THAT Female Characters Scene In Avengers: Endgame May Have Been Clunky, But Here’s What It Means For Marvel’s Future

With Avengers: Endgame, Marvel have made a statement of intent - the future will be less about blonde guys called Chris, and more about strong female leads, writes Helen O'Hara...

Avengers Endgame

by Helen O'Hara |
Updated on

This article contains some spoilers for Avengers: Endgame. If you’re yet to see it, be warned!

There’s a slightly awkward moment in the generally excellent, already-billion-dollar-grossing Avengers: Endgame that sees almost all the ladies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe ride (or run, or fly) into battle together. It’s meant as a stirring moment of girl power, and it’s worked as such for some viewers. But others, including myself, found it rather jarring. Many of these women have previously been sidelined and they’ve certainly never all met before. Why are they suddenly marching into battle side-by-side? Is it literally just to show how many A-list actresses are on Marvel’s payroll, or is there something more going on?

A quick catch-up: There’s a battle, and Brie Larson’s recently arrived Captain Marvel needs to get a thing to a place. Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is worried that she won’t be able to fight through an entire army to get there despite her cosmic power levels. But never fear: here’s Gwyneth Paltrowas Pepper Potts / Rescue (think Iron Man but blue); Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie; Evangeline Lily as Wasp; Elizabeth Olsenas Scarlett Witch; Danai Gurira’s Okoye; Pom Klementieff’s Mantis; Letitia Wright’s Shuri; Karen Gillen’s Nebula and Zoe Saldana’s Gamora here to help her.

Watch: Brie Larson on life as Captain Marvel

From the perspective of plot, it makes very little sense: how come all these women are momentarily free amid the chaos, but none of the men are? Surely the odds are that there’d be a ragtag bunch of men and women teaming up, not a neat all-girl line-up like this. That might sound like nitpicking, but such logic flaws are distracting. In the last Avengers film, Infinity War, it made sense that Okoye and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow would go to the aid of Scarlett Witch because we’d just seen them fighting side-by-side nearby. But here? There’s no such explanation. It’s a small thing, sure, but it hurts our suspension of disbelief.

Read more: All the best looks from the Avengers: Endgame premiere


The Best Looks From The Avengers: Endgame Premiere

Brie Larson1 of 27

Brie Larson

The Captain Marvel star wore a custom Celine dress

Scarlett Johansson2 of 27

Scarlett Johansson

The actor wore a custom chainmail dress by Atelier Versace

Karen Gillan3 of 27

Karen Gillan

The British actor wore a Christopher Kane dress with Jimmy Choo heels

Don Cheadle and Bridgid Coulter4 of 27

Don Cheadle and Bridgid Coulter

Cheadle posed with his wife, fellow actor Bridgid Coulter

Tessa Thompson5 of 27

Tessa Thompson

Thompson chose an haute couture creation from Ronald van der Kemp's Spring 2019 collection

Susan Downey and Robert Downey Jr6 of 27

Susan Downey and Robert Downey Jr

The Downeys made some playful poses on the red carpet

Chris Evans7 of 27

Chris Evans

Captain America looked dapper in a blue suit by Salvatore Ferragamo

Pom Klementieff8 of 27

Pom Klementieff

The French actor, who plays Mantis, wore a Chanel tweed suit from the Pre-Fall 2019 collection

Katherine Schwarzenegger9 of 27

Katherine Schwarzenegger and Chris Pratt

The engaged couple made their red carpet debut

Josh Brolin and his wife, Kathryn10 of 27

Josh Brolin and his wife, Kathryn

Brolin, who plays Thanos, arrived at the premiere with his wife, Kathryn

Sebastian Stan11 of 27

Sebastian Stan

The actor wore a light blue suit for the premiere

Evangeline Lilly12 of 27

Evangeline Lilly

The star of Ant-Man and The Wasp wore a red suit by Canadian designer, Denis Gagnon

