Endgame (Why the “Girl Power” Moment Mattered)
It’s hard to believe that three phases and a whole decade has come to an end.
I was 14 when the first Iron Man film came out. Throughout the past decade, these characters have been my role models, these stories have been my favorite escapes, and these films have been the highlights of my years. Some of my heartiest laughs and heaviest cries have been in a theater watching these tales unfold, and on some of my darkest days my only remedy has been curling up in bed and rewatching a favorite one for the umpteenth time.
Had I known that the first Iron Man film would be the catalyst to a journey that would mold me as a person, I would have savored that first moment a little more. But over the years, with each new film and every new character introduction and development, I’ve fallen in love with the Marvel cinematic and comic universes again and again.
And along this journey, I’ve met so many others who have shared the exact same love and experience. It feels like we’ve been on this journey forever, but at the same time, it ended too soon.
Avengers Endgame was everything that I hoped it would be. Someone asked me how many times I cried, and they were surprised that my answer was “only once” until they realized that I just meant that I cried the entire time.
Happy cried, sad cried, scared cried, angry cried… I cried the whole time, over everything. But I think I was really just crying because a part of me knew that it was over. This was the end.
There will be more phases. There will be more films, more characters, more stories, more journeys. But this phase, this decade is over. Will we enjoy the past three phases again and again? Of course we will. But from now on, it will be with a sense of finality and a hint of grief. It will no longer be a journey we are on but a journey we once lived.
And with this end, I feel as if a part of me has aged. I was well aware of the ten years that had passed and how much I had grown and changed over those years. But by the end of those last three hours, I just felt… different. And that’s something that I’m still processing.
Despite the feelings that I’ve yet to fully understand, one thing I do know is that I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the film for what it was. It’s been impossible to ignore all the various reviews, challenges, and questions that have plagued the internet following the release of Endgame, and I know that there are many people who feel very differently than I do, and that’s all fine. But I loved it.
I loved every second of it, even when it hurt.
And while there haven’t been any opinions about the rest of the film that have tainted my own thoughts about it, there is one particular set of comments that I have repeatedly come across that have unfortunately been of no surprise but have disappointed me nonetheless, because they were about a scene that meant a lot to me.
During the final Endgame battle, there was a whole slew of jaw dropping, chill inducing, air punch worthy moments. (Literally so many… the portals? Potts? Mjolnir AND Stormbreaker?!)
But in this one specific scene, Peter Parker (who is on the ground in his Iron Spider suit and clutching the gauntlet) is approached by Captain Marvel. Innocently, Parker questions how Danvers is going to get the gauntlet to safety alone. With impeccable timing, Scarlet Witch lands behind her and assures Parker that “she’s not alone”, and Valkyrie, Okoye, Mantis, Shuri, The Wasp, Gamora, Nebula, and Pepper Potts join together to back that statement up.
The moment was fleeting but the cheers and applause rang out proudly in the theater (countered by a handful of groans). And while many of us have considered the moment to be truly iconic, others have apparently found it to be a “feminist statement” that was “unnecessary and annoying”.
I have seen many truly disappointing (and some downright disgusting) comments made almost entirely by men that, for various reasons, hate Danvers and hated the scene that she frontlined. In an effort to respect my own time and my own sanity, I’ve avoided responding directly to these comments, and in an effort to not give more light to hatred, negativity, and misogyny than necessary, I will not directly quote or repeat those comments. However, I would like to explain (and unnecessarily defend) why this scene has meant so much to me personally.
For decades women have been taught that we are meant to compete with one another in virtually everything. We must threaten or be threatened. In order for a woman to obtain success in a career, an education, a skill, a task, in relationships, in motherhood, in anything, she must step on another woman to do so. We are convinced that in most things, there can only be one, and the rest are left to wallow in their insecurities comparing themselves to the one that won.
The portrayal of women in film and television has heavily contributed to this concept. Onscreen, women tend to ONLY work together if they are different enough to not compete. One girly, one tough, and one smart girl. One singer, one dancer, one fashionista, one songwriter. One smart twin and one rebellious twin. One pretty, thin, popular friend and one unkempt, overweight, dorky friend. Shall I go on?
We, as women, had been convinced that we could only get along and work together if there wasn’t any possible reason we could see each other as a direct threat to our own successes. This is such a stupid, toxic concept, but it is one that many of us absorbed in our subconscious at an early age and have struggled to eradicate in our society still.
So, to have a scene where nine badass, brilliant, and beautiful women join together to support and protect one another was game changing. The scene was much too short to do the women of the MCU justice, but I’m so relieved to know that young girls and women everywhere have that morsel to cling to.
To those complaining about this ten second scene in Endgame being “annoying and unnecessary”, did you roll your eyes just as hard when Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Ant Man, Rocket, Natasha, and Nebula stood together in unity and camaraderie in the conference room AND on the platform AND when Hulk prepared to don the gauntlet? Or was that different because the ratio of men-to-women-to-racoon was more preferable than nine women? Like how there are 15 male-led solo films in the MCU to date and you complained that Captain Marvel’s solo film wasn’t worth your time?
And yet, that short little scene with those 9 women does nothing to discredit or devalue any other moment or any other character in the MCU. It barely tipped the scales to a more level balance.
Growing up in this decade and with these phases, all of my favorite heroes and all of my role models were men. What choice did I have, when amongst a wide variety of men with personality types and story arcs that I can easily relate to, there were only a small handful of females who were deduced to sidekicks and arm candy, and weren’t quite diverse enough for me to relate to specifically?
Through Steve Rogers I learned how to pick my battles but to always fight for what is right. Through Tony Stark I’ve learned balance, resilience, and to always have a heart. Through Hulk and Loki I’ve learned how to handle my emotions. Through Thor I’ve learned worth and identity. Through Peter Parker I’ve learned that sometimes, many times, you have to keep trying until you get it right.
The lessons I’ve learned through these men have been essential to who I am as a woman today, and their quotes are idioms that I continue to live by. It never really mattered to me that they were men, but as I grew older it was still disheartening to see that the women of the MCU were never really allotted the same depths and developments as the male heroes, despite often being equally essential to the overall story. It wasn’t that I never liked the women, I just never got to see and know them enough to connect to them in the same way.
And if I were still 14 and still had a whole new decade ahead of me, who knows who I would love and relate to the most, whether it would still be Captain America or maybe Captain Marvel, or Hulk or Valkyrie, or Iron Man or Pepper Potts. But I’m happy that the next generation has a wider variety of gender, race, and culture to choose from. The MCU still has a long ways to go in terms of inclusion and representation, as does film and television as a whole. But in ten years we’ve made some strides, and that scene was a moment I was proud to witness.
I’m so thankful for the last decade. The laughter and the loss, the love and the lessons. And I’m so excited for the next decade. And more than anything, I hope that with each new phase we continue to take strides, to choose unity and integrity, and to always do what is right. I hope that we can create a world- onscreen and off- for young Morgan to grow up in and be the best she can possibly be, because we did the best that we possibly could.
We can’t rest until we do.
(And I’ve truly never loved my name more.)
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// GEEK :
(noun) obsessive enthusiast, or (verb) be or become extremely excited or enthusiastic about a subject
// ABOUT :
Morgan of House Geek, First of Her Name, Mother of a Ton of Funkos, Collector of Things, Writer of Stories, Designer of Websites, Watcher of Films, and Player of Games.
INTJ. Libra-Scorpio Cusp. Slytherin.
Jack of all trades, master of none.
// FUN FACT :
I prefer purchasing trades & volumes more than single issues. I find them to be more durable, so I can enjoy them more and they can easily stand on my display shelves without boards.