Friday, October 14, 2016

Super-Heroine Names

Hello, readers!

If the Disney villains earlier this week weren't your type, why not try a super-heroine? Many of our favorite female fighters came out of mid-century comics, like Superman or The Avengers. But these badass ladies are timeless, and can be found all over pop culture today!

Diana Prince (Wonder Woman)
Though her first appearance was in 1941, Princess Diana of Themyscira has gotten quite a lot of attention lately - a live action Wonder Woman film is set to hit theaters next year. With super strength, the power of flight, indestructible bracelets, and a lasso of Truth, it's no wonder Diana Prince is so popular. The name Diana has been on the decline, but it has quite a few positive traits - its Roman goddess mythology, multicultural appeal, and dozens of wonderful namesakes, to start.

Katherine "Kitty" Pryde (Mutant, X-Men)
Canonically, she's the youngest member of the X-Men, and she may be one of the youngest superheroes on this list - her first comic book appearance was in 1980. Her main power is "intangibility," the ability to move through solid objects, though she also can communicate with her alien pet dragon (#goals, amirite?) The Katherine spelling is currently the most used in its family, but Kitty hasn't ranked on the top 1000 since 1966. With both animal and vintage names on the rise, could Kitty return?

Jean Grey (Phoenix, X-Men)
Another female mutant (and founding member) in the X-Men, Jean Grey possesses both telepathy and telekinesis. She was recently portrayed by Sophie Turner in X-Men: Apocalypse - though Sophie was born after Jean dropped off the top 1000 (1994 vs 1996). Jean got all the way up to #12 in the late 1920's and early 1930's; it's chic, concise, and sassy. It's derived from John, if you're looking for an unexpected honorific - but if it's still too dated, Phoenix is another excellent choice.

Barbara Gordon (Batgirl/Oracle)
A disabled female genius computer hacker... in 1967? Barbara Gordon broke new pop culture ground, to say the least. Her character is still a favorite among comic fans, and her kick-ass abilities are inspiring for young women today. The name Barbara peaked at #2 in the 1930's and 1940's, and has been declining ever since. While the name is considered fairly dated, foreign variations could honor an aunt or grandma - Babette, Basia, and Varenka among them.

Selina Kyle (Catwoman)
This Batman villainess is a cultural icon - from Michelle Pfeiffer to Halle Berry to Anne Hathaway, Selina Kyle's portrayals have been influential. In fact, Selina's stint on the top 1000 started in 1959, with the 1960's Batman television series bringing the name to a wider audience. Though it's been off the list since 2008 (Selena and Celine still rank), Selina is a lovely, feminine choice that means "moon goddess" or "heavenly", depending on the origin.

Jessica Jones
Her first appearance was in 2001, making her younger than Kitty Pryde, but Jessica Jones reached new levels of popularity just this year - the eponymous Netflix show has created a new fan base. Jessica has super strength, the power of flight, and some telepathic powers; while she appears in Spider-Man and New Avengers storylines, she's got an attitude all her own. Though Jessica is still in the top 10 across the pond, the name is on the decline in the USA. Similar names that aren't quite as ubiquitous include Jessa, Jessenia, and Jerica.

Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow)
Another super-heroine who's gotten a bit of attention in recent years - thanks, Scarlett Johansson - Natasha Romanoff is a Russian-spy-turned-American-spy and a member of the Avengers. Known for her fighting and weaponry abilities, she first debuted in 1964 with black hair (later changed to red). Natasha currently ranks at #666 (happy Halloween!) and is a great alternative to trendy Natalie. Fun fact: First Daughter Sasha Obama's first name is Natasha - Sasha is her nickname.

Kara Zor-El (Supergirl)
Superman's cousin and another alien from Krypton, Supergirl has jumped in and out of DC Comics since her debut in 1959. She now has a hit series on the CW, with guest appearances on other DC television shows. Kara has similar abilities to Superman - strength, flight, etc - as well as numerous mental powers. Kara is just below the top 500, with variant Cara further down the list. It's pretty, simple, and classic - a lovely choice for any "super girl"!

Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk)
Though she's a counterpart to the Incredible Hulk, she has better powers - she retains her intelligence and emotional control when transformed. However, there has never been a live-action She-Hulk, only animated versions and video game characters. Jennifer, of course, was the top name of the 1970's and maintained popularity into the 1990's, only now declining (as moms named Jennifer choose other options). Ginevra and Juniper are more modern, beautiful choices today.

Susan "Sue" Storm (Invisible Woman, Fantastic Four)
With three Fantastic Four film reboots in the last 25 years, the Invisible Woman is visible everywhere. Sue Storm, in addition to being invisible, can project invisibility and manipulate force fields. While Susan is a long-time classic in English speaking countries, it's had quite a run - let's look at other related names! Susannah, Suzette, and Zsazsa are intriguing options, with Lily being a subtle honorific (based on Susan's meaning).

Janet van Dyne (Wasp)
She's got the power to shrink, fly, and shoot electric energy - not bad for a super-heroine based on a bug. Janet cameoed in 2015's Ant-Man, with Marvel suggesting that there may be more of Wasp in films to come. Though Janet peaked in the 1940's and 1950's, its sound is still cute and girlish, not grandma-ish. If you'd rather have a bee-related name, there are plenty available: Bina, Erlea, Deborah, and Melissa.

Pamela Isley (Poison Ivy)
The only character on this list to share her initials with her alter-ego, Poison Ivy is a force to be reckoned with. She can control plant life and release botanical toxins - fitting that she debuted in 1966, just as the green movement was getting underway. She's often paired with Harley Quinn, and wouldn't Harley and Ivy be an adorable nerdy sibset? The name Pamela, on the other hand, dropped off the top 1000 in 2011, and may need some time off before jumping back on. To contrast with the above-mentioned bees, Pamela means "honey" - as does Melina, Permilia, Esti, and Yaara.

Any super-heroines that I missed? Which is your favorite? Tell me in the comments!

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