers to be influential, I still hope we get to see more women who actually do have superpowers. Either that or maybe the MCU could make more women like Christine Palmer or Cassie. Women who don’t fall into the conventional “girlfriend role.”

Regardless, Marvel has come a long way from their X-MEN trilogy days, when Jean Grey is very poorly depicted despite her being one of the most powerful mutants. I have no doubt that Marvel will keep improving on how to make women more influential in comic book television and film.

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