The circles in which I turn tend to expose me to many ongoing arguments of a nerdy nature, but one that keeps recurring in recent weeks has been the question of what character is Marvel’s equivalent to Wonder Woman.  Many candidates have been floated, from Aurora to Zaran’s daughter, with a lot of people hanging around Carol Danvers for some reason, but it seems that few actually ask what “Marvel’s Wonder Woman” means.  In terms of character role, Diana’s position in the DC universe is split over several characters (Invisible Woman shares her “first notable female hero in the world” status, She-Hulk her enjoyment of the call to battle, Storm her exotic origins and quasi-goddess background), and the argument of “strongest character” is a meaningless one at Marvel, due to that universe’s characteristic malleable status quo.  When it comes right down to it, the question of “Who is Marvel’s Wonder Woman?” seems like the equivalent of asking “What part of an elephant is the wings?”, which begs a query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) notes that Marvel’s version of Batman is often perceived to be a minor character and/or a knockoff, asking: Does Marvel Comics need their own version of Wonder Woman?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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19 Comments

  1. September 12, 2013 at 11:32 am — Reply

    I thought the current Captain Marvel was the equiv.?

    • September 12, 2013 at 5:01 pm — Reply

      Hence the mention of her, yes. However, I have yet to read the story that cements it for me. Mileage varies…

  2. September 12, 2013 at 11:51 am — Reply

    Marvel needs more titles based on their female heroes. Yes, they have tried in the past. They need to keep trying. She Hulk seems to be the only stable title Marvel has. Maybe Marvel needs to do the same as DC and base those titles on female spinoffs. Like have series based on American Dream, Rescue, X-23(She needs a new name), Carol Danvers or Lady Sif. Or Maybe make up some new ones like Iron Maid, Sailor America or Wolvergirl. And yes, I am making fun in that last part.

    • September 12, 2013 at 5:03 pm — Reply

      She-Hulk doesn’t have a title.

      • September 13, 2013 at 6:10 pm — Reply

        She has held a title longer than any female Marvel heroine that I can think of.
        You are the master of the back issues so I will defer to you if I am incorrect. He does have a slightly skewed point.

  3. Chris Baldwin
    September 12, 2013 at 12:16 pm — Reply

    Honestly i think the whole debate over who is equivalent to who in the two universes, is really a negative one. I say this because if you can ever get a perfect match between the two, then you are missing out on the opportunity for two more different characters to exist in that frame. As such i would much prefer to see original, interesting ideas from all comic book company’s rather than simply tying to 1-up the competitions characters.

    As a side, my parents bought by 18th birthday guitar through your amazon link, i hope it still works if you chance the domain to .co.uk

  4. September 12, 2013 at 12:17 pm — Reply

    I don’t believe Marvel needs an equivalent. They have a greater number of strong recognizable female characters in their stable than DC. Marvel also tends to feature less blatantly sexualized female characters, especially compared with the New 52.

    However, let’s consider the Dark Phoenix Saga for a moment. The originally came out in 1980 and the cartoon adaptation, which I’m more familiar with, aired in 1994. If you break down this it is about a woman who gains power, can’t handle said power, and kills herself. I’m not saying I necessarily agree with that interpretation of the story, but it makes for a good discussion.

  5. September 12, 2013 at 12:27 pm — Reply

    Right now, I think DC needs to look at Marvel and see what they are doing right. Not the other way around.

  6. September 12, 2013 at 12:31 pm — Reply

    It may have been Spider-Woman for a short window of time, she had a cartoon series and her own title. Present day I would have to say Carol Danvers, but Marvel does have a lot of strong female characters that are pretty recognizeable, but Carol has been given a pretty big boost lately. Kelly Sue Deconnick and Captain Marvel pretty much own tumblr. And right now, I can let let my daughter read Captain Marvel, I can’t say the same for Wonder Woman.

  7. September 12, 2013 at 2:53 pm — Reply

    Kelly Sue DeConnick made a very interesting post on her reddit AMA surrounding why there is lack of strong female leads. Basically it comes down to money. Marvel isn’t in the business of pumping books that won’t sell just to fill some perceived niche. I think Marvel believes they are doing quite well right now without needing to ape DC. As others have said, the modern Captain Marvel already fills the role somewhat.

  8. September 12, 2013 at 5:00 pm — Reply

    Zarda, aka Princess Power, of the Squadron Supreme. A bit on the nose, given the Squadron’s history, but the only true analog. Other than the parody/homage/wink-wink characters, the parallels are pretty limited. (Hawkeye and Namor spring to mind…)

  9. Luis Dantas
    September 12, 2013 at 7:52 pm — Reply

    Actually, no, Marvel does not seem to need its own WW.

