10 Female Supervillains (who are Cooler than most Heroes)

Superheroines can be powerful role models for girls. They show that women can be brave, smart, and control their own stories, which is an excellent lesson for both girls and boys. I can only imagine the impact movies like Wonder Woman and comics like Ms. Marvel and Moon Girl have on kids. Superheroes have always been beacons of hope, symbols of what humanity could achieve if we strove to be better. Though they may be fictional, superheroes can truly change the world.

But supervillains have more fun.

So if you’re in the mood for destroying the world rather than saving it, here are ten of my favorite female supervillains—and let me tell you, it was hard to narrow the list down to just ten. These ladies are powerful, brilliant and terrifying, and while they’d probably murder us in real life without a second thought, they’re super fun to read about.

Emerald Empress

Emerald Empress

I’m starting off with a more obscure villainess, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the Emerald Empress. I respect that she’s 110% dedicated to her color theme. Then there’s the fact that her powers are basically a giant floating eyeball that follows her around and shoots laser beams, which—say what you will—is not a boring, overused superpower. Mostly, I love that she uses the word “Eye” in place of “I” in all her dialogue. They sound the same, but I imagine she puts a special emphasis on the word to make sure the hero she’s talking to knows every sentence is a pun.

Campiness is a quality I appreciate in evil space empresses from the future.

Favorite Villainous Moment

She appears in Steve Orlando’s Supergirl run and fights the Girl of Steel. And no, she doesn’t win, but she does help turn the crowd against Supergirl, making Kara really depressed at the end of the issue. Which is sort of a victory?

Nightshade

Nightshade

Nightshade just got an origin story makeover in the latest season of Luke Cage, but my favorite incarnation will always be the original who tried to take over the world by turning people into werewolves. With a serum, you understand, not magic. (That would be crazy.) I love mad scientist characters, and Nightshade is just the right kind of deviously brilliant—and she knows it.

Favorite Villainous Moment

That time she turned Captain America into a werewolf, giving us the glory that is Capwolf.

Werewolf Captain America
CAPWOLF!

Cheetah

Cheetah

Arguably Wonder Woman’s arch-nemesis, Cheetah has gone through almost as many different incarnations as the Amazon herself. My favorite versions are when she’s a former friend of Diana’s who Wonder Woman desperately wants to bring back to the light. They have mad respect for each other despite being vicious enemies. And also a little sexual tension.

Cheetah and Diana
Make that a lot of sexual tension.

Favorite Villainous Moment

The image above is from Greg Rucka’s recent Wonder Woman run, and there’s tons of great Cheetah moments in it.

Harley & Ivy

Harley and Ivy

I’m putting them together in one entry, because while I don’t enjoy Harley as much when she’s hopelessly in love with an abusive Joker, I LOVE when she’s in a happy, supportive, open relationship with Poison Ivy. I will read about fierce supervillain girlfriends going on fun crime sprees ALL DAY. Harley and Ivy are a cute couple who complement each other nicely, and I love that comics are finally acknowledging their relationship rather than keeping it as subtext.

Favorite Villainous Moment

“Harley & Ivy,” the episode from Batman: The Animated Series that started it all.

Kuasa

Kuasa

Time travel shenanigans redeem Kuasa from villain to hero at the end of Legends of Tomorrow, but I’m keeping her on the list because she was evil for most of the season and was such as badass. Seriously, check out that leather jacket. She looks ready to beat down anyone who gets in her way, and that’s exactly what she does when she comes across the heroes.

Her goal is to steal a magical totem that’s a family heirloom but was passed down her younger sister, the superheroine Vixen, instead of her. And I know Vixen is a noble heroine who’s saved countless people and all that, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t rooting for Kuasa to get the totem and be her best villainous self.

Favorite Villainous Moment

She joined forces with the demon Mollus because he brought her back to life and promised her the totem. The minute he gave the totem to someone else, she backstabbed all her evil allies to help the heroes reclaim it. Because Kuasa does whatever the $#&% she wants.

Ghost

Ghost

You can argue that Ghost isn’t a true supervillain but merely an antagonist in Ant-Man & The Wasp. And I may technically agree with you, but that’s not going to stop me from including her in this list and raving about how awesome she is. The special effects they used for her powers are amazing, and she just looks so menacing and cool when she’s walking around in her costume.

Plus, she has one of most relatable motivations I’ve ever seen in a villain. She’s in chronic pain and going to do die soon thanks to her powers, and if she has to kill a few people to make it stop—well, a supervillain’s gotta do what she’s gotta do.

