In preparation of the release of Black Widow, Annlyel explores her top moments of female empowerment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Black Widow is getting her own standalone film for the first time this year and it’s an exciting prospect. She was the first female Avenger, she’s been a part of this story since 2010, and we’ve been calling for her own movie for several years now.
Even though she will be only the second woman to have her own film women have managed to play a powerful part in this franchise throughout the years in exciting and impactful ways. In celebration of Black Widow, I’m going to share five empowering moments from Marvel’s display of diverse heroines.
(This post involves exclusively the heroines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.)
5. Black Widow vs. Loki (The Avengers)
Over the years women are usually considered as damsels in distress as male heroes sweep us off our feet as they save our lives and expect to get some smoochy-smooch in return. In Iron Man 2, Natasha Romanoff made her debut and even though we got a really awesome moment with her as she went into full spy mode, taking down several guards without so much as a scratch she was heavily sexualized in the film.
She was the eye-candy secretary who Tony Stark was fawning over her for a majority of the movie. There’s even a scene when she’s changing into her jumpsuit and Happy is staring at her through the mirror as he drives, nearly getting them in an accident.
The very next film, the sexualized manner in which she is treated is tapped down a notch, allowing us to see her as the Avenger that she truly is. She has an exciting standoff against Loki in which they exchange information and at one point, he thinks he’s gotten the better of her, turning her into the classic damsel in distress that he thinks she is. Sike! He ends up telling her his true plan to unleash the Hulk and she is the one victorious, leaving him stunned and baffled that she was the winner of their mind-manipulation bout. I’ve loved that scene since the first time I saw it and there was no doubt I was going to place it on this list.
4. Female Avengers Assemble (Avengers: Endgame)
Yeah, I know it’s cliche bringing all of the female Avengers together in the final battle against Thanos but its goal to empower female viewers worked. Rarely have I seen films that highlight multiple heroines in one scene kicking butt together. It’s part of the reason why seeing the Amazonians in Wonder Woman and Justice League is so rewarding.
3. “She’s Not Alone.” (Avengers: Infinity War)
Before there was that awesome charge the heroines displayed in Endgame, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, General Okoye came together to fight Proxima Midnight in an epic girls-only bout that leaves me beaming with joy every time I’ve ever seen. While the charge in Endgame feels cliche, this scene does not because it was set up perfectly.
2. Carol Marvels Up (Captain Marvel)
Carol Danvers struggles with her identity for the majority of her standalone film but eventually, she has to take a stand. The Supreme Intelligence tries to keep Danvers down, to tell her that she’s nobody, that “she’s only human.” But it is this human side of her that makes her so powerful. That makes her the hero she grows to be.
Watching her face the Supreme Intelligence with no more fear and tap into her own incredible power with an invisible leash no longer binding her is as empowering as it gets. She is Carol Danvers and she’s a hero. I’m eagerly awaiting Captain Marvel 2 to see what new empowering moments she displays as she saves more people in the galaxy.
1. Okoye Throws the Wig (Black Panther)
Black Panther was a big deal to African-Americans in the United States because for once we could see multiple black heroes and heroines in empowering, inspiring, and beautiful ways that had never really been expressed before in cinema. At least, not to that extent.
Okoye, at one point, has to wear a wig and as soon as she gets the chance to take it off she does, throwing it into the face of an adversary as she uses her spear to fend off attackers. It’s a powerful moment that embraces the importance of black beauty, a conundrum that still plagues the African-American community to this day. And that’s why it’s undoubtedly my favorite moment from any heroine in this franchise. (It’s also another reason why she’s my favorite Marvel heroine.)
If you had told me ten years ago that I would be able to see so many heroines in two of my favorite franchises, Marvel and Star Wars, I would’ve thought it was a lovely fantasy. Now that it’s a reality I am appreciating every moment that I get to enjoy these diverse, awesome ladies kicking butt and taking names onscreen.
Next stop everyone, Black Widow!
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Annlyel James is a prolific Staff Writer for Future of the Force. She is passionate about Star Wars and Marvel but loves a wide variety of movie genres. Aside from her role with Future of the Force she also writes for her own blog: annlyelonline. Follow her on Twitter @annlyeljames where she channels the Force frequently!