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When it came to which super hero movie franchise would be the first to feature a solo female super hero movie, it’s safe to say that few people would have guessed Sony’s Spider-Man. Not only does Sony’s Spider schedule lag behind Marvel’s in terms of output, but the Spider-Man universe—centering, as it does, around one male super hero who traditionally works alone—doesn’t immediately suggest itself as filled with solo female super heroes.
That last impression would be slightly misleading, however. As you might expect from a character who’s been around for more than 50 years by this point, there are a number of supporting characters and crime-fighting colleagues who made their first appearances in Spider-Man comics and would therefore fall under Sony’s purview to spin off into their own movies—including at least one choice that many might have written off as unlikely, if not impossible. Here are some of the most likely candidates who could headline the Lisa Joy-written female super hero project.
Jackpot remains one of the stranger characters to have appeared in Spider-Man lore in recent history, having been created with the express intent of teasing comic book readers with the possibility that Peter Parker’s long-term love interest Mary Jane Watson—whom Jackpot resembled visually—had somehow gained super powers and taken up crime-fighting (Even the name “Jackpot” refers back to one of MJ’s first lines of dialogue in a Spider-Man comic: “Face it, tiger—You just hit the jackpot!” Things were swinging back in the ’60s).
In reality, it was a feint, and Jackpot was revealed to be not one but two different characters behind the mask, alternating ownership of the identity (and their own identities—after the death of one of the Jackpots, the other assumes her name for reasons too convoluted to explain here). The character was in forefront of storylines published between 2008 and 2010, even headlining her own title at one point, but has since disappeared back into obscurity.
A former villain turned hero—a recurring theme when it comes to Marvel characters—Bombshell comes from Marvel’s alternate “Ultimate” universe, in which Peter Parker is dead and replaced as Spider-Man by Miles Morales. Originally appearing as part of a mother/daughter team of villains, it later turns out that Lana Baumgartner was forced into crime by a domineering mother, and would rather use her powers to launch explosive energy from her hands for good. Or, you know, at least as good as you can use “blowing things up” powers for, in any case.
These days, the character can be found in the All-New Ultimates series as part of a team that also includes the Miles Morales Spider-Man and Kitty Pryde, formerly of the X-Men.
Another supporting character who shows up as ally or adversary depending on the plot’s demands—she’s a mercenary in charge of a group of similarly cut-throat anti-heroes known as the Wild Pack—Sable was a relative mainstay of the Spider-Man mythology between her creation in 1985’s The Amazing Spider-Man No. 285 and her apparent death in the 2012 storyline “Ends of the Earth,” not only showing up in the comic book continuity but also video games and cartoons based on the property.
Should Sable—whose secret identity is, remarkably, “Silver Sablinova”—enter Sony’s Spider franchise, not only would the studio gain its own Black Widow-esque character, it would also open the way to expand the franchise outside of the superhero genre and into a broader action territory. With no super powers, Sable’s solo adventures could be closer to The Expendables than The Avengers, and offer Sony the chance to branch out in terms of what it can do with its Marvel properties.
To everyone reading this and thinking Wait: Didn’t she die in the last movie?, yes, she did—but because this is comics, that’s more a temporary condition than a serious set-back when it comes to future appearances. While the “main” Marvel Universe Gwen has remained offstage since the 1973 storyline in which she died, the Ultimate universe version of the character returned from the grave as her own clone within a few years of her death thanks to machinations connected with the villain Venom—and with some limited super powers of her own for awhile, too.
With Sony’s current Amazing Spider-Man series picking from both the “Marvel Universe” and “Ultimate Universe” mythologies, there’s nothing to stop Gwen being resurrected by some McGuffin, giving the audience the Emma Stone super hero movie it’s long wanted without knowing it. (Tangentally-related: Marvel will be releasing an alternate-universe “Gwen Stacy is Spider-Woman” comic in a few months. The costume design has already been done!)
Should Sony decide to go the derivative route, there is an embarrassment of Spider-Girls and Spider-Women to choose from in Marvel’s back catalog. Jessica Drew was the first, debuting in 1977’s Spider-Woman No. 1, only to be replaced by Julia Carpenter in 1984’s Marvel Super-Heroes: Secret Wars mini-series. She, in turn, was replaced by Mattie Franklin in The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 No. 5 (1999), before Drew reclaimed the role some years later.
In terms of Spider-Girls, the most well-known is likely May Parker, the daughter of Peter Parker in an alternate reality who debuted in 1998’s What If? No. 105; there are, however, versions from Mark Millar’s “Old Man Logan” storyline from Wolverine, Alex Ross’ alternate world series Earth-X, and a character in Marvel’s current continuity who also goes by the name Arana (who debuted in Amazing Fantasy Vol. 2 No. 1 in 2004).
Surely the most likely candidate for solo stardom in the Spider-verse, however, is Felicia Hardy, Spider-Man’s very own version of Catwoman. Created by Marv Wolfman and Keith Pollard in 1979’s The Amazing Spider-Man No. 194, Hardy is a cat burglar who has pursued an on-again, off-again relationship with Spider-Man since her debut, with her relationship with the law being similarly changeable (She has been part of numerous super hero teams in Marvel’s comic continuity, including two incarnations of the Defenders and the mercenary group Heroes for Hire, but tends to resort to her thieving ways when writers feel the need to reset her status quo).
More importantly, the Black Cat’s movie debut has already been set up by The Amazing Spider-Man 2, with Felicity Jones appearing as Hardy in the movie, a character with connections to Norman Osborn—whose Oscorp has already proven responsible for the creation of other super powered characters in the fictional universe. All of the pieces are there—although whether or not filmmakers choose to take that route in a solo movie instead of a future Amazing Spider-Man installment isn’t necessarily clear.