The DC Universe, in all of its varied forms, contains no shortage of legendary female superheroes. This is The Direct’s ranking of the very best female characters that DC has in its lineup.
Female heroes are important. Everyone needs someone to look up to, particularly younger people. There are so many famous male heroes like Superman and Batman to serve as role models, but it’s equally important to see women represented in these types of roles.
Representation matters and the more heroes of every race, gender, and creed there are in the world, the better pop culture becomes. After all, variety is the spice of life.
DC’s 15 Best Female Heroes
As it goes with any ranking, the selection of characters and the order in which they are placed, might not reflect the opinions of those who hold them so dear. That being said, here’s The Direct’s breakdown of the 15 greatest female DC superheroines.
Created as a tribute by writer Geoff Johns for his late sister, Courtney Whitmore aka, Stargirl is one of DC’s finest young heroes. She’s the wielder of the Cosmic Staff and a key member of the Justice Society of America (or JSA for short).
In recent years, actress Brec Bassinger stepped into Stargirl’s star-spangled costume for her own self-titled live-action TV series that started on HBO Max but was later moved over to The CW. Sadly, the show was canceled three seasons in.
14.) Power Girl
Kara Zor-L originated from Earth-2 in the comics where she served as a member of the JSA. Then she made the jump to DC’s main Earth, which was home to Power Girl’s alternate universe doppelganger, Supergirl.
Power Girl has not gotten much exposure (jokes about her costume’s boob window aside) in popular media. Many were expecting her to swoop into the long-running Supergirl television show, but alas, such a thing never occurred. Surprising, given the Arrowverse’s deep exploration of Multiverse lore.
In actuality, there have been three separate characters to bear the mantle of Huntress. However, the one with whom most fans will likely be familiar is Helena Bertinelli. The daughter of a mobster, Helena had a rough upbringing but grew up to join DC’s premiere, women-led team, the Birds of Prey.
Speaking of the Birds of Prey, Huntress was a main character in the 2020 movie Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) where she was portrayed by Scott Pilgrim’s own Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Helena was also a recurring character in the early seasons of Arrow, played by Jessica De Gouw.
Kate Kane, the modern incarnation of Batwoman arrived on comic pages in 2006. There have been other characters to use the title of Batwoman, but Kane, who is, notably, one of the most prominent lesbian superheroes, is the most popular.
Writer Greg Rucka and artist J.H. Williams III’s Batwoman: Elegy is widely considered the go-to comic storyline for the hero, but she was also the recipient of her own live-action series in 2019 as part of the Arrowverse. Ruby Rose played Kate, but famously left the show after the first season, leaving Javicia Leslie‘s Ryan Wilder to replace her in the cape and cowl.
As a White Martian, M’gann M’orzz was born into a species that was at war with the Green Martians. M’gann was ultimately sent away from Mars and eventually wound up on Earth where she joined the Teen Titans. Possessing Superman-level strength, telepathy, and shapeshifting abilities, Miss Martian is a force to be reckoned with.
Miss Martian was a key player in the beloved, but cancellation-challenged Young Justice, voiced by Hallmark Channel mainstay Danica McKellar. Sharon Leal also portrayed M’Gann in the Supergirl series where she often fought alongside J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter.
Not simply a love interest to the Green Arrow, the Black Canary has a long history in comic books. The original Canary, Dinah Drake, was one of DC’s very first female superheroes. She’s also an expert fighter, and in a pinch, she can use her piercing Canary Cry as a highly effective attack.
When fans think of Black Canary, their minds likely drift towards The CW’s Arrowverse shows. Caity Lotz showed up as the black-clad crimefighter in Arrow’s second season before her death (She got better!) Katie Cassidy, who played her sister Laurel, carries on the mantle for a while after that.
In addition to the character’s TV representation, Lovecraft Country’s Jurnee Smollett lent her talents to playing Black Canary in the DCEU’s Birds of Prey movie. Although the film was released shortly before the start of the pandemic, the number of theatergoing eyes on it was unfortunately minimal.
Zatanna Zatara is an immensely powerful magic user, whose skills rival that of John Constantine’s. While best known as a superhero, she also has a successful career in stage magic. Zatanna is, of course, especially famous for her trademark backward-spoken spell incantations.
In media, Zatanna has appeared in several animated projects. She’s had roles in shows like the DC Animated Universe’s New Batman Adventures and Justice League Unlimited. She also popped up a few times in Cartoon Network’s tragically short-lived Justice League Action. Serinda Swan played a live-action Zatanna in Smallville as well.
A fixture on the Teen Titans roster, Koriand'r, more commonly known as the hero Starfire comes from the planet Tamaran. She’s been romantically involved with Dick Grayson, the first Robin, in many incarnations. But beyond that, Starfire can fly, shoot energy from her hands, and is indestructible.