    But they do have it anyway. And it is Captain America.

    Both are tricky, plot-favored characters that just keep being published despite their own lack of true vialibility or even internal coherence, because the publisher feels much too duty-bound to carry on with what that character is supposed to be anyway.

    Both are reinvented all the time just in order to appear fresh and exciting.

    Both have the weirdest anomalies far as their supposed power levels go.

    Both are patriotic, WW2-related characters.

    Both are supposed to be highly idealistic, despite it rarely showing in any meaningful way.

    Wonder Woman is _not_ a necessary character, and it most certainly isn’t the best female superhero of DC’s line, or even the most powerful. Take your pick of Supergirl, Black Canary, Big Barda, Power Girl, whoever.

    By comparison, Diana is unconvincing, artificially yet incongruously overrated, lack a true personality and even enough of plot hooks that haven’t been beaten to the ground literally for decades.

    The concept sells merchandise, so they keep pushing her. But the character is not actually good far as storytelling goes.

  10. Arbor Day
    September 12, 2013 at 8:56 pm — Reply

    Um… Isn’t it Thor? You know just from a character standpoint.

  11. September 12, 2013 at 10:03 pm — Reply

    Does Marvel NEED a popular but somehow difficult-to-consistently-characterize female counterpart to Wonder Woman? No.
    I want to like Wonder Woman. And I am loving her in her own title. And I’d love it even more if that title had ANYTHING to do with what she was like OUTSIDE her title.
    Marvel’s female characters are fantastic as their OWN characters. They don’t need to be compared to anyone in the DC universe. Marvel doesn’t really have its own Superman, or its own Batman, and nobody’s complaining about that at all.

  12. DarkSidhe
    September 13, 2013 at 7:52 am — Reply

    I find the Thor and Captain America ideas interesting.

    I would venture that Marvel does not have a lack of female characters, but since a lot of them are parts of ensembles, many of which have multiple female characters, they tend to stand out a bit less than Wonder Woman. Female Marvel characters tend to have a bit less… everything than Wonder Woman does (loads of powers, relative lack of character flaws, etc.), but male Marvel characters tend to have a bit less of that than, say, Superman does. There are exceptions… Thor is pretty powerful overall, and they seem to have made attempts at an uber-powerful character with the Sentry, and I think Marvel has been trying to present Carol Danvers in a Wonder Woman-esque light as a parallel, in particular, by placing her as an important character in the Avengers, though I would agree that they haven’t quite achieved that goal (though she has at least become a more interesting character).
    I do think that it is not entirely necessary to include a really powerful female character in a prominent super-team, along with a solo book a la Wonder Woman, since there have been ridiculously powerful female characters in Marvel (Phoenix springs to mind), and I’m not sure an arms race of introducing really powerful new characters would really benefit Marvel in any particular way.

  13. September 13, 2013 at 8:06 am — Reply

    I just read the Harley Quinn #1 Forever Evil tie in. Something bothers me about what they’ve done with her in the new 52. Paul Dini and Bruce Timm created an amazing character when they introduced Harley. She really came into her own as a character separate from the Joke rather quickly. She still had desires (see the excellent Mad Love), but they were, for lack of a better term, normal.

    The new origin in Harley Quinn #1 is fine, except for how she comes to gain her awful costume. It’s like they wanted her to take a piece from every “sexy” stereotype they could. Thigh high socks from field hockey girls in short skirts, hot pants from a jogger, a corset from a prostitute. Come on DC, you can do better than that!

  14. Nic
    September 13, 2013 at 10:54 am — Reply

    I think Marvel would _like_ to have an iconic female character like WW, but I don’t think they necessarily need one. DC has WW and they don’t seem to know what to do with her; WW in her book and the WW in other new 52 books seem like different versions of the character.

    Marvel has a number of strong female characters, just none as iconic and perhaps none that young girls can immediately identify. I’d love to see Marvel move Captain Marvel up into a more prominent role in the MU, but there is some weird baggage in her continuity that could make the character hard to sell as a role-model.

    I liked what they were doing in her new book, but I’m not sure what direction they’re going with her now in the Infinity event.

  15. September 13, 2013 at 6:15 pm — Reply

    Not needed. One of the great things about Marvel/DC is that there is NO direct hero for hero analogues. If there were, Marvel would have been snuffed from the beginning.

  16. September 16, 2013 at 5:07 pm — Reply

    ““What part of an elephant is the wings?””

    The ears, duh.

    As for the main question, do you mean “Does Marvel need to have a central superheroine who stands out from the rest of the women?” If so, well, I don’t think they have a central superhero like Superman/Batman for the guys, so why have one for the women?

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