The Toughest Female Superheroes, Ranked


The superhero genre can indeed, at times, be lacking in tough female role models, characters who are created not as set pieces to fill a quota within a male-dominated comic industry but as the iconic, butt-kicking superheroes they are. For some, female heroes have long been relegated to limited powers used to assist their male counterparts. However, when done right, female superheroes are some of the most powerful within their respective universes, outshining both men and mutants alike.

As superhero movies and television have become far more prevalent in recent years, more superhero projects centered on female superheroes have begun to take center stage. While earlier films like Elektra and Catwoman were used as arguments against female-led superhero movies, future movies like Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel both reinvigorated the desire for these movies (when done right). The audience is there despite the review bombs.

Now that the MCU and DCU have finally begun to diversify their lineup of heroes to reflect their audiences better, it’s time to take a look at some of the toughest female superheroes out there. These women are the epitome of tough, from their physical and psychological strengths to their impressive track records to their potential to take on just about any villain that comes their way. From chaos magic to alien immunity to Amazon fighting skills, enhanced biotechnology, and super strength, these female superheroes from TV and Film could defeat just about any villain foolish enough to stand in their way.

Update January 23, 2024: This article has been updated by Amanda Minchin with even more powerful female superheroes in honor of the release of Echo, The Marvels arriving on PVOD, and the upcoming release of Madame Web in theaters.

12 Shuri

Letitia Wright as Shuri

Following the events of Wakanda Forever, Shuri now possesses the power of the Black Panther. The Heart-Shaped Herb that bestows this power is native to Wakanda. It has the ability to give anyone who consumes it enhanced strength, extraordinary speed and stamina, cat-like reflexes, durability, and instincts. Shuri has all those, plus a savant-like knowledge of all things tech that comes in handy more than once, particularly when she’s forced to reproduce the lost herb. Shuri is played by Letitia Wright in the MCU.

What Makes Her So Tough

The throne of Wakanda can always be overtaken in combat to the death, which means the holder should always be on their toes. Shuri may not have the throne, but she’s also not someone to mess around with. Knowing when to stop fighting is just as important as starting, after all. Having been raised in this environment in a highly advanced technological society was perfect for cultivating her growing intellect. Shuri has one of the smartest minds in the MCU, perhaps even smarter than Tony Stark or Bruce Banner, considering her young age. Moreover, her emotional intelligence is such that she’s still able to recognize her limitations while never stopping to push them. In this way, she brings scientific principles like trial and error into play before ever stepping foot on a battlefield.

11 Jessica Jones

Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones, played by Krysten Ritter, is a literally strong woman who can lift at least up to two tons, which is comparable to Wolverine’s nemesis, Sabretooth. From there, her powers are a bit scattered from iteration to iteration. She boasts super speed, durability, a dash of regeneration, and an uncontrolled version of flight that’s more like an oversized jump. This superhero doesn’t need an alias (ironic since her original comic series was called Alias). Following a short-lived run as a superhero, she now runs her own detective agency as herself, helping those who cannot help themselves.

What Makes Her So Tough

When it comes to lifting cars and holding elevators, Jones easily has the upper hand. That being said, this flawed heroine struggles with a heavy dose of self-loathing and PTSD as a result of her time spent under the mind control of Kilgrave. Kilgrave forced her to commit heinous acts under his control as a henchperson/slave, which meant he sexually assaulted her. She was not only able to escape his influence but stop him and release his ‘subjects’ from his control for good. She’s tough as nails, both physically and mentally. Jessica Jones still has trauma, but she has done a lot of work to help others to make sure they never go through what she had to which makes her an incredible hero.

10 The Invisible Woman

Jessica Alba as Susan Storm
20th Century Fox

Dr. Susan “Sue” Richards (née Storm) aka The Invisible Woman, is the lone woman of The Fantastic Four, but she might also be the most powerful. While originally she could only turn invisible, she later developed the power to generate force fields, one that comes in handy when larger-than-life villains come knocking. Jessica Alba played Sue Storm in both Fantastic Four and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Kate Mara played her in 2015’s Fantastic Four. Fans eagerly await who Marvel will cast as the character in the upcoming MCU reboot.

