8 Marvel Heroines With Questionable Storylines (& How They've Improved Since) – CBR – Comic Book Resources

There have been a lot of rather questionable stories with Marvel heroines over the years, ones that have made these women look pretty bad.
Marvel has created some of the most well-known and respected heroes of the last sixty years. One of the biggest changes over those decades is the role of heroines in the Marvel Universe. While women have been heroes since the beginning—with heroines like Wasp, Marvel Girl, and Invisible Woman being some of the oldest Marvel heroes—they haven’t always been treated very well in stories. There have been a lot of rather questionable stories with heroines over the years, ones that have made these women look pretty bad.
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Many of these stories have been rectified over the years, undoing the damage earlier creators have done and making these heroines into better heroes.
Mystique is one of the most dangerous mutants on the planet and writer Jonathan Hickman decided to have some pretty bad things happen to her in the Krakoa era. She and her wife Destiny killed Moira MacTaggert in one of Moira’s past lives and this caused Moira to make a rule for Krakoa with Xavier and Magneto: no precogs. With resurrection available, Mystique wanted her wife back and Xavier and Magneto held it over her head, using her deadly skills and then denying her any reward.
This was pretty terrible, but luckily, Hickman himself has fixed it as part of his story in Inferno. Mystique was able to get Destiny back, using her skills to do it all herself and get her wife back.
Wasp is Silver Age Marvel’s second heroine and right from the start, she was treated as lesser than the men. Played as a flighty fashion designing debutante, the male writers of the day treated her as a second class hero, something which came to a head when Hank Pym backhanded her in Avengers #213. This was the height of the character’s mismanagement but later writers finally did right by Wasp.
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The Wasp would become the first woman to act as the Avengers’ chairwoman and a much more important member of the team in the years to come. Since then, she’s led more Avengers teams and proven to be a hero on par with men like Iron Man and her husband Hank Pym.
Invisible Woman is the most powerful member of the Fantastic Four but she’s gotten the least respect of any member over the years. It all began with the terrible way that Reed Richards treated her for ages, abusing her emotionally, and sometimes physically, over the years. That was just the beginning. At one point, as had happened to many Marvel heroines, she got the “woman who couldn’t control her emotions” storyline and became Malice.
She overcame that and came into her own, truly becoming the most powerful member of the team, gaining the respect of her peers, and coming into her own. That said, she did get an unfortunate ’90s costume, but that was luckily done away with rather quickly.
Wolverine first appeared in NYX #2, back when she was just known as X-23. The story took an incredibly icky turn, as she was a child prostitute. That’s pretty much all that has to be said about that. For years of story afterward, this was referenced by many writers. The whole plotline was ill-advised, as it was about a teenager forced into sex work.
Luckily, things got much better as other writers took over the character. Laura would become a truly special character over the years, joining the X-Men, training to be an Avenger, joining X-Force, and eventually taking her father’s place as Wolverine, a name change he endorsed after he returned to life.
Storm is one of the most powerful X-Men ever but there was a time when that wasn’t the case. During Chris Claremont’s long run, he positioned her as one of the foremost X-Men and then made a strange decision, robbing her of her powers. This was ultimately a character-building moment for her, as it showed what she was capable of even without her powers, beating Cyclops and taking over as leader of the team.
Later in his run, Claremont de-aged her and she overcame that as well. Claremont did all of these things to build the character but it wasn’t exactly the best look. He did great things with the character but some of the choices don’t look the best from a modern standpoint.
Jean Grey is one of the most important X-Men ever but looking at some of her storylines, it’s obvious writers had a very set conception of who she was. Like most other Silver Age heroines, she got the damsel in distress treatment often but that got better as she became the team’s most powerful member. Then The Dark Phoenix Saga happened, which was later revealed to not even be her, and she fell into a tried and problematic Marvel heroine trope: the crazy woman.
While The Dark Phoenix Saga is rightly remembered as an amazing epic, it started Jean down a path of stories that saw everyone wondering if she was going to lose control. It took years for this storyline to stop, with Grant Morrison’s New X-Men actually giving Jean the Phoenix Force for the first time and her controlling it better than anyone besides her own daughter Rachel.
Scarlet Witch has pretty much had one story used for her over and over again. Starting with “The Witch Of Wundagore Mountain,” most stories that revolved around Scarlet Witch had her somehow losing control of her powers, going crazy, and fighting the Avengers. It’s pretty much her standard plotline and it’s stretched into her modern stories as well.
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Scarlet Witch has killed her teammates, recreated the world, and decimated the mutant race because her emotions were too much for her to handle. Recent years have seen her get better stories, with way less of her being a problematic cliché woman who can’t control her emotions.
Avengers #200 is one of the most infamous issues of Avengers ever. In it, Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel at the time, was sexually assaulted and got pregnant. She came to term in three days and gave birth to a boy who grew at a rapid pace. Named Marcus, he revealed his origin and it’s basically that he was trapped in an interdimensional void after being born due to Immortus violating a woman, and decided the best way to escape was to do the same, impregnate someone forcibly with his essence, and that was Ms. Marvel. Then, for some reason, she left the team with him.
The whole thing is just terrible. Chris Claremont eventually would solve the whole problem in Avengers Annual #10. The story has been rightfully called out and in the intervening years, Carol became Captain Marvel and one of the most powerful Marvel heroes of them all.
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David Harth has been reading comics for close to 30 years. He writes for several websites, makes killer pizza, goes to Disney World more than his budget allows, and has the cutest daughter in the world. He can prove it. Follow him on Twitter- https://www.twitter.com/harth_david.

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