Danai Gurira13 of 27

Danai Gurira

The Black Panther actor wore an Oscar de la Renta dress

Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus14 of 27

Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus

Cyrus wore a custom Saint Laurent dress to attend the premiere with husband Liam

Benedict Cumberbatch and Sophie Hunter15 of 27

Benedict Cumberbatch and Sophie Hunter

The Dr. Strange star posed with his wife, Sophie Hunter

Mark Ruffalo and Sunrise Coigney16 of 27

Mark Ruffalo and Sunrise Coigney

Ruffalo posed with his wife, Sunrise

Jeremy Renner17 of 27

Jeremy Renner

The actor looked smart in a classic tuexdo

Letitia Wright18 of 27

Letitia Wright

The Black Panther star wore a metallic suit designer by Armani Prive with Nicholas Kirkwood heels

Anthony Mackie19 of 27

Anthony Mackie

The American actor looked smart in a three-piece suit

Linda Cardellini20 of 27

Linda Cardellini

The Spiderman actor wore a silk gown by J Mendel

Elsa Pataky and Chris Hemsworth21 of 27

Elsa Pataky and Chris Hemsworth

Hemsworth wore a paisley print suit by Etro as he attended the premiere with wife Elsa

Zoe Saldana22 of 27

Zoe Saldana

The Guardians of the Galaxy star wore a Givenchy Haute Couture dress

Elizabeth Olsen23 of 27

Elizabeth Olsen

Olsen chose a teal dress by Alexandre Vauthier

Bradley Cooper24 of 27

Bradley Cooper

Cooper arrived solo on the red carpet

Cobie Smulders25 of 27

Cobie Smulders

The actor wore a simple red gown

Gwyneth Paltrow26 of 27

Gwyneth Paltrow

Paltrow wore – what else – an ensemble by G Label by Goop

Natalie Portman27 of 27

Natalie Portman

Portman made a surprise appearance on the red carpet in Dior

There’s simply no need for this big salute to grrrl power or International Women’s Day or whatever this is meant to represent. The film is already stacked with great moments for many of these characters. There’s Rescue fighting back-to-back with her husband, Iron Man. There’s Nebula overcoming years of psychotic conditioning to care for a sick Tony Stark. There’s Valkyrie running New Asgard when Thor is incapable of doing so. And there’s Captain Marvel taking down a key enemy weapon without a scratch.

This line-up of female heroes therefore feels a bit patronising instead of celebratory. Marvel’s record on female leads is poor, after all. We’ve had one solo female lead in 21 films, and that came with Captain Marvel this March. There was one named female lead before that in Ant-Man And The Wasp, but Evangeline Lily got stunningly little character development in that film. Women have done excellent work for Marvel, from Black Widow to Pepper Potts to Okoye, but they’ve been stuck in supporting roles. Even this film focuses on Tony Stark and Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers / Captain America, and this single scene can’t offset that.

But, charitably, perhaps this all-female hurrah is best seen as a statement of intent. Marvel has been dominated by blond guys called Chris for over a decade. Now it faces a new era. While there are going to be some men leading them forward (Spider-Man, Dr Strange, Black Panther) there’s room for more women alongside Captain Marvel in the new Avengers roll call. Could we see some of these ladies get their own film, or lead their own teams? Might other, new female characters join them? After all, two of Marvel’s most buzzed-about comics of recent years have been Ms Marvel, about a Pakistani-American Muslim teenager who gets superpowers, and Squirrel Girl, a curvy redhead with the proportional strength and agility of, er, a squirrel. Shannon “Barb from Stranger Things” Purser is right there waiting for a call, guys. Make it happen.

Marvel’s first decade has ended on a high note in this Endgame; with or without this moment, it’s an intensely exciting, emotional and funny film. But let’s hope that, when the films that follow this have all-female scenes, they don’t feel quite this forced. Give them women more to do, and the next grrl power moment might flow naturally as something we just come to expect in the biggest blockbusters of all time

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