“Avengers: Infinity War” and Feminism

By Megan Schwindler

Spoilers ahead! Proceed with caution.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe that I grew up with was completely male-dominated. If you look back you’ll see Hulk,  Logan, Deadpool, Spiderman, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and the list goes on. There were women in these films yes, but how many could pass the Bechdel test? For those of you who don’t know, the Bechdel test uncovers sexism in fiction by asking two questions:

  1. Do two (named) female characters talk to each other?
  2. Do they talk about something other than a male character?

So how does Marvel hold up? According to an article from 2017, only 56% pass the test. But things are changing in the Marvel Universe. Black Panther introduced us to the badass women of Wakanda, and the new Avengers: Infinity War takes it one step further by bringing all of the female superheroes together. For the first time ever we get Nebula, Gamora, Scarlet Witch, Black Widow, Shuri, Okoye, and Mantis all on the same screen. Can you say chills? What’s better is that they all defy the typical role female superheroes lead (the token heroine or the damsel in distress/love interest). All of the female superheroes contribute to the plot in meaningful ways and are way more than side-pieces with witty-comebacks and perfect makeup.

One of my favorite scenes is when Scarlet Witch is knocked down and the villain (also female) tells her she is about to die alone. But then we hear off screen, “She’s not alone” and Black Widow and Okoye come in and fight the alien-like enemy. While the statement was short, it said a lot. Finally, the Marvel Universe is celebrating strong women and giving them a platform to inspire young girls everywhere. Kayleigh Dray puts it best:

“These three little words are a staunch reminder that Marvel’s female superheroes are no longer alone, they are a team of impossible strength and force. And they act as something of a promise, too: Marvel has sworn that these amazing badasses – all every bit as complex, engaging, and necessary to the cinematic universe as their male counterparts – will never again be reduced to the role of ‘token’ woman.”

And to top it all off, in the final scenes, Nick Fury attempts to contact Captain Marvel, arguably the most empowering female character. According to Marvel her powers include, “flight, enhanced strength, durability and the ability to shoot concussive energy bursts from her hands.” She sounds pretty cool right? And since half of our favorite Marvel superheroes are dead (or just momentarily gone) we definitely need a superhero to step in and not only defeat Thanos, but to defy all the gender stereotypes.

While Avengers: Infinity War is far from the perfect feminist film, it’s certainly a step in the right direction and hopefully will inspire viewers young and old to realize that women are just as smart, strong, and powerful as men.