Strong Women Done Well
Parent Category: News
Published: Sunday, 05 May 2019 09:25
Written by Tiffany “Tiffers” Niles
I was able to catch Avengers: Infinity War on opening night. The culmination of ten years of dedication to the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) was coming to a close. After being a fan of Marvel comics since I was six, this was another moment in my nerdy history that I would cherish. I smiled, laughed, cheered, and cried as the movie hit the ground running and never let up. By the end, after what I refer to as the “ashing” happened, I was thrilled. Beyond overjoyed that the film did not have a happy ending. Excited that the heroes did not win the day. Not because I was rooting for Thanos, but because it was something new. Something fresh. Something I craved because I had been denied it for so long.
So often we are given things hand wrapped and tied off with neatly with a big bow and a thank you card. It is rare to see anything other than the guy winning over the girl, the bad guy going to jail or being killed, the wedding happening without a hitch, etc. It becomes repetitive and predictable. And if the point of stories is to give the reader and/or viewer something to get lost in, then the storyteller has effectively failed. Infinity War helped change that narrative. It helped us get lost in the woods.
As the credits rolled, I sat in my seat with a huge smile on my face,and one thing was different this time around; no one was clapping. Everyone in the theatre was devastated by the “ashing” and no one knew how to react (which is great by the way). The audience simply sat there stunned that over half the characters that had been introduced over the ten year run of the MCU were now gone. Fiction had finally hit too close to home. It had finally become real and it had finally taken more than we were willing to give.
During the desperation that was the entirety of Infinity War, one moment stood out to me almost over every other moment. When Scarlet Witch had been knocked down by Proxima Midnight and Black Widow declared “she’s not alone.” The camera panned up to see Natasha ready for action and Okoye coming to her aid. This fight would be three on one and I, as well as the rest of the audience, was ready for it. I have been here for Black Widow since she took down the security forces in Iron Man 2. Okoye was my instant favorite as Black Panther started. And seeing the amazing progress Scarlet Witch has made has given my heart a reason to swell with joy as the short fight went down.
There was no heart swelling during the all-women hero scene in Avengers Endgame. In fact, there was more cringe and eye-rolling than anything else. All in all, I understood the point the Russo Brothers were trying to make, I do however feel like the scene was simply unnecessary. At least the way it played out. Captain Marvel does not need backup. As the most powerful hero in the MCU to date, she is the most capable person to get through the endless sea of bad guys to help the Avengers win the day. That moment alone makes the scene difficult to get behind. There was no purpose for it. There was nothing about that scene that furthered the plot of the overall story. It was a moment of gratuitous feminism that was not needed.
I’m not suggesting that Scarlet Witch was weak and needed the saving, but in the scenario that was painted around her, she was actually in dire straights. After days of fighting off The First Order and its lesser minions, all while keeping Vision and the mind stone safe and alive, she is finally brought down by being blindsided. Captain Marvel simply had to use her powers to plow through the hoard of Outriders and Thanos. The sense of urgency was practically nonexistent. I am all for strong women being strong women, but in a contextual setting, I still need them to advance the plot. A hard thing to balance in the MCU in general. Most of the overpowered characters have been misused throughout the first three phases, but for some reason, Endgame went one step too far. Instead of focusing on the overall story, it focused on moments in the story.
The all-women hero scene was not horrible, but it was definitely done wrong. Instead of giving Captain Marvel the gauntlet, it would have been better served with Pepper Potts running the glove down the field. Pepper has ties to Tony and that relationship adds agency to the rest of the team to make sure she makes it to the van safely. She is one of the more vulnerable people in the fight and her personal connections make her someone you genuinely want to make it to the end. Captain Marvel could have been the first to come to her aid, but she should not have been the one to be supported by the other women. There really is no need for it. The difference between the Infinity War and Endgame scene is simply a necessity.
There was a lot going on in Endgame, almost too much to really sit in a moment too long. Where Infinity War is one two and a half hour long moment. It’s a story that drops you in the middle and whisks you away before the real end. Endgame is a messy epilogue to answer all of the questions one has had over the past decade. There was not enough time to fit it all in I felt. Then to add moments of pro-feminism onto that distracted from the story that was being told. At that point in the battle, you do not want Thanos to get the gauntlet. There is no time for superhero poses and one-liners. This is 4th and goal and it needed to stay that way. In Infinity War the moment mattered because it was part of the overall plot. You were invested in Scarlet Witch’s survival because she was a key piece in winning the war. She was the only one capable of destroying the mind stone, and as we see in the end, the only one powerful enough to hold off Thanos. Until then she is ash, Wanda’s life is something the viewers are invested in. With Captain Marvel being the most powerful person on the field, there is no stress about her safety because the viewer does not feel like she’ll actually be vulnerable.
The want and need for addition of strong women in these hero movies is warranted. My only concern is adding them for the sake of it and not for an actual purpose. These are expansive stories that can be told and include everyone, while not overlooking anyone group of people. Infinity War had it, Endgame did not. It’s as simple as that. Give me strong women with a purpose, not just strong women. Give me a story that shows strong women being awesome, not just strong women being awesome. There should always be a point. There should always be a reason for everything that is done in fiction. Nothing should be there to appease someone who might complain about the lack of diversity or lack of equality. If the moment is not there do not force it. All things have their place and sometimes less is more. I want a strong woman, but show me the respect of giving me a strong woman done well.
Editor's note: Welcome Tiffany! Can't wait to read your upcoming pieces.