Whenever a new superhero movie is announced, I always think of two things first: (1) Who will play the superhero? and (2) Who will play the love interest? I think the role of the superhero’s love interest holds a lot of weight. I mean this is the woman that the protagonist is fighting for most of the time and the love interest often acts as a window to the vulnerable side of our favorite god-like heroes. Truly, the love interest can further drive the characterization and story in the film. However, if mis-casted, the love interest can end up as a stock damsel in distress stereotype.
Here’s a list of some of my favorite leading ladies from superhero films. I’d like to note that this list is not based on any area in particular. I may pick one because of her acting chops or simply because she looks fabulous in the role so there’s no special criteria. Another note, there are spoilers in this post. Let me know who are your favorites as well!
1.) Peggy Carter by Hayley Atwell
When Captain America’s trailer came out, I knew what I was going to get. I expected to see an enjoyable film, but nothing epic as the Avengers or any film from the Dark Knight Trilogy. I’ve also never seen or heard Hayley Atwell before so I didn’t really have any excitement for Peggy Carter. Yet, I watched the film and all but one of my expectations were right. I was wrong about Peggy Carter because Hayley Atwell definitely made Peggy a character you sympathize and root for. She wasn’t a damsel in distress, because she Peggy Carter could be as equally capable in the field as Captain America.
Despite knowing how Captain America ends because of its tie in with the Avengers, part of me was hoping that there was a way the Captain and Peggy could still be together. Alas, unless the next film scraps Jessica Brown Findlay and introduces some weird sci-fi plot element to make Peggy younger… I doubt we would see Peggy Carter as the main love interest once more.
2.) Selina Kyle by Anne Hathaway
Here’s another actress who completely shocked and impressed me. When I first heard that she was slated to play Catwoman, I was skeptical for two reasons. Firstly, it was hard for me to believe that anyone could top Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance. Secondly, I’ve never seen Hathaway in such a femme fatale role and I mostly remember her when I watched The Princess Diaries and in some romantic comedy films. When I finally watched the film, she completely floored me. It reminded me of the feeling watching Anthony Hopkins impressing everyone with his performance as Hannibal Lecter since he was mostly known for comedic roles.
During the first part of the film, I actually thought that we would see Selina Kyle as an innocent woman and then a traumatic event would make her evolve into Catwoman early on. I thought I was right when I saw her being all nice to Bruce Wayne and little did I know she was fooling not only Bruce Wayne but the audience as well. It’s funny how my friends and I were trashing on Miranda Tate while watching because we wanted Batman to be paired with Catwoman so badly. In the end, we got what we wanted but it’s sad to only see her during the last entry of the trilogy. However, it comforts me to know that Catwoman has been revived from the clutches of Halle Berry and had been immortalized once more through the portrayal of Anne Hathaway.
3.) Gwen Stacy by Emma Stone
Let me just say, I think Emma Stone is an amazingly talented and versatile actress. She definitely brought life to Gwen Stacy by applying her talents as a skilled actress in both fields of comedy and drama. I also loved the chemistry between Stone and Garfield. I think the fact that they are a real-life couple helps, but nonetheless I thought that both roles were perfectly casted.
When I first heard that it was going to be Gwen Stacy instead of Mary Jane, I was kind of uncomfortable with the idea mostly because I was so used to seeing Peter Parker paired with Mary Jane in comic books, TV series, and films growing up. However, Emma Stone’s portrayal of Gwen Stacy increased my interest for the character.
4.) Selina Kyle as Michelle Pfeiffer
It would have been completely weird for me not to mention Michelle Pfeiffer after praising her in a few paragraphs above. Truly, Pfeiffer set the bar extremely high for her portrayal of Catwoman or Selina Kyle. She epitomized the phrase femme fatale in film as a whole. Yet, she was not a typical femme fatale because she brought the feline sex appeal characteristics into her role. Even if I highly praised Hathaway’s performance, it would be hard for me to say which is truly best. Sometimes I think Anne Hathaway is the best Catwoman ever, and sometimes I would prefer Pfeiffer. Despite this argument, I believe that she and Hathaway have truly owned the role in their own right.
One thing I could credit Pfeiffer for is that she was the first to make Catwoman a role that requires talent and versatility to accomplish.
5.) Mary Jane Watson by Shalaine Woodley
Okay, I know that she has to yet to play Mary Jane Watson but I’m really psyched to see her don the role. I think this is an excellent casting choice. I’ve seen part of the Descendants and I’m a big fan of The Secret Life of the American Teenager (okay, don’t judge me!!) so I think she has the acting chops to create a memorable portrayal of Mary Jane. It’s reported that she would only appear in minor capacity in the second film, but might appear in a larger role since I think the film will follow the comics’ storyline where Gwen Stacy dies.
I’m kind of uneasy with the idea of Woodley replacing Stone as the leading lady, but as with most ladies in the list, hopefully she floors me as well and exceed my expectations.