Avengers: Endgame Thoughts and Spoilers

Disclaimer 1: I'm well aware that the Hero Image is DC characters but it is a little more difficult to get free images of Marvel characters. 

Disclaimer 2: THIS IS GOING TO CONTAIN SPOILERS

Disclaimer 3: I am an International Development and Social Change Major. My concentration within that major is Gender and Politics. That "gender lens" affects how I see the world. You may not have felt the same way watching this movie, but I did. 

Disclaimer 4: When I say that I liked Endgame, I mean it. There are enough articles about how amazingly this film wrapped up 21 films. You don't need that review. Here's mine. 

The gender messaging in Avengers: Endgame didn't sit well with me. Let's address the primary female presenting characters. 

Black Widow: this one is probably the root of my issue with the film. In the past, Black Widow has been left off of Avengers merchandise, or drawn significantly smaller and in the background. I'm still not thrilled with with Loki calling Black Widow a "mewling quim" (I feel like I should censor that somehow but I don't know how), the uncomfortable way that they treated the issue of infertility in Age of Ultron, or the way she was so often dismissed and given so little to do. I really didn't like her death in this movie. I think that was mainly because they never did anything interesting with her character. The best treatment of her was definitely in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which was praiseworthy for treating her as a person and not making her Steve's love interest. in Endgame, the final message was that Natasha was alone, with the only thing in her life being her career. Telling little girls, however implicitly, that in order to be badass women who run the world, they need to be alone, is bad. It only gets worse when you get to her death. The fact that Clint had a family and she didn't, and therefore she was the one who should die, was kind of ugly. Don't get me wrong, narratively, it made perfect sense for her to sacrifice herself for the man who took her out of her abusive situation, the problem was that she was so sparingly used and so one-noted characterized (mostly) across the MCU, so it really took away any of the heroism that the sacrifice should have had. Black Widow is a really interesting and layered character and I hope that they move away from the "dark, sexy, mysterious spy" stereotype in her solo movie. 

Captain Marvel: We have one of the strongest heroes of th MCU! She's wielded the Infinity Gauntlet in the comics! She's barely in the movie! I was annoyed by the "women save Spider-Man" scene because it really felt like they were throwing us a bone, rather than consciously integrating female characters in significant, varied ways. I could feel the Russo Brothers going "see! Girl Power! Are you happy feminists?"

 Gamora and Nebula: Their relationship is perhaps the best handled relationship in all of the MCU. I give James Gunn all of the credit for that. They really explore the complicated nature of sisterhood. I really liked going back to pre-Guardians Nebula and Gamora and exploring those characters and how they had changed. I don't love that Gamora and Nebula are victims of a powerful man, though that is handled pretty well and they are given opportunities to reclaim their power, even if it it is in very cliche, violence and romantic love driven ways, with the exception of choosing to care for one-another. Part of the reason that I felt so bothered by the Black Widow death was the fact that they again felt the need to show the brutal death of one of the few female characters. I did think that the juxtaposition between Clint and Natasha's mutual, familial love, and Thanos' twisted form of love did work. 

The other female characters were used far more sparingly but I'm sure if I had 3+ hours of my life to dedicate to it, I could come up with a gender analysis of Pepper wearing a purple suit, despite never wearing purple in any of the films, Valkeryie riding a pegasus for some reason, Tony having a daughter, and Scarlet Witch and Pepper grieving their significant others while Clint grieves his best friend.  

I think the root cause of the problem in MCU was that because female characters are underrepresented in the MCU and the main story line, it's too easy to write them out. Need to reduce the number of characters that we're following? We can write out Captain Marvel. Need to kill a character but don't want people to think too hard about the family that's left behind because you only have time for one funeral? Kill Black Widow. Need to highlight the three most interesting and important characters? Well the only ones with complete trilogies just happen to be dudes so I guess we have to focus on this one. 

In summary, the problematic way that gender assumptions are operating in Avengers: Endgame is indicative of and a symptom of the way that the MCU has treated it's female characters in the past. 

Here's hoping they get a little better at it.