Marvel: Unpopular MCU Opinions

Screenshot of Elizabeth Olsen, Chris Evans, and Sebastian Stan from ‘Captain America: Civil War’. Copyright goes to Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Hey! Hallie here!

While all MCU fans are waiting patiently, or not-so patiently, for the Disney+ shows to drop, everything’s pretty much been on hold in the fandom. The biggest thing that’s happened to it recently was the fandom collectively coming together to acknowledge that Chris Pratt is the least attractive Hollywood Chris. Which resulted in some of the Marvel actors getting offended for some reason. Anyway. As I’ve been waiting for ‘WandaVision’ and admiring Chris Evans for being a real life Captain America, I’ve been thinking a lot about the MCU. Especially after it’s first major storyline came to a close, I realized I have a lot of opinions that a lot of fans don’t necessarily share. This fandom is a big fandom, we aren’t going to agree on everything. Still, I like looking critically at the content I enjoy, so here’s some of my unpopular MCU opinions!

  1. Natasha Romanoff is the worst female representation in the MCU. Yeah, I said it. A lot of people felt the need to attack Carol Danvers for being a rushed attempt at introducing some strong female representation into the MCU, and yes, she had some problems. The writers wrote her with the same personality and characteristics as a good chunk of the male superheroes we see in cinema, which in no way celebrates femininity. But Natasha Romanoff is much worse. Natasha Romanoff was written for the male gaze. She was introduced in ‘Iron Man 2’ as eye candy for Tony Stark and constant jokes throughout the movie were made about her appearance. This included one sequence where she was changing in the back of Happy Hogan’s car and caught him watching her. She was re-introduced in ‘Avengers’, tied up to a chair in a little black dress where the camera spent a lot of time focused on her chest. Her suit throughout all the movies has been a skintight black suit. (Elizabeth Olsen has talked about her own discomfort with Wanda’s skintight outfit in ‘Captain America: Civil War’, so this isn’t a one-time deal.) She got her moment of peace in ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’, where her character was actually expanded on. But all that was over when she was shoved back in the hands of Joss Whedon to be reduced to Bruce Banner’s love interest in the second Avengers movie, without any real story of her own. Then along comes ‘Endgame’, which killed her off to further the male character’s storylines. They even had an angsty scene where all her male counterparts cried about her death so you could see their new resolve forming. Natasha hit every branch on the sexist tropes tree and I can’t like her character for that.
  1. ‘Black Panther’ has the best female characters in the entire MCU. On the flip side, let’s talk about a movie that still isn’t being advertised to women that somehow gave us the most badass women in the MCU. ‘Black Panther’ is such a good movie for so many reasons, but it deserves much more credit than it receives for it’s female characters. First off, let’s talk about the Dora Milaje. The Dora Milaje are the strongest fighters in the movie. But they aren’t just a fun thing to point out in the background. Okoye is the General of the Dora Milaje and she’s a main character. She acts as T’Challa’s body guard, can hold her own just as well, if not better than the Black Panther himself, and still doesn’t have a story that revolves around her devotion to T’Challa. In fact, when T’Challa is no longer king, she decides that the Dora Milaje must continue to serve the king and leaves him. Of course she sides with him in the end, but it shows that her loyalties aren’t limited to T’Challa. And that is true of all the female characters. Shuri works with T’Challa and she does it because she enjoys designing technology and pranking him. Her focus is on creating technology for all of Wakanda, which is shown to be tremendously impressive even though her skills don’t lie in her fighting. Nakia doesn’t even agree with T’Challa half the time because she believes Wakanda should be stretching their privileges to those who have none, which is something T’Challa isn’t really for at the beginning of the movie. All of them support T’Challa AND have their own goals. To be clear, the movie made T’Challa’s entire support system powerful women. Marvel still doesn’t seem to know what they have with these three characters.
  1. Peter Quill is more dislikable than Tony Stark. A lot of people came after Tony Stark after his death in ‘Endgame’. It was like his death caused thousands of Tony Stark haters to revive after years of slumber. I won’t deny, there’s a lot to complain about. He was a pompous jerk who’s main superpower was white privilege and being rich. He treated almost every woman in the MCU like garbage. He left Pepper to clean up his messes, flirted with Natasha while in a relationship with Pepper, locked Wanda in the Avengers facility because she was “dangerous”, I could go on. But Tony had his perks. If nothing else, he raised Peter Parker right. Meanwhile Peter Quill has so many more problems. We’ll move past the part where Peter Quill treats women like garbage because that’s well established in the first movie. Peter Quill has no capacity to think of anyone other than himself. He’s good a rallying others, which is why he’s the leader of the Guardians, but every time he does something heroic, like save Gamora from dying out in space, he seems to do it for bragging rights. He nearly betrayed all of the Guardians in favor of his father because he was being angsty about his past, and when that seemed like a one-time occurrence, Peter proceeded to completely ruin the first attempt at stopping Thanos by getting angsty and punching Thanos repeatedly in the face. Peter Quill has no self control and the majority of his character moments are either him bragging about himself, or getting jealous of someone else (Thor). At least Tony has the capacity to put others before himself.
  1. Loki’s “death” in ‘Thor: The Dark World’ was more emotional than his death in ‘Infinity War’. I know I’m not in the minority when I say that Loki’s death at Thanos’ hands within the first fifteen minutes of ‘Infinity War’ was written horribly. And that’s an understatement. Not only was it annoying for Loki fans, such as myself, to get into ‘Infinity War’ and realize the writers just decided to kill him off immediately so they didn’t have to deal with his character, but his death was out of character. There’s no way in the nine realms that Loki would attempt to attack Thanos with a tiny knife. That’s not how Loki does things. Loki only plays the game when he thinks he can win. The fact that Loki didn’t use the Hulk as a distraction to get his brother and get out of there is mind boggling. Loki is a trickster god. He’d rather manipulate and confuse his enemy than fight them head on. And that’s why his death wasn’t emotional. Because it was a dumb, quick way to get him out of the way. Meanwhile, his fake death in ‘Thor: The Dark World’ left no eye in the theater dry. He stabbed Kurse in the back and was “unexpectedly” stabbed with the same blade. But, as an audience member, you understood the mistake. Kurse was much stronger than even Thor anticipated, and Loki had spent the entire movie learning to care about people other than himself. It made sense for his arc that he would die protecting Thor, and would even use his last breath to make it clear to Thor that he wasn’t ever Odin’s son, but he was always Thor’s brother. Of course, I’m glad he didn’t die there. But it was still a death that made much more sense narratively than the ‘Infinity War’ one.

Those are only a few of my Marvel opinions. I’ve been obsessed with the MCU for quite a long time now and I have a lot of feelings about the movies. But all of those are for another post. If this post does anything, I hope it shines a light specifically on how Marvel has treated it’s female characters in the past and what it can do to improve. I’m definitely one of those people who questioned what Marvel was doing with all of it’s female superheroes after I watched both ‘Wonder Woman’ and ‘Birds of Prey’. The MCU is ahead of most superhero franchises on nearly everything, but it falls so far behind when the subject of female representation comes up. There’s so much more the MCU can do to be more diverse with it’s superhero characters. For now, I’m just hoping they don’t do anything crazy with Wanda now that she’s getting her own content!

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!


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