Sometimes being dark and twisty makes you even hotter. And the ladies on this list have had a lot of terrible stuff happen to them. Some of them internalized their pain, and just took out their baggage on themselves. Others channeled their anger outwardly and punished everyone in their immediate vicinity.
Depending on how you look at it, any of these female Marvel characters could be a hero OR a villain at any given moment. By in its strictest definition, an antihero is a protagonist who lacks traditional heroic qualities like idealism or morality. More loosely defined, antiheroes (or antiheroines, in this case) often do bad things for the right reasons, are sometimes motivated purely by selfish reasons, and have some tragic flaw or tortured past they have to overcome.
Generally, antiheroes are much more interesting than their more straight-laced counterparts, and when they are as beautiful as these Marvel mavens, you can’t help but develop a little— okay, a BIG— crush.
15. Jessica Jones
Although Jessica Jones didn’t make her television debut until 2015 when Netflix cast Krysten Ritter in the original series, the character has been around for a while. In the live action version, Jessica is a brooding, hard-drinking abuse survivor who has chosen a life of solitude. She is obviously suffering from PTSD and is reluctant to be a hero for anyone until her abuser resurfaces and she has to protect others from his terror.
Her origin story includes a lot more trauma than revealed in the Netflix series. She lost her parents and brother in a horrible car crash that left her in a coma for months. She was sent to foster care and then taken in by the Jones family, later on. In fact she’s suffered loss after loss, and it’s taken its toll.
She’s cynical and angry, and internalizes a lot of her pain with self-medication and risk-taking. She’s morose, but gorgeous, which makes her incredibly intriguing. You have to work really, really hard to get through to her, but once Jessica Jones is on your side, there’s nothing that can stop you.
14. Black Widow
Also known as Natasha Romanova, this Marvel antiheroine is just an all around badass. Raised in Soviet Russia and orphaned as child, the Black Widow we know from Avenger movies, goes by Natalia Alianovna “Natasha” Romanoff, and is one of the fiercest spies and assassins in the Marvel Universe (or maybe any universe, for that matter).
Played by Scarlett Johansson as collected, cutthroat, and deadly, Black Widow is as dangerous as she is beautiful and buxom. Armed with her Widow’s Bite, she’s helped saved the world countless times from all sorts of enemies.
Orphaned as a young girl in her home country, she survived a Russian revolution, brainwashing by a ninja clan, and the second World War. All this can really send a girl into a pretty dark place. Black Widow might be an expert in practically every form of martial arts, but she’s reluctant to trust and will always have secrets she won’t let you in on.
For now, we’ll ignore Jennifer Garner‘s tidy version of Elektra, and push aside the Netflix character from their series, Daredevil. Marvel’s original Elektra is a skilled fighter— adept at more martial arts than most of her male counterparts— dangerously cunning, and a clever political science scholar.
She met a tragic fate, however, when she and her father were held captive by terrorists. Elektra is from Greek descent and a misinformed policeman confused her father for the terrorists and shot him dead. Even after Elektra (with the help of Daredevil) defeated the terrorists, the death of her father broke her heart and left her with a changed world view.
Disillusioned with law after her father’s accident, Elektra decided she no longer believed in the law and withdrew from the world. She sank into isolation, nursing her wounds, mourning her father’s terrible end, and taking out her frustrations as a bounty hunter for hire.
Despite being green and incredibly (ha!) short-tempered, She-Hulk has a rocking body and a head of hair that would give any non-radioactive lady a run for her money.
Also known as Jennifer Walters, she might have the most to be angry about (or thankful for, depending on how you look at it.) She arrived at her powers by sheer accident. The meek and mousy lawyer was gravely shot and wounded when was accidentally involved in a gang war. Her cousin, Bruce Banner and original Hulk, saved her life by offering her a blood transfusion.
This small act of kindness irrevocably changed Jennifer’s life, passing on the same Gamma rays that make Bruce hulk out anytime he gets angry or overwhelmed. At first, Jennifer couldn’t control her transformations, and was savage and unruly. Eventually, She-Hulk learned to keep herself in check. She even found confidence in the new assertiveness.
11. Squirrel Girl
Squirrel Girl took a lot of shit from her classmates about her mutations. Those giant incisors weren’t doing much to help her case for Prom Queen. But once she decided high school was for the birds, and she’d much rather be in the woods with the squirrels, her life changed for the better.
