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SPOILER ALERT!

Part of the journey is the end, and what an end to the separate build up of several films with an epic pay off. Avengers Endgame could be the most profitable film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since it made $859 million dollars on its opening weekend. It is the last episode of a decade’s worth of narrative. In the final leg of the Avengers series, a lot is happening. Fans have been preparing for the end from the very beginning, yet a feminist review of this film will discredit all the hype.

Considering Marvel has close to 20 films dedicated to its male superheroes and all their plots are loosely the same except for the type of superpowers, the villain and the motive. Only recently, the MCU dedicated an entire feature film to an independent story of a female superhero. The timing of Captain Marvel and its strategic release leading up to Endgame is a bit consolatory.

Also read: Captain Marvel: The Female Superhero We Deserve

In my opinion, it feels like the combination of the pressure of introducing an independent film about a female superhero merged with the cool quotient of having a pager ex machina (Nick Fury leaving behind a pager for the Avengers to contact Captain Marvel). Simply put, the MCU used a last minute narrative trope to include a strong female presence.

Speaking of strong females, it is absolutely devastating to see Black Widow, a constant onscreen member of the Avengers, being killed off in the finale. Black Widow played by Scarlett Johansson was an alternative icon of femininity, she was brain and brawn— so much awe-inspiring brawn. She was a highly intelligent assassin taken under the wing of Nick Fury who recruited her to be part of the Avengers.

IT IS ABSOLUTELY DEVASTATING TO SEE BLACK WIDOW, A CONSTANT ONSCREEN MEMBER OF THE AVENGERS, BEING KILLED OFF IN THE FINALE.

Other than these superficial qualities, fans who haven’t binged the comics don’t really know the deeper story beyond her addition to the team. Every time her past is brought up, her character alludes to the very basic response of, “I had a troubled past and now I have nothing, so here I am.”

She is displayed as having refreshingly stoic qualities, but I doubt it was only because Marvel didn’t want to deflect from the Endgame narrative to delve into her history. She deserved a stand alone feature film where audiences would witness her past tribulations to be able to appreciate her magnificent sacrifice in this film. Even then when her death was gravely felt by the Avengers she didn’t receive a funeral like Tony Stark, but rather was remembered with a dark realisation that they were her only family. 

Besides Black Widow, the only other female presence in the main cast is Nebula played by Karen Gillan. She is quite important and is responsible for major plot twists. Because of her part android physicality, her abusive father and Marvel super villain Thanos is alerted of the Avenger’s plans. 

Nebula has a strong background of Stockholm syndrome because of Thanos who repeatedly abuses her regardless of which she still wishes to serve him. This is partly because of her dysfunctional relationship with her sister, Gamora, who is their father’s favourite. Nebula is competing with her his sister for Thanos’s approval, but soon realises how wrong she is when the two sisters reconcile. 

Other than a soft nod to female solidarity in the last bit of the last sequence, the film sticks to its own boys club agenda.

In a cathartic moment, the Nebula in the present shoots the Nebula from the past who refused to see that their father kept pitting Gamora and her against each other so that they would not turn on him. In a learning curve for both sisters, they finally trust each other and fight together against their shared enemy.

Moreover, Endgame reveals the most overwhelming MCU battle sequence yet. Where the entrances of female characters, be it leading or supporting, feel like a pause for applause. You know where movies do the cool entrances and audiences get excited and forget about everything else? This is what that felt like. Whether it is Scarlet Witch, Valkyrie, Okoye or Pepper effing Potts in her own effing Iron (Wo)Man suit, it all feels like a show.

The representation of women in this film is a show, a very small and patronising show that came too late. These female characters don’t get reasonable screen time or dialogues that tell us what they’re thinking. Spiderman, the gauntlet delivery boy, gets far more action and dialogues during battle even though he died and came back like the Scarlet Witch while the rest of the women were all alive!

Other than a soft nod to female solidarity in the last bit of the last sequence, the film sticks to its own boys club agenda. Narratively speaking the story of defeating Thanos was built to exclude women from the forefront, yet fan service forces writers to include them in this ‘the future is female’ era.

Also read:Why The Women In Black Panther Deserve Their Own Film


Featured Image Source: Women of Marvel, MCU

8 COMMENTS

  1. I strongly felt it too that the Black Widow wasn’t given the funeral they Tony was and also how Captain Marvel despite her powers was not given much say in the movie. For me she was totally sidelined even tbkuth she was powerful than Thanos and literally single handedly saved the “Iron Man”.

    • Avengers Endgame is an Adaptation of the Marevel Comic Universe, not any feminist support comic or a any social justice comics. The comics have been here since 1960s. It’s a children’s comic.
      If you think more in the aspect of the storyline, Black widow sacrificed herself before the scene where Thanos enters the Future. If you had noticed all the Avengers were shedding a tear for her. Hulk even tried bringing her back when he tries to snap with the six infinity stones. They tried bringing her back after the snap but couldn’t and after that within no time Thanos had arrived. So would they fight him or have a funeral for her first. And in the end when iron-man sacrificed himself it was the true big superhero moment because there was only one reality in which.they could win. And Ironman snatches the infinity stones and snaps. He sacrificed his life even though he could have stayed happily with his own little family. Ironman (2008) was the first Marvel made movie which started of this huge project for ‘The Avengers’. It started with him and ended with him. And in the end when everyone is gathered around, they didn’t just gather for Tony Stark – Ironman They gathered for all their loved ones who passed away. The scene just after the funeral when Hawk eye speaks to scarlet witch asking he’d wish that black widow would know that they won. And she nods that yes they know. If you wanted “girl superhero moments” , there were plenty of them. Which in the first place shouldn’t even be thought of something like feminism. Tony starks wife pepper potts appears with a supercool Ironman suit. Captain Marvel appears when the whole Avengers side was about to fall apart and fights Thanos more fiercely than anyone. She destroys the whole ship of Thanos when the ship started firing missiles. In black panther the protagonist’s sister is the brain behind the powerful black panther suit and all weapons of wakanda. All of this had prevailed in the comics since ages before this “Feminism” thing started arising. These are just Superhero comics that are meant for kids and teens that Adults too enjoy reading. They are Superhero related for God’s sake not some bible or some philosophy book or anything. It’s just a Superhero fantasy comic book that has been adapted into movies. Portraying Social Justice or Feminism in a Superhero fantasy movie is very absurd seeing the fact that it’s a comic book adaptation who no one cared about except kids and teens and Geeky adults. Feminism in its true meaning is bringing equality to all. And it’s not achieved by just showing something in a movie. It should be done in real life.

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