Avengers: Endgame and Women
I cannot believe we have to talk about this again. We talked about it when Infinity War came out, and we talked about it after Deadpool 2. We’re gonna talk about it again, but we’ll go in a slightly different direction this time.
Spoilers ahead for Endgame.
Wow, they did it again.
First things first. The death of Black Widow AKA Natasha Romanoff in Endgame was a tragedy. It was the only part of the movie where I truly cried, and it wasn’t just because Natasha was dead. It was the way they killed her. It was basically a more loving version of how Thanos killed Gamora.
I’m not going to really go into details about why the Gamora death was wrong because I’ve already done that. But we do have to address Gamora’s death since the movie definitely seems to be doing so. They use the same death shot as in Infinity War. Natasha’s body is even in the same position as Gamora’s. I refuse to believe this is a coincidence.
Maggie Mae Fish has a great video where she explains how Infinity War seems to be arguing that what Thanos feels for Gamora is love even though it’s not. It’s abuse. So, as I’m watching Clint and Natasha be in the same position as Thanos and Gamora, I’m desperately hoping that the writers won’t make the same mistake a second time. I’m hoping Clint and Natasha represent true, honest love so, therefore, no one has to die. Sure, this might have come off as a little sappy, maybe. But who cares? It would have undermined Thanos. It would have been the movie saying “See, there are better ways to get the stone. Thanos didn’t have to kill Gamora.”
But no. Natasha and Clint fight over the honor of being the one to die, and Natasha falls to her death after the words “It’s okay.” And so, the only original female Avenger, pretty much one of the only women left at that point, dies. It’s, quite frankly, horrific. That’s point one which brings us to point two.
Fighting does not equal character development
Natasha is one of only two women in Endgame that get any sort of character development, the other one being Nebula. And they kill her. Meanwhile, Nebula gets some more screen time and has to contend with her past self. It’s a great examination of Nebula’s arc, and we see who she was versus who she has become. To be honest, most of that credit goes to James Gunn, not the Russo brothers, since Gunn is the one who crafted that arc. And I’m not quite convinced that Endgame finishes out Nebula’s arc. (See Nando v Movies for how this could have been done.)
Basically, what I’m arguing is that Endgame does not give us any true, satisfying character development for women. What do we get instead?
A bad-ass fight scene where every woman comes together to help protect the infinity stones!
Sure. Great. Except that’s not enough. It’s just not. Sure, it’s awesome. You’re not going to hear me say that the moment where Scarlet Witch, the Wasp, Valkyrie, and many others come together in a burst of sheer amazingness isn’t awesome. It is. It’s still not enough.
That moment honestly felt undeserved. The movie had shown zero respect for women all movie. Most of those women don’t know each other, and there’s no reason why every single one of them would suddenly come together. Also, it feels mildly hollow since Captain Marvel just destroyed an entire ship and needs no help. It wasn’t just bad pandering. It was a consolation prize. It was “We gave you an awesome fight scene with all the women. What more could you ask for?”
Character development. An examination of women as people. A stop to a trope that should have been retired long ago. That’s what we ask for.