Citing Iron Man as her hero, Squirrel Girl, also know as Doreen Green, fantasized about one day becoming his partner. She once again had her hopes crushed when Iron Man rejected her, even after she defeated his sworn enemy, Doctor Doom. I guess mind controlling a bunch of squirrels into doing her bidding isn’t enough for the uppity Tony Stark.
Aside from all the rejection she’s had to endure in her life, Doreen also has faced loss. Her trusted companion, a squirrel called Monkey Joe, died at the hands of Leather Boy. She’s gone on to enjoy great success as trusted friend to S.H.I.E.L.D., and thankfully has filled out enough to balance those crazy giant teeth.
10. Hawkeye (Kate Bishop)
Kate Bishop was an upper class socialite who was never quite comfortable with her wealth. Like her mother, she donated her time and money to charities for women and the underprivileged. When her mother was killed Kate became even more active in philanthropy, but was violently raped shortly thereafter. She vowed never to be a victim again, to make sure to save as many folks as she could.
Her sister’s wedding was attacked and then saved by the Young Avengers, and Kate found her calling. She had quite a lot of convincing to do to be allowed access to the group, but eventually she was accepted, despite being the only member of the group without any super powers. She adopted her codename, Hawkeye, when Jessica Jones gifted her his original bow and arrow. She may not be the most powerful of the Marvel ladies, but she is surely the most resourceful and determined.
Echo is one of the most unique female characters in Marvel. Daughter of a Cheyenne gangster, Maya Lopez was born both deaf and a prodigy. First sent to a school for the disabled, once her talents became evident she was then sent to a school for the gifted.
Her father was killed by the very partner that he asked to raise his daughter, K. His partner in crime, Wilson Fisk (also known as Kingpin) honored her father’s wishes, but also used her as a weapon to further his feud with Daredevil.
Before Maya became Echo, she fell in love with Matt Murdock, but later would battle him as Daredevil and her as Echo. She eventually snapped out of the control Fisk had on her and left him to find a more honorable crowd. She took up with the Avengers for a while and then Captain America.
Although one of the most powerful of the X-Men, Rogue’s mutation was probably the most isolating. Just from her sheer touch, she could drain the life force from another. She didn’t come into her powers until long after her parents died and she was taken in by Mystique. Shortly after puberty, she realized her strength when she kissed Cody Robbins, sending him into coma.
Rogue grappled with controlling her powers for most of her young life, and even defected to her enemies for a while. In one of the saddest and frustrating love stories in all of comic history, Rogue fell in love with Gambit, but they were unable to touch each other, because of their abilities. It took them both being rendered powerless for them to follow through on their relationship. That was short-lived however, as they had to sacrifice their love in order to save their friends from evil forces.
Songbird, known in wrestling rings as “Screaming Mimi” lived a hard life on the mean streets. When her mother went to jail, she was left alone with an alcoholic, abusive father, and had to face the cruel teasing and abuse of the other kids. Unable to endure these conditions, she fled her father and her home. She took up with a sorry boyfriend who left her to take the rap for some stolen goods.
Known as Melissa Gold at this time, she went to jail and while there she met professional wrestler Marian Pouncy who recruited her into the costumed wrestling team, The Grapplers. They moonlighted as bad buys and became cybernetically enhanced. She was a bad guy for a long time, for good reason given her dodgy background, but eventually joined the Thunderbolts and turned honest. This is when Screaming Mimi took on the persona of Songbird.
Genetically engineered as a part of an experiment to develop the perfect weapon, Domino, first named Neena, was “born” as part of a secret government initiative called Project Armageddon. The originating mutant was Neena’s “mother,” named Beatrice, and was a part of a cult that stole Neena from the government project. They delivered her to a Catholic priest and she stayed with him until her powers manifested.
She eventually married body guard Milo Thurman, and he named her alter-ego Domino. Her powers are complicated to explain. Marvel describes her as, “a mutant with the ability to subliminally and psionically initiate random telekinetic acts that affect probability in her favor by making improbable (but not impossible) things to occur within her line of sight, thus causing her to have ‘good luck’ and her opponents to have ‘bad luck’.”
Her marriage to Milo was short-lived when he was forced into deep cover and she was led to believe he was dead. She later learned she had a brother, Lazarus, and turned to the Catholic priest that raised her for help raising him.