What Makes Her So Tough

Sue’s force fields provide her and her teammates with protection and can also be used as offensive weapons. In theory, Sue could make a force field inside someone and kill them if she wanted to, yet luckily, she does not kill on principle when she can. This shows an empathetic fortitude that would otherwise be all too easy to exclude. And that’s not to mention her already dynamic mental prowess. Taking into account her not one but four doctorates, mostly in the biomedical sciences. Sue Storm is also often the heart of the team, the center point to her husband Reed Richard’s often cold intelligence, her brother Johnny Storm’s impulsive nature, and friend Ben Grimm’s tough guy attitude. The Fantastic Four would likely fall apart with Sue Storm.

9 Storm

Storm Powers X-men
20th Century Fox

Ororo Munroe, more popularly known as Storm, is one of the most famous and powerful X-Men members. Storm has control over the elemental forces of nature, from thunder and lightning to wind, rain, and even snow. It’s not surprising that she was even worshiped as a God for her powers. Outside of this, she has been one of the most consistent members of the X-Men team, one with a dramatic and commanding presence. She was played by Halle Berry in the first three X-Men films, along with X-Men: Days of Future Past. Alexandra Shipp played the role in X-Men: Apocalypse and X-Men: Dark Phoenix.

What Makes Her So Tough

Storm is a mutant who must withstand the very laws of nature whenever she wants to use her powers. She could very well affect the weather on a global level if she wanted. Who wouldn’t want the ability to change a rainy day? Cast these enviable powers aside, however, and her determination and stamina are hard to beat.

Related: Why None of the Old X-Men Cast Should Return in the MCU

8 Jane

Jane Doom Patrol
DC Studios/Max

Jane, played by Diane Gurrero, is one of the main characters on Doom Patrol. It’s not a typical superhero team, and Jane is not a typical superhero. Jane is the dominant identity of Kay Challis, a child who has created 65 personalities to protect her after she was abused by her father. Each personality comes with its own unique ability when it takes control of the body, meaning it has 65 unique abilities. While Jane might seem abrasive and distant at first, she eventually opens up to her team, who help her cope with her own trauma.

What Makes Her So Tough

Aside from having so many different powers to choose from depending on the persona in charge (and eventually being able to use them all together in the series’ final episode), Jane’s character arc over the course of the series is about finding a way to come to terms with her various identities and trauma. The series explores how the various personalities manifested as a way for a small girl to cope with the terrible abuse she underwent. While some shows might try to make the notion that the trauma makes her strong, the series wisely avoids that angle, instead opting to go with the fact that despite the suffering she underwent as a child, she can still be strong thanks to the love and support from her friends. Jane is physically very powerful but also emotionally strong as well.

7 She-Hulk

A still from the She-Hulk MCU series

She-Hulk‘s powers are similar to those of the Hulk. She-Hulk received her own show on Disney+, with Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) playing the icon. In it, Jennifer Walters, attorney at law and cousin to Bruce Banner, gets her powers after coming into contact with her cousin’s blood following an accident. This differs greatly from the comics, in which Bruce Banner is forced to give her a transfusion after she is being attacked by some thugs looking to get the upper hand in an upcoming court case. Her blood type matched that of her cousin Bruce, and thus the powers of The Incredible Hulk were also given to her. After accidentally outing herself in a courtroom brawl, she’s hired to take on exclusively superhuman cases… in Hulk form, of course. In short, she’s not afraid to stand up for the little guys while breaking down a fourth wall or three.

What Makes Her So Tough

She-Hulk is a character who often isn’t given the credit she’s due. For comparison, she is able to lift at least 75 tons, though her uppermost limit is still up for debate. This puts her at practically God-like status, having gone toe to toe with the likes of Zeus in the comics. The show not only displayed Jennifer Walters’s power levels but also how much control she has over her abilities, which she credits to her everyday life experiences.

“I’m great at controlling my anger. I do it all the time: When I’m catcalled in the street; when incompetent men explain my own area of expertise to me… I do it pretty much every day because if I don’t, I will get called emotional, or difficult, or might just literally get murdered. So I’m an expert at controlling my anger because I do it infinitely more than you.”

Jennifer Walters has much better control over it than her cousin Bruce did in his early years with the power. Unlike her cousin, Walters is able to harness her anger and her propensity to turn into a giant green mutant on a more regular basis. This helps establish She-Hulk as one of the most powerful figures in the MCU and will likely be a powerful weapon in any future universal threats.

