There may be nothing we here at FANGRRLS love more than a girl gang, seeing how as we fancy ourselves one such community. Girl gangs, which can and do include nonbinary folks, are all about kicking ass and looking out for each other, thwarting the patriarchy just by daring to love one another as we are here and now.
In a world where gender minorities are pitted against one another, where it is preferable for us to fight than unite, where we're told to argue over the scraps left behind, to choose to be together, to choose collective power over individual gain, is a radical act. And, when we see our heroes unify and organize in the face of an enemy that would rather see our world destroyed, we are galvanized for our own battles in our own (much less shiny) world.
So here are the very coolest girl gangs, all-female fighting teams, gal-pals, and all-around badasses in genre.
In Wakanda, the throne, and whoever sits upon it, is protected by the Dora Milaje, an all-female team of bodyguards. But, never you fear, these powerhouses aren’t sitting around waiting for the king’s instructions—they’re protecting the kingdom and sometimes even planning a revolution. In the comic books, lovers Aye, leader of the Dora Milaje, and Aneka betray the throne and T’Challa to instead serve the people who they feel have been neglected too long. They rally the women, many of whom are survivors of sexual violence, and form an army, a new Dora Milaje. In the film Black Panther, the team is led by the charismatic and awe-inspiring Okoye (who is kind of weird in the comics) played by the inimitable Danai Gurira.
Regardless of the version, the Dora Milaje are always incredibly powerful and incredibly deadly.
The Crystal Gems
For millennia before Steven is born, his mother and her friends fight as the Crystal Gems: warriors, rebels, and defenders of Earth. Rose Quartz leads Pearl and Garnet in battle during the Rebellion, when they fight back the colonizing Homeworld Gems, reclaiming Earth for the life here. In the process, every other rebel is destroyed. Amethyst joins the gang about 500 years after the end of the war and together the four keep the planet free from outside control and safe from the threats of corrupted Gems. That is until Rose decides to have a son with her human partner, Greg.
No matter which universe you find them in, the people of A-Force don’t disappoint. She-Hulk, Medusa, Captain Marvel, Sister Grimm, Dazzler, and their new friend, an adorable little girl made of stars who is actually a pocket dimension, protect the people of Earth fearlessly and with quite a bit of panache. Even the often-weird Dazzler gets to strut her stuff with storylines that are as emotionally resonant as they are beautifully drawn. At a time when all the different powered groups mistrust one another, the A-Force team manages to get over their differences and unite to save the world—and a very special little girl as important as a universe.
There’s nothing not to love about this team up of unlikely heroes of the Marvel Universe.
Led by Valkyrie, aka Brunnhilde, Odin’s personal shield-maidens/warrior goddesses are not to be trifled with. While their original charge was to convey the souls of fallen Asgardians and worthy humans unto Valhalla, most of the Valkyrior are slain by Hela during her battle with Odin for control of Valhalla. After his victory, Odin raises the Valkyrior, but they can’t leave the halls of Valhalla and retain their physical form.
In The Fearless Defenders, Valkyrie is charged with reassembling the Valkyrior, but this time with humans. Misty Knight and Dani Moonstar start the party, but the guest list is long and filled with leotards.
Valkyrie Flashback scene, Thor: Ragnarok
The Birds of Prey
Like a lot of superhero teams, the Birds of Prey has had a somewhat rolling membership list, with heroes subbing in and out based on their good/evil index and their own life crises at any given moment. For the most part, though, Oracle/Batgirl leads this unlikely band of heroes that includes Black Canary, Huntress, and not-infrequently, Catwoman. (They do sometimes allow boys on the team.) The Birds of Prey bring a certain je ne sais quoi to hero work that seems to delight their opponents even as they defeat them.
For a special treat, you’ll want to see these ladies croon in Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup are all about the kindergarten-aged superhero life. They protect their city of Townsville, USA from villains, giant monsters, and whoever else deigns to challenge the might of these tiny, adorable little girls. Each has specialized skills and an array of superpowers that allow them to really kick ass. They may be more mature than your average kindergartener, but the Powerpuff Girls still have to deal with sibling rivalry and other general growing up related hijinks in this endearing animated children’s show.
Daughters of the Dragon
Misty Knight and Colleen Wing have been friends and partners for a very long time, having been there for each other through the ups and downs. Their chosen name is even a call back to one such occasion. When a low-grade villain tries to insult them by calling them the daughters of the dragon, the two take on the name and just go right ahead and continue kicking ass.
We’ve actually seen depressingly little of this dracontine duo in comics, but we’re rooting for a TV adaptation because who couldn’t use more Misty and Colleen in your life?
The Angels of Heven are all about business—and business is good when you’re powerful, lethal, winged mercenaries dedicated to making bank. But, when you perhaps step over the line and blackmail Odin to pay you to stop a war you started, what are you gonna do? Double down and murder his newest heir, of course. You’ll have to read Original Sin: Thor & Loki: The Tenth Realm to get all the details, but let’s just say that things get tense with the Asgardian royal family when a certain sister is less dead (and a lot more murderous) than previously believed.
The Angels aren’t just badass female fighters, though. They’re also hegemonic matriarchs, relying on a society built on the subjugation of male Angels, the wingless Anchorites, who they keep locked in the temple. Their only job is to pray for the lost souls of the Angels. (The Angels were under the false impression that Angels don’t get an afterlife, but the one they get turns out to be a Hel of a bad deal.) Don’t worry, though, Angela’s girlfriend Sera who used to be a Anchorite has strong feelings about changing things up.
Isolated away from the men who would enslave them, the Amazons founded Themiscyra, a land filled with many a beautiful gilded woman and nary a dude. Not only are they all exceptional fighters, but also they are wise, cool-tempered, and ageless. Hippolyta, ruler of Themiscyra, creates her daughter Wonder Woman out of clay and boom, the world is suddenly brighter.
While the Amazons dazzle in any environment, it’s hard to replicate the rush of emotion and power of Wonder Woman.