10 Gender-Swapped Versions of Famous Comic Book Characters
Rumors are swirling around the geek-o-sphere that Superman’s pal Jimmy Olsen may in fact be Jenny Olsen, and played by actress Rebecca Bueller, in this summer’s movie ‘Man of Steel.’ Fans are already freaking over the idea of Superman palling around with a woman who isn’t Lois Lane. But looking back over comic history, you’ll see tons of superheroes with female counterparts. In fact, adding a “Ms.” or “Woman” to a comic book superhero’s name is as common as maniacal supervillain laughs and characters dying and then suddenly coming back to life in the next issue.
Read on for a list of ten butt-kicking superheroes who were originally created to be the feminine counterparts to the male superheroes.
1) Captain Marvel
In the recent comic book ‘Captain Marvel: #1,’ written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and illustrated by Dexter Soy, Carol Danvers gives up her Ms. Marvel identify after Steve Rodgers (Captain America) tells her that she needs to stop making excuses and become a full member of the Avengers. Carol is actually the third female Captain Marvel, after ’80s heroine Monica Rambeau and the late Phyla-Vell. (There have been several male versions, including one who passed away from cancer in the famous ‘Death of Captain Marvel’ graphic novel.) This latest female Captain Marvel is also an excellent way for Marvel to compete with DC’s ‘Wonder Woman’ comics.
2) Lady Deadpool
Although most comic book fans know the wise-cracking assasin Deadpool as a male, in the alternate reality comics ‘Earth-3010,’ Wanda Wilson becomes the female version, known as Lady Deadpool. She joined the rebels who were sick of the U.S. government’s fascist laws to fight against the so-called ‘Loyalists‘ and eventually becomes part of a group called ‘the Deadpool Corp.’ It was during this story arc that she encounters the male Deadpool and goes toe-to-toe with Captain America who in this reality, is being used by the U.S. Government to keep their fascist laws in place. While Lady Deadpool is cool and all, we do wonder about that ponytail. Seems pretty easy for a supervillain to give it a strong yank.
Kara Zor-El aka ‘Supergirl’ was created in 1959 by writer Otto Binder as a female counterpart to Superman. So DC came up with the idea for a female character who could be Superman’s cousin and who was supposed to look after Clark Kent as he grew up. However in the original comics, she was traveling at the speed of light and arrived when her baby cousin was all grown up and a superhero now. Since then have been many versions of Supergirl, all of which wore skirts that would make “leaping tall buildings in a single bound” more than a little awkward. DC finally gave her short pants a couple years back.
4) Mary Marvel
Making her debut in ‘Captain Marvel Adventures #18,’ Mary is the twin sister to Captain Marvel but eventually, she too speaks the name of the wizard Shazam and inherits his powers. Mary then turns into Mary Marvel and helps her twin fight crime.
The only downside to their Shazam-based powers is that if both of them are using at the same time, it’s only one small percentage of the wizard’s power and that makes them a little bit weaker. The reason for her character origin is simple: back in the day, Fawcett Publications had a habit of basing new characters off of existing ones and so they pushed for Mary Marvel to become the female counterpart to Captain Marvel. Like Supergirl, she’s also been flashing the masses for years flying around in that skirt.
Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman) was essentially created by Stan Lee to make sure that no other company trademarked the name before Marvel did and despite the fact she was originally supposed to be a one-note character in ‘Marvel Premiere #52′, the comic did so well that she stayed on. Co-creator Archie Goodman revealed that she was originally going to be a spider who evolved into a human, but a retcon in ‘Marvel Two-in One’ had her be a human woman whose father injected her with spider serum in 1931 after she had uranium poisoning. She was put in a genetic accelerator and woke up years later with no memory of her past and powers similar to Spider-Man’s. Since then she’s been an Avenger, an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and a double agent for Hydra. She even had her own Saturday morning cartoon series in the ’70s.
6) Robin (Carrie Kelly)
We all think of Batman’s sidekick Robin as being a male, but in Frank Miller’s comic book ‘The Dark Knight Returns,’ there was a female Robin. Set 20 years in the future when Batman is getting old and still mourning the death of the second Robin Jason Todd, a young girl named Carrie Kelly just happens to save his life and she becomes the female Robin once a grateful Batman starts to train her in the art of being a superhero. This must’ve made the scrappy little 13-year-old’s day, as she practically worshipped at the alter of Batman. Stephanie Brown briefly took up the Robin mantle in the Batman comics, but Carrie Kelly left a far more memorable impression on fans.
Stan Lee came up with the idea for the She-Hulk after the ’70s show ‘The Incredible Hulk’ became very successful andhe was afraid they’d randomly bring in a female version of Bruce Banner. So he jumped the gun and created one himself: Jennifer Walters, the quiet cousin of Bruce Banner who works as a lawyer. She turned into the She-Hulk when Banner was forced to give her a blood transfusion because no one else around them shared her blood type. The radiation in his blood made her Hulk out but unlike her cousin, she was able to eventually gain the intelligence of her human form while she was in a green rage. Walters briefly took The Thing’s place in the Fantastic Four and eventually joined the Avengers. She’s also been known to hang out with Howard the Duck, but we don’t hold that against her.
First introduced in 1956, Kathy Kane joined the Batman family as a way to deflect rumors that The Caped Crusader and Robin were more than partners. (Stereotypically, she carried gadgets in her purse instead of a utility belt.) The character was successfully updated in the ’00s as Kate Kane, a Paris Hilton-type party girl who drifted aimlessly after having been discharged from the military due to her sexual orientation. But once Batman saves her life, Kate decided to channel her energy into being a vigilante. She gained a cult following as one of DC’s few openly gay characters, and has a romantic history with the former-cop-turned-crime-fighter Renee Montoya, who spent time as The Question.
Unlike her male counterparts the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Venus was named for the famous sculpture of the Venus de Milo, not for a Renaissance artist. Venus was also a pet turtle transformed by mutagen just like the Ninja Turtles, but Splinter didn’t realize she had been in the bowl when he brought the four male turtles home. She wandered about Chinatown and was discovered by a magician named I Chung. They eventually travelled to China but after a series of dreams where he had to help defend Splinter, I Chung revealed to Venus her true origin and she made her way back to New York. Venus eventually met up with the male Ninja Turtles and helped them fight crime.
10) Lady Punisher
The female sidekick to the Marvel character the Punisher, Lynn Michaels is a police officer turned vigilante who helpe take down both a rapist and a man named Mr. Sandeen who led an organization that liked to kidnap people and draw blood from them to use for their own nefarious purposes. While she has no special powers like Carol Danvers, Michaels is excellent at unarmed combat thanks to her years of being a police officer. She’s definitely a woman the criminals wouldn’t want to mess with. If only she didn’t have to go by the unfortunate moniker “Lady Punisher.”