If you are growing up in this generation, then you must be aware of Marvel. I mean, who isn’t? The Marvel Cinematic Universe, after all, towers over every other movie franchise and yes, it’s even bigger than the Harry Potter film franchise.
As you might be already aware, Marvel started as a comic book company just like DC. Over the years, Stan Lee and others brought several iconic Marvel characters to life. From Spider-Man to the Hulk, all these characters literally made the childhoods of many of us a bearable time, and even a happy one. The Marvel family brought to us some of the most amazing storylines, partly because of the bitter rivalry they shared with DC.
While DC mostly narrated the tales of superhuman ‘god-like’ beings, Marvel chose to depict tales that were closer to the heart, and more humane, and ‘normal’. With characters like Spider-Man, they delved into the deeper aspects of human life. For characters like Spider-Man, powers were more often than not seen as curses that disrupted their individual lives.
In the Marvel Universe, a secret identity is not simply a device to progress the plot. In fact it is a gateway through which readers can reflect on the duality of characters. Most of the iconic Marvel characters are somewhat grounded on reality and all these characters share an emotional depth and a core motivation.
Banner wants to get rid of the monster inside, the X-Men are shunned by the society and Parker let his uncle Ben die. But then, DC also has its fair share of tragic characters.
However, Marvel characters hit closer to home as they are, most of the time, rooted in the common lives of ordinary people. However, as the years progressed, the storylines began to feel a bit stale, and predictable. This is a natural part of creative work. And thus began the head-scratching process where writers have to do something to fix these. The solution to most of the cases came in the form of exploring some less explored corridors, introducing new characters or sidekicks, and gender-swap.
Swapping the genders of iconic characters is not something that just appeared out of the blue one fine day. Both DC and Marvel have utilised it and brought up some interesting results (although it is a bit overdone in 2020 because everything nowadays has to conform to politically correct standards). Swapping genders are a useful device for changing the dynamics of the story. Bringing in a female version of a character allows a writer to explore the caveats and worriers that a female version brings to the table.
This also allows for a fresh take on the characters and breaks the monotonous chain of repetition. Most of these female versions are introduced as brand new characters, successors or are straight-up gender-swapped. Like DC, Marvel is also home to several such gender-swapped heroes. Some of them are so iconic that they are going to appear on the big screen. The list below will share some insight on these gender-swapped characters.
Jennifer Susan Walters also known as the She-Hulk is one of the oldest gender-swapped characters to appear in Marvel Comics. She was originally created by Stan Lee and was inked by artist John Buscema. She made her debut in The Savage She-Hulk #1 that was published back in the 1980’s.
According to her origin story, Walter is a lawyer by profession. After she received a serious injury, she got a blood transfusion from her cousin who is none other than Bruce Banner himself. Upon receiving the blood transfusion, Walters developed a milder version of his cousin’s Hulk condition.
But unlike Banner, she retains her original personality along with her intelligence and emotional control. However, at times, she does suffer from bursts of anger following which, like her cousin, she becomes immensely stronger. As the years progressed, the writers made her transformation permanent.
She-Hulk already appeared in multiple shows like The Incredible Hulk, Ultimate Spider-Man and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. The character is also awaiting her live-action debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She is supposed to have an entire Disney+ show dedicated to her.
2. Lady Punisher
The Punisher has always been an underrated character when compared to his super-powered counter-part. Driven by his tragic past, he battles criminals every day while placing his life on the edge of the razor. At times, he is as vulnerable as the targets he takes down. However, his drive for revenge makes him survive every round.
But the character of the Punisher is in no sense obscure. He has enjoyed multiple publications and even has two big-screen appearances to his name. He also had his own dedicated show on Netflix. And yet, the same cannot be said for his female sidekick. Lynn Michaels, also known as Lady Punisher, is a police officer who turned into a vigilante. She played a lead role in taking down a rapist along with criminal mastermind by the name of Mr. Sandeen.
Sandeenis the leader of an organization that used to kidnap people in order to utilise their blood for nefarious purposes. Unlike other super heroines she has no special powers. However, Michaels has fluency when it comes to unarmed combat and this is all due to her policebackground. She first appeared in Punisher War Zone #7.
Wolverine is another iconic character from the Marvel Universe. He has been at the forefront ever since he first appeared in the comics. Originally envisioned as an opponent for the Hulk, he first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #182 that got released back in October 1974. He, like other iconic heroes, got gender-swapped as well. Laura Kinney also known as X-23 is basically the female version of Wolverine that we all wanted.
She was created by writer Craig Kyle for the X-Men: Evolution television series back in 2003. She also made her official comic book debut the following year. Laura first appeared as clone and then turned into the adopted daughter of Wolverine. She was envisioned as the perfect killing machine and worked as an assassin for an organisation called the Facility. A series of events eventually led her to Wolverine and the X-Men.
She went on to attend the X-Mansion and eventually became a member of X-Force. Laura has all the abilities of her father right down to her adamantium claws. And yes, they are retractable. In later story arcs, it was revealed that she was the biological daughter of Wolverine. Back in 2015, Laura succeeded Logan and took up the mantle of Wolverine in the series All-New Wolverine. The character made her live-action debut in the 2017 film Logan.
With a character as iconic as Spider-Man, a female version was going to appear sooner or later. Now there are tons of female ‘spider characters’ out there, especially with the whole ‘spider verse’ thing. But for the sake of consistence we will concentrate on Spider-Girl. May ‘Mayday’ Parker is a fictional character who is the daughter of Peter Parker, the original Spider-Man.
The character primarily appears in the MC2 universe. The character was created by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz. As you can already guess, her mother is Mary Jane Watson. She made her debut in What If #102 back in February 1998. She, later on, acquired her own ongoing comic book series called Spider-Girl.
The series was again headed by DeFalco and drawn by Frenz along with artist Pat Olliffe. Marvel, later on, relaunched her as The Amazing Spider-Girl. She also suffered a second relaunch titled The Spectacular Spider-Girl. She is often referred to as Spider-Woman. This is completely wrong as Spider-Woman is a distinct and separate character.
5. Jane Foster’s Thor
As MCU fans might already be aware, Jane Foster is a fictional character from the Marvel Universe who acts as a love interest and supporting character for Thor Odinson. She was created by Stan Lee and Larry Lieber along with artist Jack Kirby. The character of Jane Foster made her first appearance in Journey into Mystery #84. It was published back in September 1962.
For years, Jane Foster appeared as a nurse. Later on, she became a doctor herself. In the latest story arcs, Foster was revealed to be worthy of wielding Thor’s hammer Mjolnir when Thor himself is no longer able to do so. During this time, she takes up the identity of Thor and joins the Avengers. However, Foster’s run as Thor ends when she sacrifices her life following which the mantle reverts back to the original Thor.
After Brunnhilde and the rest of the Valkyrie are killed during “The War of the Realms” story arc, Foster becomes a Valkyrie. Jane Foster has made appearances in the MCU. Natalie Portman portrays the character in Thor (2011), Thor: The Dark World (2013), and Avengers: Endgame (2019). She is also going to appear upcoming film Thor: Love and Thunder (2022). There she is set to become the Mighty Thor.