Favorite Villainous Moment

When she storms in on Luis and crew getting interrogated by the C-list villains, and everybody freaks the heck out at the sight of her.

Madame Masque

Whitney Frost

I’ve never had much interest in this character when she appeared in comics I’ve read, but the version in season 2 of Agent Carter was phenomenal. And she deserved so much better. Poor Whitney Frost, brilliant scientist and movie star, doomed to be constantly underestimated because of her gender, appreciated only for her pretty face and never her intelligence. Small wonder she’ll do anything to test her scientific theories and gain more power.

She’s evil to the point that part of her plan involved STEALING A NUCLEAR BOMB, but at the same time, her depressing backstory and even more depressing present make her incredibly sympathetic. I wish things could have gone differently for her, and she could have been Agent Carter’s ally rather than enemy. But there’s no denying she made for a fascinating, formidable villain.

Favorite Villainous Moment

When an Illuminati-eque secret council of douchey old men gives her trouble, and she slaughters them and takes over.

Hela

Hela

This list has mutants, mad scientists, and even an empress, but nobody else can claim to be a literal goddess of death. Hela is the ultimate supervillain, and seeing Cate Blanchett play her in Thor: Ragnarok was glorious. She had so much style and presence and just the coolest swagger.

Buuuuut, her character was pretty flat.

Fortunately, Hela’s been around in the comics for decades, giving her character a lot of history and depth. Her origin is different from the movie—and is even different depending on what comic you read—but no matter where she came from, she’s equal parts terrifying and mesmerizing whenever she appears.

And her helmet is fabulous.

Favorite Villainous Moment

In Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Captain America faces Hela when he’s waylaid in Hel while the other Avengers are battling Loki in Asgard. Hela offers him a chance to join the fight, but if he dies during it, she gets his soul. She’s lounging on her throne and doesn’t even bother to stand up throughout the scene, but she’s menacing as $*%&.

Catwoman

Catwoman

I love Catwoman. I have loved Catwoman since I first saw Michelle Pfeiffer play her in Batman Returns. (I dressed up as Catwoman for Halloween that year.) I loved her in Batman: The Animated Series, and I continue to love her now that I’m an adult comic book nerd.

The best thing about Catwoman is that she can’t be put in a box. She’s nominally a supervillain, but she has plenty of heroic moments. She’s just as likely to fight at Batman’s side as she is to fight against him, and she’ll be thief or protector depending on her mood. Running across rooftops, stealing shiny jewels, fighting for animal rights, Catwoman is a wickedly complex character. It’s clear from the smile on her face and banter on her lips that she genuinely enjoys what she’s doing in life—and joy is important when your love interest is as angsty and dour as Batman.

And she likes cats, which I think any cat-gif-watching citizen of the internet can related to.

Favorite Villainous Moment

Too many to count, but I love that she stole her wedding dress in the lead-up to the vicious assault on my emotions that was DC’s Bat/Cat non-wedding event. Because of course she’s not going to buy it. Selina Kyle knows who she is, and she’s true to herself.

Catwoan Gif

Who’s your favorite supervillainess? I had to leave some awesome ones off the list since it was limited to ten.

Can’t get enough villainous ladies? Check out Kill Them All, my latest ebook about a semi-retired supervillainess getting revenge on the people who hurt her family.

Kill Them All Cover

Published by

Kristen Brand

Kristen Brand writes speculative fiction with lots of action, witty banter, and a bit of romance. She loves comic books and all kinds of superhero media, and she's probably drinking tea right now.

5 thoughts on “10 Female Supervillains (who are Cooler than most Heroes)”

  1. I really liked Michelle Pfeiffer’s version of Catwoman. Her “resurrection” scene with all the alley cats was weird and super creepy in a good way. And I always thought her over-the-top femme fatale act was fun and a bit campy. Plus the costume with the highly visible white stitches against the black looked cool.

    The online comic Spinerette has some good villainesses like Gravity Girl. As you can probably guess she can manipulate gravity, but the twist is that her powers are proportional to her mass, so she deliberately gains weight to become stronger. And she dresses in lederhosen and a Bavarian cap. So there’s that.

    The comic also has Evil Spinerrette, a villainess who gains magical powers from an old D&D manual that was accidentally printed with genuine demonic spells.

    Like

      1. Okay, so Greta Gravity sounds awesome. And Evil Spinerrette has a hilarious origin story. I think I need to check this comic out.

        And I agree that the white stitching on that version of Catwoman’s costume is great. Very Tim Burton. 🙂

        Like

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