Does The Marvel Cinematic Universe Even Know What Feminism Is?

Words by Kathlene Masilongan

SPOILER ALERT! Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame ahead! Stop reading if you don’t want to be spoiled. Don’t say we didn’t warn you, okay?

We love superheroes and their big action movies. That’s why we continue to patronize them and pay to see them despite knowing that there’s a possibility that we’re going to be disappointed when we walk out of the cinemas. Over the years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe specifically has started including women in their roster. Little by little, women have started playing bigger roles in the films. However, in the recent Avengers: Endgame, the women were tossed aside and were mainly used as plot devices. They weren’t treated like the whole characters that they are.


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Let’s start with their usage—or lack thereof—of Captain Marvel. First of all, the MCU took ten years to give one of their female heroes a solo movie, which is a disservice in itself. She was hyped up to be the one that helps the Avengers save the entire universe but she was hardly seen in the movie. What a waste of a character. If she and Wanda—who proved to be totally capable of destroying Thanos on her own given the right circumstances—teamed up against the big bad purple villain, it would have been game over.

However, they chose to give us a sloppy “woman empowerment” scene instead. I understand that Endgame is a farewell to the original six Avengers so they were given the spotlight, but I’m just saying they could have incorporated the women in the battle better than just throwing them into one scene and calling it a day.


You know the scene. Peter Parker was clinging onto the gauntlet where the infinity stones were and Captain Marvel swoops in to save him. He says something about her going against the bad guys alone and one by one the women of the MCU swoop in to tell him she’s not alone. And, to be honest, the whole scene felt…meh.

They set it up as this big moment, but it felt so flat, so forced, that it stuck out like a sore thumb. It was as if the filmmakers threw the audience a bone so they wouldn’t complain about the lack of action the female superheroes got. It was supposed to be a statement, but it was just wonky and could have been done differently.

There are many women in the MCU who existed solely for their male counterparts and were never heard of again. Jane Foster, Lady Sif, Sharon Carter—they only served as carriers of a plot but weren’t treated like real characters.

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Then we have Natasha. Natasha who stayed when all the Avengers left and tried to move on. Natasha who showed her vulnerability and resilience, something we haven’t seen done properly with her character. Natasha who’s the reason why all of this was set in motion in the first place.

The MCU fridged her despite all of this and traded a well-rounded, good character for someone who bears zero resemblance to the Clint we know and love who, at the beginning of Endgame, was a growing mass murderer. They traded her in because he was a “family man” and Natasha had no one and therefore and nothing to lose. It’s wonky.

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The point is, there must be a better way to portray feminism in cinema and in stories in general. We don’t need a scene that screams FEMINISM in big bold letters with big flashy lights. We don’t need to be pandered to. I hope Hollywood learns to stop treating women as accessories or special treats that you give to your audience as a consolation prize. To treat them as real characters that function within the story, not objects. Let them exist with men and not for them.

Perhaps in this new era of the MCU, they’d improve this so that there will no longer be women in refrigerators rotting away. Maybe if they let more women spearhead movies, and not just “women’s” movies, there’d be some sort of change. We’ll keep watch until then.

What do you think of how the MCU has handled their female characters? Tell us in the comments!