Marvel studio’s Endgame is perhaps one of the most commercially successful films of all time. It was the ultimate battle, the gathering of all the fan-favorite characters in Marvel’s previous films. The computer-generated imagery (CGI) scenes, the general plot, and witty humor were extremely impressive when I first saw it. But the most memorable scene was one that divided the audience into groans and cheers. Cue the dramatic music and Captain Marvel entering the stratosphere. She helps up an injured Spiderman to his feet. Peter Parker looks up towards the enormous mob of angry villains up ahead and asks how she would get past them. We suddenly hear the words, “She’s got help,” and we are then treated to a scene of flashy female superhero posing. There is nothing more satisfying for the audience than watching a dramatic Avengers Assemble scene in a Marvel movie. However, to say the least, this segment of the film was not at all popular. I was one of the many who were displeased.
It is not the exclusion of male characters nor the out-of-place insertion of this scene that ticked people off. Instead, people were unsatisfied with Marvel getting away with this superficial vignette representing feminism as a whole. Was there really no other way a multi-billion-dollar corporation could have portrayed female heroism? To its credit, Marvel has been quick to diversify its cast members and characters. The release of Black Panther marked the first time an African American actor was the main character of a superhero movie, and the film Shang-Chi finally introduced an Asian cast to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Captain Marvel was a big deal as well; it meant that the silver screen was, for the first time, showing a major female superhero. Marvel had the most proper chance here to depict a sensational female character. After all, she is the namesake of the company! But they blew it. Captain Marvel, or Carol Danvers, was disastrously portrayed by the unclever writing of the producer and has a seemingly motivation-less goal to protect the universe. Accompanied by the actress’ perhaps intentionally arrogant performance, Captain Marvel quickly became the most hated character in the MCU. It doesn’t just end there. Ant-Man and the Wasp was a disappointment of a sequel to the legendary debut of our miniature hero. One of the most significant flaws of this movie was the introduction of yet another poorly written female character, whom we never get to see again, and apparently did not deserve a properly fleshed-out back story. Her name is Ava Starr. Don’t remember her? Go figure!
In a similar setting, Marvel’s long-time competitor, the DC Extended Universe, recently released a crime-fighting film featuring all female characters called Birds of Prey. The movie has some outstanding choreography, but once you get past that, there really is not anything too eye-catching. In fact, Birds of Prey, which boasted the introduction of more than four new female characters, had an underwhelming office sale. This led to Warner Brothers changing the film’s title to Harley Quinn and Birds of Prey, hoping to catch more attention from the viewers.
Whichever the company, whoever the director, filmmakers have to understand that feminism cannot simply be shown by having actresses read catchphrases. Filmmakers and writers must take the time and effort to create and establish women as characters the audience can relate to, characters whom we can laugh and cry for. Despite all my criticism, Marvel Studios has consistently made entertaining and captivating films. With their acclaimed new motion Black Widow and the massive success of Wanda-Vision, Marvel is well on its way to creating an even more exciting and diversified cinematic universe for fans.