Julien Neaves, Editor
Just yesterday it was announced that In The Heights star Leslie Grace would be playing Batgirl in a new film. It’s not clear whether the new Batgirl film will be tied to the upcoming Robert Pattinson Batman film, which has African American actor Jeffrey Wright playing the comic book-white Commissioner James “Jim” Gordon, or the main DCEU which had the always dependable (and white) JK Simmons in the role. Who knows? But however it goes, we at RMR wish her all the best.
Now while I could write an article going into the whole bacchanal of some fans being displeased that unlike her comic book-counterpart she’s not white and not a natural redhead (she’s Dominican and is brunette) but I’ve talked about race-swapped heroes for the past three weeks on the RMR fan newsletter The Big Slice (subscribe now!) so I’ll pass.
But yesterday’s announcement did get me thinking about the other female heroes/anti-heroes of the DCEU and doing a ranking of them. So here we are. One quick caveat though—you will not find Lois Lane or Martha Kent on this list as while they are both strong women and show bravery in times of adversity I think calling either a “hero” would be pushing it. With that out of the way and a Krypton-sized SPOILER ALERT here are the Top 10 Women of the DCEU:
The only thing I remember about Suicide Squad’s Katana is her introduction. That’s it. Aside from a comic book-accurate costume and origin the character has nothing else going for her. She could have been easily left out of this movie which was already overstuffed with characters. So very forgettable. Moving right along.
I know what you’re thinking. Well, I don’t actually know; I’m not a telepath. But I assume you’re thinking that how come Mama Kent gets left off the list but Aquaman’s mama gets a pass? Well the reason is simple—that super cool opening action sequence in the film where she kicked all kind of tail. And while Queen Atlanna is not in the movie for very long veteran actress Nicole Kidman does her best to give the character a regal bearing and a caring demeanour.
#8 All the Birds of Prey
Wait a minute! Three characters in one entry? Yeah, I could have done separate entries for each of the three members of the Birds of Prey but the film didn’t bother to flesh them out so I’m not going to bother either. Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation blah blah truly felt like a Harley Quinn movie with the Birds of Prey characters shoehorned in, much to their disservice.
But you’re already here so let me do a mini-ranking of the three. I liked Huntress the best because of her cool costume and quirky behaviour, and I do love me some Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Rosie Perez’s Renee Montoya was spunky and assertive and gets the silver. Black Canary is at the bottom of the list. Now Jurnee Smollett is great and I loved her in Lovecraft Country but she neither looked like the comic book character (and I’m not even talking about her being black but that awful costume) nor acted like her. Heck, if she didn’t do the canary cry in that one scene she could have been playing pretty much anybody.
#7 Shazam! Sisters
Imagine my surprise while watching Shazam! in cinema in 2019 and seeing his foster siblings transform into the Shazam family in the film’s climax. I was like “WHAT?! That’s so cool!” And two of the members of that super family were the superhero versions of Darla and Mary. Though we did not have them for very long I loved their costuming and use of borrowed powers. Super Darla was cute and playful while Super Mary was strong and level-headed. I look forward to seeing more of them in the sequel Shazam! Fury of the Gods in 2023.
#6&5 Antiope and Hippolyta
Like Queen Atlanna these two Amazons don’t get a lot of screen time but they definitely make the most of it. Connie Nielsen has so much gravitas and presence as Queen Hippolyta, Diana’s mother. And Robin Wright is a force of nature as Amazonian general and Diana’s aunty Antiope. They dominate every scene they are in and immediately stamp their mark on the audience. And those gorgeous costumes? Fuhgedaboutit! And one of the best parts of Zack Snyder’s Justice League was seeing more of Hippolyta. Long live the Queen!
#4 Amanda Waller
Suicide Squad (2016) was a film with so many issues that thinking about all of them is enough to make your head explode. Get it? Suicide Squad? Head explode? You get it. But there were two shining lights in this mixed bag and one of them is Viola Davis as Task Force X mastermind Amanda Waller (we’ll get to the second in a bit). Our first anti-hero on this list, Davis nailed this amoral, powerful, single-minded and completely ruthless character and lifted every scene she was in. She was so good it was scary! It’s no surprise she’s one of the few characters returning for James Gunn’s standalone sequel The Suicide Squad and I for one am very excited to see her version of “The Wall” again.
Okay, put down your pitchforks and torches. I know many people are not fans of actress Amber Heard because of allegations that surfaced in her bitter court battles with ex-husband and fellow actor Johnny Depp. But push all that aside for a minute and just focus on Mera the character and you will see she did an awesome job. She held her own well with Jason Momoa’s Aquaman and delivered a witty, strong and entertaining performance. She was pretty easy on the eyes too. What? She was. And the portrayal of her water manipulation powers looked fantastic in both Aquaman and Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Let’s just ignore the missing accent in ZSJL.
So while there may be a cloud of controversy over Amber Heard the actress I think Mera the character is really great and that’s why she takes the bronze medal on this list. Umm, why do you guys still have your pitchforks and torches?
#2 Harley Quinn
Remember in the Amanda Waller entry how I mentioned there were two shining lights in Suicide Squad. Well the second light and our second anti-hero is Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. What a performance! It was like she took the character from the cartoon and the comic and just dived into it. She was born to play this role. The level of insanity and instability and danger and wackiness and dark humour was pitch perfect. She was so good we didn’t even care that she didn’t have Harley’s trademark Jersey accent.
Robbie also shined in the Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous blah blah blah blah even if that film had some problems (though thankfully not as many as Suicide Squad). With her bringing back her unique flavour of crazy for The Suicide Squad and under the careful hand of James Gunn I believe the definitive Harley Quinn performance is on the horizon. But even before that Robbie has done such an excellent job I had to give her second place on the list.
#1 Wonder Woman
Okay, show of hands who’s surprised by Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman being number one on this list? Checking, checking, checking. Yep. No hands. No one is surprised. Okay, there was one hand but I think that guy is just being a smart alec. If you close your eyes and think female DCEU superhero the image that will come to mind is Gal in that excellent Wonder Woman costume, and then the sound you will start hearing is the earworm Wonder Woman theme. And if your Zack Snyder you’d be hearing that theme over and over and over and over again. Sorry, couldn’t resist.
Now when Israeli actress Gal Gadot was first announced to be playing the first lady of DC some fans felt she didn’t have the…well…I’ll just say it, the BOOBS to play the role. Yeah, fans can be shallow like that. But she blew away all the naysayers with her spot-on performance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (which was not easy given how messy that film was) and then silenced any remaining critics with her phenomenal performance in her first solo film, which is easily one of the best movies in the DCEU and live action DC in general. And yes, the sequel 1984 was quite the mixed bag but Gadot was still very good in it. And she got to shine a lot more in ZSJL than the ill-advised original Justice League. But whether the film is good, bad or indifferent Gal is always great as Wonder Woman, and her version of the character has become iconic. And for that reason she gets the gold medal on this list.
So what’s your top 5 female heroes/anti-heroes in the DCEU? And you can check out more great comic book content below:
Julien “Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”.