“Avengers: Endgame” was widely celebrated by moviegoers across the world, but one moment during the movie’s climax got routinely called out for pandering to fans. That moment is when the majority of the franchise’s female superheroes band together for a “girl power” moment during the final battle against Thanos. It turns out Marvel executives had concerns with the scene being too pandering following “Endgame” test screenings. Such news is revealed by executive producer Trinh Tran in the new MCU behind-the-scenes book, “The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.”
As Tran remembers, it was a viral Twitter photo of Marvel stars such as Zoe Saldana, Scarlett Johansson, Brie Larson, Tessa Thompson and more that “spurred collective talk” at Marvel of bringing the MCU’s female superheroes together. It was around this time that many of these actresses discussed the possibility of an all-female MCU movie with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, but as Tran added, “In the immediate future, it led to the expansion of the finale battle featuring all of their characters in ‘Endgame’” (via Uproxx).
Tran added, “[In earlier cuts] when we started screen-testing it, there was a little concern for ‘Does it come off [as] pandering?’ Are we going to get people saying, ‘Oh you’re just putting that scene in there just to put the scene in there. Does it actually have a story to tell with the rest of the narrative?’ That was always a concern in the back of our heads.’”
Tran and her Marvel team were determined on keeping the “girl power” moment in the movie, so it was decided that in order to make the scene less pandering they would shoot new scenes of the female heroes in battle ahead of the group shot. The hope was that by showing these heroes separately first, the team-up group shot would then feel more organically created and not forced into the larger climax. To many, what we now know were Marvel’s attempts to make the scene less pandering definitely did not work.
“No matter the empowering intentions here, the scene feels empty, as the women — some of whom don’t even have any lines in the script — simply line up, charge forth, and look powerful as they do it,” IndieWire’s Kate Erbland wrote (read the full essay: “Avengers: Endgame Needed More Than One Pandering Girl Power Moment to Make Its Women Soar”). “The message is certainly a good start (look at all these ladies!), but it’s delivered in a hammy way that ultimately reduces each character to a single trait: Powerful women.”
Erbland continued, “It doesn’t add anything to the film as a whole, nor does it expand on the characters themselves, and their roles in earlier Marvel movies prove they have more to offer, even as the franchise has lagged when it comes to crafting films explicitly about its many female characters. While Marvel has plans to build on its strong base of female stars, from the recent success of ‘Captain Marvel’ to the ‘Black Widow’ standalone, the MCU can’t afford this sort of superficial pandering when working towards catalyzing real storytelling change.”