6 Supergirl

Melissa Benoist as Supergirl in Supergirl (2015)
The CW

Supergirl is one of the most popular and one of the strongest female superheroes in recent memory. The cousin of Kal-El, aka Superman, she has all the same powers, which include super strength, flight, speed, and general invulnerability, just to name a few. Supergirl first appeared in live-action in her own feature film in 1984, played by Helen Slatter. She is now most famously known for her role on the hit television series, Supergirl, where she was played by Melissa Benoist. Sasha Calle played the character in 2023’s The Flash. Supergirl is set to get her own feature film as part of James Gunn’s new DCU titled Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow.

What Makes Her So Tough

It has often been suggested that Supergirl is just as powerful, if not more powerful, than her famous cousin. This, of course, depends on the iteration. While both are muscle-bound, much of their powers are derived from radiation, usually from a yellow sun. The more exposure, the less things like muscle mass become a factor (though both are certainly jacked). Another thing to consider here is age and experience. Considering her limited experience, by comparison, Supergirl is surprisingly adept in her abilities, having bested her cousin in even fights.

Related: DCU’s Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow: Why The Movie Is the Best Way to Introduce Supergirl

5 Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
KVH Media Group

Wonder Woman, aka Diana, is possibly the most popular female superhero and the most powerful hero in the DC Universe, as well as, arguably, the oldest. Her strengths stem from her Amazonian lineage and training. Her powers were gifted to her by the Greek Gods, and she utilizes those abilities along with martial arts, acrobatics, and strategic and athletic training to become the badass she is. Powers aside, Wonder Woman is also a very highly educated woman, a master of the arts, sciences, psychology, and emotional intelligence – to be fair, she’s had a few decades to brush up on her research. Because of this, she is able to not just out-fight her opponents, but out-smart them as well. Gal Gadot has played Wonder Woman in multiple DC films, including two solo films, Justice League, and various other cameo roles.

What Makes Her So Tough

Besides being so well-rounded in both physical and mental capabilities, Diana isn’t afraid to fight for the little guy, no matter the cost to herself. She’s the first one to run into a dangerous situation if it means saving an innocent life or three. While this seems to be a common trait shared among superheroes in general, Wonder Woman stands apart even from them. From high-octane car crashes to trying to save the public from their own insane wishes, she is perhaps best known in the film franchises for striding boldly across No Man’s Land in WWI without thought, a feat that few others would dare to face without hesitation.

4 Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel with Kree Supreme Intelligence
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The Captain Marvel we all know and love was not always Captain Marvel. In the comics, Carol Danvers was originally under the mantle of Ms. Marvel, a strict counterpart to the male Captain Marvel. The two would often work together in an almost package-deal sort of situation. It was only within the last decade that Carol Danvers assumed the full-on mantle of Captain Marvel. Since her first appearance in her solo film, played by Brie Larson, she has become a vital member of the MCU. She appeared towards the end of 2023 in The Marvels. In the MCU, she gets her powers during a light-speed engine test gone wrong. Some exposure to the cosmic energy of the Tesseract later, and voilà! A superhero was born. Captain Marvel’s alien descent allows her powers to be more intense and effective than many of Earth’s mightiest heroes. Because of this, she has quickly become a pivotal character in the MCU.

What Makes Her So Tough

She is often cited as the most powerful hero in the MCU and even went head-to-head with Thanos in Avengers: Endgame without breaking a sweat. She has certainly lived up to her powers, essentially being the MCU’s answer to Superman, as she can fly at incredible speeds in the vacuum of space and possesses incredible strength and endurance. She is so powerful she has taken on whole armies single-handedly and even restarted a sun.

Fun fact – Captain is a bit of a misnomer when it comes to Danver’s rank. She’s actually a Colonel and thus outranks the likes of her Avengers companion, Steve Rogers’s Captain America. She was a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot before her powers began, and it’s clear she takes that to heart. She’s the go-to phone friend for the Avengers when they find themselves in a particularly dicey, planetary-ending situation.

