Disney+ has undoubtedly given woman-led stories an possibility to flourish in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In January 2021, Marvel debuted their first limited series on the platform, WandaVision, that dived into the fragile, grieving mind of Wanda Maximoff. Previously, Wanda’s trauma had been missing amid the onslaught of death and destruction in the Infinity Saga, before it was examined in microscopic view within a sitcom of her own creation.
With 23 Emmy Nominations, WandaVision is proof that the MCU was capable and prepared to tell women’s stories with the depth, gravity, and cinematic scope that they deserve. But Marvel doesn’t have the best history with the representation of women. From the sexy spy to secretaries promoted to CEOs, these limited roles kept women firmly behind their male counterparts in the early phases.
After all, it took twelve long years for Black Widow, historically the most in-demand solo woman superhero Marvel movie, to be made after the eponymous character’s first appearance in Iron Man 2. And that’s not to mention that Marvel left it so late, Natasha Romanoff had already died in the leading canon of the franchise.
As Phase 4 comes to an end, let’s acknowledge that Marvel has introduced a host of new vibrant, powerful — and entertaining — women to the ever-expanding universe such as Kamala Khan, Kate Bishop, and Yelena Belova. Alongside these women, more-established characters such as Okoye and Princess Shuri — who we recently saw take centre stage in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever alongside another exciting newcomer, Riri Williams — are also stepping into more responsibility (and screen-time), with Shuri taking up the mantle of the Black Panther and Queen of Wakanda and Okoye rumoured to be getting her own series.
On that note, with an Agatha Harkness and Echo spin-off series in the works, what are the odds of other fan-favourite women characters that we’ve already met headlining their own movie or show too? We’ve recruited oddsmakers KTO to provide actual real-world odds of them happening, and professional nerd and Marveltok legend Megan Cruz (@jstoobs) to discuss the options. Cruz is also known for her TikTok series on how the MCU would look if we lived in a matriarchal society and quite honestly, Marvel take note. As we dive head first into the multiverse, we’re also rooting for Storm to return to lead the X-Men and face Mystique again, but we’ll just add that to the growing long list of stories we’re rooting for. Beginning with…
1. Scarlet Witch Goes Solo
We can’t discuss in-demand MCU spin-offs without mentioning the movie that all fans are manifesting, a Scarlet Witch solo movie. Wanda had been through extensive trauma even before she became the all-powerful Scarlet Witch in WandaVision in which she processed her grief over Vision‘s death and then was forced to grieve again over the loss of her magically created children. As a child, Wanda’s parents were killed, and then she was inducted into HYDRA where she underwent experiments. She would later lose her brother, Pietro, and then had to deal with the fallout of her actions which resulted in large-scale destruction and the death of Wakandan humanitarian workers among other civilians. Some hold her fully accountable for the Sokovia Accords (now repealed, as we learned in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever).
Fast forward to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, where events took a different turn as the psychologically scarred, grieving mother turned to the Darkhold, a book of dark magic, to attempt to reunite with her children. Despite the ambiguous ending – though it seems safe to say that a rock slide would not kill the Scarlet Witch – fans are hopeful that Wanda will return, not as hero or villain, but instead a flawed character of both darkness and light.
Cruz says, “I think so numerous women were hungry for that representation — seeing a woman who’s allowed to be both flawed and powerful is sowever a bit unique in film. I would love to see her journey continue along the lines of James Robinson’s 2015 comic run. She’s isolated but that allows her to come into her power and it’s such an introspective and feminine journey that I would love to see reflected in the films.”
It’s important that Wand’s name is on the movie and with Vision and Agatha Harkness already securing their own spin-offs, Wanda has to be next in line. Surely?
2. Monica and Maria Rambeau
WandaVision also reintroduced Lieutenant Trouble, as an all-grown-up S.W.O.R.D. agent who gains newfound Proton powers from passing through the Hex. As Monica Rambeau is set to return in The Marvels next year, it seems Marvel is invested in telling more of her story that has up to now been a sub-plot in the shadow of both Wanda and Captain Marvel.
