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With a year's worth of Marvel Cinematic Universe Disney+ streaming series now out in the wild, the format has proven itself to be the place where characters, even smaller ones in the MCU, can finally get their expanded due. From Wanda Maximoff to Bucky Barnes, characters who had limited theatrical story real estate were given hours to develop and evolve far richer storylines.
As the second year of Marvel Studios' Phase 4 continues to roll along, SYFY WIRE has taken a look at all the streaming shows that have been announced for 2022 — Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, and Secret Invasion — and pinpointed some very worthy female characters who could use some special focus and extended time on our screens in 2023 and beyond. Here are the women we would show up for, front and center.
Okoye & Ayo
We already know that writer/director Ryan Coogler is developing a streaming series set in Wakanda. There's obviously a wealth of untold stories and mythology yet to explore, but there's so much to the Dora Milaje and its leaders that we don't know. Starting with Danai Gurira's General Okoye and her second-in-command, Ayo (Florence Kasumba), there are a myriad of untold stories about their adventures inside Wakanda and their missions outside the country protecting their King. There's also a straight-up spy series in the making if you weave in Lupita Nyong'o's Nakia, who was once Dora Milaje and introduced in Black Panther on a secret mission. Getting to see how the fierce women are selected, trained and come up the ranks to the level of Okoye and Ayo would be compelling action TV. And we know Gurira can ably carry a series as she did for years on The Walking Dead.
For most of her time in the MCU, Linda Cardellini's Laura Barton has been relegated to the supportive spouse role for Avenger Clint Barton. However, the events of Disney+ series Hawkeye suggest she's got quite the past outside of the stay-at-home mom dynamic we've been presented. As she talked daily with Clint in his efforts to get home for Christmas, she worked on her own to get him resources and information which helped him break the Kingpin angle of the mystery. And in the last episode of the series, Clint returns her Rolex with 'Agent 19' on the back, which alludes to the fact that Laura is former agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. operative, Mockingbird. A series would finally give Cardellini the backstory fans have been speculating about since Avengers: Age of Ultron. Comic fans have always craved the deeper story in the MCU between Mockingbird and Barton and it would finally give the actress the runway to show everything she can do if given the opportunity. If you've seen her work on Netflix's Dead to Me, Cardellini shows that she can play anything, which is exactly what you need and want for a former S.H.I.E.L.D. member and partner to Clint.
Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine
As the power player lurking in the shadows since Black Widow and more prevalently in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) surprised many when she turned up to prod Yelena Belova into revenge-killing Clint Barton in the Black Widow tag — an assignment revealed to have been on behalf of a certain Kingpin. She then woos a very confused John Walker (Wyatt Russell) into her fold to take on the role of U.S. Agent. A streaming series could backwards-engineer de Fontaine's rise as a shadow operative and then connect and expand the dots that lead her to some big players in the MCU. Regardless if she's good or bad, Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the driver seat of any series makes it an instant watch. Giving de Fontaine context and a nuanced (or surprising) backstory would be a dream come true for the MCU and audiences. We just hope Gary is Valentina's bag man now.
Actress Meng'er Zhang tore up the screen as Shang-Chi's forgotten little sister Xu Xialing in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. With her still-simmering pain and anger, there's plenty to mine in her character as she sets about creating her own path now that she's assumed the leadership of the Ten Rings gang. Will she follow her brother's path or go the way dad trained her? There's no way to really give that story the time it deserves without making it a streaming series focusing on her and the future of the regime. And the movie already introduced plenty of interesting supporting characters to add to the series' ranks, including Jon Jon (Ronny Chieng), Razor Fist (Florian Munteanu)... and there's even Helen, the random Black Widow (Jade Xu) fighting in the underground fight club.
With her appearances in Black Widow and Hawkeye, actress Florence Pugh has left audiences wanting so much more of her character, Yelena Belova. Arguably, she should get her own movie but a series would really allow for a deeper exploration of what happens at the end of Black Widow as she helps the survivors of Dreykov's Red Room. From finding other mind-controlled Widows to the point when she becomes a paid assassin for Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, there's plenty to explore ... not to mention the potentially compelling story of the rehabilitation of Taskmaster and what happens to Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz) and Red Guardian (David Harbour).