Her real name is Ororo Monroe and she is among the fiercest and most formidable mutants in the Marvel mythology. Descended from an ancient line of African priestesses, all with icy white hair and blue eyes, Storm is among the most beautiful of all the superheroes.
Orphaned and homeless as a young girl living in Egypt, all she had left after a plane crashed into her home was her mother’s ruby and a crippling claustrophobia. She wandered continental Africa, having fought off abusers and the natural elements. She finally reaches her homeland, where an aunt teaches her to control her substantial powers.
Having killed a man trying to protect herself during her travels to her ancestral land, she vowed never to kill a man, instead honing her powers of discernment and fairness. This led her becoming the leader of the X-Men and the version played by Halle Berry we know from the blockbuster movies.
Janet van Dyne had a rich, scientist father (don’t they all?) who had a hunky young research assistant, Hank Pym (who later became Ant Man.) Janet’s dad and Hank devised a particle to shrink humans into much smaller proportions. Because, you know, science.
When Janet’s father died, she convinced Hank to give her the shrinking particles. Not only did Janet get smaller and smaller, she also grew wings and was able to move in sharp, strong bursts of energy, which she called her “wasp’s stings.”
She and Ant-Man teamed up, defeating all sorts of terrors, and eventually became the founding members of the Avengers. In fact it was Wasp who first gave the team their name. The love affair between the two shrinking heroes was always that of good natured squabbling, but Ant-Man eventually had a mental breakdown and became abusive to her. In a cruel twist of irony, Wasp’s friend, the Scarlet Witch, also suffered similar mental issues.
Gamora is the only survivor of her race after it was destroyed by the evil Universal Church of Truth. Brainwashed and indoctrinated, Gamora was fooled into thinking her rescuer Thanos wasn’t evil, and went about to do his bidding.
Thanos used technology on board his ship to take Gamora 20 years in the past to bring her into peak physical condition. Thanos was eventually defeated, but Gamora went on to battle a lot of space villains with very complicated names. It was during this time she met the reborn Adam Warlock, Quasar, Star-Lord, Mantis, Rocket Raccoon, Bug and Groot to free the Kree from the crushing grip of Ultron and the Phalanx.
Marvel movie fans will recognize these freedom fighters as the Guardians of the Galaxy which, notably, Gamora went on to form. It was the intention of this group to protect the far reaches from the evils of dogma and false doctrine.
2. Scarlet Witch
The Scarlet Witch is also known as Wanda and is the twin sister to Pietro, whom we know as Quicksilver. The two were kept in stasis for years, but then placed in the custody of gypsy couple Django. Neither gained their mutant powers until their teenage years, and had to flee their foster parents when their home was attacked.
Fast forward to when the two are adults, and now known as Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, when they joined forces with the evil mutant Magneto and fought the heroic X-Men. Magneto was secretly the twins’ father, but failed to reveal his paternity and used their gratitude to force them to fight for the Anti-human Alliance.
The siblings had a falling out over the Scarlet Witch’s love affair with Vision, and she began taking sorcery lessons to strengthen her powers. All this power made her too hungry for control and she did some pretty bad stuff, and had to face the music with the X-Men. Instead of waiting on her sentence, she created a utopian world, in which all mutants were good, and humans were the minority, but it was short-lived. The restoration of reality caused her to lose her powers, and she lives in seclusion somewhere in the mountains.
1. Black Cat
There were two major life events that influenced Felicia Hardy. When she was in college, she was raped by a boyfriend, but instead of sinking into a grief spiral, Felicia turned her rage into a training regime, mastering martial arts with the thought of exacting revenge on the creep who hurt her. Her plan was derailed, however, when the man died in an accident, robbing her of the opportunity to kill him for what he did to her.
Next, the disappearance of her beloved father left an enduring impression. Her mother told Felicia that her father, whom she idolized, was killed in a plane crash. In reality, he was incarcerated for running an expansive and successful cat burglary ring.
Once Felicia learned of her father’s true fate, she decided to follow in his footsteps, learning lock-picking, safe cracking, and other functions of thievery. She assumed the name Black Cat the night she tried, and failed, to break her father out of prison. During this scheme, she met and fell in love with Spider Man, and the two often patrolled the city together.
All sorts of things went down between the two— including an unfortunate jinx— and they wound up parting ways, but they continued to fight bad guys together. These days, Black Cat is part of the Heroes for Hire group. This initiate works with authorities to track down unregistered heroes and villains without violence.