While Captain Marvel may be the first female hero to lead a film, she is far from being the first one to steal the show.
In fact, there have been many badass women who have rocked the MCU films, with the likes of Black Widow, Gamora, Scarlet Witch and Pepper Potts, just to name a few.
In light of International Women’s Day, as well as Captain Marvel making her debut on the big screen, let’s take a look at some of the most memorable moments with the women of the MCU.
Pepper Potts defeats Obadiah Stane
As a few keen redditors observed last year, Pepper Potts is actually responsible for more villain defeats than Iron Man himself.
The first of these defeats comes in the original Iron Man film. Acting on Tony’s instructions, Pepper overloads the arc reactor that powers the Stark Industries building. The resulting electrical surge causes villain Obadiah Stane to fall into the reactor as it explodes, killing him.
This makes Pepper indirectly responsible for the death of the MCU’s first major villain.
Score one for the Women of the MCU!
Black Widow Infiltrates the Hammer Factory
While Iron Man 2 is one of the lesser-loved entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it does have a few memorable moments.
One of these is seeing the Black Widow in action for the first time.
After spending much of the film posing as an innocent secretary, Natasha Romanoff finally gets to suit up in the final act. Romanoff infiltrates Justin Hammer’s factory, and single-handedly battles her way through the building’s security forces. She then restores control of the Iron Man Mk II suit to James Rhodes, allowing him to aid Tony in battling Ivan Vanko.
The Introduction of Peggy Carter
Captain America: The First Avenger introduces us to Peggy Carter, soon to be the first Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The pre-serum Steve Rogers meets Peggy soon after arriving in the Army. He watches as Peggy punches a recruit who makes a suggestive comment to her.
The scene establishes Peggy as a no-nonsense figure who will not stand to be looked down upon because of her gender. This characterisation follows Peggy through her subsequent appearances.
When we are reintroduced to Natasha Romanoff in The Avengers, it appears that she is being interrogated. Things change, however, when her captors get a phone call… For her.
Nat, in front of her very confused interrogator, scolds the caller, Agent Coulson, for interrupting her work. When Coulson reveals that Clint Barton is in trouble, however, her attitude completely changes.
While still strapped to the chair, Black Widow defeats her captors, then escapes the chair and returns to her phone call. Natasha Romanoff was completely in control the entire time.
In a single scene, the movie reminded us that Natasha is a force to be reckoned with.
“I’ve got you.”
When The Mandarin has missiles fired at Tony’s home in Iron Man 3, Pepper briefly dons the Iron Man suit.
While wearing the suit, Pepper saves the lives of both Tony and Maya Hansen.
Many fans believe this scene foreshadows Pepper taking on her role as ‘Rescue’ from the comics. If leaked Endgame set pictures are to be believed, they may be right.
Pepper defeats Aldrich Killian
Tony is left heartbroken when he briefly believes Pepper to be dead. However, the Extremis she’d been injected with prior helps save her from her supposed fiery doom.
Pepper rises like a phoenix from the ashes, and uses her Extremis-fueled super strength to save Tony from the insane Aldrich Killian.
Gamora tricks Star-Lord
Soon after his arrival on Xandar, Gamora catches the eye of Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord.
The pair flirt, until Gamora tries to steal the Orb Quill had stolen himself earlier in the film. They fight for it, but Peter proves no match for her. The only thing that stops Gamora from taking the orb is the fact that she and Peter are arrested.
“You are an Avenger.”
In the latter half of Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Wanda Maximoff struggles with the role she played in helping Ultron rise to power. This culminates in her suffering a small breakdown in the middle of the final battle.
Clint Barton gives Wanda a much needed pep-talk. Wanda returns to the battlefield in time to save Clint from a growing crowd of Ultron robots, and goes on to play a vital role in the Avengers’ victory.
“I can’t control their fear, only my own”
Captain America: Civil War gives us a Scarlet Witch who is still struggling with her powers. A tragic accident with them early in the film, resulting in the loss of innocent life, doesn’t help.
Because of said accident, Wanda spends most of the movie confined to the Avengers compound under the custody of Vision. Fearing Wanda’s confinement could lead to something more sinister, Steve sends Clint to liberate Wanda.
Wanda is reluctant to leave, but another Barton pep-talk does the trick. Unfortunately, Vision tries to halt the pair’s escape. In a scene that is both awesome and tragic, Wanda must turn her powers against her friend, sending him plummeting down numerous floors of the building.