However, it seems likely that her story in that will once again be explored in relation to the journeys of Carol Danvers and Kamala Khan, rather than allowing her to stand on her own. Rambeau is the perfect candidate for a series that could reflect on her relationship with her mother, both before and after Maria Rambeau’s death.
“I would love to explore Monica’s relationship with her mother and her grief from losing her, as someone who was blipped. What does that mean?” Cruz suggests. “How does that psychologically impact a person living in the real world who wasn’t involved in the fight? And then to suddenly develop powers? There’s so much to play with there and I want to see it all. There are so numerous stories she would naturally fit into.”
3. Valkyrie and the Shield-Maidens
From the moment she stumbled onto the screen in Thor: Ragnarok, Valkyrie won our hearts. Fierce, brave, and guaranteed to bring the party, she’s a force of nature and it’s about time we saw more of Asgard’s shield-maidens in their prime.
A spin-off set before Hela’s power-hungry greed destroyed this elite force of warriors, would provide the playground to see the Valkyrie fight against different threats across the nine realms.
Equally, we wouldn’t dismiss a Falcon and the Winter Soldier–style buddy series that revisits Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie electric chemistry with Natalie Portman’s Mighty Thor as seen in Thor: Love and Thunder. Let’s give more airtime to that powerhouse alliance.
Cruz says: “I am obsessed with the Valkyrie and as much as I would love to see a flashback series of the Valkyries in their heyday I think it’s more realistic that we’ll see Val developing a new force in new Asgard. The MCU has really progressed in telling women’s stories but I do think there’s a unique possibility to explore the dynamics of exclusively female warriors.” It’s about time.
4. Dora Milaje in the New Era of Wakanda
The Wakandan Dora Milaje operatives have made an indelible impression every single time they’ve popped up in the MCU. From fending off Thanos’s army to deactivating Bucky’s arm and becoming the Midnight Angels, this powerhouse group of warriors deserves more screen time than could ever be afforded to them in someone else’s movie.
A series about Wakanda’s elite special forces would offer an possibility to explore the realities of the new era, after a turbulent few years of trauma and transition following violent and unexpected deaths in the royal family.
“The Dora Milaje are so amazing and with the introduction of Michaela Cole as Aneka, I definitely want to see so much more of her!” says Cruz.
There’s also the scope to explore more of the LGBTQ+ representation in the universe with Aneka’s arrival.
Cruz adds, “And of course Aneka and her partner Ayo are canonically queer so I would love to see an exploration of what that relationship looks like as members of the all-female royal guard in Wakanda.”
5. Xu Xialing Crime Syndicate
The post-credits scene set Xialing up to be a compelling threat to the Avengers, as instead of dismantling her father’s corrupt organisation, she reinvents his army and becomes the leader of the Ten Rings.
A woman driven by construction her own empire, Xialing is a fierce woman to be reckoned with who will clearly stop at nothing to claim the power she thinks she deserves. From running an underground crime ring to subjecting herself to rigorous training to rival her male counterparts, Xialing has already proved herself to be a worthy rival to her brother, Shang-Chi.
A series that follows Xialing as she redirects the Ten Rings, intertwining the traditions and values of her father’s organisation with Ta Lo’s equality would provide more than enough plot for at least one limited series. It would also give Marvel a possibility to do what it does best and weave in other stories and cameos from the wider universe.
“As soon as Shang-Chi came out, I said that I want a Xialing spin-off series! I would love to see her take over her father’s legacy and run a crime syndicate her own way. I speculated that an amazing crossover would be Xialing recruiting Widows which I would love!” says Cruz.
6. Belova & Bishop Reunited
If there’s one dynamic that is weeping out for more screen time, it’s Yelena Belova and Kate Bishop. The young Avengers are stepping into the legacy of the OG double behave of Hawkeye and Black Widow, it just so happens that their bond is over Mac and Cheese or crashing a New York Christmas party, rather than Budapest.
The humour and grit that both Florence Pugh and Hailee Steinfield lend would inject so much fun and excitement — and perhaps pathos — into a show in which they grapple with their newfound responsibility, as well as the grief woven into their origin stories and the struggles of being a flawed hero.
