SHE'S A LADY1 of 12This month began with news that Riri Williams was becoming Marvel's new Iron Man, and its coming to a close with the casting of Brie Larson as Captain Marvel - seemingly solidifying Carol Danvers' hold on the moniker from her predecessor. Not to mention Stargirl scheduled for live-action DC's Legends of Tomorrow while the Jane Foster Thor prepares for her animated debut in Avengers: Secret Wars.
But neither of them are the first female heroes to take on an identity previously occupied by a male character. While the premise is not new to comics, the idea seems to have picked up steam in recent years.
We're not even talking about alternate universes or future timelines here - it's often happened in the mainstream Marvel and DC Universes. With that in mind, here are ten of the most prominent female heroes to take the identity of a male character.
DOCTOR FATE2 of 12Doctor Fate is one of those heroic identities that’s tied to an object – in this case, the Helmet of Nabu, an ancient Egyptian sorcerer whose essence resides in the magical helm. There have been several women to wear the helmet and serve as Doctor Fate, including Inza Nelson, the wife of Kent Nelson, the classic Fate.
There was also the husband-and-wife duo of Eric and Linda Strauss who – weirdly enough – merged together to become one entity as a female-presenting Doctor Fate who even served on the Justice League for a brief period.
STAR-LORD3 of 12Kitty Pryde is a recent addition to the Guardians of the Galaxy, joining the team after her engagement to Peter Quill (A.K.A. Star-Lord) apparently ended. She took up Quill’s helmet and blasters while he was relegated to his hereditary position as Emperor of Spartax, and took his Star-Lord codename to boot.
Her time was short-lived however with Peter returning to the team, but but that doesn't mean she can't still be Star-Lord... there's multiple Spider-Men, Hawkeyes, and soon-to-be Iron Men, aren't there?
ROBIN4 of 12There have been several female Robins in DC lore. While most of them hail from alternate futures and universes, Stephanie Brown briefly served as Batman’s protégé when her occasional boyfriend Tim Drake was forced by Batman to give up crime-fighting. A fan favorite, Stephanie was the Spoiler prior to becoming Robin. She died in a controversial story while operating as Robin, a death DC later retconned, bringing her back as a new Batgirl.
Since the "New 52," Stephanie’s history as Robin and Batgirl was erased, with her having only recently adopted her Spoiler identity in current continuity.
Interestingly, Robin isn’t the only classic DC sidekick to have a female legacy identity. A new Speedy, Mia Deardon, was mentored by Green Arrow for a time. She’s been referenced, but not seen, since the advent of the "New 52."
BLACK PANTHER5 of 12The current (and most famous) Black Panther, T’Challa, is just one in a long line of Wakandan rulers to bear the mantle of their fierce protector. A few years ago, when a battle with Doctor Doom left T’Challa comatose, the Black Panther identity passed to his sister, Shuri.
T’Challa’s back in action now, and is Marvel’s main Black Panther. He madehis movie in Captain America: Civil War, with a solo film on the horizon – perhaps with Shuri beside him.
STAR-SPANGLED KID6 of 12Created by none other than Geoff Johns in his earliest work for DC Comics, Courtney Whitmore took the codename and Star-Belt from Sylvester Pemberton, the original Star-Spangled Kid, to fight alongside her step-dad (and Pemberton’s former sidekick), the mech-suit wearing S.T.R.I.P.E. She later joined the JSA, fulfilling her legacy as Star-Spangled Kid.
Courtney eventually adopted the name Stargirl after Jack Knight, the Starman at the time, bequeathed her his cosmic staff. She’s operated under that name since, even into the "New 52," and the CW has plans to enlist her with the Justice Society in the upcoming second season of DC's Legends of Tomorrow.
WOLVERINE7 of 12When the man known as Logan did the seemingly impossible and actually died, his Wolverine name and costume eventually passed to his clone and protégé X-23. Already a seasoned warrior before taking on the Wolverine identity, X-23, or Laura, as her friends call her, has proven that, like her former mentor, she’s the best there is at what she does.
There’s another Logan in the Marvel Universe at this point, transported to the present from a possible future where he’d given up the Wolverine name. He doesn’t seem keen on taking it back – or sometimes even acknowledging it – so it looks like it’s in Laura’s hands for the foreseeable future.
MANHUNTER8 of 12Kate Spencer was the last person to wear the name Manhunter in the DC Universe, and the first woman to do so. A unique prospect among comic book heroines when she was created, Spencer was a single mom and brutal vigilante whose title defied cancellation numerous times through fan outcry and support.
Spencer was also an attorney, and was Wonder Woman’s defense lawyer when she killed Maxwell Lord. She also served alongside the Birds of Prey and the JSA (like several of her namesakes, and her superpowered grandparents) but has only had sporadic appearances since the advent of the "New 52."
THOR9 of 12The idea of Thor’s name passing on to a new hero is a little odd as it’s, well, his name, and not a title. But that’s exactly what happened when Thor (who now goes by Odinson) became unworthy of wielding Mjolnir in Original Sin. When a new, female wielder proved herself worthy and lifted the hammer, she gained the powers of Thor as Dr. Donald Blake once did.
After fighting alongside the new wielder of Mjolnir, Odinson conceded that she was a worthy successor, and granted her his name along with his powers. It was later revealed that the new Thor was none other than his former paramour Jane Foster.
And the character is taking further hold in Marvel's plans, as she's promised for the upcoming season of the animated Avengers cartoon, subtitled Secret Wars.
THE QUESTION10 of 12Handpicked by the original Question, Vic Sage, Renee Montoya learned Victor Sage’s enigmatic ways and spiritual philosophy before inheriting his faceless identity in the year-long weekly series 52 when Vic died of cancer. Renee served as the Question for some time, and even had a romance with Batwoman, another character introduced in 52.
Since the "New 52," Montoya has been bumped back down to being a Gotham City cop. Vic Sage is back in action as the Question, and it seems like Renee’s history with the identity was erased during that reboot.
CAPTAIN MARVEL11 of 12Carol Danvers started out as an ally and confidant of Mar-Vell, the original Captain Marvel, before gaining cosmic powers of her own and operating as Ms. Marvel for decades. Several years ago, Carol decided to climb the ranks and take the Captain Marvel title for herself, in honor of Mar-Vell who died years prior.
Since taking the mantle of Captain Marvel, Carol has become Marvel’s premiere female hero. She’s an Avengers mainstay, and one side of the conflict in Civil War II. She’s even got her own feature film with actress Brie Larson slated for 2018.
It’s also important to note that Carol isn’t the first woman to take the name Captain Marvel. After Mar-Vell’s death, in a period while Carol was not operating as Ms. Marvel, Monica Rambeau took the name, which she carried for several years. She now goes by Spectrum, and is a member of the Ultimates, alongside Carol.
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