The character has had a few notable portrayals in pop culture, the most famous example being in the fondly remembered, 2003 Teen Titans cartoon where she was voiced by Hynden Walch. Actress Anna Diop also breathed life into Starfire in live-action for the Titans streaming show that ran from 2018 to 2023.
There are multiple versions of Hawkgirl, each one with a wildly different backstory from the next. However, the most prominent take on the character is that of Shayera Hol. Originating on the planet Thanagar and armed with a super-strong Nth metal mace, Hawkgirl spreads her wings and fights as a stalwart member of the Justice League.
She was a main character in the 2001 Justice League series, voiced by Maria Canals-Barrera, and depicted as a no-nonsense, strike-first, ask-questions-later warrior.
Additionally, Isabela Merced will take on the role of Hawkgirl in the new DCU. She’ll appear in 2025’s Superman: Legacy but it isn’t presently known if Merced is playing Shayera Hol or a different Hawkgirl.
Gotham City’s most infamous cat burglar, Selina Kyle has a lengthy history of being a thorn in Batman’s side, and oftentimes, his ally and love interest. Catwoman’s costume has razor-sharp claws affixed to the gloves and she usually uses a whip to fight, or simply to cause trouble.
Although Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman from Batman Returns is probably the most popular adaptation of Selina, the 1960s television Batman series and movie cast no less than three actresses to play her: Lee Merriweather, Eartha Kitt, and Julie Newmar. Anne Hathaway also gave a memorable performance as Ms. Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises from 2012.
Today, the role is inhabited by Zoë Kravitz in director Matt Reeves’ The Batman. In that film, she at-times reluctantly assists Bruce Wayne in his crime-fighting endeavors before leaving Gotham in the final act.
Another Teen Titans staple, Raven was created by Marv Wolfman and the late George Pérez. She’s an extremely skilled magic user who lives in the shadow of her father, the demon known as Trigon. As an empath, Raven is also able to sense the emotional states of others.
The heroine is perhaps best known for her part in the ‘03 Teen Titans animated program as well as its more-kid-friendly off-shoot Teen Titans Go! In both shows, she’s voiced by prolific voice actress Tara Strong. Tegan Croft also portrayed Raven in Titans. “Azarath Metrion Zinthos!”
When Krypton exploded and baby Kal-El was sent rocketing away from the planet’s destruction, Kara Zor-El was right behind him. Kara was meant to serve as her cousin’s protector on Earth but her vessel was knocked off course and she did not arrive until years later. Under Earth’s yellow sun, she can do anything and everything Superman can.
Melissa Benoist brought life to the Maiden of Might on the Supergirl TV series, where she took part in several crossovers with Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow. Sasha Calle also made a standout turn as the character in the 2023 Flash film. Not to mention there was Helen Slater’s take on the character in the Supergirl movie from 1984.
Going forward, Kara will star in a feature film entitled Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow. It’s not yet known who will play her, but the movie will be a part of James Gunn and Peter Safran’s rebooted DCU.
The Joker’s one-time sidekick and girlfriend, Harley Quinn and her “Puddin’” committed innumerable crimes in Gotham City together, causing many headaches for Batman. But in recent years, Harley has broken things off with Joker and transitioned into more of an antihero.
Margot Robbie may be the most famous face associated with the character, but she had her origins as a character created specifically for Batman: The Animated Series. She proved to be such a quality villain (in part due to the late Arleen Sorkin’s voice acting) that she was incorporated into the comics.
These days, Kaley Cuoco voices Harley Quinn in her smash hit animated series on Max. The show has been praised for giving the character a great deal of agency, as well as exploring her sexuality through showcasing her romantic relationship with fellow Bat-Foe Poison Ivy.
Barbara Gordon, daughter of Gotham City Police Commissioner Jim Gordon, joined Batman’s crime-fighting crusade as Batgirl. But in Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, Barbara became paralyzed by a bullet from the Joker’s gun. Eventually, though, she was able to walk again when DC’s comic continuity was rebooted with The New 52 publishing initiative.
Babs had a large role to play in the Batman cartoons of the 1990s. The character was even due to star in a live-action feature film. A film that essentially completed production before it was shelved by Warner Bros. as a tax write-off. Naturally, many fans are still quite bitter over this.
Arguably the most well-known female superhero of all time, Diana of Themyscira dons the Bracelets of Submission and wields the Lasso of Truth to fight injustice as Wonder Woman. Diana is undeniably an icon of popular culture to the extent that even non-superhero fans know who she is.
Lynda Carter portrayed Diana in the 1975 Wonder Woman television series, which was quite the hit in its day. And in 2016, Gal Gadot stepped into the role in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. She would go on to play Wonder Woman several more times.
With the beginning of the new, rebooted DCU shared universe closing in fast, it‘s been confirmed that the character will be rebooted and recast with a yet-to-be-selected actress who will go on to become the new face of Wonder Woman.