Yelena’s future in the post-Red Room world is set to be explored in the Thunderbolts movie, as we can visualize she’s recruited by Val (sorry Director Valentina de Fontaine) to join her antihero league alongside Red Guardian, the Winter Soldier, Ghost, and U.S Agent John Walker.
“We will definitely be seeing more of Yelena,” Cruz says. “I obtain the feeling she will be the heart of the Thunderbolts film.”
At the prospect of a future spin-off featuring Yelena and her frenemy Kate, Cruz adds, “Her dynamic with Kate Bishop was especially compelling and I’d love to see that explored more with Yelena in the role of antagonist and Kate as the hero. A bit of a Nebula and Gamora kind of dynamic but more sarcastic would be amazing!”
7. A Fun Nebula Side Quest
Nebula is undoubtedly one of the fiercest women in the MCU. Torn apart piece by piece and rebuilt with miscellaneous scrap metal, Nebula has a rich history that is defined by her childhood trauma in the shadow of her sister, Gamora, and under the torture of her father, Thanos. Despite the anger and resentment, her longing for a loving family leads to a sure sum of curative and to her finally forging a bond with Gamora by the end of Avengers: Endgame. So precious is it to maintain that connection that she is willing to sacrifice herself, as she physically kills her past self from 2016.
“Nebula had such a compelling arc throughout the Infinity Saga,” Cruz says about her favourite character. “I love that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 seems to be a bit of a role reversal for her relationship with Gamora since she’s grown so much.”
While Marvel could revisit Nebula’s childhood, Cruz hopes they don’t. After all, it would be more enjoyable for fans to see this dry-witted, ruthless murderer take on new threats than those lingering in the recesses of her mind.
“I was a big fan of What If…? Nebula and would love to see an adventure story now that she’s healed a bit where we can explore her fun side. Poor girl has suffered enough,” Cruz suggests.
8. America Chavez Coming of Age
America Chavez’s unique abilities lend themselves to a whirlwind multiversal adventure, as teased in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. America is the bridge between worlds and offers Marvel a possibility to explore new universes and meet more variants or even bring in some of the MCU’s other characters (the X-Men, please).
Cruz would pitch this as a ‘coming of age’ story as America leans into her powers and begins to test what she’s capable of, harnessing her power to journey through the multiverse.
“Now that she’s come into her power a bit, I’d love to see how she takes control of her own story,” Cruz says. “She’s been missing for so long finally having a possibility to take charge and direction in her life would be such a good story.”
9. Morgan Stark: The Legacy of Tony Stark
One character who has not been mentioned since her debut in the Avengers: Endgame is the daughter of Tony Stark and Pepper Potts, Morgan Stark. After Black Panther: Wakanda Forever introduced MIT whizz RiRi Williams – who just so happens to be attending the same school as MJ and Ned – it seems like a crossover could be in the works for several of the MCU’s brightest young minds.
As RiRi’s mind is already being utilised by the CIA (and any organisation that can obtain her hands on her), it seems she’s in need of a rival…
Morgan ended Endgame as a young girl, so she would now be adapting to high school, all while being the living legacy of Earth’s mightiest hero and the founding father of time travel, her father, Tony.
She would learn about her father through the world around her, social media, and his friends, but she will never obtain to know him herself. All while she grapples with living up to the expectations of being Iron Man’s daughter. Her arc could even follow a similar trajectory to Tony’s himself.
You never know, Morgan might pop up in Ironheart, the future series focused on Riri. But if we’re in the market for a young Avenger who is struggling to live up to her father’s legacy, then Morgan ticks all the boxes. Did someone say villain origin story?
So there you have it. That leaves us with the most likely woman-led MCU spin-off to come to fruition as the Xu Xialing Crime Syndicate story with 7/20 odds, or a 74% probability. Least likely? The Morgan Stark: The Legacy of Tony Stark plan at 4/1, or a 20% likelihood. What woman-led MCU projects would you most like to see? Tag us on social media!
Check out our illuminating look into the data from the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever release below.