Redheads only make up about 2 percent of the real-world population. Yet it feels like the percentage of (major) female Marvel characters with red hair is much higher--Natasha Romanoff, Pepper Pots, Patsy Walker, Jean Grey, Raven Darkholme, to name a few.

Is there a reason for this? In- or out-of-universe?

  • 6
    Red heads are maaaagiccal
    – Mikasa
    Sep 11, 2016 at 9:59
  • 5
    Because it's an incredibly easy (and from a storytelling perspective, incredibly sloppy) way of demonstrating to the audience that the character is feisty; tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FieryRedhead
    – Valorum
    Sep 11, 2016 at 10:46
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    Also, it's a good way for instant sight recognition of your major female character, especially in a medium where artists often aren't consistent or distinctive enough with things like facial features/body type. I mean, it gets complicated if you have more than one redhead per book, but honestly most books have trouble having more than one main female character, and when they do... well, it's not just comics, but tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BlondeBrunetteRedhead Sep 11, 2016 at 11:58
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    ... or read 'sexy'. In the early days (at least), superhero comics were aimed at 'boys' and the females were generally portrayed as either desperately vulnerable and in need of saving, or sexy as hell. I can remember buying comics as a teenager just to see Wanda... sad but unfortunately true. As a side note, the 87th Precinct novels of Ed McBain often featured a red haired, green eyed, vampy female character which became a trademark. His books were widely read. McBain began publishing in the early 50's, Marvel in '39 although they gained momentum post war so maybe its a cultural thing also. Sep 11, 2016 at 12:01
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    youtube.com/watch?v=J2FeKpn07N4 Despite speculation that certain editors had a thing for redheads, the truth is actually far less exciting. Basically, it was simply easier to make a character’s hair red instead of brown due to the coloring technique used in most Golden and Silver Age Comics.
    – Paulie_D
    Sep 11, 2016 at 12:08

2 Answers 2


Stan Lee's wife, Joan Clayton, was a redhead before her hair color changed. She is said to be the inspiration for MJ and other female characters.


This is not just true for Marvel, and it's not just true for female characters.

Brian Ward of The Arkham Sessions podcast has pointed out (on numerous occasions) that a significant portion of henchmen in Batman: The Animated Series are in fact redheaded.

redheaded henchmen

I can't point you to a specific episode of the podcast, but they talk about it on twitter enough that it should be pretty easy to find some discussion if you wanted to.

One tongue-in-cheek theory is that redheads must be more prone to evil in the BTAS universe. That's a joke, because obviously the real reason there are so many redheads is to make it easier to distinguish between characters. The animators (or colorists in the case of comic books) are already limited by the colors they can use for black, brown, and blonde hair, so adding another option (red) into the mix helps add some variety.

Other notable redheaded characters just from Batman include Barbara Gordon, Edward Nygma, Poison Ivy, and Carrie Kelly.

This trend has also been discussed on TVTropes.

This YouTube video claims that it was more difficult to print brown than red in early comic books. This video seems a little bit click-baity, but the logic is there: with limited colors available, you're going to use the colors you do have more often than they might appear in real life.

  • I have read the Hard-To-Print story before. One variation was that brown hair came out red in the early, lower quality paper comics. Don't know if it's true, but we all know the Hulk's color was plagued by early printing issues.
    – JohnHunt
    Aug 18, 2021 at 17:43

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