Marvel: Female Characters Moving Forward

Screenshot of Danai Gurira as Okoye in ‘Black Panther’. Copyright goes to Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios.

Hey! Hallie here!

With the last episode of ‘WandaVision’ only hours away, there’s a lot riding on the future of Wanda Maximoff. Her characterization has been great, one of the best portrayals of women that I’ve seen come from Marvel, but it’s important that the finale keeps up with her strong characterization. Mainly because, as of now, it seems that Marvel is going to shift one of their only main female heroes into a villain, or, at least, an anti-hero. We know there are more women slated to make their entrances in the MCU, but these should be met with a level of skepticism. Marvel hasn’t really had the best track record when it comes to their writing of female characters so far. So with one of the best female-led projects coming to a close, let’s look at some of the other main female characters we’ve been introduced to in the MCU and their possible futures.

Black Widow: Well, she’s dead. But Natasha Romanoff’s solo movie has still not been released, so there’s no doubt we’ll be seeing her again. I don’t have high hopes for the writing of her character in the Black Widow movie. Natasha has never been written well. From her hyper-sexualization in ‘Iron Man 2’, to comparing herself to a monster because she’s infertile in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’, to her getting fridged in ‘Avengers: Endgame’. If you’re unfamiliar with the term fridging, it describes a female character, whether developed or not, who dies without reason to affect the male character’s storyline. Natasha died in ‘Endgame’ as a quick replacement for Hawkeye, who would have been the more obvious person to die in that situation. She’s probably the worst female character in the MCU right now and I’m not sad her story will be coming to a close soon. There’s another character, played by Florence Pugh, who might join the ranks of the MCU after the Black Widow movie. But we haven’t been introduced to her yet, so I don’t have any speculations about her character.

Captain Marvel: Carol Danvers hasn’t gotten off to a great start so far, but she’s at least better than Natasha. Carol hasn’t been over sexualized or done anything specifically sexist. She has been written like a male character, though. The issue with Carol is that she’s written to be strong, somewhat silent, and prone to suppressing her emotions. These things all fall under the ‘strong-silent type’ trope we often see in male characters. Not only does it make her personality hard to discern, it cuts out any relation women might have to the character. She’s based on a male trope and she doesn’t face the sexist issues the movie promised she would face. She isn’t accused of being too feminine, or not feminine enough, because the movie tiptoes around her femininity by making her primarily masculine. She isn’t accused of being too emotional, like many women are accused of, because she doesn’t emote. She’s simply not relatable and I don’t even know what her personality is at this point.

Gamora: Oof. Gamora actually wasn’t too bad for a good while there. I still don’t know how she ended up attracted to Peter Quill, who is basically a large child, but it didn’t take away from her character. She wasn’t overly sexualized, she was the most emotionally intelligent member of the Guardians of the Galaxy and tied with Rocket as the most intelligent member of the team in general, and her backstory was amazing. Seeing her grow from an abused anti-hero into a strong hero willing to accept a family again, including her estranged sister Nebula, was satisfying. And then they killed her in ‘Infinity War’. This was almost fridging. There was literally no reason for this death. They, once again, killed off one of their only female characters with a plethora of male characters to choose instead, and none of it even made sense. The writers tried to explain that Thanos killed her because she meant so much to him, but their relationship hadn’t even been explored at that point. Gamora simply died to further Thanos’ story and attempt to make him sympathetic. Without succeeding. However, they undid this by bringing her back to life…by bringing in an alternate version of the character from before the events of the first Guardians of the Galaxy film. So, essentially, they did kill her character. Because all her character development is dead. I will never not be mad about this.

Shuri: Shuri’s been a great character so far. She’s fun, sarcastic, badass, and probably the most intelligent character in the MCU right now. She’s a prodigy with technology and she’s kicked ass on the battlefield multiple times now. She’s also a possible option to take over the Black Panther title. But I wouldn’t be so sure. Letitia Wright has posted some anti-vax messages about the COVID-19 vaccination on her social media. Not only is this deplorable, but the firing of Gina Carano shows that Disney doesn’t have much tolerance when it comes to these issues. We might have to look elsewhere if someone is going to step into the Black Panther shoes.

Okoye: I am in no position to suggest who the next Black Panther should be, nor is my opinion important on this matter. But I wouldn’t be mad if it was Okoye. Okoye is tied with Wanda for my favorite female character currently in the MCU. She’s the general of the Dora Milaje and she’s one of the best fighters in the MCU. All without superpowers or an advanced suit. She’s sarcastic, unafraid to stand up for herself, and she commands the respect she deserves. She’s incredibly loyal to her country, even sometimes to a fault, but her care for those she trusts is commendable. And, once again, she hasn’t been oversexualized or made primarily masculine. She’s the definition of a strong female character and I have high hopes for her in the future. I hope to see her in many MCU projects to come.

I haven’t addressed characters like Nebula, Valkyrie, or Jane Foster, but I might continue this with another post. There are a fair amount of female characters in the MCU as of now. But the amount of male characters outnumber them by far. Also, many of the women in the MCU have been written poorly. After ‘WandaVision’ it seems like there might be hope for the women joining the MCU. But I don’t want to get my hopes up. At this point, I’ll enjoy what has been done well and remain skeptical in the future.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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