Name a DC comics heroine. Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, maybe even Cat Woman? Now a Marvel heroine. The Invisible Woman, Jean Grey, Storm, Black Widow. Granted there are many more interesting characters in both universes, but these are the best known, the characters most fully represented in movies.
So let’s explore them. Batgirl (or her newest morph of Oracle), Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Cat Woman. The first three are noteworthy for their brains (the second because Athena has blessed her people with her knowledge and the third because she is from a superior species), the last three are noteworthy for their physical abilities. Wonder Woman is generally considered the third most powerful hero in the universe (behind Superman and Batman of course). So far so good. Now, name one of their husbands. Boyfriends? In the DC universe, a woman can be strong and, given an otherworldy excuse, intelligent, but being either seems to make her unappealing. This is because of DC’s older heritage; the characters have never been modernized to adapt to our more realistic views of women.
Now for Marvel. The Invisible Woman, Jean Grey, Storm, and Black Widow. Storm and Black Widow are outstanding fighters and though none of them are considered brilliant, the Invisible Woman is smart enough to be of use to the Fantastic Four with her science and her social skills and Black Widow is outstanding at her job of intelligence work. As far as powers, the former two are possibly the strongest in the Marvel universe. All four are human, with no godly gifts or extraterrestrial heritage.
And romantically? The Invisible Woman is with the smartest person in the Marvel universe. Jean Grey is with the field commander of the X-Men. Storm has married according to her tribe’s customs. Black Widow has had a host of relationships. It seems that in the DC universe women very rarely can be considered genii, but they cannot have relationships if they are to be in any way considered men’s equals. Marvel human women can be more powerful. They may not have an intellectual equal to the Oracle, but they regularly associated with men, and for the most part those men who are equals.
I suppose that means that both comics have some work to do, but Marvel has far less. It would be neat to see phase 2 of the current Marvel run become a platform for that update.