This scene takes on an extra element of tragedy in hindsight, as it is here Vision learns that Wanda’s powers can affect the Mind Stone.
“I’m going to regret this.”
Natasha spends most of Civil War fighting on Tony Stark’s side.
However, this changes during the closing stages of the film’s iconic airport battle sequences. Black Widow incapacitates Black Panther, allowing Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes to escape. She does this knowing it means she will most likely have to go on the run as well.
Natasha’s decision reflects her behaviour throughout the film. She was never really on either side, rather, she just wanted to keep the Avengers together. When it seems that is no longer possible, she defaults to simply trying to do the right thing.
The progression of Gamora and Nebula’s relationship is easily one of the best parts of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2.
After an almost fatal battle, the sisters have a meaningful conversation for possibly the first time. Ultimately, they come to the conclusion that it is not they, but their adoptive father, Thanos, who is responsible for the rift between them. During the film’s climactic battle, Nebula risks her life to save Gamora.
The restored relationship is important to both sisters, becoming a driving force behind many of their decisions in Infinity War.
Guardians Vol.2 also introduces the new character of Mantis. Mantis is a servant of Ego the living planet, and it is her job to aid his sleep.
After bonding with Drax, she warns him of Ego’s evil plans. She proves a vital ally in the final battle, putting Ego to sleep long enough for our heroes to come up with a plan.
With this act, Mantis earns her place as the newest Guardian.
For much of Thor: Ragnarok, we see Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie attempting to avoid her tragic past, and the loss of her fellow Valkyrie at Hela’s hand.
Ultimately, Valkyrie chooses to help Thor in his fight against Hela, to avenge her fallen sisters. This makes the moment in which she takes to the battlefield with her original sword and armour a memorable and triumphant one.
Nakia and Okoye rescue women from slavery
Early in Black Panther, T’Challa sets out to retrieve his ex girlfriend, Nakia, so she can attend his father’s funeral.
Nakia is in the middle of an important undercover mission to rescue some captive women, and is initially furious at T’Challa’s intervention, as he has blown her cover. T’Challa proves quite useless at first, as he freezes up upon seeing Nakia again.
Thankfully, Okoye arrives in time to help. The women are saved, and Nakia’s mission is a success.
“Why was she up there this whole time?”
The Scarlet Witch spends the early part of the battle of Wakanda confined to Shuri’s lab, waiting for the Mind Stone to be removed from Vision so she can destroy it.
However, as she watches the situation becoming increasingly worse, Wanda decides she can not stand back any longer. She arrives on the battlefield in time to save Natasha and Okoye from being crushed by alien machinery, and takes out quite a few enemies in the process.
“She’s not alone”
While rushing to help Vision, Wanda is intercepted by villain Proxima Midnight. Before Midnight can deliver a killing blow, Natasha and Okoye arrive to save Wanda. Wanda ends the fight by throwing Proxima Midnight into one of the machines from which she’d earlier saved Nat and Okoye.
This scene was nominated for ‘Best Fight’ at the MTV Movie awards. It has also led some fans to call for an all female Avengers film.
Wanda destroys the Mind Stone
After spending most of the film trying to save her beloved, Wanda is forced to destroy Vision and the Mind Stone when Thanos arrives in Wakanda.
In this sequence, Scarlet Witch officially establishes herself as one of the strongest Avengers. Already using a huge amount of energy to destroy Vision, she manages to hold back an almost fully-powered Thanos at the same time.
Sadly, Wanda and Vision’s heartbreaking sacrifice proves pointless when Thanos uses the Time Stone.
The Wasp takes flight
While Hope Van Dyne proves herself a competent fighter in Ant-Man, she gets to truly shine in Ant-Man And The Wasp.
When negotiations with black market dealer Sonny Burch goes awry, Hope dons her suit as The Wasp to single-handedly fight off Sonny and his men. It is not until the mysterious Ghost arrives that she requires Ant-Man’s help.
In this scene, Hope displays exactly why she thought she should be the one wearing the Ant-Man suit in the first movie.
While Captain Marvel may be the first female hero to lead a Marvel film, she will not be the last, with a Black Widow movie already on the way.
We can look forward to plenty more great moments from the women of the MCU in the future.