3 Scarlet Witch

Wanda Maximoff aka the Scarlet Witch
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Wanda Maximoff, aka The Scarlet Witch, is objectively one of the most powerful female superheroes and easily one of the most powerful superheroes of all time. While originally a villain, she eventually became an Avenger after proving her loyalty. Wanda Maximoff is an ever-expanding character in the MCU. Her humble origins alongside her brother Quicksilver as a freedom fighter in Sokovia were first introduced in the universe as an end-credits tag. An inherent bearer of latent chaos magic, her powers are enhanced upon agreeing to undergo experiments under the supervision of Baron Strucker. The Mind Stone unlocks her powers even further. She is The Scarlet Witch, a being with natural magic abilities that rival those of even the Sorcerer Supreme. Mythos claims her to bring about the end of the world.

In the comics, she is responsible for two major events in the Marvel Universe – the breakup of the original Avengers and the depowering of 98% of the world’s mutant population. On the small screen in WandaVision, audiences found that she’s actually able to create whole alternate realities, which she does to overcome the loss of Vision. The most recent iteration of Doctor Strange portrayed her as a villain once more. It’s no wonder that in recent X-Men comics, she has been labeled the biggest possible threat to mutants of all time.

What Makes Her So Tough

Wanda has been through a lot in her short life, from the death of her parents to HYDRA’s experiments on her, to the loss of both her brother and her fledgling love. It’s a miracle she hasn’t taken over the world yet. Her powers have grown with every appearance. When audiences first met her, she appeared to be a regular-enhanced individual, but in WandaVision, it showed that Wanda was far more powerful than she knew and could rewrite reality as she wanted, thanks to her Chaos Magic. Audiences got to see exactly how dangerous her powers were in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, as unchecked, she quickly killed powerful heroes like Mr. Fantastic, Professor X, and Black Bolt. While her fate appears to be sealed for now, there is hope she will return to redeem herself once more.

2 Jean Grey

Jean Grey in Dark Phoenix
Walt Disney Studios

Jean Grey is one of the original X-Men in the comics and is at the forefront of perhaps one of their most infamous storylines, The Dark Phoenix Saga. A force to be reckoned with, Jean Grey has both telekinesis and telepathy and is one of the most powerful psychics in the Marvel Universe. Famke Jensen played Jean Grey in the original X-Men films and cameoed in both The Wolverine and X-Men: Days of Future Past. Sophie Turner played Jean in both X-Men: Apocalypse and X-Men: Dark Phoenix.

What Makes Her So Tough

​​​​​After she absorbs the powers of the Phoenix Force, her power grows to such levels that she herself cannot control. In the films, this has often led to her nearly destroying the X-Men. Because of this, Jean Grey is both one of the biggest allies of the X-Men and also one of the team’s greatest threats. The comics have hailed her as one of the most powerful mutants imaginable, one who is even able to resurrect the dead and manipulate the forces of reality as we know it. Her struggle with her undeniably destructive powers is what gives her a high-ranking spot on this list.

1 Raven

Raven from the Teen Titans
Warner Home Video

Don’t let the animation fool you – Raven‘s powers are out there, literally. She’s a powerful practitioner of magic whose laundry list of abilities spans from old-fashioned shadow manipulation, telekinesis, and telepathy to stopping time, hypnosis, and chaos magic (with the occasionally erratic precognition spells thrown in for good measure). She can detect and cure pain and illness in others. She also packs a literal punch in the form of her ‘soul self’, a solid black bit of energy in the form of a bird (of course). She can literally and metaphorically insert fear into the hearts of her enemies… and that’s not even including her empathic abilities.

What Makes Her So Tough

Raven is at the top of this list because she is the only multi-powered superhero on this list to have somewhat of a grasp on her abilities. All these powers are a lot for anyone to handle, let alone a budding teenager. She is constantly testing the limits of both her abilities and her pride by seeing what she can do. She can remove the cause, but at great physical and emotional cost to herself. Her powers of empathy sometimes make it hard to disconnect from the emotions of others. In fact, a lot of her higher-level magic comes at a great physical and emotional cost to her, from mental anguish to days of nausea and vomiting. Still, this doesn’t stop her from trying.

And then, there’s the problem of the demon that’s constantly after her. Her father, Trigon, is a literal demon whose very influence scared the bejeezus out of the folks in her interdimensional homeland. This conflict with Trigon, an ancient demon that is one of the most powerful beings in the DC Multiverse, has been front and center in many of her stories, from the Teen Titans animated series to the live-action Titans. Raven’s ability to master her incredible powers, which could be as destructive as the Phoenix Force or Wanda’s chaos magic, earns her the top spot.



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