Avengers: Endgame was full of flashbacks, tears and heartbreak, laughter, and – most importantly – Fat Thor. Sitting in that theater, however, one moment stood out to me above the rest.
During the major final battle, Captain Marvel has the infinity stones in her possession and needs to get them to Ant-Man’s van on the other side of the battle field. When Spiderman expresses that she might have some trouble making it all the way there, the badass female characters of the Marvel Universe rally around her (literally).
Now, some people have been saying that the scene felt forced. That 45 seconds of a feel-good moment lacks depth or impact, and Marvel included this to alleviate some of the criticism that they don’t showcase women enough. Maybe all of that is true, to a certain extent. But as a female fan who has seen every Marvel movie, let me tell you how necessary that moment was.
For years, I have clung to Black Widow as my token strong female. (I could go on and on about the value BW has brought to every single movie and how she was always getting shit done while the male characters were largely there to deliver the dramatic one-liners that would go on to be turned into GIF after GIF. Also, HOW COULD SHE NOT BE A PART OF THAT FINAL BATTLE??? But I’ll save all of that for another day…) Other women began to be featured more as the movies went on, but Scarlett Johansson, especially for the first few years, was really the only recurring main female character. Guardians of the Galaxy and Black Panther, arguably, are probably the best at integrating multiple strong women into their cast, but it’s still not enough. Obviously, this excludes the recent release of Captain Marvel – the first Marvel movie with a female character as the sole lead.
Ant-Man, for example, who has appeared in three Marvel movies, has more total on-screen time than Black Widow (who has been in seven!).
In Captain America: Civil War, male characters were featured in total for two hours and thirty minutes. Female characters, in comparison, were on-screen for less than 30 minutes.
This gap in the representation of women on the big screen is not just a Marvel problem – not even close. But at least, even if it’s not perfect, they made an effort to acknowledge that female characters go underappreciated in the comic book universe. So, whether you thought this moment was forced or whether you felt the same moment of ‘finally’ that I did, at least they went for it.
All of Hollywood has a long way to go in terms of gender equality. But this gave me a small glimmer of hope that we’re at least moving in the right direction.