“Avengers: Endgame” is one of the most, if not the most, highly anticipated movies of 2019. The buildup for this movie has spanned 11 years with “Iron Man” (released in 2008) being the first movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. One could even argue the journey leading to the distribution of “Endgame” encompasses the 80 years since the first Marvel comic was released in 1939. Throughout, the MCU has been able to greatly evolve in terms of the diversity of the characters represented within the thousands upon thousands of comic books out there, but only recently has the film industry started to step up to showcase this diversity on the big screen, most notably with the release of “Black Panther” in 2018 and “Captain Marvel” in March of this year.
I personally have been surrounded by Marvel my entire life with two older brothers who have been invested in the storyline from the beginning, and a bin of old comics left for me by my deceased grandfather. Like millions of other fans I loved the constant action, the good guy/bad guy parallels, the humorous moments sprinkled throughout, and the relatable and lovable characters you can find in every Marvel movie. Of course, I was always especially inspired by the courageous, extraordinary female characters featured in many of the Marvel movies throughout the years, including but not limited to:
Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow)
First appearance*: Iron Man 2 (2010)
Quick description: Originally only used for sexual appeal, Black Widow’s character has developed a lot since her first appearance. Now known as a former highly ranked member of S.H.I.E.L.D., an incredibly athletic hero, and an expert in several types of martial arts, Natasha has proved herself to be a worthy opponent of anyone who dares to stand in her way.
First appearance: “The Avengers” (2012)
Quick description: The former director of S.H.I.E.L.D., a skilled agent with a proficiency for dealing with various weapons.
Nebula & Gamora
First appearance: “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014)
Quick description: Both are adopted daughters of Thanos, the main antagonist in “Avengers: Infinity War.” Nebula is a Luphomoid (a type of blue-skinned alien) while Gamora is a Zehoberei (a type of green-skinned alien from the planet Zen- Whoberi, where Thanos abducted her as a child). Both are emotionally complex characters with sharp wit and extensive skills in combat.
Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch)
First appearance: supporting character in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015)
Quick description: She is debatably the strongest of the Avengers with powers including telekinesis and energy manipulation. In “Infinity War,” she proved herself powerful enough to destroy the Mind Stone (after killing Vision, her primary love interest, in the process), but Thanos was ultimately able to reverse time to retrieve the stone and execute his master plan of eliminating half of the universe’s population.
The Ancient One
First appearance: “Doctor Strange” (2016)
Quick description: the previous Sorcerer Supreme who trained Doctor Stephen Strange. No one knew her exact age, but in her time she protected earth from mystic threats, protected the time stone, and educated others in the mystic arts.
First appearance: “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017)
Quick description: As a warrior and a bisexual powerhouse, Valkyrie possesses the powers of most Asgardians making her stronger and more agile than your average mortal, along with having a much higher pain tolerance.
First appearance: “Black Panther” (2018)
Quick description: Okoye, a powerful and dignified character that MCU fans were blessed with in 2018, exudes the energy of a natural leader and utilizes both her people and combat skills as the head of Wakanda’s armed forces. Shuri is the sister of T’Challa. She is an innovative genius who is responsible for the majority of Wakanda’s technological marvels.
Janet Van Dyne (The Wasp)
First appearance: “Antman and the Wasp” (2018)
Quick description: Originally a board member of her father’s company, Janet assisted Scott Lang throughout the movie “Ant-Man and the Wasp” to defeat the CEO of Pym Technologies. Her powers include the ability to manipulate her size, along with proportionally superhuman strength.
Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel)
First appearance: “Captain Marvel” (2019)
Quick description: FINALLY, the first female lead of a film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Carol Danvers is a former U.S. Air Force pilot with cosmic powers gained after being exposed to the tesseract. Originally from earth, Carol now travels throughout the galaxy to protect a multitude of planets from harm.
Even with many of these characters getting dusted at the conclusion of the previous “Avengers” movie, I still had hope those who remained would play a key role in this “final chapter” of the Avengers story. However, I found myself disappointed with the female representation throughout the majority of the movie. The beginning of the three-hour film started out strong with moments of intense action and immediate plot twists, but as the storyline progressed, it became blatantly obvious this was a male-centric movie.
Nearer to the conclusion of the movie there were definitely a few token “girl power” moments, but it almost seemed more like a diversity addition rather than an integral part of the plot. Of course, that doesn’t mean I didn’t thoroughly enjoy these showcases of feminine power, because female superheroes will never not be badass.
*Not including end credit scenes or flashback scenes